How Common Are Trucking Accidents?
Overall wrecks involving trucks are fairly common. They occur every day, they occur in every state, they occur in a number of ways. Many times the vehicles involved in everyday wrecks are trucks or commercial vehicles. The magnitude of an injury in a truck wreck is the most concerning. The majority of the time, the injuries are catastrophic in nature or result in a fatality when you are talking about truck accidents.
Are Trucking Accidents Subject To Different Regulations Of The Road?
Absolutely! The trucking industry is heavily regulated, the rules that govern trucking companies and truck drivers are called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The acronym would be FMCSRs, and those regulations dictate the behavior that is expected, the minimum standards, if you will, that are expected out of a trucking company and their drivers. They govern rules like hiring of truck drivers, qualification of truck drivers, vehicle maintenance on the trucks, the amount of hours that drivers are allowed to drive and things of that nature.
The Most Commonly Violated Regulation That Results In A Trucking Accident
Many times, truck driver fatigue is a factor in wrecks involving truck drivers and trucks. One of the most violated regulations would certainly be the hours of service, meaning the amount of hours that a truck driver is allowed to work or drive before they have to rest. Hours of service is one, another that I see frequently is vehicle maintenance. The requirements for systematic inspection and maintenance of the vehicles are very important and that is another one that is violated a lot. Probably the next would be the driver qualification and whether a driver is in fact medically qualified to operate a big rig.
Is It Easy To Access Medical Information Or Working Hours Of The Driver In A Truck Accident Claim?
I would not say that those items are easily recovered. Trucking companies, for the most part, try to keep the information from appearing publicly in the context of a lawsuit that arises out of these types of cases. The lawyers are allowed to conduct what is called Discovery, which is simply asking for information and either getting it voluntarily or asking the court to compel the trucking company or the driver to produce this information. Once that information is produced, it is important that the person looking at it knows what to look for. One of the most important things in a claim relating to a wreck involving a tractor trailer is making sure that the trucking company receives a preservation of evidence letter as soon as possible.
In our office, immediately upon being retained to represent a victim in a truck accident case, we send the trucking company, the driver and the insurance carrier, a substantial preservation of evidence letter asking, in fact demanding that they preserve all of the necessary documentation that we are talking about that. This is required by the federal regulations, policies, procedures, hours of service logs, vehicle maintenance records, all of the documents that we look at to determine what the cause of the wreck was and what the likely factors are involved. That preservation of evidence letter getting to the insurance company, the trucking company or the driver as soon as possible is very important to making sure that documents and records do not disappear.
How Is A Truck Accident Claim Different From An Auto Accident Claim?
Many people think of a truck accident as just a large car wreck and that is incorrect. One way that these differ is the necessity to preserve evidence immediately including getting people out to the scene, to photograph any evidence on the roadway, whether it be skid marks, or gouges in the pavement, or any physical evidence at the scene, it is important to document that.
It is important to understand what the truck driver is supposed to do following a wreck, whether it involves drug or alcohol testing, or an accident report for his or her company. The trucking companies are vigorous in their defense of these claims. They hire the best lawyers, the insurance companies fight these claims tooth and nail and you have to be prepared and willing and able to fight it out with them, to get all of the information that is necessary to determine what happened.
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