One of the most dangerous hazards on the roads today is a negligently operated tractor-trailer or semi-truck. Tractor trailers can weigh up to 40 tons and have poor braking ability due to their size and weight.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) in 2012. Of the fatalities, 73 percent were occupants of the other vehicle. Georgia had the fifth largest number of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks. Only Texas, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania reported more fatalities.
Most tractor-trailer companies and drivers are governed by federal and/or state laws related to “motor carriers.” There are two kinds of motor carriers: (1) interstate carriers and (2) intrastate carriers. Interstate carriers transport goods or people across state lines and intrastate carrier operate entirely within one state. Extensive knowledge of the laws that regulate interstate and intrastate motor carriers is required in order to effectively pursue claims related to wrecks caused by tractor-trailers.
Claims involving tractor-trailer wrecks are rarely as simple as determining who caused the wreck. Lawsuits against tractor-trailer companies may involve complicated issues like employer liability, negligent hiring and retention, negligent inspection, maintenance or repair, driver fatigue, direct actions against the insurance company, or violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Trucking companies are often subject to federal regulation which require them to conduct pre-employment screening on their drivers which includes making sure that (i) drivers are competent to drive the tractor-trailers, (2) drivers meet certain physical requirements, and (3) drivers have a reasonably safe driving record. Trucking companies are also required to comply with strict guidelines for alcohol and controlled substance testing.
Drivers must limit the amount of time they drive without going off duty. Other regulations require drivers to perform inspections of the tractor-trailer before it is driven to make sure it is in proper working order.
Many tractor-trailer wrecks occur when a tractor-trailer is stopped on or near a roadway. Federal regulations require tractor-trailer drivers to place warning markers behind their vehicles in order to minimize the risk of someone running into the rear of the stopped tractor-trailer.
Other tractor-trailer wrecks occur when a driver blocks the roadway and is not easily visible to an approaching passenger vehicle. When passenger cars hit the side of tractor-trailers, the result is usually death. In these cases, lawyers must pay careful attention to the lighting and weather conditions as well as the visibility and presence of reflectors and retro-reflective taping on the side of the trailer. Conspicuity issues also involve whether the tractor-trailer blended in to its surrounding like bridges or overpasses, making it more difficult for an approaching driver to see.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a negligent tractor-trailer driver, you need the help of an experienced tractor-trailer lawyer like Joel. Joel routinely works with accident reconstruction and trucking experts to investigate and pursue cases involving tractor-trailer wrecks. He has recovered millions of dollars in tractor-trailer wreck cases for his clients. Call today for your free consultation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact our firm today!