Big Rig Accidents Involve Big Issues

Big Rig Accidents Involve Big Issues

Big Rig Accidents Involve Big IssuesThe bigger they are, the more damage they can do. It’s not hard to understand why a collision between a large commercial truck and a passenger car can lead to catastrophic injuries and deaths. You can almost feel the sheer size of tractor-trailers when you drive next to them on the highway, and it is the massive height and weight of such trucks compared to passenger vehicles that play a big role in why such accidents usually cause more serious injuries than collisions between two cars.

But size of the vehicles and the scope of the injuries and damage involved in 18-wheeler and commercial trucking accidents aren’t the only things that distinguish them from car crashes. The legal issues involved in trucking accidents –who’s at fault, the role that federal laws and regulations play, and multiple parties who may be on the hook for damages – require deep knowledge of legal, mechanical, and technical matters that are unique to the trucking industry.

If you’ve been in an accident involving a big rig or commercial truck in Dallas and are looking to retain a lawyer, it is crucial that you find a lawyer who has specific and extensive experience with tractor-trailer accidents.

Unique Big Rig Accident Issues

Three examples of the kinds of truck-specific issues an experienced big rig accident lawyer will be intimately familiar with are:

  • Federal Regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations (FMCSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, issues and enforces strict rules and regulations governing commercial trucks, drivers, carriers, operators, and owners. They are required to adhere to numerous rules, including hours of service, speed, maintenance, types of materials hauled, and weight restrictions. Whether these rules were followed or broken can play a huge role in establishing negligence and liability. Because these regulations involve federal law and because many tractor-trailer accidents involve trucking companies or other defendants from outside of Texas, many trucking accident lawsuits are filed in federal court.
  • Vicarious Liability. Imposing liability on a company or a person because of the acts or negligence of one of their employees or agents is known as “Vicarious liability.” Truck accidents raise all kinds of vicarious liability issues, including whether the driver was an employee versus a contractor), whether the driver was acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred, or whether they were pressured or ordered by the carrier to break any applicable safety regulations or procedures.
  • Multiple Parties. Typically, a personal injury lawsuit arising out of an auto accident between two passenger vehicles will only involve two parties: the driver of each car. The defendant will likely be represented by a lawyer paid for by his or her insurance company, and the accident victim will have his or her own lawyer. While these are by no means simple cases, big rigs lawsuits are often much more complex because of the number of parties who are potentially at fault and who may be on the hook for damages. A trucking accident victim could bring suit against a number of defendants, including the driver, the carrier, and the manufacturer of a defective part on the truck. Multiple parties raise issues of jurisdiction (where the case can be heard), allocation of damages between the defendants, and other issues which require a trucking accident lawyer who fully understands all of the angles involved in these serious cases.

Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Tractor-Trailer Safety Rules May Be Weakened Under Federal Highway Funding Bill

Tractor-Trailer Safety Rules May Be Weakened Under Federal Highway Funding Bill

New York Court of Appeals, AlbanyAmong the many battles being currently fought in the U.S. Congress is one that could have a serious impact on your safety. At issue is whether regulations on tractor-trailers will be weakened – and the dangers of more big-rig accidents, injuries, and deaths increased – in response to heavy lobbying by the trucking industry.

For a long while, Congress has been unable to reach any consensus on how to address the serious issues facing the country’s highways, roads, and bridges, many of which are desperately in need of vital repairs and improvements. The money for maintaining this infrastructure comes from the federal Highway Trust Fund. Instead of coming up with a long-term agreement to keep the fund from running out of money and implementing a plan to fix things, Congress has kept passing short-term, stop-gap funding bills.

A number of efforts to come up with a long-term, six-year funding plan are working their way through Congress. However, this effort, as well as other pieces of proposed legislation, also contain significant changes to the tractor-trailer safety rules and regulations that govern trucks on the nation’s highways.

Bigger Trucks, Less Rest, and Younger Drivers

Three of the biggest proposed changes, backed by the American Trucking Association and trucking companies such as UPS and FedEx, include:

  • allowing trucking companies to put two 33-foot trailers behind one truck, up from the current limit of two 28-foot trailers, even in states that have prohibited such trucks
  • reducing the current required rest period for truck drivers
  • allowing 18-year-olds to drive tractor-trailers

Harrowing Tractor-Trailer Statistics

These proposed changes have raised concerns among highway safety advocates as well as state and local officials who believe that they will only make America’s highways more dangerous. A recent New York Times editorial attacked the proposals, citing these harrowing statistics:

  • more Americans will be killed in the U.S. by large trucks this year than have died in commercial airline accidents over the past 45 years
  • deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers rose 17 percent between 2009-2013
  • almost 4,000 people were killed in big-rig crashes in 2013 alone
  • the economic cost of truck and bus crashes is $99 billion a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Texas actually leads the nation in trucking accidents, suffering 493 fatal big-rig collisions in 2013, equaling 12 percent of the 3,906 people killed that year in tractor-trailer accidents.

Given the dangers we already face from 18-wheeler and commercial trucking accidents, any efforts that could potentially increase the risks of serious injury or death from these huge vehicles should be approached with caution.

At Greening Law, P.C., we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for individuals and families throughout the Dallas- Ft. Worth metroplex who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident. We are dedicated to our clients’ well-being and getting them the compensation and resources they need to recover. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation and learn about your options.