Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer
Nationwide Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer
A serious tractor trailer accident requires a serious tractor trailer accident lawyer. The Ritchie Law Firm is committed to protecting the safety of our nation’s motorists.
Tractor Trailer Accidents in the U.S.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, tractor trailer crashes involving injuries increased 62% to 97,000 from 2009 to 2015.
This trend of increasing numbers of tractor trailer collisions has continued to recent years. In 2018, tractor trailers and large trucks were involved in 112,000 crashes causing injury and 414,000 property damage only crashes.
The majority of fatal tractor trailer accidents occur in rural areas (68%) during the daytime (66%) and on weekdays (78%).
About 27% of all tractor trailer drivers involved in fatal accidents throughout the United States have had at least one prior speeding conviction compared to 19 % of the passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes.
What Regulations Apply to Tractor Trailer Drivers and Trucking Companies?
There are both state and federal regulations that trucking companies and their drivers must follow. When a trucking company or driver fails to follow these regulations and this causes a collision, they can be found negligent and held liable for the accident.
While many states have their own regulations that govern tractor trailers and other big trucks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) makes regulations that apply to interstate traffic. These federal regulations cover various aspects of the trucking industry, including hiring and supervising drivers as well as the maintenance of a commercial vehicle.
Importance of Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Investigations
A thorough investigation of a truck accident is vital to the success of any litigation which may follow. The investigation should be conducted quickly to insure that evidence such as skid marks, points of impact, and the tractor trailer are preserved in their unaltered states. The investigation will also include obtaining important documents such as logbooks. Thoroughly conducted investigations often reveal mechanical failures on the truck or impaired drivers.
What Are the Regulations Governing the Number of Hours a Tractor Trailer Driver Can Operate?
Driver fatigue has become a huge problem in causing accidents and other careless driving. In fact, fatigued drivers and the accidents they cause have become such a concern for federal authorities that in 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted new regulations concerning the number of hours a trucker is permitted to drive. Even with these new regulations, the United States National Transportation Safety Board indicates that driver fatigue is still the likely cause of 20 to 40 percent of all trucking accidents.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to make certain that their drivers do not go over the maximum number of allowable driving hours.
What Happens if Logbooks Are Falsified?
Before onboard computer systems became widespread, a leading cause of accidents involving large trucks and tractor trailers was the falsification of trucking log books. Some tractor trailer drivers and trucking companies kept two sets of logbooks.
Before onboard computer systems, tractor trailer drivers were asked to record in their logbooks:
- Time spent on duty
- Time spent off duty
- Time spent sleeping
- Time spent driving out on the road
- Time spent performing work such as loading and unloading
Now, many trucking companies use satellite tracking systems to record the location of the tractor trailer at any point in time. These electronic systems help to eliminate a tractor trailer driver’s ability to falsify logbooks.
What Are Some Examples of Prohibited Conduct for Tractor Trailer Drivers?
In addition to rules governing the number of hours a tractor trailer driver can operate his or her vehicle, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has also adopted other rules which prohibit the driver from conduct such as:
- Reporting for duty with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.02 or greater;
- Possessing alcohol unless it is part of a shipment, including medications such as cough syrup or cold medicine which contains alcohol;
- Consuming alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions;
- Reporting for duty while using any drug which affects the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle; or,
- Refusing to submit to any DOT-mandated alcohol or drug test.
Additionally, these regulations require that the truck drivers take rest periods after a certain number of driving hours, perform an inspection of the vehicle, and keep inspection records and logbooks.
How Do I Handle the Tractor Trailer Accident Insurance Company?
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, you should immediately consult with a lawyer experienced in handling tractor trailer accidents. Negotiating directly with the trucking company or insurance company can lead to disastrous mistakes. The trucking company may use something you said during negotiations against you later in the case.
Federal law requires trucking companies to carry minimum insurance coverage amounts on their tractor trailers. Vehicles that are 10,000 GVW (gross vehicle weight) or over carrying nonhazardous material has the following insurance coverage requirements:
- Bodily injury liability $750,000
- Property damage liability $750,000
- Truck cargo coverage $300,000
For vehicles 10,000 GVW (gross vehicle weight) or over carrying hazardous material, the following coverage applies:
- Bodily injury liability $1,000,000
- Property damage liability $1,000,000
- Truck cargo coverage $5,000,000
A tractor trailer accident lawyer will help with communications with the trucking and insurance companies and will ensure that you have access to all available insurance coverage. A personal injury lawyer who is skilled in handling tractor trailer accident cases will be able to ensure that you receive sufficient money to cover your medical bills and lost wages.
Should I Hire a Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer?
Yes. You should choose a law firm experienced in handling trucking cases. Truck accident cases require attorneys who will work aggressively to fight the big trucking companies. An experienced trucking attorney will know which evidence is important to collect to prove your claim and will know how to present your case so you are fairly compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
The lawyer you choose does make a difference. An attorney who is not experienced in handling tractor trailer accident cases will likely not obtain the best result.
The Ritchie Law Firm is experienced in obtaining favorable verdicts and settlements for victims of truck accidents. Our lawyers have been recognized by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and Super Lawyers.
We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you don’t pay us a fee unless we get results for you. Call us today for a free consultation 800-277-6124 or use our convenient online form.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.
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“The truck came across the center line and side-swiped my car. My wife and I were both injured in the accident. The Volvo was totaled. My wife needed surgery on her knee. I was suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result of the accident. It affected me far more seriously than I would have expected. I needed legal help and I went to the Ritchie Law Firm. This was a very difficult case because of complicated medical issues and the Ritchie Law Firm was able to handle the problem. They worked very hard for me. I was very satisfied with the outcome. They were a great help to my wife and I. If you’ve been injured, I recommend you call the Ritchie Law Firm.”