A good truck accident lawyer understands that a truck accident is different from a car accident in ways that are both obvious and not-so-obvious. Clearly, the obvious difference is that a truck accident has the potential to cause much more damage, as tractor trailers are three times the size of most cars, and a truck accident will likely occur on a highway where vehicles are traveling at increased speeds. But, the less obvious differences are often very important to a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer. Among the main differences are the rules and regulations that truck drivers and companies must follow, and the amount of records and evidence that truck drivers and companies must keep that a truck accident lawyer can preserve and review.
In its latest report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FCMSA”) found that at least one drive-related factor was the cause for one third of all truck accident deaths in 2015. Among the leading factors is driver fatigue. Driver fatigue can be caused by lack of sleep, driving too many consecutive hours, or driving too many hours without adequate time off. What separates truck accidents from car accidents is that there are laws that specifically state how long a truck driver can drive without a break; how many hours a driver must rest in relation to how many hours are spent on the road; and how long each rest break has to last. If a truck accident occurs and the truck driver has been driving for longer than the maximum amount of time allowable, a truck accident lawyer must act quickly to preserve the driver’s time sheets and logs.
According to the FMCSA, vehicle-related factors also accounted for a high percentage of truck accident deaths. Among the highest factors were faulty tires and maintenance issues. Once again, if it is apparent that an equipment issue caused a truck accident, a good truck accident lawyer will know that truck drivers and companies are required to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles to protect others on the road. Beyond regular inspection, federal rules require truck drivers to keep detailed records of inspections and maintenance on their trucks and the truck accident lawyer must act quickly to preserve these records as evidence.
Unfortunately, a similarity between car accident injuries and truck accident injuries is that most often, they are caused by speeding and general driver carelessness. Again, the FMCSA notes that speeding is the number one cause of truck accident deaths. While speeding is dangerous no matter the vehicle, when a truck is barreling down a highway at a high speed, it lacks the ability to stop or turn as quickly as smaller cars on the road. Couple the inability to avoid an accident with the enormous difference in size, and the result is often a truck accident with life-altering repercussions for all involved.
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