Arizona Trucking Accident Attorneys with offices in Tucson and Yuma

National research demonstrates that people in passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable in collisions with large trucks because of the great difference in weight between cars and commercial trucks (those weighing more than 10,000 pounds).

A semi-trailer truck fully loaded usually weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds and may be 65 - 75 feet long while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3200 pounds. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that, 12% of U.S. traffic fatalities occurred in collisions involving large trucks and 76% of these fatalities were occupants of the vehicle struck by the large truck.

Due to the difference in the size and weight of these trucks, semi’s often take at least twice the distance to stop from highway speeds on dry roads than do passenger vehicles, with an even greater stopping distance required on wet roads. Additionally, semi's when traveling on city streets, present risks to both pedestrians and motorists as the trailer turns behind the tractor swinging wide towards pedestrians, automobiles and bicyclists in the vicinity. Semi truck drivers and the companies they work for have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Unsafe driving, overloaded tractors, substandard maintenance, dangerous tires or other unsafe practices put innocent lives at risk.

Our attorneys are familiar with what to look for when analyzing accidents involving commercial trucks and have consistently proven our ability to build strong cases on behalf of people injured in truck accidents. View verdicts and settlements. We are familiar with the federal interstate trucking regulations including provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Trucking information, the Arizona intrastate trucking regulations, the commercial insurance issues and the accident reconstruction problems unique to accidents involving semi's. We hire trucking experts who can testify about the negligence of the driver and the trucking company who employed the driver to prove your case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, an experienced trucking accident attorney at Shultz & Rollins, Ltd. can help you with your claim against the responsible parties.

TRUCKING INFORMATION:

To prove liability in any motor vehicle accident case, including trucking accidents, negligence must be established. The injured party (the plaintiff) must prove that the truck driver and/or his employer failed to exercise their duty of reasonable care under the circumstances and that the breach caused the plaintiffs� injuries and harm.

To prove these, is critical that an investigation be undertaken as soon as possible so that evidence is not lost or destroyed. Many sources of information are relevant to your claim, such as the truck driver�s log books, the truck�s maintenance records, the speed of the truck, the direction of travel pre and post-collision, how the vehicles impacted each other, previous violations of State and Federal trucking regulations by the trucking company or the driver involved and the company�s accident history. It is also important to obtain statements from the eyewitnesses and information from the emergency personnel and police officers who responded to the scene of the accident.

Delay can cause this information to be lost and/or destroyed. Over time, witnesses� memories fade, road conditions change, evidence disappears, the wrecked vehicles are often sold off for salvage and witnesses move. Data recorders in the trucks can be lost and/or reset; log books can be destroyed pursuant to company policies and procedures thereby depriving the injured parties of critical evidence. Timely investigation is imperative.

It is also important that experts on the issues of trucking, accident reconstruction and biomechanics get involved early on while the evidence is still present and has not been tampered with or lost. These experts are a valuable resource in proving liability and causation.

Expert witnesses can testify about the negligence of the trucking company and/or the driver based on his or her familiarity with State and Federal trucking regulations and their experience as commercial drivers. These individuals are familiar with the types of policies and procedures that should be in place regarding safety, maintenance, and compliance with State and Federal trucking regulations. Based on their reconstruction they also explain to the jury how the accident happened and how you received your injuries.

CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS

Determining the cause of a trucking accident is often difficult and very different from proving the cause a typical car accident. The attorneys at Shultz & Rollins, Ltd. understand that semi-trailer truck drivers must comply with state and federal regulations, including the provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

There are many factors that contribute to or cause trucking accidents including:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Wide turns
  • Cell phone use
  • Drug and/or alcohol use
  • Improper maintenance
  • Defective equipment
  • Bad tires and/or tire tread separation
  • Improper training
  • Negligent hiring and/or screening of drivers
  • Violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provisions

FEDERAL TRUCKING REGULATIONS

Drivers and trucking companies must abide by numerous State and Federal regulations. These regulations are set forth in the Federal Motor Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. sections 350-399). These extensive regulations govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic and cover issues such as maintenance, driving hours, drug and alcohol testing and many other requirements truck drivers and their employers must obey.

Violations of trucking regulations are present in almost all trucking accidents. The federal and state governments have enacted safety regulations to govern most activities of truck drivers and trucking companies. When truck drivers and their employers violate these safety rules, accidents causing serious injuries and death often result.

Some of the pertinent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations are:

Part 382 - Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing  
This section is intended to prevent accidents resulting from driver impairment due to drugs or alcohol.

Part 383 - Commercial Driver's License Standards; Requirements and Penalties   

This section is intended to prevent accidents by requiring drivers to obtain a commercial drivers license.

Part 384 - State Compliance with Commercial Driver's License Program

This section is intended to prevent accidents by requiring the states to enforce the commercial drivers license program.

Part 387 - Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers    

This section imposes minimum insurance/ financial responsibility limits on commercial vehicles.

Part 390 - General

Part 391 - Qualifications of Drivers and Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Driver Instructors

This section sets out the requirements for any driver who operates a vehicle over 10,000 pounds.

Part 392 - Driving of Motor Vehicles

This section makes the driver, trucking company and management, maintenance and operations personnel comply with these regulations.

Part 393 - Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation

This section prohibits a driver or employer from driving a truck that does not comply with these regulations.

Part 395 - Hours of Service of Drivers

This section regulates the number of hours a driver is permitted to drive his vehicle.

Part 396 - Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance

This section requires the motor carrier to make sure the vehicle is in proper working condition by conducting appropriate inspection.

Part 397 - Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules  

These provisions deal with the transportation of hazardous and explosive materials.

Part 398  - Transportation of Migrant Workers

Part 399 - Employee Safety and Health Standards

These regulations deal with the safety of the motor carrier’s employees.

The above are only some of the federal regulations that are important in examining a trucking accident. These regulations, in addition to state regulations, are complex and extensive.

After a collision, truck drivers and the motor carriers who employ them rarely, if ever, admit to any violations of these rules or to making any mistakes. An experienced attorney can properly investigate the crash site, obtain the necessary documents and other evidence to prove that violations have occurred.

The attorneys of Shultz & Rollins, Ltd. have the experience and skills necessary to establish violations of these regulations and obtain full, fair and just compensation for their clients. Contact us to set up a free confidential consultation and preliminary case evaluation.

 

LINKS:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Share the Road Safely

Insurance Institute for Safety

American Trucking Associations

U.S. Department of Transportation

 

Common Questions Regarding Trucking Accidents  

Who can be held responsible for trucking accidents?
Any person or company that was at fault for causing the accident may be responsible, including:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking companies
  • The truck manufacturers
  • Equipment manufacturers

Drivers who are negligent, drive carelessly or do not adhere to trucking laws and regulatons can be at fault. Trucking companies have a responsibility to monitor their drivers and maintain equipment. The truck manufacturer, tire manufacturer or equipment manufacturer may also be responsible in part for causing the collision.

Can anyone drive a commercial truck?
No. Commercial truck drivers must have a special license called a “Commercial Drivers License” (CDL). Special training and tests are required to obtain a CDL. There are also different classes of CDL's which control the types and sizes of trucks which drivers may operate. Additional training and tests are required for drivers who haul certain types of cargo, such as hazardous or explosive materials.

Are there any federal regulations regarding commercial truck drivers?
Trucking companies are required to follow the  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulations which cover many aspects of trucking from maintaining equipment to driver’s hours of service. Truck drivers are also required to maintain a log of their trips; however, they are only required to keep them for a limited time.
Federal regulations also require commercial trucks to carry set levels of insurance based on the nature of goods hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck collisions from truck owners and operators who may not otherwise have the financial resources to pay damages.

Are there time limits on how long commercial truck drivers can drive?
Yes. Hours of service regulations state commercial drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 cumulative hours or drive after 14 hours on duty until they have had a 10-hour break. In addition, commercial truck drivers may not drive more than 60 hours during a 7-day period or 70 hours during an 8-day period. They must take at least 34 consecutive hours off each week.

Should I talk to the trucking company investigator or its insurance adjuster after a truck accident?
No. The first thing you should do is contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. The last thing you want to do is talk with the trucking company’s investigator or an insurance representative about your semi-trailer truck or commercial truck accident.
Most trucking companies have highly skilled investigators who begin their investigation as soon as the crash is reported to the company. The adjuster for the insurance carrier, whose job it is to minimize the amount of money the trucking company may have to pay as a result of the crash, is looking for ways to shift the blame to you or someone else. Statements given shortly after the collision often are not complete due to the stress of the injuries or death that occurred. Later when asked the same questions under less stress, more details are often given which creates the impression of inconsistency and can lead to suspicion or doubt about your recollection.
You should not provide any statements to the trucking company’s investigator or insurance adjuster, even if they suggest you do so. You should not sign any statement or release that would permit them access to your medical or employment records before you consult with a lawyer.

Why should a lawyer be hired as soon as possible?
Most trucking companies or their insurance carriers will immediately hire lawyers who will start to work on defending the case. Time is of the essence.
To protect you, the scene must be secured. Photographs and witness statements must be taken as soon after the accident as possible so that important pieces of evidence are not lost, misplaced or worse, purposely destroyed.

How important is the accident investigation?
It is critical. A thorough investigation must be performed to prove fault for the crash. An investigation should include examination of the scene, examination of the vehicles involved, photographs of the scene and vehicles and obtaining statements from the witnesses. You should not move your vehicle after the accident until told to do so by the responding law enforcement officers. Its location will be a key part of the investigation.

What damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim involving a tractor-trailer truck?
The parties responsible for causing the accident and injuries can be required to pay damages. A seriously injured plaintiff may be entitled to recover:
Medical expenses (past and future)
Loss of income (past and future)
Loss of earning capacity
Past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress
Loss of consortium
And, depending upon the circumstances, punitive damages.

If a person dies in a trucking accident, the survivors may recover monetary damages for their economic losses such as lost financial support and funeral expenses in addition to their emotional distress damages for loss of love, society and companionship.

Where will my case be filed?
Where you live does not determine where your injury case may be filed. The general rule is that the lawsuit is brought where the responsible party resides or where the the responsible party caused the injury.
Therefore, your case will generally be filed in the county in which the responsible party lives or in the county where the actual injury took place.
If there are multiple parties responsible for causing an injury or death they can all be sued in the same action.
If a responsible party is from out of state, but the injury was caused in Arizona, the responsible party may be sued in the county in which the injury took place.
Where your case should be filed requires a complex fact specific analysis.  Contact us to discuss where your case should be filed.

Do I need an attorney to resolve my trucking accident case?
Generally you will need to retain an attorney to establish liability against any potential defendants and help maximize your damage recovery.

To schedule a free confidential consultation and preliminary case evaluation to see if your case is appropriate for our firm to handle call us

We are Personal Injury Attorneys with offices in Tucson and Yuma, Arizona. We handle serious injury cases from Motor Vehicle Accidents , Trucking Accidents and Motorcycle Accidents.


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