When it comes to 18-wheeler accidents, also known as rig or tractor-trailer accidents, the aftermath can be devastating. Given their massive size and weight, these incidents often result in injuries, significant property damage, and even loss of life. In such cases, it becomes imperative to understand the rights of the victims and how trucking companies can be held accountable. This blog aims to provide an overview of the framework surrounding 18-wheeler accidents and the responsibility that falls upon trucking companies.
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The Legal Obligation of Trucking Companies
Trucking companies bear a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and in accordance with state regulations. This duty encompasses several aspects, including vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications, adherence to hours of service (HOS) regulations, as well as compliance with traffic laws. Failure to fulfill these obligations may lead to consequences for the trucking company. If your search for “a truck accident lawyer near me” has you overwhelmed, you can get in touch with the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin.
Potential Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
There are many factors that can contribute to 18-wheeler accidents. Some common causes include:
- Driver negligence or recklessness: This encompasses actions like driving, speeding, rash driving incidents, aggressive behavior behind the wheel, or driving while fatigued.
- Training or lack of supervision: Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure that drivers receive sufficient training and supervision to operate their vehicles safely.
- Malfunctions: Accidents can occur due to poorly maintained truck components, such as brakes or steering systems.
- Cargo overload or improper loading: When a truck is not loaded properly or is overloaded, it can negatively impact the vehicle’s stability and braking capabilities.
- Violation of hours of service regulations: Trucking companies are obligated to comply with HOS regulations that restrict the number of hours a driver can be on the road without taking a break.
- Substandard road conditions: Poorly maintained roads or inadequate signage can contribute to accidents involving trucks.
Legal Rights of Accident Victims
In all of the cases outlined above, victims have the right to adequate compensation for their suffering. These include:
- Medical expenses: Those injured in an 18-wheeler accident have the right to seek compensation for all costs associated with their injuries, including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical care required.
- Lost wages and earning capacity: If the injuries sustained in the accident prevent the victim from working, they are entitled to pursue compensation for lost wages. This may also include any loss in earning capacity. Furthermore, in the event that the accident results in a disability that hampers an individual’s capacity to earn a livelihood, they may be eligible for compensation to cover the loss of their earning potential.
- Emotional suffering: Victims of accidents may also receive compensation for the emotional pain and suffering they endure as a direct consequence of the incident.
- Property damage: Individuals whose property, such as their vehicle or personal belongings, sustains damage in an 18-wheeler accident can seek compensation to repair or replace these items.
- Death: In the circumstance of a fatality, surviving family members have the option to pursue a death claim against the trucking company. This claim seeks compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support, and emotional distress endured by those left behind.
Ensuring Accountability of Trucking Companies
To establish accountability for an 18-wheeler accident involving a trucking company, it is often necessary to demonstrate negligence or some form of liability. This process may involve collecting evidence such as:
- Driver records: Thoroughly examining logbooks, employment history training records, and performance evaluations can provide insights into whether there were unethical hiring practices or inadequate training/supervision on behalf of the trucking company.
- Maintenance records: Checking the truck’s maintenance records can provide insights into whether the trucking company has taken care of the vehicle’s safety systems.
- Black boxes: Many trucks come equipped with event data recorders, commonly known as black boxes, which hold information about the vehicle’s actions leading up to an accident. Retrieving and analyzing this data can help determine liability.
- Video footage: Some trucks have onboard cameras that capture the driver’s actions on video. Reviewing this footage can be crucial in understanding what caused an accident.
When a collision involving an 18-wheeler occurs, it is important for the victims to understand their rights and seek compensation for their injuries and damages. Trucking companies are legally obligated to operate their vehicles safely and adhere to regulations. By comprehending the causes of 18-wheeler accidents and gathering evidence, accident victims and their legal representatives can work towards holding trucking companies accountable for any negligent actions or misconduct.