While sharing the road with commercial semi-trucks might be nerve-wracking, we usually manage without incident. However, when a truck driver fails to operate his rig safely, the consequences can be deadly for drivers of much smaller passenger cars. To make matters worse, the trucker is often backed by a powerful trucking company with a team of lawyers who will fight your claim for compensation, regardless of the seriousness of your injuries or the truck driver’s fault. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a Massachusetts truck crash that was not your fault, you need to consult an experienced truck accident attorney before you talk to the insurance company for the truck driver.
How Semi-Truck Drivers & Trucking Companies Cause Crashes
Crashes with commercial trucks can, of course, be caused by reckless or careless passenger car drivers as easily as they can be caused by the truck driver. If you were determined to be 50 percent or more at fault in the crash that left you injured, you would not be able to file a claim against the truck driver or their employer. However, you can hold them accountable if the truck driver or trucking company made one of the following common mistakes:
- Distracted driving. Truckers have a lot going on while operating their rigs and can be distracted by tasks such as checking driving logs, programming a GPS, eating a meal, dealing with a pet, interacting with a co-driver or companion, talking on a cellphone, and even watching television. One of these distractions can easily cause a catastrophic crash with an innocent driver.
- Impaired driving. While truckers are just as likely as any other driver to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, they are more likely to be impaired by prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Because they drive for a living, they might feel pressure to drive after taking a medication that causes drowsiness, dizziness, or inattention.
- Fatigued driving. Although they are supposed to adhere to federal hours of service regulations, truckers may push the limit and drive more hours than they are supposed to. A drowsy driver behind the wheel of a big rig is a ticking time bomb.
- Unsafe driving. Speeding, following too closely, failing to yield, and other common traffic violations become infinitely more dangerous when they are committed by a semi-truck driver. These actions can cause fatal, multi-car crashes on Massachusetts highways.
- Improperly maintained vehicle. It is the responsibility of both the driver and his employer to inspect and maintain the truck and trailer. If a worn tire, malfunctioning light, faulty trailer hitch, bad brakes, or another mechanical problem is found to be the cause of the crash, the driver and trucking company may both be liable.
- Hiring an unqualified driver. Commercial truck drivers must meet federal standards for operating a semi-truck. If a driver’s qualifications have lapsed—or he was never qualified to begin with—his employer can be held liable for the damage he causes.
- Dangerous loads. When a trailer is not loaded properly or cargo is not properly secured, the truck driver could lose control of the vehicle or lose his load all over the highway—creating a deadly hazard for other vehicles.
An experienced truck accident attorney will secure the evidence necessary to prove that the truck driver and his employer were at fault. This evidence might include the truck’s data recorder, employment and inspection records, and the driver’s cellphone records. It would be very difficult for an accident victim to get ahold of this evidence alone.
More Reasons to Hire a Skilled Attorney
It is likely that you will be contacted by the insurance company for the trucking company soon after the accident. They might make you an offer and ask you to sign a waiver. We strongly discourage accident victims from working directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, as it is unlikely that they will make you a fair offer.
The truck accident attorneys at Brooks & Crowley LLP would be happy to take a look at your case and provide a free evaluation of your claim. If we think we can get more out of the trucking company than you have been offered, we will take your case and fight for what you deserve—and you won’t owe us a dime until we resolve your case. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you and your family after a catastrophic truck accident.