Posts tagged with "Truck Accidents"

Driver awareness of tractor-trailers can prevent Massachusetts accidents

Even though Norfolk County does not have any major interstates passing through it, there are still a large number of trucks traveling on route 115, carrying all kinds of goods and merchandise to vendors. When a truck driver or a trucking company acts with negligence, a serious truck accident can occur.

Trucking accident facts

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 3,373 people died as the result of accidents involving tractor-trailers in 2011. The number showed a 7 percent increase over the fatality rate from 2009. When collisions happen between large trucks and passenger vehicles, the occupants of the passenger vehicles often suffer the worst injuries. In 2011, only 18 percent of fatalities in truck accidents were the occupants of the trucks, themselves.

Over the last several years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has addressed issues such as driver fatigue, distraction and load distribution in an effort to reduce the risk of an 18-wheeler truck accident taking place. For example, the FMCSA has undertaken steps to reduce distraction among truck and bus drivers by banning the use of hand-held cell phones and texting while driving, according to distraction.gov.

Driver safety tips

While a portion of the responsibility for trucking accidents lies with truckers and their companies, drivers of passenger vehicles can also play an important role in keeping themselves safe. One of the things that drivers can do is increase their knowledge of tractor-trailers with the following safety tips:

  • When a truck is making a right turn, don’t try to go around it – due to their enormous size, semis have to make a wide turn and often will pull into the left lane. It is better to give the truck the room it needs rather than take a chance and get caught in a squeeze.
  • Don’t cut off a semi – It takes about two football fields for a tractor-trailer to stop if it is travelling at 55 miles per hour. If a car cuts in front of a semi and has to slam on its brakes there is nowhere for the truck to go but into the rear of the car.
  • Don’t hang out in a truck’s blind spots – A semi pulling a trailer has large blind spots, or no zones. These no zones are located behind the trailer, in front of the semi’s cab, to the right of the cab and to the left of the cab. When cars hang out in these places, a trucker won’t see them and could inadvertently collide with them.
  • Don’t tailgate, especially uphill – semis have to change gears when they are ascending a hill and have been known to drift backwards.
  • Try to stay away from the road’s lanes when dealing with a car break-down – this will decrease the risk of being hit by a drifting semi.

When drivers show respect to semis they can help keep themselves and others safe. However, sometimes when drivers do all they can, truck accidents can still happen, leaving them facing a number of challenges. In these instances, it is important for them to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss their legal options.

Remember that attorneys in Massachusetts can not mention in court that a defendant, regardless of whether it’s an individual or a company, has insurance that will cover nearly every judgment.

How do federal hours of service regulations prevent truck accidents?

Though many people may not be familiar with them, federal hours of service regulations play a key role in preventing large truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. These HOS rules, implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, govern the working hours of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. who move goods from one state to another.

According to the FMCSA, fatigue is a significant factor in commercial truck accidents. The longer a truck driver remains behind the wheel without an eight hour break, the greater the risk that he will be involved in a crash caused by fatigue. Commercial trucks are, of course, much larger than passenger vehicles and the effects of these crashes can be devastating.

The federal HOS regulations focus on when and how long a driver may remain behind the wheel by placing specific limits on the amount of time a person may drive and how many hours he can work before he is no longer allowed to operate a commercial vehicle. There are three general on-duty limits that truck drivers must follow at all times:

  • Fourteen hour duty limit: drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive on-duty hours after being off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. This period begins whenever a driver starts any kind of work. Once a driver reaches the 14 hour limit, he may not drive again until he has been off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. Even if a driver takes some off-duty time during this 14-hour period, his driving time is still limited to 14 hours.
  • Eleven hour driving limit: a driver may be behind the wheel for only 11 of the 14 consecutive on-duty hours. Once a driver has been behind the wheel for a total of 11 hours, he must be off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before driving again.
  • Sixty/Seventy hour duty limit: this rule is designed to limit a driver’s weekly driving hours and differs according to trucking companies’ schedules. If a driver’s company does not operate every day of the week, he is not allowed to drive after being on-duty 60 hours for seven consecutive days. If a driver’s company does operate every day of the week, he may not drive after he has been on-duty 70 hours in eight consecutive days. In either case, the regulations allow a driver to reset his on-duty calculations after spending at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

Truck drivers subject to the FMCSA’s HOS regulations must keep log books to keep track of their time worked and distance traveled, among other information.

To Prevent Truck Accidents Stronger Federal Action Needed

Has the death toll from crashes involving large trucks finally become intolerable? Between 2007 and 2009, an average of over 4,000 people a year were killed in truck accidents. Nearly 90,000 more per year were injured during that time.

One respected safety advocate, Joan Claybrook of the Truck Safety Coalition, is blunt in assigning responsibility for the ongoing carnage. “Families and truck drivers are being slaughtered on our highways because of the trucking industry’s relentless push for bigger, overweight trucks operated by drivers who are exhausted and pressured to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines.”

Safety groups have been making this argument for years with little success. But the time for effective action to improve trucking safety may at last be at hand. It is no longer only safety groups calling for more effective regulation of the trucking industry; the Teamsters union, which represents many truck drivers, is now doing so as well.

Safe Highways Legislation

One significant step in improving truck safety would be for Congress to pass the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Protection Act. The proposed legislation calls for limitations on the size of trucks, which the industry seeks to make ever larger.

Research shows that so-called “longer combination vehicles” (LCVs) and triple-trailer trucks are considerably more dangerous than today’s single-trailer trucks. The Safe Highways legislation, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ and Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass, would keep these over-sized trucks off the road in the interest of safety.

These limitations make sense. After all, motorists should not be put at unreasonable risk on the road from monster-size trucks. At 100,000 pounds, the larger trucks are, as Sen. Lautenberg puts it, “behemoths.” And the triple-trailers are almost absurdly elongated – their length is like the height of a 10-story building.

Both safety groups and the Teamsters union, which represents 600,000 drivers, support the legislation.

Federal Regulations on Trucking Safety

Another important element in making trucking safer involves tightening federal rules on hours of service (HOS) regulations for truck drivers and record-keeping aboard trucks. For years, many truck accidents have been caused by driver fatigue, and drivers have often felt under pressure to falsify their logbooks to conceal their excessive hours behind the wheel without proper rest.

A Texas police officer who investigated a terrible fatal crash caused by a sleepy trucker in 2004 put it this way. “The use of paper logbooks by truck drivers is like running a business with paper notebooks and no computers,” said Robert Mills, who became an outspoken supporter of trucking reform after responding to a grisly accident that killed 10 people.

The logbooks were supposed to be a way to enforce federal rules limiting truck drivers to 77 hours of driving a week, and no more than 11 hours consecutively at any one time. As Mills noted, however, speaking at a Truck Safety Coalition news conference, drivers sometimes refer to these easily-altered logs as “comic books.”

After so many personal injuries and wrongful deaths, that needs to change. Truck accidents are many things, but they are no joke.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is therefore working on finalizing two related rules. One rule would place a 10 consecutive hour limit on driving. The other rule would require a conversion to electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) aboard trucks. At present, the trucking industry is supportive of the on-board recorders proposal but is resisting the stricter driving limits.

The Pain of Victims’ Family Members

As Congress and federal regulators make their decisions on truck safety proposals, it is important for the voices of victims of truck accidents to be heard. Fortunately, that is beginning to happen.

At a Senate hearing in May, a man named Ron Wood talked of losing five family members in the 2004 truck accident that Robert Mills responded to as a police officer. Mr. Wood lost his mother and sister, as well as three nephews, when an 18-wheeler came over the median and crashed into two cars. The SUV carrying Wood’s family went up in flames following the impact.

Wood was joined by many other victims at the hearing. They all told wrenching stories about losing loved ones to accidents caused by large trucks.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, or someone close to you has been killed, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. A lawyer can assess your case and explain your legal options.

Cargo and loads can affect truck accidents

Often, when we talk about truck accidents, we approach them through the context of a large 18-wheeler or tractor trailer colliding with another vehicle or person. These types of accidents certainly do happen, and they are arguably the most common types of truck accidents, but they are not the only accidents that can happen as a result of negligence and large trucks. Depending on the cargo that a truck is transporting, accidents can happen without one vehicle striking another.

Not all 18-wheelers carry large tankers or cargo. Some large trucks transport loose material that is tied down, such as timber or large equipment and machines. If these loads are not properly tied down or are imbalanced in the way that they are tied, they could cause a truck driver to swerve uncontrollably or drift in their lane. In certain cases, the cargo may loosen, causing logs to litter the road and impact other drivers.

Instances like these are rarely the truck driver’s fault. Truck drivers are sometimes not even around when cargo is tied to their vehicles, nor are they aware that the cargo may be improperly tied down. As a result, they could be driving along the road, obeying all of the rules and driving perfectly safely, and their cargo could still come loose and cause a serious accident.

If the truck driver was not at fault, you can still file a claim for compensation if you are injured. If you were not at fault in an accident, you can likely be compensated at someone else’s expense, the company that employs the truck driver, for example. If you have been injured because of a truck accident in Massachusetts, visit our webpage to learn more about how truck circumstances can make driving more dangerous and how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Outside factors can affect car accidents

We have all heard that accidents happen, and while this may be true, accidents including car accidents are always caused by something. A child spilling milk is an accident in the sense that the child likely did not mean to make a mess, but at the same time the accident was directly caused by the child doing something that resulted in the spilled milk. The same can be said of car accidents. Even though they may happen unintentionally, there is usually someone who was doing something that was the catalyst to the car accident.

Often, we turn toward the drivers involved in the car accident and attempt to determine which of these drivers was engaging in reckless or negligent driving behaviors. However, there are accidents in which neither driver was truly at fault. In these instances, we must look to factors outside of the drivers themselves to determine who was at fault. There can be many options.

Sometimes a driver was allowing plenty of space to stop in the event of unexpected circumstances, and yet even though they see an obstacle and attempt to stop, they cannot because their brakes fail. In this instance, the driver was not at fault, but the vehicle itself. If the driver knew that his or her brake pads might fail, then the driver should have made an attempt to fix the problem. However, if the driver did not know about the defective brake pads, an investigation could be launched to determine if the manufacturer of the vehicle is at fault for using defective brake pads.

Similarly, poorly maintained roads could contribute to an accident, as well as traffic signals that do not work as intended. All of these factors must be considered when investigating a car accident to determine who was truly at fault. This is yet another reason that victims are encouraged to seek legal assistance, so that they are able to fully investigate all factors and determine who or what was truly at fault. If you have been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, consider meeting with an attorney to build a strong claim for compensation.

Legal aid for truck accident victims

When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, you can never truly know what you’re going to get. You may find yourself in an accident that causes little or no damage, or you may find yourself in an accident that changes your life forever. You may get into an accident with another passenger vehicle, or you may get into an accident with a large truck. And the other driver may be concerned about your well-being, or the other driver may simply continue driving.

There is slightly less ambiguity when it comes to truck accidents, because behind every truck accident is a large trucking company that is desperate to minimize its liability. This means that within hours of the accident, while you may be lying in a hospital bed fighting for your life, representatives from the trucking company are on the scene searching for ways to ensure that they do not have to make a huge payout to you or your family.

The law is very clear when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, and if evidence indicates that the truck driver was responsible for the accident, then the trucking company will likely have to pay for your medical bills as well as additional payments for property damage or suffering. Because of this, it is not unheard of for truck companies to tamper with evidence or alter the scene of the accident in order to make it seem like their truck was not responsible. However, there is more evidence than just that at the scene of the accident that victims can use to their benefit.

The trucking companies themselves are responsible for ensuring that the drivers they hire are safe, and that they do not overschedule their drivers to the point that the drivers would be too fatigued to focus on the road. Even if trucking companies are able to alter an accident to make it seem that the truck was not at fault, there are still ways for victims to prove their case. If you have been injured in a truck accident in Massachusetts, please visit our webpage to learn more about your legal options.

Massachusetts bridge leads to truck accidents

Usually when we think of truck accidents, we imagine a truck in a state of disrepair having a tire blowout and causing a devastating collision, or a distracted or fatigued driver drifting in his lane and striking another vehicle. While these are certainly examples of truck accidents, there are many other factors that can contribute to a truck accident, many of which you may have no warning of. This is why it is recommended to always exercise caution when driving near a truck.

Massachusetts residents may be familiar with the East Street Bridge, a relatively small bridge with a relatively large reputation. The bridge has a clearance of 10-and-a-half feet, and this short clearance has thus far contributed to six truck accidents in this year alone. The problem has become so great that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is beginning plans to redesign the bridge in an effort to reduce such instances.

What seems to continue happening is that large trucks that reach well over 10-and-a-half feet attempt to travel under the bridge and strike into it, causing serious damage to themselves and potentially to other drivers around them. Recently two trucks have suffered damage following a collision with the bridge. Vehicles that are traveling behind the truck or coming in the opposite direction may suddenly find themselves colliding with a truck that came to an abrupt stop.

The good news for these individuals is that they could still be compensated for any injuries they suffer in such an accident. Truck drivers have a responsibility to know the heights of their trucks and react accordingly. If a truck driver crashes into a bridge and causes an accident, he or she could be held responsible for the damages due to negligent driving.

Source: Westwood Wicked Local, “Accidents at East Street Bridge continue as MBTA announces repairs,” Max Bowen, Aug. 24, 2015

An overview of what could cause truck accidents

Being involved in a car accident is an unfortunate occurrence, and it will almost certainly ruin your day. Being involved in a truck accident is even worse, as the larger vehicle is likely to cause even more damage. If a car accident has a high chance of ruining your day, a truck accident has a high chance of ruining your life. Observing issues that tend to cause truck accidents may help you avoid this awful tragedy.

The important thing to remember is that large trucks are not like other vehicles; they are bulky and difficult to maneuver in, and because of their size, it can be difficult for truck drivers to see everywhere around them. With this in mind, drivers are encouraged not to change lanes abruptly or otherwise merge in such a way that trucks must quickly move to avoid you.

You should also refrain from driving in what is called a no zone. These zones are areas in which truck drivers have limited visibility because of the size of their vehicle and inability to compensate with mirrors. Also remember that trucks make wide turns, so being too close when a truck turns could result in an accident.

Of course, even if you take care to remember all of these causes and specifically avoid them, you may still find yourself in a truck accident. Sometimes, it is the truck driver’s fault, or the truck company. In instances like these, you may be entitled to compensation if you can successfully prove that the truck driver or trucking company was at fault in the accident.

Understanding the complexities of truck accidents

Proving fault is often exponentially more difficult in truck accidents than it is in more traditional motor vehicle accidents. Unlike with most motor vehicle accidents, it is entirely possible that neither driver was negligent, and also possible that neither driver did anything wrong. This might lead to some confusion, as both parties argue in circles, and it may cause you to hesitate before taking legal action.

If you are involved in a truck accident, and you were not at fault, it is highly recommended that you meet with an attorney to discuss the circumstances of your case. Even if you cannot seem to determine fault on the part of the driver, if you know that the accident was not your fault, then there may be something that you are missing. Every truck accident involves more than two parties; in addition to the drivers, there is also the trucking company that owns the truck and employs the driver.

These companies have an obligation to engage in safe and secure practices when it comes to the ways in which their trucks are handled. It is these trucking companies’ responsibility to ensure that they hire quality drivers who are not overworked. It is also the companies’ responsibility to keep the trucks well cared for.

In the aftermath of an accident, it can be difficult to determine what happened, but we have found that by recreating accidents, we can discover answers to questions that you did not even know you were supposed to ask. Perhaps the truck’s tires were not adequately inflated for example. Issues like these can often go overlooked, which is why it is important to consult with an attorney when you are involved in a truck accident. Visit our webpage for more information.

Truck catches fire on Massachusetts Pike

Massachusetts State Police responded recently to an accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Otis, involving a tractor trailer which jackknifed and caught fire. Police closed the highway in the immediate aftermath of the accident, but both lanes were reopened within the hour. Despite this quick response, the Pike was backed up for 6 miles. In a happy turn of events, it appears that no other cars were involved in the accident, and that nobody was seriously injured in the fiery accident.

Even though nobody was injured, this accident just goes to show that truck accidents can happen, and they often cause tremendous wreckage when they do. It pays to be cautious when driving around large trucks, but sometimes that is not enough, and an accident will occur. If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident, it is important to remember your rights. Depending on who was at fault in the accident, you could be entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you suffer.

There are a lot of legal complexities surrounding a truck accident, including the condition of the truck and its driver as well as the practices of the company that owns that truck. For this reason, it can be difficult to prove fault in a truck accident case. However, we pride ourselves on using creative and innovative methods to prove fault and get our clients that compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident, you will likely have unexpected bills to pay. Repairs to your car, medical bills or in the worst case funeral bills will begin to pile up leaving you little time for grief. Fortunately, a successful lawsuit can grant you the compensation you deserve and alleviate financial stress, so you can focus on recovering from your emotional stress.

Source: WCVB5, “Truck crash in Otis causes 6-mile backup on Mass Pike,” Oct 19, 2014