Because there is often so much violence and grievous injuries involved in a trucking accident, an injury lawyer is often needed to help the crash victims. Only three percent of traffic injuries are caused by commercial vehicles, but the injuries tend to be much worse compared to injuries caused by a crash between passenger vehicles. Even worse, who is responsible for a crash involving a commercial vehicle is rarely clear. That’s because there are multiple parties responsible for the upkeep and operation of the vehicle, and if any these parties fails in their duty, they may be the subject of an injury claim.
WHAT NORMALLY CAUSES A TRUCKING ACCIDENT?
A lawyer may file a claim against up to five parties involved in the operation of a commercial vehicle. This includes the driver, the vehicle’s owner, the company responsible for leasing the vehicle, the manufacturers responsible for fabricating the vehicle’s parts, and any loaders that have placed cargo on the vehicle.
However, driver error is still the most common cause of commercial vehicle crashes. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver error is ten times as common as any other cause of commercial vehicle wrecks. Driver error can involve a number of factors as well. Nearly half of all driver error instances involved over-the-counter and prescription drugs. About a quarter were driving too fast for road conditions, and about 20 percent were caused by every driver’s worst enemy – fatigue. Reducing driver fatigue is a major thrust of the FMCSA, and it enforces strong work restrictions to keep a driver fresh.
Specifically, a driver must be off duty for at least 10 hours before beginning a shift, and the driver may not operate a vehicle for more than 11 hours a day. The FMCSA also places limits on how many hours a driver can work during a week. If driver fatigue is suspected in a trucking accident, a lawyer can pull a copy of all driver’s logs and verify the driver’s work schedule. Drivers are also not allowed to take any substances that would affect their driving, and must keep their vehicle at safe speeds.
Brake and tire failure are also a constant threat, and though they aren’t anywhere near as common as driver error, they often strike without warning and result in a crash almost immediately. The vehicle owner is responsible for keeping the vehicle in top condition, and for monitoring any safety recalls concerning the vehicle’s brakes, tires, or other parts.
Most modern commercial vehicles come with recording systems that monitor vehicle speed and the performance of various systems. If a crash occurs, this data will prove to be extremely valuable, as it can prove a driver was speeding, or flag a certain part for working inadequately. An attorney with experience in these cases will aggressively seek out this information and use it to counter the defendant’s claims of innocence. This is just one reason victims should consider attorney assistance. An attorney can also build a strong, cohesive case to bring back a higher settlement and represent the victim should the case go to court.