If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it’s important that you consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer immediately. An experienced lawyer handling your case can help you get on your feet again. To learn the questions you must ask before hiring an attorney, download our Special Report.
The Alabama truck accident attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C., have years of experience handling truck accident cases. We work tirelessly for our clients who have been injured in a truck accident, helping them get the compensation they need to support themselves and their family while they recover.
Truck accidents are the most dangerous and fatal type of motor vehicle accidents due to the size, weight, and speed of these large trucks. In 2010, there were over 412,000 truck accidents in the United States. Of these tractor-trailer accidents, there were 3,380 fatal truck accidents. In Alabama alone, there were 105 fatal truck accidents in 2010.
Tractor Trailer accidents can occur for various reasons; however, some of the more common reasons include:
In January of 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The primary purpose of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. The FMCSA regulates truck size, weight, and driver conduct in order to protect drivers on the road. It is important that your Alabama truck accident attorney have an extensive knowledge of the state and federal regulations that govern large trucks. The Huntsville Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers at Martinson and Beason, P.C. have the knowledge and expertise, gained from years of experience, to expertly handle truck accident cases. Over the years, the Alabama accident attorneys at Martinson and Beason, P.C. have developed a network of accident reconstruction and trucking experts to help us prepare our cases, which benefits our clients.
Trucking accidents differ from two-car collisions in many ways, in particular because of the severity of the injuries received, as well as the fact that there may be more than one defendant. The truck driver may have been at fault, whether through negligence, distraction or reckless driving. The trucking company may be liable for hiring an inexperienced driver or allowing the driver to exceed the legal number of driving hours. If the truck is independently owned, then the owner could be at fault, as well as the leasing company and even the owner of the trailer. The truck may have been poorly maintained, resulting in an accident, or the truck—or specific parts of the truck—could have a defect in design.
Those who survive a collision with an 18-wheeler are likely to be left with extreme injuries which could take months, year, or even a lifetime to heal—if they heal at all. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, limb amputation, burns, disfigurement, internal injuries and broken bones are “typical” injuries sustained by those in a trucking accident. Those involved in a truck accident likely wonder whether their life will ever return to anything which even remotely resembles “normal.” These victims of trucking accidents may be unable to work, therefore unable to provide for their family and pay even the most basic living expenses.
There are many factors associated with trucking accidents, however, some of the more common factors include:
Most every study on the cause of truck accidents cites trucker fatigue as a contributing cause, or as the only cause, yet it is hard to get hard data on the issue because truckers involved in an accident rarely admit to being tired. One study placed fatigue as a cause of trucking accidents at number seven on a list of ten factors, at 13 percent. The other factors included:
Despite the fact that fatigue is listed at number seven, it is likely a factor in many more truck accidents. Seven percent of drivers who were involved in a crash reported falling asleep prior to the crash—this is the number of drivers who actually admitted to falling asleep. An informal survey of truck drivers concluded that one in four had fallen asleep while driving a truck within the past month. On average, truckers get about five hours of sleep a night, and most experts agree that adults need from 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly. Loss of sleep impacts performance in the same manner as alcohol impairment—for truckers who received five hours of sleep for two or more nights, then were awake for 24 hours, their impairment was similar to having a BAC of 0.10 percent.
The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the relatively new rule that allows truck drivers to drive eleven hours at a stretch as opposed to the ten hours safety groups across the nation have advocated for. Many truckers are also in favor of lowering the requirement to ten hours. Anyone who has ever taken a long, cross-country trip knows just how difficult it is to remain alert after driving eleven hours straight, yet truck drivers do so on a daily basis.
In light of the fact that more than 4,000 people are killed in trucking accidents annually, with another 100,000 or more left with serious injuries, many find the Court’s decision puzzling, to say the least. Even with an allowable eleven- hour driving limit, tight deadlines and slim paychecks lead many drivers to exceed even those rules. Trucking companies are aware their drivers are exceeding the limits, yet they are more interested in their financial bottom line than the safety of the American public.
The passengers in a car or pickup rarely fare well when involved in an accident with a large commercial truck. Considering that a commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds (and can potentially be loaded with hazardous cargo as well) you can see why a 3,500-pound passenger vehicle has little protection. The injuries associated with a trucking accident are often catastrophic—brain trauma, amputated limbs, spinal trauma, paralysis and disfigurement. The trauma of colliding with a huge commercial truck can also leave victims with serious emotional issues, including PTSD, severe depression and chronic insomnia.
Many victims of a trucking accident find it difficult—if not impossible—to ever get behind the wheel of their vehicle again. If you were involved in a trucking accident, it is essential that you contact an experienced Martinson & Beason attorney immediately. Our attorneys will ensure no crucial evidence “disappears,” following your accident and that you are not bullied by a large trucking corporation and their army of attorneys.
Our attorneys can also do the following for you:
You may be entitled to the following compensation for the injuries which resulted from your truck collision:
A major problem for many truck accident victims is they are lacking the resources the trucking company—and by extension, the truck driver—brings to the table. While the first call made by trucking accident victims will certainly be to 911 to request medical help, the first phone call made by the truck driver will just as likely be to the company dispatcher who will in turn immediately assemble an accident team to go to the site of the accident. This team will be comprised of:
The goal of this team of experts is to immediately gather all evidence pertaining to the crash with an eye toward disproving the version of the accident as related by the victims of the crash. The driver’s logbooks will be gathered, as well as the driver’s cell phone records. Any witness statements which will help the trucking company will be taken and evidence which could potentially implicate the driver may even be altered or destroyed. Photographic evidence of such things as skid marks, debris and property damage will be gathered—evidence which may not be available to the victims and which the victims are in no state to ask for at this point.
All trucks have an Electronic Control Module which records events immediately prior to the accident and a specialist will review this data. The trucking company’s team may even obtain crash data from the victim’s vehicle to determine whether evasive actions were taken prior to the crash or whether the driver was traveling at an excessive rate of speed. The truck driver will be “debriefed” and a story developed. All of this activity will take place within hours and days of the crash.
During this time the victims of the trucking accident are likely to be dealing with their injuries, and figuring out how to get through each day. It is unlikely these victims have the time—or the presence of mind—to hire an attorney to look after their rights in the same way the trucking company is protecting itself and its driver.
There are potentially several defendants in a trucking accident. The driver may have been at fault, the trucking company may be held liable, or the manufacturer of the truck or maintenance staff may be deemed responsible for the collision. Because trucking accidents are very complex, it is necessary that victims of the crash have a highly experienced truck accident attorney by their side from the earliest moment possible. While it may seem like one more thing to take care of, getting an 18-wheeler accident attorney on board allows victims to spend their time healing and looking out for their future while the attorney handles all the legal details and protects the rights of their client.
In 2012, plaintiffs in a tractor-trailer collision lawsuit alleged the trucking company’s negligent hiring practices were directly responsible for the fatal collision. The lawsuit contended that the truck driver was both overly-fatigued and driving recklessly when he crossed the center line. Following a jury award of $7 million dollars in the lawsuit, the parties reached a confidential settlement under the terms of a pre-verdict high-low agreement.
The lawsuit against the trucking company alleged the company showed negligence and recklessness in their hiring, training and supervising capacities. There was no background check performed on the truck driver and a trip was assigned the driver that could not possibly be completed without violations of hours of service regulations. The court allowed evidence showing the driver had two prior license revocations, however, did not allow the plaintiff’s attorneys from disclosing those revocations were for DWI’s.
Trucking companies employ thousands of truck drivers across the United States, and while these drivers provide an essential service, it is also essential that trucking companies follow prescribed standards for rigorous hiring procedures. Many trucking companies skip steps in order to get more drivers on the road quickly, ensuring a healthy financial bottom line for the company. These companies may hire without a background check or hire drivers they know to be unqualified.
Drivers with a past history of negligent or reckless driving or those with prior DUI’s may even be hired. In some cases, hiring practices are based on blatant nepotism rather than qualifications and drivers have even been hired without a basic interview. Any of these practices could conceivably be considered legally negligent, particularly if an unqualified driver ends up injuring or killing another person.
If you are the victim of a trucking accident, the law firm of Martinson & Beason can help. We have extensive experience in helping those who have been involved in a trucking accident, and fully understand the necessity of a quick, thorough investigation following your truck accident. We will fight aggressively for your rights, and for an equitable settlement which will fully cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Don’t leave your future to chance—you have just gone through an extremely traumatic event, and we want to help you.
The highly skilled Martinson & Beason attorneys will sift through the evidence, determining which parties were at fault for your accident. We understand the necessity of obtaining the evidence crucial to your case as quickly as possible after your accident. Trucking companies are famous for “circling the wagons” immediately after a trucking accident, in order to minimize their liability. We understand how to combat this, and will do so with our own experts and investigators. We will build a solid case on your behalf, and will ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries and your future. Call Martinson & Beason today and let us put our experience, skill, professionalism, and compassion for your situation to work for you immediately.
Our Alabama truck accident lawyers handle all truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge you a fee until and unless we make a recovery for you.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, contact our experienced and dedicated Alabama truck accident attorneys. The evaluation is free and confidential.
Email us or call us at (256) 533-1667.
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