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Truck Driver Negligence in Tractor-Trailer Accidents

speeding semi-truck

Tractor-trailers keep commerce in America moving. Although most truck drivers are conscientious and try to stay safe on the road, at up to 80,000 lbs, a fully-loaded 18-wheeler can pose a serious danger to other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys at Moore Law Firm have helped more than 12,000 clients pursue compensation in all types of personal injury and wrongful death claims. If you’ve been hurt or have lost a loved one in a tractor-trailer accident caused by truck driver negligence, we can help you understand your rights and hold all responsible parties accountable for your damages.

How Truck Driver Negligence Causes Accidents

Although it’s often unintentional, truck driver negligence can cause devastating motor vehicle accidents that result in multiple injuries and fatalities. When someone’s careless action or inaction causes injury or damage to another person or property, they may be considered negligent, and therefore liable for any damages caused. There are many different reasons why a tractor-trailer accident may be caused by truck driver negligence, including:

Driver Fatigue

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has regulations that allow some drivers to be on the road for up to 11 consecutive hours, many truck operators do not follow rules for taking breaks or drive beyond specified limits. Trucking companies often put extreme pressure on their drivers to meet strict deadlines, which can lead to them driving on dangerously few hours of sleep. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Being behind the wheel when you’re tired can result in reduced alertness, slower reaction time, memory problems, poor coordination, lack of judgment, and marred visual perception. Worst of all, driver fatigue can cause a driver to fall asleep and completely lose control of their truck.

Driving Under The Influence

Because truck drivers are often under a lot of pressure to get where they’re going fast, many turn to drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription drugs to help them stay awake. Consuming these types of drugs and driving for hours on end can lead to poor judgment, aggressive driving, reckless driving behaviors, and road rage. Taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications that have side effects like drowsiness can also lead to serious accidents. On top of that, some negligent truck drivers may drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel, or even while they’re driving.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers need to stay focused. However, distracted driving is a problem that causes thousands of accidents each year. Anything that takes a driver’s attention from the activity of safe driving can be considered a distraction, whether it’s talking on the phone, texting, eating, drinking, adjusting controls, daydreaming, or looking at a billboard. A driver going 55 mph who takes their eyes off the road for just five seconds can cover the full length of a football field, which is plenty of time and distance to get in a serious crash, especially if traffic stops suddenly.

Speeding And Reckless Driving

Truckers who drive aggressively put everyone on the road in danger. Tailgating, changing lanes suddenly, and other dangerous driving behaviors can be deadly. Tractor-trailers have large blind spots, which makes it critical for truck drivers to be conscientious about the safety of motorists surrounding them. A truck driver who’s speeding or caught up in getting to their destination on time may fail to thoroughly check these blind spots, which can cause catastrophic collisions.

Improper Loading

Even if a driver isn’t the one who loaded a truck, they have a responsibility to ensure the load is evenly weighted to avoid jackknife and rollover accidents. Overloading beyond allowed weight limits can also cause the transmission or brakes to fail on a tractor-trailer, making it impossible for a driver to stop. In these types of cases, the results are often disastrous.

Some other types of truck driver negligence that can lead to tractor-trailer accidents include:

  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Improper training
  • Inadequate inspection and maintenance

Proving Truck Driver Negligence

There are four elements to proving negligence: that the driver had a duty of care, that they breached that duty, that an injured victim suffered damages, and that the victim’s injuries and losses were due to the driver’s breach of duty. For example, a tractor-trailer driver has a duty to follow traffic laws and drive safely. If a driver who is speeding and tailgating another vehicle crashes into the back of it, causing injury or death, they have not only breached their duty of care, but they’re responsible for any damages that breach caused.

While a case like this may seem cut and dry, proving driver negligence in a tractor-trailer accident claim can be challenging. Our team has been successfully recovering compensation in tractor-trailer accident claims for decades.

Investigating Truck Driver Negligence Claims

Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys are well-versed in the multifaceted aspects of investigating claims involving truck driver negligence. We begin collecting valuable evidence as soon as possible following a tractor-trailer accident. A truck driver’s employer may even send their insurer to the scene of the accident, so it’s critical to contact an attorney immediately to ensure your rights are protected. Do not sign or give a statement to any insurance adjuster or company representative. Keep in mind that insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests – they will try to undervalue or deny your claim. If they offer you a settlement in the days to come, do not accept it without speaking to an experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyer first. You may not even be aware of the extent of your injuries, and accepting a settlement that won’t cover all your damages can leave you stuck with costly medical bills and other expenses if you’re unable to work. We may collect evidence such as:

  • Photos of the scene, vehicles, and surrounding area
  • Witness statements
  • The driver’s training and driving record
  • The black box recorder from the truck, which records engine and travel data
  • The truck driver’s logbook, which contains the number of hours driven, breaks, stops, and other valuable information
  • Police reports
  • Truck maintenance records
  • The truck driver’s medical records
  • Cell phone records

Multiple parties may be liable in a tractor-trailer accident claim, including the truck driver, trucking company, maintenance company, truck manufacturer, or parts manufacturer.

How Our Tractor-trailer Attorneys Can Help

At Moore Law Firm, we understand that suffering serious injury or losing a loved one in a tractor-trailer accident is life-altering. We fight to help you get the maximum compensation you deserve for damages such as medical bills, loss of income, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other damages. We care deeply about the clients we serve and provide the compassionate legal support you need throughout the personal injury claims process. Our tractor-trailer accident lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis. This means you will not incur any up-front expenses and only pay attorney fees if we obtain compensation for you.

Contact A Tractor-trailer Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a tractor-trailer accident you believe was caused by truck driver negligence, call Moore Law Firm at 251-445-7602 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.