Truck Accident Attorneys

Huntsville Semi-Truck Lawyers

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:

  • Defective components and mechanical failure
  • Driver fatigue
  • Excessive speed in order to meet tight delivery deadlines
  • Improper or overloading of the truck
  • The driver leaving an insufficient amount of space between other vehicles

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.

The Many Complexities Associated with Trucking Accidents

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.

Causes of Trucking Accidents

There are many factors associated with trucking accidents, however, some of the more common factors include:

  • Driver fatigue is considered a major reason for trucking accidents, while distracted driving is fast-moving up as a rival to driver fatigue. Visual distractions occur when the driver takes his eyes from the road, whether to look at a cell phone, look at the radio while changing stations, search for an item in the truck, or look at something happening on the side of the road. Manual distraction occurs when the hands are taken from the wheel. Truck drivers often eat while driving, meaning their hands are engaged in a task other than driving. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver is thinking of something other than the road and the drivers ahead, behind, and on either side. Daydreaming, listening to music with headphones on, talking on a cell phone or concentrating on a conversation with a passenger are forms of cognitive distraction.
  • Swinging turns are responsible for many trucking accidents; large 18-wheeler trucks require a much wider area to turn right or left. Because trucks have definite blind spots directly to the side or behind the truck, the drivers of passenger vehicles must be aware of this and take particular precautions to avoid a serious accident. Drivers should never attempt to pass a truck making a turn, as they could end up sideswiped or crushed.
  • Bad brakes are another cause of trucking accidents. Because large commercial trucks are so much heavier than passenger vehicles, they require much more force to slow or come to a complete stop. Trucks also spend considerable time on the roadways, meaning the brakes wear more quickly, and are more prone to failure. Although regular brake maintenance is federally mandated, trucking accidents resulting from bad brakes continue to occur.
  • Poorly secured cargo is more common than you would think, as a cause for truck accidents. Large commercial trucks may carry live cargo such as livestock, steel pipes, cardboard boxes, logs, bulk liquids, hazardous liquids or any number of other cargo items. Any top-heavy load has the potential to flip over when the driver rounds a moderate to sharp curve on the road, resulting in cargo spilled across the roadway and drivers attempting to avoid a serious accident. The news reported on a commercial truck which dumped an entire load of telephone books in a downtown, heavily congested city area. As you can imagine, many collisions followed. Straps may be worn out or can loosen as the truck travels down the road; cargo-shifting can lead to a truck jackknife or rollover. The loading company and the driver are responsible for ensuring the load is secure and not a hazard to other drivers.
  • Commercial truck under-ride accidents kill as many as 350 people yearly. When a passenger vehicle collides with the rear of a large commercial truck, it can slide underneath, shearing away the top of the vehicle in the process, and killing or maiming the passengers inside. While under-ride bars are now required on most commercial trucks in the U.S., there are weaknesses in the standards regarding how those bars perform.
  • Inexperienced drivers are responsible for many trucking accidents. Truck drivers must meet age requirements, be able to speak and understand the English language, have a valid Commercial Driver’s license and be physically able to handle the long hours behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. Driver must also undergo training, however some trucking companies cut corners when hiring drivers—both in training and in background checks. When companies exhibit negligent hiring practices, serious or fatal accidents can occur; drivers must have the necessary commercial driving skills and must also consistently put the safety of those they share the roadways with above the demands to deliver their load quickly.

Truck Driver Fatigue A Major Cause Of Trucking Accidents

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:

  1. Brake issues;
  2. Excessive speed;
  3. Drivers who are unfamiliar with roads;
  4. Problems with the actual roads;
  5. Over-the counter drug use by truck driver;
  6. Inadequate vetting of truck driver;
  7. Fatigue;
  8. Work pressure from trucking company;
  9. Driver performed an illegal maneuver, and
  10. Driver inattention.

Truck Drivers Surveyed Admit to Falling Asleep at Least Once in the Past Month

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 Difficulties in Remaining Alert After Eleven Hours of Driving

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 Dangers of Being Involved in an Accident with a Truck

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:

  • We will interview witnesses and get statements from those witnesses soon after the accident; as time passes, witnesses may move away or their memories may fade.
  • If there was any camera footage of the accident, we will secure that evidence as well as ensuring the black box evidence is properly preserved.
  • We will subpoena the trucking company’s safety records and the personnel records of the driver.
  • If necessary, we will bring in experts to recreate the accident or the scene of the accident.
  • We will obtain all maintenance records related to the truck involved in your accident.
  • We will determine whether there were violations of federal or Alabama state law concerning driving regulations.
  • If the trucking company has a past history of violations, we will discover that information.
  • We will secure and review the police reports pertaining to your trucking accident.
  • Our truck accident attorneys will thoroughly review your medical records, interviewing medical personnel when necessary in order to build a solid case on your behalf.
  • We will secure the driver’s log books in order to determine whether the driver had driven more than the allowable hours.

You may be entitled to the following compensation for the injuries which resulted from your truck collision:

  • Past, present and future medical expenses, including emergency room visits, ongoing doctor visits or rehabilitative services, surgical procedures and extended medical attention and care should the injuries be severe.
  • Lost wages, whether temporary or permanent, from the time of the injury to the conclusion of your lawsuit.
  • Loss of earning capacity may be a factor in your lawsuit if your attorney shows your ability to earn a living has been negatively impacted.
  • Non-economic damages in the form of pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium may be applicable, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident. The extent of the pain you suffered and continue to suffer as well as how long that level of pain can be expected to last as well as damages for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety, worry, grief, or other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident will all factor into your non-economic damages.
  • If the actions of the defendant were willful, malicious or intentional, you may be entitled to punitive damages which are meant to punish the defendant as well as prevent the same type of behavior in the future.

The Aftermath of Trucking Accidents

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:

  • A reconstruction specialist
  • A professional photographer or videographer
  • A professional truck wreck investigator
  • An expert in the on-board technology used in this particular truck
  • The company attorney
  • A risk manager from the company’s insurance company

The Goal of the Trucking Company’s Team

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.

Who is Responsible for the Accident?

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.

When Hiring Practices Go Awry

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.

How Martinson & Beason Can Help – Preserving and Protecting Your Interests Following Your Trucking Accident

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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When life throws you a curveball, having a trusted legal team behind you can bring peace of mind to you and your family. The attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. have proudly served the Huntsville community—and all of Alabama—since 1937. Our deep community roots, passion for people, and desire to help those who need it most allow us to provide clients with dedicated legal help.


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