Car accidents alone are traumatic, but when a semi truck is involved, the effects can be devastating. On top of the enormous expense accrued, the injuries that follow are often life-changing. Add driver negligence to the mix and the situation can be even more disastrous. Though some accidents cannot be prevented, negligenceÂ can always be avoided. From texting while driving to speeding, all actions have consequences, and the guilty party must be held accountable.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident caused by driver negligence, the attorneys at Fried Rogers Goldberg understand the complexity of your situation and how to handle it. We can help you and your family decide if and when you should pursue legal action.
The questions that follow a devastating accident are many, and this page provides helpful information about:
If you were involved in a trucking accident by driver negligence, you may qualify for compensation to help with medical bills, missed wages or any other cost related to the collision. Learn more about your rights and how we can help by contacting the attorneys at Fried Rogers Goldberg for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation at (404) 591-1800.
Why You Should Act Quickly after a Truck Accident
Following a trucking accident, it’s imperative that you speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible, as the law limits the amount of time you have to seek compensation after a wreck. Accident investigations are most accurate when conducted immediately after the crash occurred. If you wait too long to act, you could lose your chance at seeking justice for your damages.
A collision involving a truck or commercial vehicle is no small matter. The truck driver responsible for the accident is most likely already seeking legal advice. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided â€“ call speak with an experienced trucking accident attorney today.
Hold the Negligent Driver Accountable
Mistakes can happen, but negligence is preventable. Whether the extent of damages is great or small, no one should have to suffer because of anotherâ€™s negligence.
Truck drivers in particular have a responsibility to be cognizant, as the sheer size of a commercial truck increases risk and danger in a collision. In cases of truck accident driver negligence, an attorney must prove that the driver was negligent and responsible for the crash.
In order to prove negligence, your attorney will provide evidence following these four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.
There must be a legal duty from one party to another. In case of truck accident negligence, there is an inherent duty for the truck driver to drive responsibly and within the law, and for the trucking company to maintain safe loading and maintenance practices.
There must be a breach of this legal duty by one party failing to act as described above.
It was the offender’s actions (or inactions) that caused the injury and/or damage to your property.
You were harmed or injured as a result of the offender’s actions.
Truck Accident Investigation
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations mandate that every trucking company maintains a driver qualification file (DFQ) on all drivers. For truck accident lawyers, this information is often a critical part of their truck accident investigation.
The following must be included in a DQF:
- Driving records, including accident history for both the driver and truck
- The driver’s employment history
- Road test results
- Drug and alcohol test results
- Records for service hours
- Training certificates
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Copies of licenses
- Records of annual reviews
- Any medical certifications
- Employment applications
- Personnel records
An experienced truck accident attorney can obtain a DQF for your potential case. Trucking companies are typically reluctant to hand over DFQ files, especially if the files might contain information that could be a liability for the trucking company or their driver. In some cases, an attorney may need to get a subpoena, forcing the release of the document.
An experienced truck accident attorney will also ensure that the driver meets all of the qualifications required to drive a commercial vehicle.
Commercial vehicle drivers must:
- Possess a valid commercial driver’s license
- Have passed a recognized driving test
- Be at least 21 years old
- Read and speak English
- Be able to safely operate a vehicle
- Be able to properly load and secure cargo
- Be in good health
- Possess a valid medical certificate
An experienced truck accident attorney will investigate a number of factors, including whether the driver had consumed drugs or alcohol, how much time the driver was on the road since his last break, information recorded by the truck’s black box (such as the truck’s speed when brakes were applied, velocity changes, sudden braking, changes in RPMs and gear shifts) and will gather information through a GPS device that can show the truck’s precise location and speed.
Having a skilled attorney at your side during this trying time can make all the difference for you and your family.
As your committed advocate, your attorney will:
- Work with an accident reconstruction expert
- Examine the truck or commercial vehicle
- Interview the truck driver
- Interview first responders
- Interview law enforcement from the scene
- Interview safety officers from the scene
- Interview witnesses and/or passengers
- Take and examine photos of the scene
Who’s Liable in a Truck Accident Case?
When a trucking accident occurs, other people closely involved are often found to be at fault. How the driver was hired, trained, the hours he or she was working and the condition of the truck can all contribute to a crash, and each party can be held liable.
Additional parties that can be penalized may also include: the owner of the truck, the person or company that loaded the truck’s cargo or the person or company that leased the truck the manufacturer of the vehicle, tires or other parts.
It is not uncommon for trucking companies to try and avoid liability. They may claim the driver was not working for their company or that they don’t actually own the equipment, meaning they would not be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repairs or regular inspections of the truck or trailer. An experienced truck accident attorney knows how to work past these obstacles.
Common Signs of Negligence
When a trucking company is negligent, not only are they breaching their legal duty but they are also putting countless motorists in serious danger.
Common signs of negligence on the part of the trucking company:
- Overlooking safety regulations by allowing trucks with faulty parts to operate
- Pressuring drivers to make unrealistic deadlines
- Inadequate driver training
- Utilizing drivers who are not equipped to safely handle an oversized vehicle
- Allowing trucks to be loaded improperly
When a truck driver acts negligently, the consequences can be traumatic and extremely costly. Operating a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds makes it critical for the driver to use the utmost safety and caution. It is simply inexcusable when commercial vehicle drivers allow themselves to be distracted, irresponsible or even impaired.
Truck drivers who act negligently can cause traumatic and costly lawsuits. When a driver fails to act safely behind a 40-ton vehicle, untold damage often follows. With long hours and relatively no time spent outside of a truck, many drivers can become prone to dangerous mistakes.
Common causes for truck driver negligence
Truck drivers are under strict guidelines regulating hours of services and amount of sleep spent. Yet pressure to meet deadlines or a misjudgment can cause them to drive longer than what is considered safe.
Operating a truck under the influence of alcohol, prescription or non-prescription drugs can lead to catastrophic consequences on the road.
Because trucks maneuver, accelerate and decelerate differently than cars, they are more difficult to control, especially at high speeds. This makes speeding behind the wheel of a truck an inexcusably negligent act.
Dangerous lane changes
A truck’s size can often make changing lanes more challenging. Trucks require a much greater stopping distance than cars, which can pose a dangerous problem if one has changed lanes in front of you.
Failure to check blind spots
The large number of blind spots a truck has may cause the driver to overlook you when changing lanes. Trucks have numerous mirrors for these blind spots but if the driver fails to check even just one, it could result in a dangerous lane change and possibly a collision.
Drivers found guilty of these or other forms of negligence can be held liable for your injuries and damages. If truck driver negligence can be connected to hiring, maintenance, delivery and deadline pressures from the trucking company, the trucking company can be found liable for negligence as well.
Contact Fried Rogers Goldberg
Trucking companies are often unyielding when protecting themselves against liability and will take every measure to refute claims, even if they are responsible for your pain and suffering. This is why it is invaluable to have an experienced trucking accident attorney on your side who is well-versed with the legal process involving trucking companies.
With more than 100 years of combined experience, Fried Rogers Goldberg dedicates more than 95 percent of our practice to commercial vehicle and trucking accident litigation. Pursuing legal action can seem intimidating, but you need not worry when one of our attorneys is on your side.
To schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, contact our firm today at (404) 591-1800. Let us help ensure justice is served so you can peacefully move on with your life.