Frequently Asked Questions about Commercial Trucking Accidents (18-Wheelers, Tractor Trailers, etc.)
The most common questions we get when dealing with automobile accidents involving large commercial trucks - check out our website for even more information on this topic!
What is a commercial truck?Many vehicles fall under the definition of a commercial truck, including 18-wheelers, tanker trucks, moving trucks, and freight trucks. Generally a commercial truck will operate in the transport of commercial goods. Often times when one thinks of a commercial truck they are thinking of one that weighs 26,000 pounds or more, and requires a commercial driver's license to operate.
How can a trucking accident differ from a regular accident?The law and the facts are quite different form normal motor vehicle accidents. For example:
o Truck drivers have thorough federally-mandated safety protocols they must follow in the aftermath of any vehicular accident.
o Trucks are usually owned/operated by a business that carries substantial insurance policies.
o There may be multiple causes for trucking accidents - was the cargo loaded correctly? Did the driver drive too many hours without rest? Was proper maintenance performed on the truck? All of these topics have strict rules set by the federal government.
o Because there are many parties involved in commercial trucking - driver, carrier, loading company, maintenance company - there are many parties that could be found at fault in the case of an accident.
What type of liability insurance must a commercial truck carry?Federal law mandates that commercial trucks operating in multiple states carry $750,000.00 in insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Most of the large national trucking companies carry much larger policies.
What are common causes of truck accidents?Causes of truck accident can include:
o Driver inattention or distraction
o Driver fatigue
o Aggressive Driving
o Lack of safety equipment
o Poor or improper maintenance
o Overloaded trucks
o Improper training
o Operation under the influence of drugs or alcohol
How can truck driver fatigue be avoided?Drivers have many measures they can take, such as stopping at rest stops. Many trucks have a sleeper cabin where they can get rest if needed. Federal law also restricts the number of hours that drivers can continuously work, and mandates that a continuous amount of rest be taken prior to each drive. There are also devices that can monitor driver fatigue and report whether that driver is too tired to work.
What types of defective equipment can cause truck accidents?Common examples of faulty equipment are defective brakes, steering mechanisms, wheels, and even trailer hitches. Since these trucks are extremely heavy (up to 80,000 pounds) and are driven constantly, they undergo an enormous amount of wear and tear. Extreme precautions must be taken by trucking companies and truck operators to ensure that all their equipment is safe and ready for the rigors of the road.
What should I do if I am contacted by an insurance company for a truck driver?Don't be pressured by an insurance company into giving them any information - including medical records, medical releases, or a recorded statement. Always remember that claims adjusters are not your friend, no matter how friendly they act. They are paid by the insurance company and are only acting in the interest of the insurance company. Also remember that they negotiate and investigate claims for a professional living, unlike you (probably). Their biggest interest is to reduce the liability assigned to their insured driver or company. Keep this in mind, and don't hesitate to look into hiring an attorney. A lawyer's chief obligation is to you, and they will be well-versed in negotiation, especially with insurance companies.