Truck Accident Lawyers – Experienced Across USA
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Our roads are extremely dangerous places but when an accident involves a truck, then that danger is multiplied. These behemoths of the road are large, heavy, and often difficult to stop or manoeuvre. Accidents that involve trucks are often devastating and produce high numbers of fatalities.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck, what rights do you have and what sort of claim can you submit?
In 2017, collisions involving trucks across the U.S. saw the following:
- Over 450,000 accidents
- A total of 4,237 fatal accidents
- More than 344,000 injuries.
Causes at a national level included:
- Driving at speeds above the posted or state limit was the most frequent cause of commercial truck accidents.
- Distracted driving was the second most common cause in truck accident cases.
- Failure to yield was the third most common factor in truck accidents.
- Impairment due to truck driver fatigue or alcohol or drug use was the fourth most common reason behind truck crashes nationally.
For the same period over 2017, the statistics for Michigan were:
- 13,416 accidents which involved trucks.
- 96 fatal accidents involving trucks.
- A total of 2,437 injuries sustained from accidents involving trucks.
Causes of accidents within Michigan included:
- Traveling at speeds above the local or state limits: 510 crashes, 125 injuries, 2 fatal accidents.
- Trucks jumping traffic lights or failing to yield: 813 crashes, 214 injuries, and 5 fatal accidents.
- Truckers unable to brake in time: 1,226 crashes, 310 injuries, and 5 fatal accidents.
- Careless or negligent driving: 268 crashes, 69 injuries, and 3 fatal accidents.
Truck Sizes and Weights
It can be very intimidating when you see a large commercial truck bearing down on you at speed. But just what are the limits placed on truck sizes and weights across the United States? The trucking industry and trucking companies are overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Department of Transport.
The main laws and regulations governing the size of trucks are federal ones and all trucks traveling interstate must conform to these. The limits are:
- A gross weight not exceeding 80,000lbs.
- A single axle weight not exceeding 20,000lbs.
- A tandem axle weight not exceeding 34,000lbs.
However, as a result of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, Michigan has a slightly – or drastically – different allowance. Michigan allows for a maximum gross weight limit of 164,000lbs, but any vehicle looking to carry this level of load must have 11 axles and each of those axles cannot carry in excess of 13,000lbs.
Types of Accidents
The types of accidents that can happen with trucks can vary greatly from what you might find with a car accident. With the size and weights of these vehicles, they can provide unique challenges to their operators and unique dangers to other road users.
- Jackknifes. When a truck brakes suddenly, it can lose control, resulting in the cab and trailer being at a 90 degree angle to the other.
- Rolling over. Often another result from losing control, this can see the entire vehicle rolling onto its side and sliding.
- Tire blowout. A sudden puncture on one or more tires may mean the driver has little control over his truck.
- Loss of spatial awareness. In circumstances where a driver steers widely in order to make a turn in the opposite direccion, they may not see other vehicles in close proximity to their truck.
- Mirror blind spots. With the size of some trucks, drivers are not always able to get a perfect view in their wing mirrors which can result in blind spots – and potential collisions – when changing lanes.
- Underride (collision from rear). This sort of accident can happen when either a truck stops or slows suddenly, or if a vehicle behind it is traveling at excessive speed, and the following vehicle ends up under the rear of the truck. Underrides can have a very high fatality rate.
- Rear end. The opposite of an underride where a truck runs into the vehicle in front of it. This can happen because the truck is going too fast or if the vehicle in front stops suddenly. This is another type of accident with high fatality rates.
- Losing a load. If a truck’s load is not properly secured, some or all of it may fall from the truck into the roadway.
- T-bone collision. If a truck fails to yield or jumps a red light – or if another vehicle does the same – then the truck may hit that vehicle side on with devastating consequences.
- Head on collision. This type of incident probably accounts for the highest number of fatalities in truck-related accidents. It can happen when the truck – or the oncoming vehicle – is in the wrong lane.
As you can imagine, having any of the above types of scenario happen with up to 80,000lbs of steel and metal is a terrifying idea.
How do the Laws Work in Michigan?
Trucks and trucking companies operating in Michigan may be subject to both federal and state laws (and in some cases, more local city ordinance if relevant). Some of the national laws have been adopted as state laws by the The Michigan Department of Public Safety.
But generally speaking, the agency with direct control over operations and safety of trucks nationwide is the FMCSA. The FMCA’s primary mission is to “…prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” It pursues this mission on several levels, including developing and overseeing improved standards of driving and safety, improving licensing tests and requirements, improving safety training, and analyzing data annually from any crash involving trucks or large commercial vehicles to identify positive or negative trends.
Where they identify high risk companies or drivers (for example, frequent crashes or breaking of regulations), then they can seek to have them removed from the nation’s roads.
Who is Liable?
Whereas liability in a car accident will most likely be limited to one of a small number of individuals (except in circumstances where there is a question of product liability), with a truck accident, the question of liability may become complicated and may be either assigned to one party or apportioned between several. In personal injury cases involving a truck, experienced truck accident lawyers will investigate thoroughly to see which parties may be liable. The various parties that may be found liable for a truck accident includes:
- The driver if they were at fault or broke any traffic laws.
- The trucking company.
- The manufacturer of the cab (or indeed the trailer if it had a defect).
- The shipping company or freight broker.
- The distributor or supplier responsible for the cargo.
- Retailers or suppliers in cases where defective parts have been supplied for the truck.
This list shows just how complicated assigning and proving liability can be. It may be that there is multiple liability across more than one party, and proving this, and assigning how much liability each party carries, can be an intricate and difficult process.
When you or a loved one have been injured in a truck related accident, or if the worst has happened and there has been a case of wrongful death, then you want to be sure that all medical and other costs are covered and that you receive any non-economic damages you may be entitled to. Having a truck accident attorney with the experience and knowledge to investigate your case, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight your case in court if required, can ensure you have a positive outcome.
There can be few things more devastating than a serious accident in which a truck is involved. In many cases, such accidents lead to severe, life-changing injuries or even death. With potential complications over identifying liable parties, you want a law firm that can handle the stress on your behalf.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates specialize in all areas of personal injury law, including the often intricate area of truck accidents. If you have been involved in any sort of accident involving a truck or other commercial vehicle then why not book a free consultation with us so that we can assess your case. You can book an appointment by calling today at (866)-779-7331.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.