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GENERAL CONCEPTS
 

General Concepts of Injury Law

TRUCK ACCIDENTS - TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY INFORMATION 
Trucking accidents are different from auto accidents in many ways, one of the most serious being the extent of damages and injuries when a truck and an auto collide. Large trucks, commonly referred to as “big rigs,” “semi trucks” or “tractor trailer trucks” typically weigh 80,000 pounds and range from about 67 to 75 feet in length. A high percentage of traffic crashes and deaths involve large trucks. Because of their size, crashes involving large trucks are more likely to result in serious injury and death than are car crashes. Large trucks represent only 3% of all the registered vehicles on the road, yet they account for over 25% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

If you or a loved one has had the misfortune of being hurt or seriously injured as a result of a collision with a truck, semi tractor-trailer, or other commercial vehicle on the highway or otherwise, you should know and be aware that there are some very different and specific governmental regulations which may apply to you. Unlike family passenger vehicle, there are very stringent governmental regulations which may apply to the maintenance, safety, and operation of commercial vehicles which use our public highways. Poor equipment and driver fatigue can be causes of such crashes, and a careful study of the trucking company records may be needed to determine if negligence has occurred. The hiring practices of the company and the manner in which they supervise their drivers are also areas which need to be investigated and may be directly related to the accident.

A comprehensive understanding of the regulatory body of law that applies to commercial vehicles is needed so that a complete and thorough investigation can be conducted and it can be determined if the trucking company and/or the commercial vehicle were in compliance with their regulatory obligations at the time of the accident. Oftentimes, without an experienced attorney to assist, very important details which may have a bearing on the obligation of the commercial carrier or the trucking company and/or its insurance company to pay for your losses, can be overlooked.

The main regulatory agency regarding trucks and commercial vehicles is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.

Its primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

FMCSA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and employs more than 1,000 individuals, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, dedicated to improving bus and truck safety and saving lives.

Some typical kinds of truck accidents include the following:

1. Head-on collisions
2. Rear-end collisions
3. Broadside collisions
4. Land change collisions
5. Jack-knifed trucks
6. Vehicles sliding under trailers
7. Loss of control by truck driver

Likewise, because of the unique circumstances of a semi tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle highway accident, it may be necessary to hire the services of special engineers called accident reconstruction specialists to make determinations regarding the accident, and offer opinions regarding the facts of the accident, how the accident happened, and who caused the accident. Attorneys who have experience in this kind of litigation are knowledgeable about the particular type of accident reconstruction expert necessary for your case, and we coordinate with these types of experts as your case is investigated and developed.

Additionally, it may be necessary to obtain the services of another type of expert who has expert background training and experience in the specific responsibilities of a commercial driver or somebody who is carrying a CDL (commercial driver’s license) and was in the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. This type of expert or specialist can help the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney identify very specifically what the commercial driver should have done differently or what he neglected to do at the time of the accident, and the expert can offer testimony on these points. This type of expert also ties those patterns of driving behavior or acts or omissions specifically to the complex set of regulations which govern commercial drivers and CDLs. Again, competent attorneys who are experienced in these matters know who to call and how to incorporate this kind of expert testimony in the preparation of your case.

Online Trucking Links & Information

A variety of sources provide useful information online to prepare trucking cases, including:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
An agency of USDOT, responsible for enforcement of FMCSR.
www.fmcsa.dot.gov

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
www.dot.gov


National Safety Council
A federally-chartered safety organization.
www.nsc.org

National Center for Statistics and Analysis
An office of NHTSA.
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/ncsa

National Transportation Safety Board
An independent federal agency that investigates significant trucking accidents.
www.ntsb.gov

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA)
An agency of USDOT.
www.nhtsa.dot.gov

National Association of Fleet Administrators
An association for professional vehicle management.
www.nafa.org

Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER)
Under contract with FMCSA, provides access to carrier snapshots, a concise electronic record of a carrier identification, size, commodity information, and safety record, including the safety rating (if any), a roadside out-of-service inspection summary, and crash information.
www.safersys.org