Holding Truck Drivers and Companies Accountable
Of all fatal accidents that occur in the U.S., over 11 percent involve a large truck. That should come as no surprise, since these giant vehicles are far larger and weigh far more than most other vehicles on the road. Trucks take longer to stop than passenger cars (525 feet compared with 306 feet) and truck drivers have more limited views of surrounding cars.
Knowing this information, however, shouldn’t truck drivers and trucking companies take significant precautions to avoid accidents in the first place? Shouldn’t truckers drive at distances that allow them to stop for slowing traffic? Shouldn’t truck companies place more emphasis on safety rather than encouraging drivers to drive faster and sleep less?
Douglas V. Stoehr, Attorney at Law, has dedicated his legal career — more than 20 years — to holding careless drivers and companies accountable for the injuries they cause to others. This dedication, combined with a passion for getting people the compensation they need to heal from catastrophic injuries, has led to results for individuals injured in truck accidents throughout west-central Pennsylvania.
Understand the Risk Factors for an 18-Wheeler Accident
Numerous hazards can jeopardize truck safety, and most fall into three categories: the driver, the trucking company and the equipment.
Truck driver factors: Given their experience driving in all types of road conditions, truck drivers should be the safest drivers on our roads. Yet, studies continually show truckers making the wrong decisions.
- Drowsy driving: Accidents caused by commercial truck drivers are often attributed to drowsy or fatigued driving. In a study by the Harvard School of Medicine, 50 percent of truckers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. Many drivers feel pressure to violate hours-of-service rules and take driving shifts that push them well past the point of fatigue. They may also falsify driving logs to avoid getting into trouble.
- Speeding/reckless driving: In addition to bad driving choices (put simply), the same pressures that cause drowsy driving lead to speeding and reckless driving.
- Drunk and drugged driving: An alarming 12.5 percent of truck drivers tested positive for alcohol in one U.S. study.
- Distracted driving: In 2013, 16,000 NYC truck drivers were ticketed for texting while driving, and a hidden camera investigation showed more should have been. Imagine how many Pennsylvania truckers might be caught today.
Are truck drivers always to blame? No, truck accidents occur for many other reasons. In fact, truckers are often at risk of injury themselves. The fatality rate for truck drivers increased 11.2 percent between 2011 and 2016. Truck drivers state that they feel forced to choose between productivity and safety in a dangerous occupation.
Trucking company factors: The owners of trucking and transportation companies are responsible for both the state of their equipment and the performance of their drivers. Many companies:
- Fail to properly vet and train their drivers
- Fail to maintain their vehicles
- Fail to follow federal regulations
- Set delivery expectations that force drivers to speed or drive fatigued
Even when their rules seem to follow the law, it is common for trucking companies to pressure drivers to exceed their expectations by driving faster, skipping breaks (driving drowsy) and falsifying their driver logs. When trucking companies have compensation structures and other pressures that lead to bad driving and truck collisions, they can and should be held accountable.
Equipment problems: Trucks experience a lot of wear and tear, and trucking companies and drivers are responsible for ensuring regular maintenance and service. Too many truck accidents are the result of worn-out brakes and other easily preventable hazards.
Often, there are also problems with the way that cargo is loaded and carried. Unbalanced loads, unsecured cargo and overloaded trailers cause catastrophic crashes.
We Hold All Negligent Parties Liable for Your Injuries
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is a good idea to seek out a lawyer with experience. These are often challenging cases with numerous parties involved. In such cases, attorney Douglas V. Stoehr may name the truck driver, the trucking company and the company providing liability insurance as defendants in the lawsuit.
When investigating the crash and the circumstances surrounding it, we will examine evidence from the accident scene, police reports, truck logbooks, Department of Transportation records, witnesses, victims and any other sources that may be helpful in proving your claim.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Legal Needs in a Free Consultation
With an office in Altoona, Douglas V. Stoehr, Attorney at Law, serves clients throughout west-central Pennsylvania. To discuss your legal options with an experienced truck accident lawyer, call us at 814-515-9074, or send us an email.