Truck Accidents and Tractor-trailer accidents
Accident attorney Brad Pistotnik law, P.A. handles severe truck accidents across Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Missouri, Illinois and across the United States. Brad authored the book Truck Accidents Kill. Brad has published articles for the Kansas Bar Association regarding the litigation of severe tractor-trailer accidents.
What are the causes of tractor-trailer accidents?
- Truck drivers driving while fatigued
- Truck drivers making false log books to conceal how many hours they are driving and violating the maximum hours of service rules.
- Truck drivers are forced to meet time deadlines which, in turn, causes them to ignore the hours-of-service rules and driver until they are too tired to drive safely.
- Truck drivers drive at night time when it is more dangerous.
- Truck drivers use stimulants like methamphetamine to stay awake rather than getting adequate rest and sleep.
- Tractor-trailer accidents are caused by the negligence of truck drivers and motor carriers who fail to follow the D.O.T. published regulations known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations outline what every trucking company and motor carrier must do to protect innocent drivers. Many of the accidents are caused by the trucking companies pushing the drivers to violate the Hours-of-Service rules of the FMCSR and drive while fatigued.
Tractor-trailer accidents are caused by the negligence of truck drivers and motor carriers who fail to follow the D.O.T. published regulations known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations outline what every trucking company and motor carrier must do to protect innocent drivers. Many of the accidents are caused by the trucking companies pushing the drivers to violate the Hours-of-Service rules of the FMCSR and drive while fatigued.
Under the US federal laws and regulations knows as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) which is administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) along with its adjunct administrative agency the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), regulations were developed to prevent truck drivers from operating over interstate and intrastate highways for more than a certain number of hours per day and per week. the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations issued under 49 C.F.R. §§ 380 through 399 which are enforceable pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act, PL 96-296, 1980 S 2245 and PL 96-296, July 1, 1980, 94 Stat 793. 49 C.F.R. § 390.3(e)(1) & (2) provide that every driver and employee shall be instructed regarding and shall comply with all applicable regulations contained in the FMCSR. 49 C.F.R. § 390.5 provides that "motor carrier" means a for-hire motor carrier or a private motor carrier. That term includes a motor carrier's agents, officers, and representatives as well as employees responsible for hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers. 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a)(2) provides that "A carrier . . . is liable for damages sustained by a person as a result of an action or omission of that carrier. . . in violation of this part.”
49 U.S.C. § 14101(a) provides that "a motor carrier shall provide safe and adequate service, equipment and facilities." The FMSCRs are located at 49 C.F.R. § 380 et seq. The FMCSRs and the MCA specifically under the section 49 C.F.R. § 391.1(a) and (b) state, “(a) The rules in this part establish minimum qualifications for persons who drive commercial motor vehicles, as, for, or on behalf of motor carriers. The rules in this part also establish minimum duties of motor carriers with respect to the qualification of drivers. (b) A motor carrier who employs himself/herself as a driver must comply with both the rules in this part that apply to motor carriers and the rules in this part that apply to drivers.” 49 C.F.R. § 390.11 imposes duties on the motor carrier to follow the minimum duties and industry minimum standard of care required by the FMCSR and states, “Whenever in part 325 of subchapter A or in this subchapter a duty is prescribed for a driver or a prohibition is imposed upon the driver, it shall be the duty of the motor carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition. If the motor carrier is a driver, the driver shall likewise be bound.
Many motor carriers violate the minimum duties and standards of care set forth under 49 CFR § 395.8 by failing to adequately document the driver’s record of duty status. They violate the minimum duties and standards of care set forth under 49 CFR §§ 395.1 through 395.3 by requiring drivers to work in excess of the maximum hours and days allowed by Federal laws and regulations. They violate these regulations under 49 C.F.R. § 392.3 by requiring its drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.
Motor carriers sometimes fail to set up adequate safety systems which then causes their drivers to operate on time deadlines that do not look to nor care about the hours-of-services regulations. They violate the minimum duties and standards of care set forth under 49 CFR § 383.113 by failing to have adequate safety management controls in place that would require and provide that drivers had the required skills required under this regulation.
More importantly, they violate these minimum duties and industry standards of care as set forth under 49 CFR § 391.11 and 391.23 by failing to properly qualify the driver, failing to obtain the federally required information on the application for employment of their driver which requires an investigation of the driver’s safety performance history with the D.O.T. regulated employers during the preceding three years and which further requires the prospective motor carrier must investigate at a minimum, the information listed in this paragraph from all previous employers of the applicant.
Another significant and reckless problem with the motor carrier exists where they violate the minimum duties and standards of care set forth under 49 CFR § 391.31 by failing to properly road test their drivers. This regulation requires that a person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she has first successfully completed a road test and has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test in accordance with this section and further requires that the road test must be of sufficient duration to enable the person who gives it to evaluate he skill of the person who takes it at handling the commercial motor vehicle, and at a minimum the person who takes the test must be tested, while operating the type of commercial the motor carrier intends to assign to the driver including the evaluation of pretrip inspections required by § 392.7, coupling and uncoupling, use of controls and emergency equipment, passing, turning, braking, backing and completion of the road test form to rate the performance of the driver and have the driver sign the road test form. Failure to implement any of these systems leads to an overall system of intentional and reckless failure to follow federally required safety systems. The failure to comply with the safety standards leads to death and injury of the motoring public.
Important Facts and Statistics about Tractor-trailer accidents.
The trucking industry of the United States is massive and generates $603.9 billion in gross weight demonstrating 80.9% of United States total freight bill in 2011. According to the American Trucking Association, trucks are responsible for moving 67% of the country’s freight requirements. A huge number of companies function in the US Trucking Industry. It is estimated that as of December 2010 the total number of for-hire carriers were 408,782 with private carriers totaling to an astounding 662,544 and various others being 168,680. In 2013, the trucking industry utilized a massive 523,000,000,000 gallons per year of diesel fuel. The amount of load in a commercial truck, when it is fully loaded, is an astounding 80,000 pounds; and in comparison to the average weight of a vehicle being about 2,500 to 3,000 pounds. Commercial trucks are massive in terms of capacity and you can only imagine the amount of damage they cause. The large weight and bulkiness of these commercial trucks restrict the process of turning and moving the truck. This makes the job of the driver even more difficult as even the slightest error on the driver’s part can cause the truck to lose balance and control and may result in a devastating accident not only for the driver of the truck but also for all other drivers present on the road.
What should you do in the event of a tractor-trailer accident?
You should immediately call the police and report the accident. It is important to remember that trucking companies have an insurance adjuster at the scene of an accident within an hour of the accident. If you don’t get a lawyer immediately you can lose your case due to the insurance company’s destruction of evidence like the ECM computer module on the tractor that gives information about the last few seconds before impact. They can destroy the driver’s logs and they can do many other destructive acts that can cause you to lose your case.
We use a team of highly skilled lawyers, trucking safety experts, accident reconstruction experts and other types of professionals to build your case.
You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell phone at 316-706-5020 at any time or email him at Brad@Bradpistotniklaw.com. Remember that time is of the essence in trucking accidents. Your lawyer needs to evaluate the evidence that the trucking company insurance adjuster is looking at immediately after an accident.
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