Trucking Accidents

Higher Risk of Truck Accidents in Winter Weather

It’s that time again to prepare for winter weather and the increased risks of motor vehicle accidents. As any truck accident attorney will tell you, truck drivers are at an even higher risk in some cases. The problem for truck drivers is low visibility and less control. They are a recipe for trouble. Even on a sunny day, truck drivers must be concerned with an increased stopping distance, less control and the extra weight to contend with. A truck accident attorney can help you navigate through your potential claim. The most common causes of truck accidents There are several common causes of truck accidents.  The lack of training and inexperience of the truck driver is a common one.  Problems with the truck itself are also very common. For example, if the truck is overloaded, oversized, has defective brakes or was poorly maintained.  Distracted driving, driver exhaustion, alcohol or drugs are also common situations leading to truck accidents. However, just like an auto accident, weather conditions are always a concern. Why truck accidents are different from car accidents Generally speaking, accidents involving trucks are more serious than car accidents for many reasons.  They typically result in catastrophic injuries and significant property damage simply because of the size of most commercial trucks.  While an average passenger vehicle weighs about 3,000 pounds, a loaded 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Handling legal claims for truck accidents can be more complicated The way a truck accident attorney must handle a truck accident case is different from other cases from the outset. These kinds of cases are usually more time-sensitive and require that the evidence be preserved more swiftly than in a car accident case. Insurance coverage can also be more complicated because trucking companies are involved. Another significant difference is the existence of state and federal regulations that govern commercial trucks, truck drivers and trucking companies. One important regulation that often becomes an issue in truck accident cases, is the restriction on hours of service for commercial truck drivers. The nature of the risk posed by blowouts In addition to dangerous weather conditions, tire blowouts in 18-wheelers is an extremely dangerous issue. Many of us have seen the evidence of an 18-wheeler tire blowout — the huge pieces of black rubber littering most highways.  When a truck tire blows, shards of rubber become projectiles into traffic, often causing accidents when they strike other cars or when cars swerve trying to avoid the sudden obstacles.  According to some statistics, this type of debris causes more than 25,000 collisions and more than 100 fatalities each year. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, debris from blown truck tires are the number one type of debris on the roadway. The need for truck accident investigations In order for a truck accident investigation to be thorough, evidence needs to be gathered regarding every aspect of the truck accident. This would involve pictures of the accident scene and the damages to each vehicle involved. The vehicles also need to be inspected as well as photographed to determine if there were any defects or lack of maintenance which could have contributed to the accident. The importance of witness interviews regarding the accident A primary component of every truck accident investigation is witness testimony. Witnesses can provide their observations of the accident scene, how the accident occurred and any contact or communications with individuals immediately after the accident. It is better to obtain this testimony as soon after the accident as you can, while the information is fresh for the witness. Therefore, one of the most important things to do immediately following a truck accident is obtaining the contract information for potential witnesses. Recognizing the “statute of limitations” for you claim Every civil legal claim has an applicable statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing your lawsuit in court. Once this time period is over, it is too late to file your lawsuit. If you still file it, the court will most likely dismiss it. The length of time you have to file the suit depends on the type of claim you are bringing and where the lawsuit has been filed. Each state has its own statute of limitations period for various claims. Your truck accident attorney will know which period applies to your claim. Why are statute of limitations periods imposed? The purpose of the statute of limitations period is a practical one. Basically, the most useful evidence is likely to be destroyed or corrupted as time passes. Also, the scene of the accident could possibly be altered, memories fade and relevant records can be destroyed. Consequently, it is best to bring a lawsuit as soon as possible. If you have questions regarding truck accidents, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Truck Accident Lawyers Explain What to Expect After the Accident

Truck accident lawyers are more aware than most that accidents involving trucks are usually very traumatic and the recovery can be very painful. If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, chances are you will incur costs and complications that last far beyond the initial accident.  Most clients want to know what to expect after the accident. The initial claims process The importance of filing the proper paperwork for the initial claim cannot be overstated.  The initial claim needs to describe both the accident and its aftermath.  Until you get your attorney on board, you need to keep up with everything you can, including police reports, accident photos, contact information from eye witnesses, insurance information for everyone involved in the accident.  The other documentation you will need includes records from emergency responders, medical records from emergency rooms and hospital costs, and all other types of medical records. How to choose the right attorney Choosing an attorney is a critical stage in an accident case. Personal injury cases have many details that can be overlooked.  The personal injury lawyers at the Cottrell Law Office are dedicated to seeking justice on behalf of accident victims.  We understand that everyone should be held responsible for acting in a way that does not endanger others. When people fail in this important duty and someone is injured, the accident victims should be able to obtain compensation. Common injuries following a truck accident Large truck accidents often lead to serious injury. Truck accident lawyers know the potential for long-term, disabling injuries is much greater than a collision between two passenger vehicles. Some of the most common injuries resulting from large truck accidents include brain and spinal injuries, neck injuries, internal injuries, burns, broken bones, and amputations.  In the most serious situations, death can occur. Brain and head injuries following a truck accident Brain and head injuries are among the most serious and devastating injuries sustained by truck accident victims. Symptoms of head injuries following an accident can include loss of memory, chronic headaches, vision changes, and changes in cognition or mental capacity. Brain and head injuries can include concussions, bleeding, bruising, and swelling of the brain. Traumatic brain injuries are often catastrophic, resulting in loss of quality of life and long-term mental impairments. Neck injuries following a truck accident Truck accident victims often suffer neck injuries, as do most victims of motor vehicle collisions. These injuries can range from the more minor whiplash type injury to more serious injuries like cervical herniation and fractures.  The worst injury that could result is a severed or severely damaged spinal cord, which would result in paralysis. Back and spinal cord injuries following a truck accident The spinal cord and back are often more susceptible to severe injury in a trucking accident. Spinal cord injuries can cause loss of feeling or function in the extremities. Compression of the spinal cord, which occurs often in a truck accident, can cause extreme pain, loss of range of motion, and even partial or total paralysis. Internal injuries and broken bones It is quite common for the impact of a truck accident to cause internal organ injuries, which are often life-threatening and require immediate medical treatment. Recovering from these types of traumatic injuries can require transplants or intensive rehabilitation. Broken or fractured bones are painful and can cause a host of medical problems if not treated properly or they do not heal correctly. Amputations as a result of a trucking accident An amputation or loss of a body part is, no doubt, one of the most devastating injuries that can result from a catastrophic truck accident. These injuries usually require long-term physical therapy, prosthetics, and often include some form of psychological trauma. Burn injuries following a trucking accident Burns or other injuries due to toxic chemicals are very common in accidents that involve large commercial trucks that were hauling hazardous or flammable materials.  In the event of a truck accident, the occupants of the other vehicle involved can be exposed to such chemicals or burned by fires.  Burns are painful and often lead to permanent disfigurement. Inhalation of toxic chemicals can also lead to permanent lung damage.  Unfortunately, the full effects of inhalation injuries may not be evident for years to come. If you have questions regarding truck accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Truck Accidents Involving Hazardous Cargo

Not all motor vehicle accidents are the same.  In fact, accidents involving large commercial trucks, or 18-wheelers, are usually much more devastating than simple automobile collisions.  Add to that a commercial vehicle that is carrying hazardous cargo, and you may have a serious disaster on your hands.  If you or someone you know has been involved in this type of accident, truck accident lawyers will be able to guide you through the litigation process so you can recover everything to which you are entitled. What makes truck accidents different? There are several factors that make litigating a truck accident case, unlike a simple auto accident case. First, there are various laws that apply specifically to trucks accidents, as well as, rules and regulations that govern truck drivers, trucking companies and how they operate.  Also, the parties typically involved in truck accident cases are different.  In many cases, there are more parties involved than simply the truck drivers. A truck accident itself is typically different than a car collision.  First, driving a semi is completely different from driving a car, simply because trucks are more sophisticated vehicles. The physical dynamics of what takes place during a truck accident are usually quite different as well, which ultimately means the injuries that are caused are more likely to be catastrophic. Regulatory agencies that govern commercial vehicles Truck accident lawyers are familiar with the various regulatory agencies that govern how commercial vehicles are maintained and operated on our roadways. Because of the serious nature of accidents involving these vehicles, regulations have been established to monitor and oversee the entire trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates both truck drivers and commercial trucks themselves. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) also institutes certain rules regarding general motor vehicle performance and safety. Regulations that pertain to truck drivers The FMCSA provides guidance and regulatory oversight on several different subjects. For instance, there are specific medical requirements that truck drivers must meet before they can operate a commercial truck. There are very specific regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials, which could potentially harm the public or the environment. There are also rules regarding how to safely secure cargo, which is especially important for trucks carrying loads that are not be contained inside a trailer. Specific rules for trucks with hazardous cargo Transporting hazardous cargo in the United States is regulated by the federal government. Some of the special rules these trucks are required to follow include: Identifying material as hazardous and placing appropriate signage on the truck to warn other drivers. Hazardous cargo must be properly handled, loaded and secured. Trucks carrying hazardous cargo are prohibited from traveling on certain roads where transportation of dangerous material is considered a public safety hazard. Truck drivers carrying hazardous materials must be educated on how to properly carry the cargo. Examples of common types of hazardous cargo Generally speaking, any materials that are extremely flammable, toxic, radioactive, explosive, reactive or corrosive are considered hazardous and are closely regulated. These materials include, but are not limited to: Fuel oil Gasoline Dynamite Flares Display fireworks Ammunition Blasting agents Explosive devices Flammable and non-flammable gases Poisonous and toxic gases Propane Helium Compressed gases Spontaneously combustibles Oxidizers Organic peroxides Infectious substances Radioactive materials and waste Battery fluid Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Certain medicines Who is responsible for collisions involving hazardous cargo? While your first inclination will be to sue the driver of the truck hauling the hazardous cargo, that may not be the only source of liability.  While the driver certainly may have been negligent in causing the crash, the trucking or shipping company could also be liable if the cargo was not properly loaded.  Any company that may have been responsible for conducting routine inspections or maintenance may also be liable, depending on the situation. Another consideration is the company who manufactured the cargo and packaged it, if there is reason to believe that the hazardous materials were not safely packaged, or if the cargo was hazardous but not identified as such when it was manufactured.  A trucking company that hires drivers to carry their loads can also be held liable for the driver’s negligence, especially in cases where drivers are carrying hazardous cargo. If you have questions regarding truck accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Missouri Employer Liable for Wide-Load Truck Accident

Truck accident lawyers can tell you that it can be a little a tricky determining who is liable for the injuries sustained in an accident involving a commercial truck.  In some situations, there may be more people responsible than simply the driver of the truck.  A Missouri appellate court very recently held that a truck driver’s employer was liable for its own actions that contributed to the fatal accident. Liability for the fatal wide-load truck accident In the case of Brown v. Davis, the plaintiff’s husband was killed as he drove his car across a narrow bridge and was struck by a piece of logging equipment that had been on the back of a flatbed truck owned by the defendant.  The court found that the truck driver’s should have foreseen the risks of transporting an oversized log skidder across a bridge without first stopping oncoming traffic.  In fact, the court held, the employer had a legal duty to take appropriate precautions but failed to do so, including giving the truck’s driver a misleading signal. The specific facts of the case The owner of the trucking company at issue sent his nephew to drive the truck transporting logging equipment from Missouri to Illinois. The owner drove ahead of the truck to make sure the road was safe for travel. During the trip, it was necessary to cross the Missouri River which involved crossing a narrow bridge.  The owner crossed the bridge first and gave an “all clear” signal to his nephew. However, once his nephew began to cross the bridge, it became apparent that another car was also on the bridge.  Believing that there would not be enough room for the two vehicles, the nephew driver pulled the truck over to the side of the bridge.  In doing so, the logging equipment that was being hauled struck the bridge and came free.  The heavy equipment collided with the car killing the driver. The wrongful death action against the driver and the company The driver’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner, the trucking company, and the truck driver. The nephew admitted his negligence in the operating the vehicle, but the owner denied that he was negligent. Specifically, the owner argued that he owed no duty of care to the driver of the car.  He also argued that and even if he owed a duty it was not breached. Standard protocol for wide-load trucks At the trial of this case, a local sheriff provided testimony that it was standard protocol for any wide truck to arrange for safe crossing of the bridge by calling ahead to the sheriff’s office. In fact, the sheriff testified that he had personally closed the bridge on several occasions for similar crossings. Furthermore, the owner’s nephew and the driver of the truck testified that on several other occasions when he drove for his uncle, he or his uncle would normally “close” the bridge themselves.  However, on this particular occasions, a witness testified that he saw the owner moments before the accident, sitting in a gas station parking lot, but no one was stopping anyone from crossing the bridge. Jury awarded million dollar verdict Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the victim’s family and awarded her $3 million in damages on her wrongful death claim. The owner appealed the jury award unsuccessfully.  In Missouri, the survivors of the deceased victim can bring a lawsuit for damages both on behalf of the victim and compensate the family for their own personal losses.  The purpose of these damages in a wrongful death case is to reimburse the families for the medical bills, funeral expenses, and other costs that may have been incurred as a result of the untimely death. Wrongful death damages in a Missouri In Missouri, the goal of a wrongful death claim is to obtain compensation in the form of monetary damages, for the following: funeral and burial expenses medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness the value of wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death, and the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members. If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Winter Weather Results in Tragic Truck Accident

It’s no secret that we have been experiencing some unexpected weather across the globe.  Winter weather is no exception.  The problem for truck drivers is that low visibility and commercial trucks are a recipe for trouble.  There are already the inherent concerns with an increased stopping distance, less control and the extra weight to contend with.  A truck accident lawyer can help you navigate through your potential claim. Man killed by snow plow in New York Not all regions of the United States are as familiar with snow plows as New York may be, but we can all relate to the tragedy of a truck accident. A few months ago a man in New York was struck and killed by a snow plow clearing snow in front of the man’s residence.  A storm had just dropped more than two feet of snow.  Although the man was taken to the hospital after the accident, he died a short time later.  There was no criminal conduct suspected by the police, but civil liability would still be an issue. Understanding the difference between civil and criminal liability A finding that there was no criminal conduct on the part of the truck driver means that there was no violation of any law at the time.  That does not mean that the driver cannot be found civilly liable for the accident.  Put another way, a finding of no criminal violations does not negate a negligence claim.  The difference between civil and criminal liability is typically the knowledge or intent of the guilty party.  Criminal liability requires a certain level of “guilty knowledge or intent” that a civil negligence claim would not. Handling truck accidents can be more complicated The way a truck accident lawyer handles a truck accident case is different than other cases from the very beginning.  These types of cases are often more time-sensitive, requiring the evidence to be preserved more quickly than in a basic car accident case.  Insurance coverage may be more complicated because of the involvement of trucking companies.  Another major difference is the existence of state and federal regulations that govern commercial trucks, truck drivers, and trucking companies.  One important regulation, which arises often in truck accident cases, is the restriction on hours of service for commercial truck drivers. The importance of truck accident investigations For a truck accident investigation to be thorough, evidence must be gathered regarding every aspect of the truck accident.  This would include pictures of the accident scene and the damages to all vehicle involved. The vehicles should be inspected as well as photographed to determine if there were any defects or lack of maintenance which could have contributed to the accident. The importance of witness interviews A major component of every truck accident investigation is witness testimony. Witnesses can give their observations of the accident scene, how the accident occurred and any contact or communications with individuals immediately after the accident.  It is best to obtain this testimony as soon after the accident as possible while the information is fresh.  For this reason, one of the most important things to do immediately after a truck accident is obtaining the contract information for potential witnesses.  Don’t forget police officers and other first responders. Know the “statute of limitations” for you claim Every legal claim has a statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations is the deadline you have for filing your lawsuit in court.  Once this time period ends, it is too late to file your lawsuit, and if you file it anyway, the court will dismiss it.  The deadline or the length of time you have to file the suit depends on the type of claim and where the lawsuit has been filed.  Each state has its own statute of limitations periods for various claims.  Your truck accident lawyer will know which period applies to your claim. Why do courts impose a statute of limitations? The purpose of the statute of limitations period or deadline is practical.  Essentially, the most useful evidence will often be destroyed or corrupted over time.  Also, the scene of the accident is likely to be altered, memories fade and relevant records can be destroyed.  For this reason, it is best to bring a lawsuit as soon as possible. If you have questions regarding truck accidents or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Truck Tire Blow Outs Create Dangerous Condition for Others

If you have spent any time on the interstate or major highways you have seen the rubber debris scattered across the lanes.  The dodging and weaving that motorists must engage in just to avoid these dangerous obstacles is scary enough.  But, as any truck accident attorney knows, the remnants of a truck tire blowout are not the only hazard.  When a truck driver loses control of his rig because of a blowout, the risk of a catastrophe becomes greater. The nature of the risk posed by blowouts We have all seen the evidence of an 18-wheeler tire blowout.  The huge pieces of black rubber littering the highway.  When the tire blows, shards of rubber become projectiles into traffic, which can cause accidents if they strike other cars or when cars swerve trying to avoid the sudden obstacles.  According to some statistics, this type of debris causes more than 25,000 collisions and over 100 fatalities every year. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, tire pieces are the number one type of debris on the road. What are the primary causes of blown tires? Another problem arises when a blown tire causes a truck driver to lose control of the rig.  Due to the sheer size of commercial trucks, there is a potential for rollovers.  When truck drivers ignore the worn or underinflated tires, the likelihood of a blowout increases.  Defective tires also increase the risk of danger.  Since the typical tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded, it is crucial that the tires are well maintained.  Factors such as heat, high speed, and worn tread, among others, can lead to an increased risk of a blowout. Failure to Conduct Routine Tire Maintenance The good news is that it is easy to reduce the chances of blowouts simply by performing routine maintenance. Yet, that is probably the most common problem.  If either the truck driver or the company he works for, fails to perform routine maintenance and inspections, which would have revealed the need for tire replacement, then that could be a basis for liability. What type of legal claim can I bring? Anyone injured in a truck accident where the cause of the accident was a tire blowout can bring a lawsuit for compensatory damages.  These types of claims are based on negligence.  That requires proof that the truck driver and/or trucking company had a duty to prevent the tire blowout, but breached that duty, ultimately causing the injuries.  Of course, the companies and their drivers will make an attempt to blame the victim, so it is important to consult with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. What about cases involving defective tires? It may not always be the fault of the truck driver or his employer when a tire blows and causes an accident. In some cases, it is determined that the tire was actually defective and the manufacturer is at fault. On example of a very dangerous defect is when the layers of the tire separate. The importance of proper tire inflation According to some studies, most of the tire debris on the road is a result of under-inflated tires.  When a tire is not inflated properly it becomes more prone to becoming cut and going flat.  These types of problems are preventable if truck drivers are sure to maintain the proper amount of air based on the truckload and tire size.  Tires flex as they roll.  A tire which is improperly inflated will not roll as smoothly as it was made to roll.  On the other hand, over-inflated tires typically do not absorb road hazards such as potholes and debris in the road.  In that case, the risk of puncture or sustaining damage from an impact is increased. Why trucking accidents are more serious The size and dimensions of large commercial trucks make operating them much complicated than operating cars.  Large trucks accelerate much slower and take much longer to stop.  Truck accidents more often lead to serious or even catastrophic injuries. Handling a truck accident case is also more complicated Regardless of whether the accident was caused by a blown tire or driver inattention, truck accident cases are handled very differently, from the very beginning. For one thing, truck accident lawsuits are more time-sensitive and the necessary evidence to prove liability needs to be preserved more quickly than in a typical auto accident case.   Also, the insurance issues that arise are often more difficult to navigate. If you have questions regarding truck accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

What is the Hours of Service Rule for Truck Drivers?

Truck-related highway accidents are not only serious, but also very common. In 2012, there were nearly 100 motor vehicle fatalities, in both Missouri and Arkansas, involving large commercial trucks. Accidents involving 18-wheelers often result in catastrophic injuries, simply because of the sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler. In light of the serious risks 18-wheelers create on the roadway, federal and state regulations have been created to govern how trucking companies, and the truck driver’s themselves, are required to operate. One major concern for long-haul truck drivers is driver exhaustion, which frequently results in accidents and death.  In response to this concern, the “hours of service rule” was created. What is the purpose of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation? The purpose of the Hours of Service rule, established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is to limit a truck driver’s ability to work the maximum number of hours currently allowed, on a continuing basis, in order to reduce the likelihood of driver fatigue. Long hours driving on the road have been linked to an increased risk of crashes, as well as chronic health conditions associated with sleep deprivation. Who do these rules apply to? Drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles are required to follow the Hours of Service Regulations.  A “commercial motor vehicle” is defined as any vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and fits any of the following descriptions: Weighs 10,001 pounds or more Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards Basic rules for property-carrying commercial motor vehicles The Hours of Service regulations, as they apply to individuals carrying property (as opposed to passengers), prohibit truck drivers from driving more than 11 hours at a time, or to driver after being on duty for 14 hours.  The difference in time reflects non-driving work duties, such as loading or unloading cargo and meal and rest breaks.  After either an 11 or 14 hour on-duty period, truck drivers must be given 10 hours off duty.  As far as weekly hours, truck drivers are prohibited from driving after having been on-duty 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or after having been on-duty 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. Truck drivers are required to keep log books Every commercial motor vehicle driver is required to keep track of his driving and on-duty time with a log book, which can be either written or electronic.  The log book typically has a grid pattern on every page, dividing the 24-hour day into 15-minute segments. Drivers are also required to make carbon copies of every page. One copy must be kept with the driver, to be provided to DOT officials upon inspection, if necessary.  The other copy is to be sent to the driver’s employer. If you have questions regarding Hours or Service regulations, or any other trucking accident issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Contributing Factors in Trucking Accidents

The dangers of being involved in a trucking accident are obvious.  The weight and size of an 18-wheeler makes nearly every collision serious, if not catastrophic.  In Missouri there were nearly 100 motor vehicle fatalities in 2012, involving large commercial trucks. The same was true in Arkansas.  There are several common contributing factors in trucking accidents, which often lead to negligence claims against truck drivers or others. Driver Error Arguably, driver error may be the most common cause of trucking accidents.  First, driver error is a broad category that includes distractions, failing to obey traffic rules, driving while intoxicated and driver exhaustion.  Essentially, anything that prevents a truck driver from being able to see, react or make proper judgments results in driver error. Weather and Road Conditions Weather conditions, such as snow, ice, and heavy rain can cause truck drivers to lose control of their rigs, which can be disastrous.  Due to the size, weight and dimensions of commercial trucks, along with the nature of the load being carried, it is even more likely that the driver may lose control in bad weather conditions.  If a truck driver is not experienced in handling a rig in poor weather or road conditions, driver error may again be a contributing factor. Mechanical Failure While, in some cases, mechanical issues cannot be avoided, there may also be an issue of poor maintenance, defective equipment, or misuse of equipment, which results in a trucking accident.  If the reason for the mechanical failure was avoidable, then there may be a case for negligence and the basis for litigation. Improper Load Distribution Loading of an 18-wheeler is a very important task.  If the load is not properly positioned or secured, it can result in shifting, which may cause the truck driver to lose control.  It can also result in the truck losing the load, create an extremely hazardous condition on the roadway for other drivers. Preventing trucking accidents There are many things that can be done to prevent, or at least decrease the number of trucking accidents that occur.  First, truck drivers and trucking companies must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, which are put in place, primarily for the safety of the truck drivers and other individuals on the road. Also, reducing driver error by, in part, paying attention and following the rules, can also reduce the number of trucking accidents. Finally, trucking companies must be responsible and actively enforce the rules and regulations that require safe vehicle operation.  Some companies now use electronic data records, which can help deter some conduct that results in driver error.  Also, rigorous enforcement of the rules regarding hours of hours of service will help to reduce driver exhaustion significantly. What are some of the trucking regulations? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is responsible for providing guidance and regulatory oversight of the commercial trucking industry. Some of the regulations the FMSCA enforces include: medical requirements for truck drivers, including drug screens; rules regarding transportation of hazardous materials; and loading and positioning of cargo.  There are many others that may or may not impact your case. If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Exhaustion is a Serious Problem for Long Haul Truck Drivers

Truck-related highway accidents are far too prevalent.  In both Missouri and Arkansas, there were nearly 100 motor vehicle fatalities in 2012 that involved large commercial trucks.  The reality is, accidents involving 18-wheelers are usually very serious, even catastrophic, due to the sheer size and weight of those trucks.  A car is no match for an 80,000 pound commercial truck.  Because of the serious risks 18-wheelers create on the highways, there are many federal and state regulations regarding how trucking companies, and the truck driver’s themselves, must operate.  Unfortunately, driver exhaustion is a serious problem for long-haul truck drivers, frequently resulting in avoidable accidents and death. Exhausted commercial truck driver killed a man in Florida A few years ago, Wal-Mart was thrust into the spotlight once again, when one of their truck drivers killed a man in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was in June of 2014 that the truck driver crossed the median and struck the other vehicle head-on.  It was asserted that, not only did the truck have several maintenance issues, but the driver, Wilbur Peterson, was seriously fatigued at the time of the accident. It was alleged that Wal-Mart allowed Peterson to exceed the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to drive before taking mandatory rest breaks.  The week just prior to the accident, Peterson had driven 65 hours, and was driving another 12-hour shift at the time of the crash.  Not to mention, he was speeding and the tires on the 18-wheeler needed replacing. Common Causes of Trucking Accidents Of course, every trucking accident is the result of different circumstances, there are at least five common causes of truck accidents: driver error, equipment failure, improper loading, incompetent drivers, and weather.  Driver exhaustion or driver fatigue, as it is sometimes referred, is believed to be one of the most common causes of trucking accidents. Driver error often results from driver fatigue The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, one of the regulatory agencies in the trucking industry, has said that driver error is the most common cause of trucking accidents.  Driver error can be the result of several different factors, such as distraction, fatigue, substance abuse or drug intoxication.  These factors lead truck drivers to become incapable of appropriately reacting to dangers on the roadway.  Despite the rules that have been created to limit commercial truck drivers’ driving time and to mandate rest breaks, these rules are often ignored in order to make more profit. “Hours of Service” rules, if followed, can reduce the risk of driver error caused by fatigue Actually, there are strict rules in place regarding how many hours a truck driver can drive before they are required to take a rest break.  This is known as the “hours of service” rule, which mandates an 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day limit. The maximum work week must be limited to 70 hours and the driver is only allowed to resume if he or she has rested for 34 consecutive hours.  Drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of every shift.  These regulations were put into effect in July of 2013. However, many in the trucking industry disagree with these limitations. Some say the 34-hour restart requirement results in a significant loss in productivity, as the drivers cannot go as far as they used to, they are making less money.  The debate continues, while many drivers and truck driving companies ignore the rules to make a bigger profit. If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Trucking Accidents

Federal Trucking Regulations that May Affect Your Case

Truck accidents are most often very serious.  They usually lead to catastrophic injuries and substantial property damage.  For this reason, regulations have been established by the federal government in order to control most aspects of the trucking industry. Where do trucking regulations come from? The U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, regulates both truck drivers and the operation and maintenance of the trucks themselves.  The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration has also established policies regarding the performance and safety of motor vehicles generally. Determining fault can be different There are many potential sources of liability when it comes to truck accident cases.  Determining who is responsible in a truck accident case can be very complicated, as with any motor vehicle accident.  It usually requires investigating the driver, the employer, the truck owner, any leasing company that may have been involved, and the manufacturers of the truck and other related equipment. Part of determining liability involves examining the relevant trucking regulations to see if there was any noncompliance. Driver Qualifications According to certain regulations, truck drivers must be at least 21 years old, be physically capable of safely operating a truck, have a valid CDL and must not have been disqualified from driving for any of the following reasons: driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, committing a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, refusing to take an alcohol test. Driving of Tractor Trailers If you determine that the truck driver involved in your accident was driving while sick, tired, or under the influence, proving liability may be pretty clear.  Truck drivers are required to obey all traffic laws.  They must also ensure that their cargo is loaded safely and perform periodic inspections. Truck Parts and Accessories There are also regulations that relate to most aspects of the truck, including the lights and reflectors, brakes, tires, emergency equipment, frames, doors, steering wheel systems, and many other parts. If any of these aspects of the truck are determined not to be in compliance with regulations, there may be a source of liability. Hours of Service laws There are strict rules regarding how many hours a truck driver can drive and how many hours they must spend resting. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, which are far too common. The Hours of Service rule for truck drivers includes an 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day limit. A new provisions that took effect in July 2013, limits the maximum average work week to 70 hours, allowing the driver to resume only if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. Truck drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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