Helping Victims Recover Their Losses
As of 2015, there were over 500,000 commercial interstate carriers on the road. These big rigs require a braking distance that is between 20-40% longer than other vehicles in order to stop, which worsens in bad weather.
When motor vehicle accidents involve big trucks, they tend to be much more serious. The people most likely to die in truck-related accidents? The occupants in passenger vehicles. Trucks weigh up to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. They also have relatively high centers of gravity, which contribute to the potential for “rollover” accidents, particularly when encountering curves in the road. Approximately half of all truck fatalities involve rollover accidents.
If you were injured in a truck accident, call Norton & Spencer, P.C., at 816-454-5800. We have experience with these difficult cases.
Commercial Truck Requirements
Commercial carriers and their drivers are governed by a centralized federal authority under the direction of the U.S. Department of Transportation. State and local authorities play a role in safety and compliance enforcement. Some of the uniform requirements include the following:
Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL)
Operating a commercial motor vehicle generally demands greater knowledge, skill, and physical capabilities compared to the operation of passenger vehicle. To acquire a CDL, applicants must successfully complete testing, ongoing certification requirements, and maintain a good driving record. The licenses may require additional endorsements for operating trucks that have multiple trailers, tanks, and other characteristics.
All motor carriers must have their drivers generate written reports at the conclusion of each day, for each truck operated, which confirm that the following were inspected:
- Braking systems, including the parking brake
- The steering system
- Lights and reflectors
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Wiper blades
- Devices for coupling
Limitations for Working Time
In efforts to prevent fatigue among truck drivers, the federal regulations limit driving time to 11 hours per day. Driving time may also not exceed 77 hours in any period of seven days. However, the U.S. DOT Fatality Report indicates that violations of these limitations commonly occur.
Stability Control Systems
Federal regulators think the recently implemented requirements that trucks be equipped with vehicle systems for stability control will greatly reduce accidents that result in severe injuries and fatalities. The systems are designed to reduce instability and prevent many rollover and jackknife-type accidents. All trucks with three axles must adhere to this requirement by 2019.
Liability Insurance Minimums
Large commercial vehicles have federally-mandated minimum requirements for liability insurance. For those trucks involved in transport of non-hazardous materials, the minimum required coverage is $750,000. For trucks used in the transport of hazardous materials, the minimum required coverage is $5 million. There are additional liability provisions that relate to transporting radioactive materials, large groups of passengers, and others.
Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)
Recent efforts to enhance safety have led to a requirement for trucks to be equipped with an ELD no later than 2019. These devices coordinate with the engine of the truck to document many occurrences. The law will force carriers to transition away from tracking key data, such as driving time and hours of service, on paper or with Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRD), which are far less accurate and subject to abuse.
Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Violations of work-hour limitations do occur. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents, in our experience:
- Driver distraction/fatigue
- Alcohol/drug use
- Driver health
- Hazardous materials
- Improper loading/failure to secure load
- Improper lane changes
- Improper hiring/training/supervision
Proving Liability in a Truck Accident
The primary determinant in these cases is negligence, which requires the following to be proven:
- That the driver and/or carrier had a duty to exercise care to avoid injuries.
- That the duty to exercise care was breached.
- The breach of the duty was the cause of injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in an accident involving a truck, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. In order to obtain the best possible outcome for your claims, it is critical to seek out a lawyer who is experienced in complex investigation and discovery.
At Norton & Spencer, P.C., we have obtained more than $50 million for clients in some of Missouri’s most complex personal injury cases. There is no truck accident we are not ready to handle. We can take our 60-plus years of experience to work toward compensation if you have been injured in a trucking accident.
Call Now for a Free, No-Obligation Evaluation of Your Case
As with all of our personal injury cases, Norton & Spencer, P.C., works exclusively on a contingency basis so you can focus on healing, not legal fees. Contact a Kansas City vehicle accident attorney today by sending us an email or by calling 816-454-5800.