Bowling Green Kentucky Truck Accident Injury Attorney
While all motor vehicle accidents are stressful to experience, getting into a crash with a commercial truck differs and brings up many additional issues. Determining liability can be especially challenging since it doesn’t always lie with the driver alone. Additionally, these types of accidents typically cause more deaths and serious injuries due to the sheer size of the vehicle involved. That increases the likelihood of crash victims needing larger financial resources to help them recover.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Laws Regarding Commercial Trucking
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a branch of the United States Department of Transportation, has established several laws that govern driver education, inspections, required rest breaks, and much more. The agency is especially concerned with the growing problem of drivers operating commercial trucks when they have not had enough sleep. Unfortunately, some truckers and their employers choose to disregard these mandates to maximize profit. These regulations include the following:
- Every driver must get at least eight hours of sleep on the day of a scheduled shift.
- Drivers must take regular breaks of at least 30 minutes while driving long distances.
- Commercial truck drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any seven-day period or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
- A driver cannot work more than 11 consecutive hours if he or she did not rest for 10 or more hours prior to the start of the shift. Loading and unloading of shipped goods, inspecting the truck before starting the next leg of the journey, and attending to other shipping duties all count towards maximum allowable work hours.
- Every driver must maintain proper records as required by law. This includes keeping an electronic or manual record of hours worked, number of hours rested, and number of hours the truck was in service each day.
Drivers and trucking companies may be subject to large fines for violating any of these rules. They may also have to pay punitive damages in a personal injury case if a jury deems their actions particularly reckless.
Common Causes of Crashes Between Commercial Trucks and Passenger Vehicles
Big rig vehicles are unique in that they can weigh more than 80,000 pounds and are more challenging to stop, turn, and maneuver than smaller passenger cars. According to the FMCSA, the following are the most common causes of a crash when the truck driver appears to be at fault:
- Fatigue or falling asleep behind the wheel
- Use of illicit drugs or the improper use of prescription drugs slowing a driver’s reaction time
- The driver’s unfamiliarity with the area
- Driving too fast to be able to stop the truck quickly when necessary
- Failure to check the truck’s blind spots or not checking all of its sides before initiating a turn, lane change, or other common maneuver
- Failing to use a signal to change lanes or making a turn
- Distracted driving, such as looking at billboards or talking on a cell phone
- Aggressive driving and road rage
However, sometimes the driver has no fault at all in an accident. The truck could have malfunctioned because someone else did a faulty job of repairing it. That is why you need an experienced Kentucky truck accident law firm like Lanna Martin Kilgore, Attorney at Law to help determine fault if you sustained injuries in this type of accident.
Determining Fault in a Commercial Trucking Accident
Most people look at the actions of the drivers when two or more vehicles get into a collision. That is because driver error is the most common cause in crashes between commercial and private vehicles as well as other types of crashes. While it’s quite possible that the truck driver engaged in at least one of the actions described above, other parties may be equally or even more responsible for causing your injuries. Some possibilities include:
- The truck driver’s employer: The company the driver works for may have put pressure on him or her to work while fatigued, keep incomplete records, or go against the FMCSA in some other way. If so, the supervisor or company itself could be liable for the resulting accident.
- The owner of the truck: The person or company that owns the vehicle could be liable as well. This is most common when we can prove that he or she was negligent in maintaining or repairing the vehicle.
- The company that manufactured the truck, its tires, or other parts: This can be challenging to prove, but we have the resources to help determine if the manufacturing company released a vehicle for sale knowing that it had one or more safety hazards. The manufacturer can also be liable for negligence in producing a defective part, whether it knew about the problem or not. As a professional manufacturer, it has the legal obligation to produce safe commercial vehicles.
- The company responsible for loading the truck: Some trucking companies outsource loading to other organizations. If that company overloaded the truck or packed the load incorrectly, it’s likely to cause shifting, falling debris, and rollovers.
- State or federal government: An improperly marked road or construction zone and a neglected or poorly maintained road can all lead to accidents and are common reasons the government could be liable when it happens. However, bringing a lawsuit against the government requires adherence to very strict guidelines. It can also be difficult to prove or win without the help of a competent, experienced Kentucky personal injury attorney.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Review of Your Case Today
Lanna Martin Kilgore, Attorney at Law understands that it can feel intimidating to go up against a trucking company or its insurance company to obtain the compensation you need and deserve. Ms. Kilgore offers free consultations for all new clients in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Please contact our office right away so we can make sure your rights are protected.