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.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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