Large commercial trucks make up only 3% of the vehicles occupying U.S. roadways, but accidents with them are the cause of 12% of highway fatalities.
Consider the weight and size of an 18 wheeler and how much time it takes for them to come to a stop compared with a typical passenger car. Since large trucks pose such a threat to drivers, the federal government has imposed its own set of rules and guidelines on operating one.
An interstate truck driver is required by federal law to keep a log of his driving activities and sleep hours. He must not drive more than 14 total hours in a day and he is required a 10 hour rest before being allowed to drive again. In an attempt to meet a deadline, a driver may exceed those limits and put the lives of other motorists in jeopardy. Sleep deprivation and overtiredness is a leading cause of accidents involving large commercial vehicles. A Missouri truck accident attorney will carefully review an offending drivers’ time log to see that he met the federal guidelines and challenge any noticed discrepancies.
In Missouri a truck driver was found liable for the permanent disabilities of a 53-year-old man. Travel logs showed that he had surpassed the maximum amount of hours allowed in a given week. The judge in this bench trial awarded the man and his wife over $18 million for the drivers’ negligent and reckless driving behavior. The family of another Missouri man was awarded a $7 million judgment by a federal jury. Once again fatigue was found to be the underlying cause of the accident as the offending driver had also exceeded the amount of hours allowed to drive consecutively.
The weight of a commercial vehicle is massive and can cause injuries that are particularly severe and require months of hospitalization, multiple surgeries and years of on-going therapy and hospice care. Paralysis and brain injury are common injuries as well as loss of limbs and organ traumas. Death of a driver or passenger in a car hit by a truck is seen more often than those hit by another vehicle. The family of these victims may also be entitled to compensation from the offending truck.
Federal guidelines for the trucking industry also dictate procedures for maintaining a commercial vehicle. Routine inspections are mandatory and logs of these must be kept much like the required time logs. Failure of a Missouri garbage truck company to properly maintain the brakes on one of its vehicles resulted in a tragic accident that killed a passenger and left the driver and another passenger with brain injuries and multi system trauma. That case was settled for $3.2 million.
Truck Accident Lawyers
Most commercial trucks are owned by large corporations who will try and settle your claim for compensation quickly. Their interest lies in protecting their company and driver, not in what may be best for you. It is imperative that you ignore any such offer until you are able to confer with a qualified Missouri truck accident lawyer. They will want to review all of your medical records and investigate the collision before entertaining any such offers from the trucking company.
To speak with a truck accident lawyer at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, call us at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form.
photo credit: Jesse 1974