Here are some frightening statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) along with various reports and sources.
Approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur in the United States each year. A trucking accident is when a large 10,000 pound trailer collides with a passenger vehicle or pedestrian.
Approximately 5,000 of those accidents result in fatalities. One in every eight traffic fatalities resulted from a truck collision.
Most fatal truck accidents, sixty-eight percent, took place in rural regions and not in cities. 66% of those fatal trucking accidents occurred during the day.
As anyone who has been in an accident involving a tractor trailer or a large truck will tell you, accidents involving trucks are different. There is greater property damage as well as more serious injuries and deaths. The physical, mental and financial toll suffered by people who have been injured by these vehicles is usually devastating.
That is not all that is different. The laws are different when a commercial vehicle is involved. Tractor-trailers and other commercial are governed by special rules, typically involving federal and state regulations. This is not like a typical car wreck case. If you or a loved one has been involved in a wreck with a large truck or tractor-trailer, you need a firm who has successfully litigated these types of cases.
For example, truck drivers and their companies are required to maintain certain records. These records are critical to proving that the truck driver and/or the trucking company were possibly negligent thereby increasing the value of the damages. There are strict rules and regulations that commercial vehicles must follow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lays out the safe and correct way for commercial vehicles to be loaded, maintained and driven. Trucks involved in accidents are often in violation of one or more of these regulations and are not fulfilling their duties as responsible drivers. An attorney experienced in litigating these types of cases will know what to request, when to request it, and how to interpret the information contained in those records.
Here’s an example of a few things a trucking company is responsible for:
- Hiring well-qualified drivers and maintenance staff
- Providing adequate training for all staff members
- Purchasing reliable vehicles
- Properly maintaining the vehicles in the fleet
- Making sure the cargo is loaded correctly and/or secured to the vehicle properly
- Installing extra safety features on all vehicles to provide extra protection for the driver and others on the road (including braking systems and under-ride protection)
- Disciplining drivers for safety violations
Additionally, these types of cases often involve investigations by regulatory and law enforcement agencies other than the local police department. This information can effects your case, as well as the value of the case or can even make the case worthless if it is helpful to the trucking industry. Again, an experienced Oregon trucking accident attorney knows where to go to ask about such investigations, which, once again, often involve both federal and state regulatory authorities.
Another factor in deciding on an attorney who specializes in truck wrecks when you or a loved one has been in a collision is knowing who to sue. Sometimes the trucking company, the driver and the insurance company are based in different states. Sometimes the trucking company’s insurance company can be named as a party. Deciding where to try the case is a critical decision, because it affects the value of the case, whether the case will be won, and whether a judgment against one or more of defendants can be enforced. An experienced truck accident attorney can successfully lead your case through these potential pitfalls.
As a final consideration, an experienced trucking attorney, as well as a firm with considerable resources, will have the financial ability to retain the various experts that are often necessary to prove and present the case in its best light to a jury, These experts may be: trucking industry compliance specialists, accident reconstruction engineers, financial and life care planners, economists, and medical experts. Keep in mind the trucking industry and their insurers have almost unlimited resources to fight the case, and will attempt to intimidate a less experienced lawyer into accepting a settlement that is not the true value of the case. Again, only an experienced truck accident lawyer has the knowledge, financial backing, and expertise to help you get the maximum value of your case.
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Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens represent clients throughout Oregon and Northern California, including residents of Jackson County, Josephine County, Klamath County, Coos County, Curry County, Douglas County, Lane County, Deschutes County, Lake County, Del Norte County, Siskiyou County, Modoc County, Humbolt County, Trinity County, Shasta County Lassen County. If you or a loved one has been injured contact our trucking accident attorney today.