Daytona Beach, FL (JusticeNewsFlash.com) — Accidents involving 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, and semi-trucks often result in catastrophic injuries and the accompanying enormous medical expenses, not to mention significant lost wages and property damage. Though the trucking industry is a critical component of our economy, large trucks are responsible for a roadway injury or fatality every sixteen minutes. There are a variety of factors that can cause or contribute to a trucking accident. Fortunately, many of these causes are well within the control of trucking companies and individual truck drivers. Unfortunately, however, negligence and irresponsible behaviors persist within the trucking industry and continue to cause thousands of injuries and fatalities every year.
While some truck accidents are caused by the drivers of automobiles, the majority of these roadway disasters are the direct result of negligence on the part of the truck driver or poor truck maintenance. Commercial truck drivers are required to have unique education and training in an effort to keep them and fellow drivers safe while on the road. For example, truck drivers must attend truck driving school, successfully complete a form of apprentice training, and stay updated on traffic regulations. The trucking companies, not the drivers themselves, are responsible for ensuring that their drivers have undergone the appropriate training and maintain required licenses. Frequently, though, drivers are not adequately trained or licensed. If such an instance of trucking company negligence occurs, the company itself can be held legally responsible for any injuries and property damage sustained as a result of the negligence.
Further, impractical demands imposed on truck drivers such as schedule overload and driver incentives such as being paid by the mile encourage drivers to stay on the roadways far beyond reasonable lengths of time. Federal regulations spell out the number of hours that a truck driver may drive. Big rig drivers are required to set aside ten hours of rest for every twenty-four hour period. Therefore, a truck driver may only be on duty for fourteen hours in a given day. Additionally, drivers of trucks must stop driving if they have been in-service for sixty hours in any consecutive seven-day period or seventy hours in any consecutive eight-day period. Since most drivers are paid by the mile, many truck drivers elect to continue driving despite serious fatigue and drowsiness, while others resort to prescription or illegal drug use to enable them to remain behind the wheel of their big rig.
It is also mandatory that truck drivers maintain an accurate and up-to-date driver’s log, which contains information about the driver’s duty status, hours worked, and mileage accrued, among other things. While this record can be the source of critical information in the event of a wreck with a passenger vehicle, many drivers’ logs are lost or destroyed in the wake of a serious collision. Some drivers intentionally manipulate or falsify records within their logs in order to comply with the law. If this is found to be the case, both the driver and the trucking company can be held liable.
Changing gears for a minute (no pun intended), tractor trailers are equipped with significant safety components that are not found on passenger vehicles. When a truck’s safety devices are not sufficiently maintained and repaired as necessary, the chances of such a poorly maintained truck being involved in an accident are greatly enhanced. Also, many trucks take to the roads with loads of cargo that exceed the truck’s weight limit or without having been properly balanced. Naturally, such hazardous practices also tend to increase the likelihood that the driver of the truck will be unable to avoid a wreck on the roadway. Of course, the same factors that often contribute to automobile wrecks also cause trucking accidents. Road rage/aggressive driving, construction hazards, poor driving conditions, improperly maintained roadways, and driver intoxication may all potentially play a role in causing a trucking collision.
Per federal law, all commercial vehicles using the interstate system must carry a minimum of $750,000 worth of insurance. While it may seem obvious, insurance companies frequently attempt to avoid paying the full amount of the victim’s damages. This makes it of vital importance that you contact the attorneys at Rue & Ziffra, P.A., if you or a family member is facing medical expenses and lost earnings due to injuries sustained in a trucking accident. Advice and counsel from our knowledgeable team of personal injury lawyers can clarify your rights to sufficient compensation and assist you in recovering from the responsible parties.