Trucking accidents, unfortunately, are all too common. And the people put most at risk are those in the passenger vehicles sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatal truck accidents average out to almost 11 per day in the U.S., killing almost 4,000 people annually; about 100,000 people are injured.
The even worse news is that the problem is not getting better. CNBC reported this summer, in the wake of the accident that severely injured actor Tracy Morgan, that truck crashes have been on the rise since 2009. One response to this information should be to put pressure on companies and government regulators to enforce safety laws and make new rules if necessary. But if you or a family member has already been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you may want to turn to a trucking accidents lawyer for help filing an accident injury claim. While this is a subset of personal injury and wrongful death law, there are some specific concerns to consider here. Here’s where an attorney is likely to start:
- Checking the Driver’s Log Books
The hours that commercial drivers work and rest are mandated by both federal and state laws (they’re called hours of service). In order to show that they’re complying with these laws, drivers are required to record their driving and break times in a log — sometimes physical, although more frequently integrated into the vehicle itself. If you’re involved in an accident and the driver’s log books have either been tampered with or show he or she shouldn’t have been driving, your case will become much stronger.
- Scrutinizing the Trucking Company
Trucking companies ought to be holding their drivers accountable, but sometimes they do the opposite. A trucking accidents lawyer will be able to find out whether the company sends its employees to truck driver training, looks the other way when drivers violate HOS, or even encourages its drivers to make impossibly fast runs that necessitate speeding or skipping rest times.
If your trucking accidents lawyer can find evidence of negligence at either level, it’s more likely you’ll be able to get a fair settlement to cover your medical expenses and other crash-associated costs.
Have you been involved in a trucking accident? What advice can you offer? Join the discussion in the comments.