Tractor Trailer Accidents
One area where Page Perry trial lawyers have had success is in the representation of individuals and families who have suffered tragic losses as a result of an encounter with a big truck on the highway. All too often, when a truck and a car collide, death or catastrophic injury results because an 80,000-pound rig is crushing a 3,000-pound car. A parent, a child, or an entire family can be lost in the blink of an eye because a truck veers a few inches into the wrong lane, follows another vehicle a few feet too closely, or travels a few miles per hour over the speed limit.
While commercial truck drivers undergo extensive training and are rightfully considered professionals, accidents do happen and sometimes the professional driver is at fault. Because of the destructive capabilities of their vehicles and the amount of time they spend on the road, commercial truck drivers can be held accountable for mistakes that might be forgiven if made by a less experienced driver. Truck drivers are trained to drive defensively – to anticipate mistakes made by other drivers and to avoid hazardous situations before they cause an accident – and if they fail to do so they can be held legally responsible even if the chain of events leading up to the wreck was first set in motion by someone else. A driver who could have taken evasive action to avoid a wreck – but failed to do so because he was inattentive or distracted – may be held liable if reasonable care would have prevented the collision.
Commercial trucks are subject to state and federal regulation, and both the vehicles and the drivers must comply with rigorous safety standards. Sometimes mechanical defects and missing or obscured safety equipment (for example, reflective tape and lights on the trailer) can be a factor in the collision, as well as driver impairment or fatigue. Federal regulations require that drivers be tested for drugs and alcohol, and there are rules on how much rest a driver is required to have between trips. Most trucks have an ECM (electronic control module), a black box that stores critical information about the inner workings of the vehicle, that can often be downloaded to provide the speed of the truck and other information. The driver’s average speed can also be calculated by looking at the distances traveled and comparing that information to the times logged by the driver as required by federal regulations. If the driver is not following federal regulations and the company is looking the other way, it may be possible to show that the company itself is at fault for not maintaining a culture of compliance and for recklessly shunning its legal obligations, which may give rise to a claim for punitive damages on top of whatever compensation may be owed to the victims of the crash. Since trucking companies are generally required to maintain high levels of liability insurance coverage, collectability is usually not a problem when substantial damages are awarded as a result of a truck crash.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed because of the negligence of a truck driver or company, we would be glad to evaluate the case and let you know if you have a viable claim to compensation.