Information on Louisiana Commercial Truck Accidents
An accident with a semi-truck can have a devastating impact on your life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008 there were over 4,000 fatal accidents involving commercial trucks. In addition, there were many more accidents that left someone injured.
Simply the sheer difference in size between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle makes semis dangerous vehicles. Size combined with other factors that can cause a truck accident, such as driver negligence or fatigue and faulty trucking equipment, often can have a deadly result.
When you've been involved in an accident with a commercial truck in Louisiana, you need someone representing your interests and protecting your rights. By quickly investigating the accident, Bachus & Schanker can protect the rights of you and your family.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Louisiana
While nationally there are fewer collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles than there are between two passenger vehicles, a collision with a large truck can be much more dangerous for many reasons.
Aggressive Truck Drivers
Just about everyone who has driven on a public highway is probably familiar with the dangers associated with driving near 18-wheelers. When truck drivers drive too aggressively, they increase the danger for everyone on the road around them. Tailgating and cutting off other vehicles are common practices by some truck drivers and can quickly lead to an accident. Similarly, driving over the speed limit can often cause a trucker driver to lose control of his vehicle in an accident. The legal team at Bachus & Schanker is familiar with the traffic laws truckers often break and will hold them accountable for causing an accident.
When a truck driver is not adequately trained, an accident can result. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was passed in an effort to improve highway safety. This law set requirements that must be met before an individual can obtain a license to operate large trucks. However, some drivers still may not be adequately trained to safely handle these types of trucks on highways. If inadequate training was the cause of your collision with a commercial truck, Bachus & Schanker can help your pursue your case.
Violation of Hours of Service Regulations
Another common cause of trucking accidents is when drivers violate the Hours of Service Regulations by spending too much time on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations section 395 restricts the number of hours that a driver may be on the road. Drivers are required to rest for 10 hours in every 24 hour period, which means a driver can only be on the road for a total of 14 hours. However, when trucking companies set short time frames for drivers to complete a route, drivers may feel the need to stay on the road for longer periods of time. Additionally, many times commercial truck drivers are paid by the distance they cover in a route rather than by the hour. This provides incentive for some to disregard regulations in an effort to cover more miles at a faster pace so they can start another route sooner.
When truck drivers choose to violate these regulations, they become increasingly fatigued from lack of sleep. As a driver becomes more tired, alertness and reaction time tend to decrease, increasing the probability that an accident will occur. A driver may be more careless and may make more mistakes while on the road. Driver fatigue not only endangers the truck driver, but it also endangers everyone on the road around him.
In an effort to ensure that commercial truck drivers get the proper amount of rest before taking a rig onto the highway, the FMCSR require that drivers maintain a driver's log. These logs provide information such as the amount of time a driver has spent resting and the number of miles covered. Falsifying information in these logs can lead to severe penalties under the regulations.
Alcohol and Drug Use
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial truck drivers to submit to alcohol and drug testing both randomly and after accidents to ensure that drivers are not under the influence when they are on the roadways. However, a small percentage of truck accidents every year are still caused by alcohol and drug usage. The attorneys at Bachus & Schanker can review your case to see if alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor in your accident.
Faulty Trucking Equipment
Strict regulations that truck drivers must follow are in place to prevent accidents caused by faulty equipment. While many drivers carefully follow these rules, other drivers might be careless about checking their equipment and ensuring that it is safe to be driven on the highway. When this type of carelessness causes a collision, Bachus & Schanker can help the victim pursue legal remedies for their injuries and damages.
Truck Driver Negligence
Sometimes, despite adequate training, truck drivers simply are negligent in the operation of their vehicle and cause an accident. Examples of negligence include failing to pay attention to blind spots, hitting a car while trying to make a wide turn, and changing lanes too quickly. Any of these can easily result in a passenger vehicle being hit by the truck. When investigating the accident, Bachus & Schanker can determine whether truck driver negligence played a part in the collision.
Investigation of a Louisiana Truck Accident
When a collision occurs between a passenger vehicle and a commercial truck, it is very important that the victim have a representative who can investigate the cause of the accident. Because trucking companies have many people working to find evidence and witnesses that will help them avoid financial responsibility for the collision, it is vital that you have someone knowledgeable about trucking accident investigation working with your best interests in mind.
Reconstructing the Scene of the Accident and Examining Evidence
When a commercial truck has been involved in an accident, the trucking company may go the great lengths to limit their financial responsibility. They have accident investigators and experts on the payroll that are available to immediately begin working to protect the trucking company's interests. After investigating the accident and forming their case based on witnesses and evidence found at the scene, the trucking insurance company may attempt to offer a victim a minimal settlement that can be far less than the amount of actual damages suffered by the victim.
The legal team at Bachus & Schanker knows the importance of collecting fresh evidence from the scene of an accident before it disappears or is destroyed. By collecting data immediately and forming a theory of why the accident occurred, we can quickly build a case against the trucking or insurance company.
One key piece of evidence that should be examined after an accident is the driver's log. This log can provide details about the number of hours a truck driver has spent on the road and how far the driver has gone during a 24 hour period. It is important that this log be kept intact and that it not be tampered with during the accident investigation phase. Bachus & Schanker will strive to protect this evidence from those who might decide to choose it.
It is also important to make sure that any necessary alcohol and drug testing is completed in a timely manner after an accident to determine whether the driver was under the influence when the collision occurred.
Commercial Trucking Rules and Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the governing authority when it comes to commercial trucking regulations. The Bachus & Schanker team is familiar with the regulations by which truck drivers and trucking companies must abide. They can help you navigate through the extensive rules to find those that apply to your case.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations section 387.9, all commercial truckers traveling between states must carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance. This insurance is required to cover injuries or damages caused in a commercial trucking accident. However, because trucking companies have employees working to limit their financial responsibility, you will need someone who can investigate the accident and make sure the insurance company will give you the amount you deserve. The lawyers at Bachus & Schanker can help you file your claim with the insurance company while also finding anyone else who should be held liable, such as the trucking company or the driver.
Avoiding a Truck Accident in Louisiana
Being knowledgeable about how to avoid collisions with semi-trucks can help keep you and your family safe on the highway. These are some safety tips to follow when sharing the highway with commercial trucks:
Be aware of where your vehicle is in relation to the truck. You should always stay out of the truck's blind spots by maintaining a safe distance behind the truck. If you can see both side mirrors on the truck, you are likely not in a blind spot.
Always use signals when attempting to turn or pass.
Allow enough distance between your vehicle and the truck to make sure you have adequate time to brake.
Avoid unsafe driving behavior, such as swerving to pass.
New Orleans Personal Injury Lawyers
Place St. Charles
201 St. Charles Ave, Suite 2500
New Orleans, LA 70170
Phone / 504-246-2299