Our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates recognize that collisions involving large trucks typically involve more complex issues than a typical car accident. These accidents involve defendants with deep pockets, experience in avoiding liability and an industry reputation for destroying evidence. The massive force generated by a large truck often causes trucking accident victims to endure severe injuries that impose substantial financial hardships. An experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyer will understand the unique challenges and issues involved in trucking litigation, which can result in a more significant financial recovery. We have provided an overview of the five most common causes of crashes involving large commercial trucks.
Inadequate Semi-Truck Inspections and Maintenance
Semi-trucks that experience brake failure, tire blowouts or decoupled trailers can easily cause a fatal trucking accident because a tractor-trailer can outweigh a passenger car by more than 75,000 pounds. Truck drivers are required to conduct pre-trip safety inspections. When commercial carriers do not implement inspection policies or truck drivers decline to follow company procedures in performing such inspections, system malfunctions can lead to fatal trucking accidents.
Overloaded/Improperly Loaded Semi-Trucks
When big-rigs are overloaded or the load is not properly secured, the extra stress on brake systems can lead to runaway trucks. Loads can also shift during transport causing tractor-trailers to jackknife or rollover. When a large truck is not properly loaded, the trucking company and shipper that loaded the tractor-trailer can both be liable depending on the specific facts and circumstances.
Fatigued and Drowsy Truck Drivers
The compensation plans for many commercial truck drivers encourage drivers to exceed maximum hours of service (HOS) rules, often with the tacit or express endorsement of trucking companies. There are strict regulations that limit driving time and mandate minimum rest periods to prevent collisions caused by fatigue and drowsiness. Although driver fatigue is a common cause of semi-truck crashes, the practice of distorting driver logbooks is prevalent, so this information must frequently be verified by other evidence like fuel receipts, black box data, lodging receipts, tire purchase invoices, email correspondence between the driver and trucking company and other evidence.
Impairment by Drugs or Alcohol
While driving a motor vehicle under the influence of any intoxicating substance is extremely dangerous under any circumstances, a substance impaired driver attempting to maneuver a vehicle that can weigh forty tons is a terrifying prospect. When commercial carriers ask truck drivers to meet unrealistic shipping schedules or drivers focus on increasing their pay rather than the safety of other vehicle occupants, these concerns can lead to the use of methamphetamines in an effort to keep drivers awake so that they can drive further. Although trucking companies are required to conduct pre-hiring drug screenings and random testing during employment, failure to conduct these drug tests can be a basis for imposing liability on the truck driver and trucking company.
Violating Traffic Safety Laws
While there are federal and state regulations that apply specifically to the trucking industry, commercial drivers also are bound by the same traffic safety laws that govern the operation of non-commercial vehicles. Because of the size and weight of semi-trucks, traffic violations like speeding, texting and driving, following too closely and other illegal driving practices can constitute negligent driving upon which liability might be based, and can have catastrophic results.