Accidents involving a semi-truck tend to cause more financial and physical damage than any other vehicular accidents. Semi-trucks are large and unwieldy, often carry dangerous or heavy loads, and can’t stop as quickly as other vehicles. Conditions on I-78, including mist and sudden stops, make truck accidents all too common.
If you or someone you know were involved in an accident with a semi-truck, the accident was likely life-altering. The car was probably totaled, and the driver and passengers likely suffered serious injuries. If the truck was carrying toxic substances, the accident may have been even worse.
You or your loved one probably can’t afford to cover both the cost of medical bills and replacing the car, as well as other associated costs. In addition, any other people in the car, such as the drivers’ friends and family, likely experienced emotional trauma from the events. When such an accident occurs, you usually need some form of compensation to afford the extreme unexpected costs.
Because truck accidents can be so devastating, you are often entitled to a large compensation. However, since the truck causing the accident is usually owned by a company, not by the driver, it’s hard to know who is responsible for the accident. For instance, a driver may lose focus after driving more hours than legally allowed, but it could be because a supervisor ordered him or her to.
When you get into a trucking accident, there are a few things you need to look into. Certain aspects of the situation can indicate who is at fault, which will make it easier for your personal injury attorney to get you the payment you deserve.
States impose strict regulations for how much weight a truck can legally haul. The heavier the vehicle, the longer it will take to stop. If the driver is used to driving with a certain weight and then exceeds the weight limits, he or she may not realize how the stopping distance has to change. Overfilling a truck may also put wear on the machinery, damaging important parts like tires or brakes.
Figuring out whether a truck is too heavy requires a basic knowledge of truck architecture and legal weight limits. Federal limits prevent loads of over 80,000 pounds, and the distribution of this weight must meet specific rules.
A typical one-trailer semi-truck has five axles, which can each support a designated amount of weight. The trailer has four axles; a set of two in front and a set of two in back. Each set can only support a maximum of 34,000 pounds, leaving 12,000 pounds for the steering axle on the tractor. Certain trucks may also have manufacturing weight limits that are less than the legal limits.
When you get into an accident, work with your lawyer to get an idea of how much weight the truck was carrying and how it was distributed. If the company loading the truck went over the limit, the company would be at fault. If the trucker is an independent contractor who loaded the truck him- or herself, he or she is responsible. The manufacturer might also be at fault if they didn’t accurately state how much weight the truck could carry.
Some of the most important evidence you and your attorney will need to gather after an accident are the records kept by the driver and the information recorded by the electronic control module, which is also known as the “black box.” The module records information like the average speed, the highest speed, the amount of time spent driving, and whether the driver braked hard over a period of time.
The black box will show whether the driver has followed legal driving limits. According to federal regulations, truck drivers have a 14-hour window in which they can drive a total of 11 hours. After every 8 consecutive hours of driving, the driver is required to take a 30-minute break. After the 14-hour period of work, the driver must wait 10 hours before driving again.
If the driver spends more time driving than the legal limit, he or she might be at risk of becoming groggy and losing concentration, which in turn increases the likelihood of a collision. On certain sections of I-78, a lack of focus can prove fatal, as the speed changes abruptly and with little warning. The black box can show accurate driving information that may contradict the driver’s personal logs.
In terms of fault, the driver might be responsible if he or she purposely drove to the point of exhaustion, but it may also have been a requirement of the company. An extensive look into the driver’s schedule will help determine who was responsible for the driver’s mental state.
Understanding federal truck regulations will go a long way to helping you receive the compensation you deserve. Talk to your attorney from The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky about gathering the necessary evidence.