Some of the most deadly crashes on Alabama roadways involve tractor-trailers. Their large weight and size make it hard for drivers to stop quickly, which can cause serious accidents and injuries. At Moore Law Firm, our tractor-trailer accident lawyers have handled cases involving big trucks for more than 35 years. We understand how devastating the repercussions of being injured or losing a loved one in this type of crash can be.
Why Are Tractor-trailer Crashes So Deadly?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 4,136 fatalities in accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks in 2018. Most deaths that occur in tractor-trailer accidents are occupants of passenger vehicles. Trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars. They also have a greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles sliding under them. A tractor-trailer may rear-end other vehicles with such force that it creates a domino effect, especially in heavy traffic. Jackknifed 18-wheelers can block several lanes of traffic and cause multi-car pileups that lead to catastrophic injuries and multiple fatalities.
Causes Of 18-Wheeler Accidents
One of the most common causes of tractor-trailer accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers cover long distances and drive for many hours with little rest in between. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations place limits and rules on how long drivers are permitted to be on the road, many drivers push themselves beyond these limits to meet tight delivery deadlines. Even if they do follow the rules and get some sleep, driving for days on end can result in exhaustion. This can lead to driver distraction, lack of concentration, reduced reaction time, distorted visual perception, and falling asleep at the wheel.
All drivers are required to keep logs that record the number of hours they’ve driven and the frequency and length of breaks. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys are familiar with FMSCA regulations and Alabama state law as it pertains to the trucking industry. We understand that documentation such as driver logs can be valuable evidence when proving truck driver fatigue in a tractor-trailer accident claim.
Drug And Alcohol Use
Truck drivers who drink or use drugs put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk. Unfortunately, many use drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine, which allow them to stay awake and drive longer distances. The FMSCA has strict rules on drugs and prohibits drivers from consuming alcohol within four hours of hitting the road. In addition, they are not allowed to carry alcohol in the cab of the truck. Some prescription medications can also impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Driving under the influence can cloud judgment, decrease coordination, and lead to reckless decisions that can result in serious injury or death. If you’ve been hurt or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to an impaired driver who caused a crash, our tractor-trailer accident lawyers can help you hold them accountable for their actions.
The pressure truck drivers feel to reach their destinations quickly also leads to speeding other reckless driving behaviors. Overtaking other vehicles at breakneck speed can cause motorists to swerve into other lanes or even off the road. Driving at high speeds also makes it virtually makes it impossible to come to a stop promptly. Drivers who speed in inclement weather like rain or snow are also more prone to causing accidents and injuries.
Driving for many hours at a time can lead to driver distraction. Daydreaming, talking on the phone, reading and sending texts, eating, drinking, and adjusting the radio or controls are all forms of distracted driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can have serious consequences. In the time it takes to read or send a text message, a vehicle can cover the length of a football field.
Poor Driver Training
Before truck drivers are permitted to drive large commercial vehicles, they must put in several training hours and meet certain requirements. Inexperienced, poorly trained drivers may not know how to safely maneuver when confronted with common hazards or when driving in construction zones. They may have trouble controlling their trucks when it’s raining or there is ice and snow on the road. All of these scenarios can have disastrous consequences.
The FMSCA also sets standards for repair and maintenance of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles. It’s critical for drivers and trucking companies to ensure their vehicles are in good working order before hitting the road. Brakes and other parts that malfunction can lead to an inability to stop or cause a driver to lose control. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The impact that results from a vehicle this size and weight careening out of control is devastating. In cases that involve improper maintenance and repair or malfunction, more than one party may be responsible for your damages, including the driver, trucking company, maintenance company, and parts manufacturer. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys are experienced in handling these types of multifaceted claims. We aggressively pursue every possible avenue of compensation.
Investigating Tractor-trailer Accident Cases
Investigation of 18-wheeler accidents involves extensive inquiry and requires the knowledge of experienced professionals who understand what it takes to piece together what happened. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys know how to collect relevant evidence and dig deeper to find proof of negligence and liability. Some examples of vital evidence in tractor-trailer injury claims include:
- Photos of the scene and vehicles involved
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Driver logs
- Analysis of a truck’s “black box recorder,” which records event data
- Driver qualification files (DQF) from the trucking company
- The driver’s medical records
- Maintenance and repair records
- Accident scene reconstruction
- Evidence of traffic violations
- Other relevant evidence
Call A Tractor-trailer Accident Attorney Immediately Following An Accident
Large trucking companies and their insurers often have legions of lawyers working whose job is to fight and minimize personal injury claims. If you’ve been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one in an accident with a big truck, it is vital to contact an attorney right away to ensure your rights and interests are protected. Do not sign anything, say anything, or accept a settlement from an insurance adjuster before speaking to an experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyer.
It’s also critical to begin an investigation of the case as soon as possible to preserve evidence. If you’re unable to call an attorney yourself, have a family member or trusted friend call our office. Our attorneys can assess your case and advise you on the best way to proceed. Consultations are free with no up-front costs to you. Our personal injury lawyers work on contingency, which means we only collect attorney fees if we make a recovery for you.
Contact Us To Schedule A Consultation
Being injured in a crash with a big rig can have life-changing consequences. Our Mobile tractor-trailer attorneys are here to help you understand your rights and recover the maximum compensation you deserve. Call Moore Law Firm today at 251-445-7602 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.