Even though truck drivers are in general more attentive on the road than automobile drivers, in a traffic accident the massive size of their vehicles can contribute to catastrophic injury and death. A fully loaded commercial truck weighs up to 25 times that of a passenger car. When it is hauling hazardous materials such as petroleum or toxic chemicals, a collision could cause severe secondary injuries or death in a post-collision fire.
Collecting damages after such a serious accident will depend on establishing fault and identifying as many parties as possible that may share liability.
Determining responsible parties
Unlike a car accident that may involve another driver and both insurance companies, a truck accident can include many parties that share liability after the crash. These may include:
- The driver
- The truck company
- Cargo companies
- Contractors and manufacturers
It is essential to ensure information that may be contained in log books, maintenance records and dash cam video is preserved. This evidence will be important for establishing who is responsible in cases that involve multiple parties.
Because truck drivers must abide by strict federal safety regulations, including limits on how long the driver can be on the road, uncovering discrepancies or violations of these rules can also establish liability. Hours-of-service regulations limit the number of consecutive hours, hours driven in a week and the number of rest breaks.
These rules apply to vehicles that weigh more than five tons, are used to transport hazardous materials requiring placard on the vehicle or are designed to either carry at least 16 passengers, non-compensated, or nine passengers, compensated.
It is possible to establish whether the accident was caused by violations of the hours-of-service limits or other reasons, such as an aggressive or improperly trained driver.
Aftermath of a catastrophic accident
Because accidents involving 18-wheelers can cause such severe injuries or death, federal law mandates that these trucks carry $750,000 in liability coverage, and even more if they are hauling hazmat. This is why it is essential to have experienced legal representation serving the Birmingham community that will handle complex cases involving thorough investigation when pursuing full compensation for the victim’s injury or loss.