6 Things to Look For in a Semi-Truck Accident
Trucking accident cases are far different from traditional automobile collisions. When you are facing a well-financed commercial carrier and their large commercial insurance company, you may not realize just how seriously they take the matter. Large insurance claims against trucking companies are among the biggest of all insurance claims, because the injuries and damages are typically much more severe. For these reasons, there are a few major differences that you should be aware of. If you or a loved one were hurt by a trucking company or their negligent driver, contact a trucking accident lawyer in Kissimmee, Florida who can help you recover the compensation you deserve. It all starts with a phone call. In the meantime, there are 6 things you need to know to look for when dealing with trucking companies.
#1 Log Books / Hours of Service
Did the truck driver leave his lane, swerve, or appear to lose control of the big rig? If so, you could be dealing with an asleep-at-the-wheel accident, where the driver was operating the truck long beyond his allowable hours of service. This means that he or she was driving longer than permitted by law without a regular break for sleep and rest.
#2 Black Box Evidence
Did you know that almost all late model big rigs have what are known as electronic crash recorders (ECR) or electronic data recorders (EDR). These devices operate much like the black boxes on airplanes, because they record specific data. In particular, they capture crucial information about the moments leading up to the collision. Date may include info like:
- Rate of travel at impact
- Whether the truck driver applied the brakes
- Whether there were a number of hard brakes in close succession leading up to the crash
- Other evidence that may indicate falling asleep or being distracted
#3 Lack of Pre-Trip Inspection
Drivers are required to spend a few minutes checking out their rigs and trailers before starting to drive each day. But drivers also know they only get paid for miles travelled, not time spent kicking the tires. So, many drivers cut corners in this crucial area.
#4 Unlawful and Dangerous Cell Phone Use
One of the first things you or your attorney should do in a trucking accident case is notify the insurance carrier and trucking company that you wish for them to preserve the cell phone evidence. Once the matter is in litigation, your attorney should subpoena cell phone data to determine if the driver was using the cell phone at the time of the crash. Under guidelines set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency charged with promulgating rules and regulations for safe operation by trucking companies, commercial drivers may not operate while using a handheld device. It is unlawful to operate a semi-truck while texting.
#5 Alcohol and Drug Use
While it is very much illegal and deadly for a truck driver to operate a vehicle under the influence, it happens quite a lot. Maybe not always alcohol, but truck drivers often use and even abuse things like uppers (over-the-counter pills and illegally obtained prescriptions), which keep them awak for long periods of time, but which reduce awareness and reaction time with extended use. Likewise, some drivers may struggle to get good sleep or suffer from sleep apnea. This can lead to sleeping pills and other sleep remedies that can leave a driver not alert.
#6 Health Problems
Finally, a lot of truck drivers would agree that it’s not the healthiest lifestyle. Hours in a truck, sitting without any exercise, and eating fatty foods at truck stops on the road, all are linked to obesity and sleep apnea, among other things. This can lead to a lack of alertness and poor health. Moreover, prescriptions may cause drowsiness. Plenty of serious collisions have been caused by health episodes.
Getting Skilled Help in Central Florida
If you’ve been hurt by a trucking company, you need to act fast to preserve the evidence, and work with an attorney who knows how to get you the recovery you deserve. Call the Draper Law Office today and schedule your own private free consultation with a Kissimmee truck accident lawyer to learn more about your rights.