Semi-truck drivers and the companies they work for have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Unsafe driving, overloaded tractors, substandard maintenance, dangerous tires or other unsafe practices put innocent lives at risk.
National research demonstrates that people in passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable in collisions with large trucks because of the difference in weight between the two. For example, a fully loaded semi-truck usually weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds and may be 65 to 75 feet long, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 4,009 pounds.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 12 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities occurred in collisions involving large trucks and 83 percent of the fatalities were occupants of the vehicle that was struck by the large truck.
Due to their massive size and weight, semis often take at least twice the distance to stop from highway speeds on dry roads than passenger vehicles, with an even greater stopping distance required on wet roads. Additionally, semis traveling on city streets present risks to both pedestrians and motorists. As the trailer turns behind the truck, it widely swings toward pedestrians, automobiles and bicyclists in the vicinity.
With over 90 years of combined experience, our truck accident attorneys know what to look for when analyzing collisions involving commercial trucks. We have consistently proven our ability to build strong cases for individuals who have been injured in trucking accidents. View verdicts and settlements here.
We are very familiar with the federal interstate trucking regulations, including provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Arizona intrastate trucking regulations, the commercial insurance issues and the accident reconstruction problems unique to accidents involving semis. In addition, we routinely hire trucking experts to testify about the driver and the trucking company’s negligence to help prove cases for our clients.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the experienced truck accident attorneys at Shultz & Rollins in Yuma, AZ can assist with your claim against the responsible parties.
To prove liability in a lawsuit of this kind, your truck accident lawyer must establish negligence. The injured party (the plaintiff) must prove that the truck driver and/or his employer failed to exercise their duty of responsible care and that this breach resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
A successful lawsuit under these circumstances requires that an investigation begins as soon as possible to prevent lost or destroyed evidence. Many sources of information are relevant to your claim, including:
It is also important to obtain statements from eyewitnesses and information from the emergency personnel and police officers who responded to the scene of the accident.
A timely investigation is imperative – and the experienced truck accident attorneys at Shultz & Rollins in Yuma, AZ can make sure you get one.
Delays in any of these undertakings increase the risk that this information will be lost or destroyed. Over time, memories fade, road conditions change, evidence disappears, the wrecked vehicles are sold off for salvage, and witnesses move. Data recorders in the trucks can be lost and/or reset, and log books can be destroyed pursuant to company policies and procedures, thereby depriving the injured parties of critical evidence.
It is also important that experts on the issues of trucking, accident reconstruction, and biomechanics get involved early on while the evidence is still present and has not been tampered with or lost. These experts are a valuable resource in proving liability and causation.
Expert witnesses can testify about the negligence of the trucking company and/or the driver based on their familiarity with state and federal trucking regulations and their experience as commercial drivers.
These experts are familiar with the types of policies and procedures that should be in place regarding safety, maintenance, and compliance with State and Federal trucking regulations. Based on their reconstruction, they can also explain to the jury how the accident happened and how your injuries occurred.
Determining the cause of a trucking accident is often difficult and very different from proving the cause a typical car accident. The truck accident lawyers at Shultz & Rollins in Tucson understand that semi-trailer truck drivers must comply with state and federal regulations, including the provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
There are many factors that contribute to or cause trucking accidents including:
Drivers and trucking companies must abide by numerous state and federal regulations. These regulations are set forth in the Federal Motor Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. sections 350-399). These extensive regulations govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic and cover issues such as maintenance, driving hours, drug and alcohol testing, and many other requirements truck drivers and their employers must obey.
Violations of trucking regulations are present in almost all trucking accidents. The federal and state governments have enacted safety regulations to govern most activities of truck drivers and trucking companies. When truck drivers and their employers violate these safety rules, accidents causing serious injuries and death often result.
Some of the pertinent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations are:
Part 382 - Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing
This section is intended to prevent accidents resulting from driver impairment due to drugs or alcohol.
Part 383 - Commercial Driver's License Standards; Requirements and Penalties
This section is intended to prevent accidents by requiring drivers to obtain a commercial drivers license.
Part 384 - State Compliance with Commercial Driver's License Program
This section is intended to prevent accidents by requiring states to enforce the commercial driver’s license program.
Part 387 - Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers
This section imposes minimum insurance/financial responsibility limits on commercial vehicles.
Part 390 - General
Part 391 - Qualifications of Drivers and Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Driver Instructors
This section sets out the requirements for any driver who operates a vehicle over 10,000 pounds.
Part 392 - Driving of Motor Vehicles
This section requires that the driver, trucking company and management, and maintenance and operations personnel all comply with these regulations.
Part 393 - Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
This section prohibits a driver or employer from driving a truck that does not comply with these regulations.
Part 395 - Hours of Service of Drivers
This section regulates the number of hours a driver is permitted to drive his vehicle.
Part 396 - Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
This section requires the motor carrier to make sure the vehicle is in proper working condition by conducting appropriate inspections.
Part 397 - Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules
These provisions involve the transportation of hazardous and explosive materials.
Part 398 - Transportation of Migrant Workers
Part 399 - Employee Safety and Health Standards
These regulations involve the safety of the motor carrier’s employees.
The above are only some of the federal regulations that are important in examining a trucking accident. These regulations, in addition to state regulations, are complex and extensive.
After an accident, truck drivers and the motor carriers who employ them rarely, if ever, admit to violations of state and federal regulations. Fortunately, the best truck accident lawyers can properly investigate the crash site and obtain the documents and evidence necessary to prove that violations have occurred.
The truck accident attorneys at Shultz & Rollins in Tucson and Yuma have the experience and skills necessary to establish violations of these regulations and obtain full, fair and just compensation for our clients. Contact us to set up a free, confidential consultation and receive a preliminary case evaluation.
Any person or company that caused the accident may be held responsible, including:
In addition, companies have a responsibility to monitor drivers and maintain their equipment. As such, the truck manufacturer, tire manufacturer or equipment manufacturer may also be responsible in part for causing the collision.
No. Commercial truck drivers must have a special license called a “Commercial Driver’s License” (CDL). Special training and tests are required to obtain a CDL. There are also different classes of CDLs that control the types and sizes of trucks drivers may operate. Additional training and tests are required for drivers who haul certain types of cargo, such as hazardous or explosive materials.
Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulations. These regulations cover many aspects of trucking, from maintaining equipment to driver’s hours of service. Truck drivers are also required to maintain a log of their trips; however, they are only required to keep them for a limited time.
Federal regulations also require commercial trucks to carry set levels of insurance based on the nature of goods hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck collisions from truck owners and operators who may not otherwise have the financial resources to pay damages.
Yes. Hours of service regulations state that commercial drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 cumulative hours or drive after 14 hours on duty until they have had ten or more consecutive hours off. In addition, commercial truck drivers may not drive more than 60 hours during a seven-day period or 70 hours during an eight-day period. They must take at least 34 consecutive hours off each week.
No. The first thing you should do is contact an experienced and respected truck accident lawyer in Yuma and Tucson, AZ. Do not speak to the trucking company’s investigator or an insurance representative, and do not sign statements or releases that would permit them to access your medical or employment records until you have retained an attorney.
Most truck companies have highly skilled investigators that will begin their examination immediately after the crash is reported. The adjuster for the insurance carrier is responsible for minimizing the amount of money the trucking company pays. As such, they are looking for ways to shift the blame to you or someone else.
In addition, you may not offer a complete statement shortly after the collision, due to the stress of the injuries or death that occurred. Later, when asked the same questions under less stress, you will likely offer more details. This will create the impression of inconsistency and can lead to suspicion or doubt about your recollection.
Most truck companies or their insurance carriers will immediately hire the best truck accident lawyers available. These attorneys will start defending the case right away. Time truly is of the essence.
The best truck accident attorneys in Tucson and Yuma can make sure you are protected. They will confirm that the scene is secured and photographs and witness statements are taken promptly – thus ensuring that critical evidence is not lost, misplaced or purposely destroyed.
It is critical. A thorough investigation must be performed to prove fault for the crash. It should include:
You should not move your vehicle after the accident until told to do so by the responding law enforcement officers. Its location will be a key part of the investigation.
The parties that are responsible for causing the truck accident and your subsequent injuries can be required to pay damages. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to recover:
If a loved one died in a truck accident, the survivors may be entitled to recover damages for lost financial support, funeral expenses, and loss of love, society and companionship. An experienced truck accident attorney in Tucson and Yuma can help you determine what damages are relevant to your case.
Where you live does not determine the location of the lawsuit. In general, the lawsuit is brought where the responsible party resides or where the responsible party caused the injury. If the responsible party is from out-of-state, but the injury occurred in Arizona, the lawsuit will likely be filed where the injury took place. If multiple parties are responsible for your injuries or a death, they can all be sued in the same action.
Where your lawsuit is filed requires a complex fact specific analysis. Contact our truck accident attorneys in Yuma, AZ today to discuss the details of your case.
Generally, you will need to retain a truck accident lawyer in Yuma, AZ to establish liability against any potential defendants and help maximize your damage recovery.