The United States relies on semi-trucks to move goods across the country. Trucking companies must often meet delivery deadlines for their cargo, and unpredictable delays can make those deadlines hard to accomplish. In some cases, truck drivers are on the road for long past the time that safety regulations allow trying to reach their destinations on time.
Fatigue affects everyone, and no one should drive while fatigued. Because semi-trucks are so large and cause severe damage when they wreck, fatigued truckers present a significant safety hazard to themselves and those in surrounding traffic.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Severe?
The sheer size of big trucks plays a significant part in the severity of most truck accidents. Semi-trucks are approximately 72 feet long, but that can vary depending on the exact length of both the cab and the trailer. Legally, a loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In comparison, the average personal automobile is only around 15 feet long weighing just under 3,000 pounds.
Because of trucks’ weight, they take almost twice as long as a passenger vehicle traveling at the same speed does to stop: at 65 miles per hour, a car takes 316 feet to stop while a fully-loaded semi-truck needs 525 feet to stop.
Do the math. Semi-truck vs. passenger car equals potential disaster.
How Can Fatigue Affect Truck Drivers?
Fatigue isn’t merely feeling a little tired. Fatigue is a condition caused by sleep deprivation and long periods of activity. Fatigued drivers can experience mental impairment, difficulty focusing and even falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigued driving is often compared to drunk driving as far as the effects each has on a driver.
Fast reaction speeds for truckers are critical, more so than for other drivers due to the length of time a truck takes to stop. Unfortunately, fatigued truck drivers aren’t physically or mentally capable of reacting quickly enough to avoid most accidents.
Federal laws dictate the number of hours that truckers can drive at one stretch, and how many hours they must rest before hitting the road again. Because of those deadlines we mentioned, truck drivers don’t always follow the law; sometimes by their choice, and at other times because the trucking company requires it.
Every driver who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle owes any passengers and occupants of other vehicles on the road a duty of care. What does that mean? You must be in a condition to drive your vehicle safely so your actions don’t present danger to others. Driving while fatigued is not safe; it’s negligent behavior.
If you sustained injuries due to a trucking accident, hiring a truck accident lawyer provides many benefits. Any attorney from Jason Stone Injury Lawyers will examine trucking rest logs, the truck’s computer and communications between the driver and trucking company to search for evidence of fatigued driving.
What Can Cause Truck Accidents?
Many situations can lead to a semi-truck crash, and all of them are even more dangerous when a fatigued driver is behind the wheel. Some common accident causes are:
Truckers facing the monotony of driving for hours at a time are often distracted from paying attention to the road. They often eat, text, daydream or get lost in scenery just like other drivers. The damage they can cause by their distraction is often deadly.
As we already discussed, trucks take a long time to stop when traveling at normal highway speeds. Add extra speed to that and they become even more dangerous. A fully-alert trucker speeding has a difficult time avoiding accidents, and fatigued drivers have even less of a chance.
Because a semi-truck’s cargo is usually very heavy, distributing the weight properly is crucial. The goods must also be secured to prevent movement. Improperly loaded, overloaded or poorly-secured cargo can overbalance a truck, sometimes causing it to overturn and crush nearby vehicles.
In addition, the truck overturning can cause the cargo to be thrown from the trailer, adding more risk to surrounding cars. The debris can hit cars or present unavoidable obstacles in the road. Leaking hazardous materials can affect those nearby even if their vehicle isn’t part of the actual crash.
No Man’s Land
Every vehicle has blind spots. Semi-trucks have huge blind spots, commonly known as No Man’s Land. Truckers can’t always see surrounding traffic in this zone and sometimes change lanes, potentially swerving into another vehicle or crushing it against a barrier.
Driving Under the Influence
Any driver who operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is driving illegally. These substances greatly reduce one’s capability to reason and make good decisions, along with their reaction time to changing traffic patterns. Add fatigue to the cocktail and the chances are that the driver will cause an accident.
Fatigued truckers who drive while under the influence are doubly negligent. Each condition should keep them off the road, but together, the combination is deadly.
Improperly Maintained Trucks
Part of the responsibility trucking companies have for the safety of their drivers and others on the road is providing safe, regularly inspected and maintained trucks. While brake failure on a passenger car is dangerous, failed brakes on a semi-truck are often catastrophic.
Truck lines that knowingly allow unsafe trucks on the road are guilty of negligence.
Federal law requires semi-truck drivers to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, commonly known as a CDL. Drivers must complete thorough training before they can get a CDL. However, training doesn’t equal experience. Semi-trucks are beasts and difficult to maneuver, and it takes time for drivers to become proficient.
Inexperienced drivers who are also fatigued lack the mental capacity and experience to avoid some accidents.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
In Massachusetts, the vicarious liability concept is applied to truck accidents. This means that if the truck driver is responsible for causing the collision, their employer is responsible for your damages. Multiple parties are potentially liable in other truck crashes.
Truck Maintenance Companies
Most trucking companies rely on maintenance companies to keep their fleet running smoothly and safely. Maintenance providers who don’t service these trucks properly or fail to fix mechanical issues are liable for accidents if they were caused by the company’s poor maintenance.
Cargo Loaders, Shippers or Receivers
As mentioned previously, cargo must be loaded correctly and secured. If a truck’s cargo causes an accident, the company that loaded it is potentially liable. In addition, both the company who shipped and ordered the cargo are sometimes held responsible as well.
Truck, Trailer and Parts Manufacturers
Although every driver expects their new vehicle to run smoothly without any problems or safety concerns, not all vehicles do. Semi-truck manufacturers are possibly liable if a design defect causes an accident. Brake, tire and other parts makers are potentially held responsible for an accident if those parts cause or impact an accident’s severity.
What Damages Are Available to Truck Accident Victims?
Massachusetts is a Comprehensive No-Fault State. What that means to accident victims is that your initial medical expenses are usually paid by your own insurance company. Your Jason Stone Injury Lawyers attorney will work to recover both economic and non-economic damages for you.
Economic damages that we may recover include:
- Medical expenses, including rehabilitation and other related costs, that your no-fault insurance policy doesn’t cover
- Lost wages
- The cost of repairing or replacing your automobile
- Certain daily expenses, including the cost of caregivers
- Diminished earning capacity for victims unable to work
- Loss of support
Non-economic damages, commonly known as pain and suffering, can include compensation for:
- Mental or emotional anguish
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Anxiety, depression or PTSD
If a family member lost their life in a truck accident, you can potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact us to discuss this possibility.
Why Should You Hire Jason Stone Injury Lawyers?
Truck accidents are catastrophic, and you need to focus on recovering. Unfortunately, lots of things need to happen immediately after the crash.
We can do them for you. Insurance companies don’t want to pay any more than they must, but we won’t stand for that. We will competently and aggressively negotiate with them to obtain a fast, maximum settlement for you.
Our firm is unique because we offer the Stone Cold Guarantee ®. We guarantee that we will do 10 things for every client, including:
- We don’t get paid until you get paid.
- During your free consultation, “There’s No Obligation, Only Information.” ®
- We will guide you throughout your claim process.
- We will respond to calls within 24 hours, and we have representatives who can speak to you 24/7.
- We will fight the insurance companies so they don’t take advantage of you.
We have four offices, serving clients in and around Boston, Natick, Peabody and Westwood. Each of our attorneys has experience dealing with truck accidents, so we know what to expect and how to deal with it effectively. Use our knowledge to your advantage; let us fight for your rights.
Give us a call at (800) 577-5188, reach out by live chat or start your evaluation by submitting your information online. Our team is waiting to assist you.