Trucks EverywhereIf you drive on the highways and byways of Louisiana (or anywhere, really), you’re bound to notice that there is a proliferation of trucks out there. You might ask yourself where they all come from, but the answer is straightforward—our economy is fueled by consumer demand, and consumer demand is high. As the demand for consumer goods continues to rise, more and more trucks are needed to get those goods to their rightful owners. Our consumer culture isn’t likely to abate anytime soon, so trucks continue to swarm our roadways. Because big rigs are elemental to our economy, dangerous truck accidents are on the rise. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shares several significant statistics related to this trend:
- Truck accidents that result in injuries have increased by 62 percent since 2009 (based on data from 2015).
- The year 2016 saw 29 percent more fatal truck accidents than did 2009.
- In 2016, there were 6 percent more fatal truck accidents than in 2015.
Truck Accident LiabilityTruck accident claims are typically more complicated than car accident claims because often, more than one entity shares the fault—and investigative work is necessary. Nevertheless, truck drivers themselves often shoulder some part of the fault—even if they aren’t fully responsible. As such, it’s important to carefully consider the truck driver’s role in any truck accident. Responsibilities - When truck drivers get behind the wheels of their rigs, they take on the immense responsibility of driving the massive vehicle safely over our highways and byways. In this capacity, truck drivers are held to far higher standards than are non-commercial drivers. Truck drivers must carefully attend to the rules of the road, to the stringent regulations related to hours behind the wheel, to driving distraction-free, and much more. Further, truck drivers are responsible for their own end of their rig’s maintenance schedules (which helps ensure that the truck remains roadworthy) and for operating the truck safely and in accordance with all rules and regulations. When it comes to truck accidents, truck drivers are often found directly responsible (at least partially) for the damages rendered. Exhausted truck drivers - The trucking industry is extremely stressful, schedule-driven, and fast-paced. All these elements are factored into the truck driver’s job. As such, truck drivers are tasked with carefully balancing these factors within restrictive driving regulations and the financial necessity of making a living by logging necessary miles. Sometimes, truck drivers focus more intently on logging miles than they do on carefully adhering to those restrictions that limit driving. Tired truck drivers are dangerous truck drivers, and this is the very reason that federal regulations are so strictly comprehensive when it comes to hours behind the wheel. Distracted truck drivers - Distraction has become a furiously increasing driving hazard that it's important to consider it more carefully. Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers, and this is even truer when the driver is operating a massive semi-truck that’s fully loaded for business. While there are many, many distractions out there to choose from, smartphone usage wins hands down when it comes to dangerous distractions. Smartphones have become so integral to our lives, that some of us—including some truck drivers—have a difficult time putting them away. Because distracted driving is reaching epidemic proportions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) focuses closely on the topic. NHTSA defines distracted driving as any driving in which the driver’s focus isn’t fully trained on the primary task of driving safely. While distractions are grouped into three classes-including cognitive, visual, and manual distractions—smartphone usage takes the cake by incorporating all three classifications into one extremely dangerous activity. The average driver/text interaction lasts about 5 seconds, which is the amount of time it takes to travel the length of a football field when moving at 55 miles per hour. That’s a scary visual. When it comes to distractions, there are plenty to go around, and because truck driving is a complicated, stressful, and tightly-scheduled endeavor, truck drivers face a variety of work-related distractions that most of us don’t:
- Attending to the trucking logbook
- Fielding calls related to work
- Reading a map or interacting with the GPS
- Interacting with a dispatch mechanism
- Calculating trip distances and schedules
Other Responsible PartiesAgain, truck accident claims are complicated, and fault is often apportioned among several entities beyond the truck drivers themselves, including the trucking company, the truck mechanics, and the truck manufacturer. The trucking company - The trucking company itself bears significant responsibility related to keeping a safe fleet of rigs. The company is tasked with hiring truck drivers with the necessary experience, skill, and reliability to get the job done safely in the first place. Further, the trucking company is charged with not pushing its drivers past the scheduling limits of safety regulations. When trucking companies cut corners related to hiring and/or scheduling their drivers, they not only endanger everyone on the road but also may share in liability for any accidents that ensue. Trucking companies are also responsible for keeping a well-maintained fleet of rigs in safe working order. This includes hiring well-qualified mechanics with the experience, skill, and dependability to get the job done right. The truck mechanics - The truck mechanics themselves are charged with performing their jobs in accordance with industry safety standards. This includes following maintenance protocols and faithfully performing all necessary repairs and maintenance. When truck mechanics are found negligent, they may shoulder or share the responsibility in any accident that occurs as a result. The truck manufacturer - Trucks are huge machines that are comprised of a massive network of individual parts. When the design, manufacture, or functionality of the truck itself or of a specific part is faulty or substandard, the truck manufacturer can be included in the accident claim. Because truck accidents are so involved, there’s often considerable investigative work that must go into each individual claim. Experienced truck accident law firms like ours are up to the task. If a truck accident has left you injured, you need skilled legal counsel to help ensure that your rights and rightful compensation are well protected.
Rules and RegulationsTruck drivers are professional drivers, and as such, they are held to far more restrictive rules and regulations. The FMCSA has strict regulations on the books that are aimed at helping to keep our highways and byways safer for everyone: Daily driving limits - Truck drivers can only put in 11 hours of driving on any given day, and they must incorporate at least a 10-hour break in between each 11-hour stint behind the wheel. When a truck driver has been on duty for 14 consecutive hours—even though he or she wasn>’t driving the entire time—that truck driver can’t drive after the 14-hour point. Weekly driving restrictions - Truck drivers can’t drive more than 70 hours over a period of 8 consecutive days. Additionally, truck drivers must get in at least 34 consecutive hours of break time between 8-day shifts. Medical and health restrictions - There are several medical restrictions imposed on truck drivers, and they include that truck drivers can’t take medical marijuana; can’t take any prescription drugs that are not specifically prescribed for the truck driver individually; can’t take any controlled substances; and can’t drive their rigs while on any amphetamine, narcotic, or habit-forming drugs; Further, truck drivers can neither need nor take medications prescribed for seizures. Finally, truck drivers who have specific medical conditions, such as diabetes, may be required to prove that their condition is under control before they can take to the road behind the wheels of their rigs. Further restrictions - There are tight restrictions on the books related to truck driver impairment, to adherence to the rules of the road, and to distracted trucking (the FMCSA strictly prohibits truck drivers from texting while driving). Mechanical restrictions - There are also restrictions in place for the rigs themselves that regulate maintenance schedules, cargo loading guidelines, and safety standards for hauling hazardous materials
Trucking Insurance ClaimsIf you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you’re going to be dealing with an insurance company or two. Never fear—your dedicated team of truck accident attorneys and legal professionals is there for you and will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. It’s worth noting that large trucking companies tend to have a posse of insurance reps that spring to work in the first moments after a significant truck accident. Both the truck company and the insurance company are in the business of turning major profits, and they back this up with plenty of resources. Don’t be intimidated by their strong-arm tactics—your claim is far too critical not to aggressively advocate for its most beneficial conclusion. While no amount of money can ever bring your loved one back or restore you to your pre-accident self, just compensation can help you better navigate the journey toward restoring your health.
If a Truck Accident Left You Injured, Consult an Experienced Baton Rouge Truck Accident Law Firm TodayIt bears repeating that truck accidents are among the deadliest on our roadways. If you or someone you care about has been injured—or worse—in a truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident law firm in your corner. The dedicated legal team at Stewart J. Guss Personal Injury Lawyers in Baton Rouge has the experience, skill, and knowledge to help guide your claim toward its best possible outcome. Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE. Our compassionate truck accident law firm is standing by to help, so please contact us today.
Don't take chances—let us help you!
See what other clients are saying:
Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"I was very pleased with how Stewart handled my case. He acted professionally at all times and really had my best interests at heart. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome too! I would definitely recommend my friends and family to use him as their lawyer.” -Joshua L.