Truck accidents have the potential to cause serious, and sometimes fatal injuries. Large and heavy commercial trucks can completely obliterate smaller passenger vehicles and can inflict massive amounts of damage on the other vehicles. A trucking company and truck driver has the duty to ensure preventable accidents never happen. When they fail, victims in Louisville may have the opportunity to file a truck accident claim to recover compensation for their damages. Here, we’ll explain the common causes of truck accidents in Louisville, who may be liable, and types of compensation you may recover from your accident. If you’re in search of an experienced and trusted Louisville truck accident attorney, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced team of Louisville car accident lawyers can help guide you towards your best legal options and let you know if you have a case.
Large trucks need much more time and distance to maneuver the roads than an average car. It is typical for distracted driving to occur when truck drivers spend long amounts of time behind the wheel. A driver who is distracted or falls asleep at the wheel can cause a disastrous accident, given the weight and momentum of such a large vehicle. A distracted passenger vehicle could also be the cause of a car accident.
Road debris, unpaved roads, potholes, narrow lanes or highways without shoulders are all examples of dangerous road conditions that can lead to trucking accidents.
Improper revision of a big rig could result in incidents like a tire blowout, wheels coming loose, engine failure, and more. Depending on the case and what occurred, the manufacturer or truck company may be liable for the accident.
Drivers may not realize when driving behind a large truck that the driver can’t see your vehicle a lot of the time. If you’re in a truck driver’s blind spot, he or she may have limited or no vision of you at all.
Truck drivers that drive while drowsy can contribute to unsafe conditions. Although there is a maximum amount of time a driver is allowed to legally operate a commercial truck, sometimes drivers drive past the limit.
Driving while drowsy is much more precarious than many people realize. According to the National Safety Council (NSC) the dangers of driving drowsy are “similar to driving under the influence of alcohol”.
In fact the impact of drowsiness on driving greatly reduces the drivers’ reaction times and attention to possible hazards. If a driver has not slept in eighteen hours, that individual had an impairment similar to a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05. At twenty hours that driver has a BAC of .08 and at twenty-four hours without sleep, a sleep deprived individual will have a similar reaction time to that of a legally drunk driver with a BAC of .10. In the State of Kentucky, the legal limit for BAC is .08
Based on a study performed by the National Sleep Foundation, roughly 50% of American adult drivers have admitted to regularly driving while feeling drowsy. Additionally more than 20% of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel in the last year and more than 40% admitting to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives.
Driving while drowsy is incredibly dangerous in a passenger vehicle, however when an operator of a large big rig truck drives tired, the dangers can be compounded. Due to the sheer size, weight and slower brake time of large vehicles, commercial truck drivers can react slower than an aware and attentive individual otherwise would. Even a minor delay in reaction time can prove to be incredibly dangerous for trucks and passenger vehicles within close proximity of the big rig.
Although there are federal regulations that mandate the maximum amount of time an individual can drive there are truck accidents that have been caused by drowsy driving. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the amount of trucking accidents caused by commercial motor vehicle drivers that were fatigued at the time of the crash accounted for 13% of truck accidents.
Driving a truck distracted is not only incredibly dangerous but also carries stiff penalties for perpetrators that engage in distracted driving. The FMCSA restricts the use of mobile phones and texting while driving to help curb commercial vehicle drivers from distracted driving.
Truck drivers that violate the hand-held and/or texting while driving rules risk civil penalties up to $2,750 and possible driver disqualification for multiple offenses. If a truck company requires the truck driver to utilize a mobile phone while driving, civil penalties for the company can include fines up to $11,000. These penalties are intended to help minimize and discourage truck drivers and trucking companies from engaging in risky distracted driving behavior.
The FMCSA has outlined regulations pertaining to time limits for commercial vehicles. For property-carrying drivers, there is an eleven hour driving limit after ten consecutive hours off duty.
Additionally, a commercial vehicle operator is not allowed to drive, “after 60/70 hours on duty in 7 / 8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7 / 8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.”
Accidents involving trucks can be much more devastating than those that involve only passenger vehicles. Due to the sheer size and force of an eighteen wheeler, personal injuries resulting from these types of accidents can be much more life-altering. Some of the most common injuries involving truck accidents are:
Broken Bones – Broken bones occur frequently during motor vehicle accidents. This is especially true when the other vehicle involved in the accident weighs in excess of 35,000 pounds.
Traumatic Brain Injuries – Head trauma and traumatic brain injuries can occur in a truck accident. These injuries can be life-altering and impact the future earning capacity of a victim. Traumatic brain injuries are wide ranging and each injury can be unique to its own case. Traumatic brain injuries can range from concussions to life-long damage for a victim.
Spinal Cord Injuries – Injuries involving the spinal cord can be life-altering. Some of these injuries sustained can cause lifelong mobility issues and, in some cases, lead to paralysis. If you believe you have suffered a spinal cord injury, seek medical attention immediately. Internal Injuries – When blunt trauma occurs to the abdomen region, internal organs can rupture and internal bleeding may occur. After any accident, always seek medical attention and be honest about any symptoms or pain.
Wrongful Deaths – In the worst cases involving truck accidents, death may occur. If your loved one has suffered a death resulting from a truck accident, please accept our condolences.
Trucking companies will do everything they can to avoid liability for an accident and are known for their quick and aggressive representation in support of the trucking company. Their lawyers might try to use a comparative negligence defense, arguing you contributed. At Meinhart Smith & Manning, PLLC we know all too well that many injury and wrongful death claims have more than one defendant, or party, allegedly responsible. There are many factors that can contribute to a single trucking accident, and many parties behind these factors. A big rig driver, trucking company, cargo loading team, truck owner, truck leaser, third-party driver, part manufacturer, and/or other parties could all be liable for a crash. The party or parties that will serve as the defendant(s) in your case will be the one that fulfills all three of the following elements:
All truck drivers owe others on the roadway duties to pay attention to the road, obey federal motor carrier laws, follow traffic rules, and otherwise take due care in preventing accidents. At the same time, trucking companies are responsible for maintaining their fleets, training truck drivers, and planning safe routes. The duties of care the defendant owed you at the time of the crash will vary according to the relationship.
The defendant must be guilty of some breach of duty of care to you. A breach of duty can be a broken law, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or an act of negligence that a prudent person or company would not have committed. Proving a breach of duty, or negligence, is often the most difficult and critical part of a trucking accident lawsuit.
You must show that the truck driver or company’s act of negligence is what caused your accident. If a third-party driver, for example, hit the truck and then bounced into your vehicle, you likely would not have a lawsuit against the truck driver, who is just an other victim in the collision. Instead, you would sue the other driver in this scenario. To be eligible for compensation, you must also show that you suffered real damages in the trucking accident. In Kentucky, economic and non-economic damages are both compensable. These can include past and future medical bills, physical pain and emotional suffering, property damage, and lost wages. The experienced injury lawyers at our Kentucky law firm can help you identify the responsible parties for your trucking accident, and help you take action against them.
Our skilled Louisville truck accident attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure truck company insurers don’t take advantage of you or convince you to settle for less than your case is worth. Call (502) 589-2700 to discuss your recent truck crash with one of our Louisville personal injury attorneys, or request a free case evaluation online.