As with all motor vehicle accidents, there various causes of truck accidents — some purely accidental, some caused by carelessness or recklessness. Some of the less innocuous causes of truck accidents, which may form the basis for a personal injury negligence action, include driver fatigue, overloaded trucks, improper truck maintenance (by the tuck driver, trucking company, or other entities in control of the tractor-trailer), defective trucks, failure to properly secure loads, and various forms of driver error or negligence.
Due to the size and weight of tractor-trailers, truck accidents are often fatal. A fully loaded semi tractor-trailer can weigh over 80,000 pounds, whereas the average passenger vehicle weighs only 3,000 pounds. Despite the various rules in place to regulate and ensure the safe operation of trucks on our roadways, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, truck accidents involving catastrophic personal injury or death continue to occur.
It is critical to begin investigating the cause of a truck accident as soon as possible. The minute a truck driver is involved in an accident, the driver notifies his boss or dispatcher at the trucking company, who immediately notifies their insurance carrier. Within hours, the insurance company has its investigators at the scene of the accident — taking pictures, interviewing witnesses, taking statements — gathering evidence to defend against a potential personal injury lawsuit several years down the road.
This is why it is critical for individuals injured in truck accidents, or their family members, to contact a top Chicago truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. If the lawyer is experienced, he or she will know to hire its own investigator and begin its own investigation to determine the true cause of the truck accident.
Federal and state trucking regulations are confusing, so hiring an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer is important. An overview of the Federal Regulations was provided in a previous post.
For example, defective tires and brake failures are the two biggest mechanical failures that result in trucking accidents. According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), 29.4% of all trucking accidents involved break failure. One of the federal trucking regulations, 49 C.F.R. § 393 – Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation, provides specific technical requirements for such things as brakes, brake performance and tires. A qualified, experienced truck accident lawyer will consult with the relevant experts — engineers, accident reconstruction consultants, etc. — for the necessary technical explanations of the cause of the truck accident.
A top personal injury lawyer experienced in handling tractor-trailer accidents will seek to hold all individuals or entities responsible for their negligence. For example, the brake manufacturer may have failed to adhere to automatic brake adjustment system requirements, or other federal regulations. The tire manufacturer may have sold defective tires. The trucking company may have neglected to perform frequent, routine inspections and proper maintenance, provided inadequate truck driver training and set unrealistic schedules that contribute to driver fatigue. The truck driver may have neglected to perform a pre-trip inspection, may be driving while intoxicate or have been speeding.
Given the variety of factors and players involved in the trucking industry, the technical aspects of determining the cause of a tractor-trailer accident, and the substantial medical review to determine the extent and nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, hiring an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate your case is crucial.