Questions About Big Rig Accidents

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What is a commercial truck?

A commercial truck is a vehicle used in the course of business and/or for the transport of commercial goods. Examples are 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, tanker trucks, dump trucks, delivery vehicles, semi trucks and other large freight trucks.

Are commercial truck drivers required to have a special driver’s license?

Drivers must have a commercial drivers’ license (CDL) if they drive a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds; transport themselves and 15 or more passengers; or transport hazardous materials. To obtain a CDL, an individual must pass a knowledge and driving skills test taken in a truck that is similar to the type of truck that he or she will be driving. They also have to pass a physical to make sure they are healthy enough to meet the challenges of driving a commercial truck. Truck drivers have been known to go from doctor to doctor in order to pass their physical.

What are the limits on the amount of time that a commercial truck driver can spend on the road?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which apply to all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic, contain specific regulations governing hours of service of drivers (49 C.F.R. ?395). For example, a driver is not allowed to drive more than 10 hours following 8 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.

What is an “underride” accident?

When a passenger car collides with a truck or the trailer of a truck or semi-trailer and runs underneath the truck, it is called an underride accident. There are two types of underride collisions: side underride and rear underride.

If a car goes under the truck, the roof of the passenger car may be sliced off. If the impact occurs near one of the truck axles, it is likely that the vehicle will be prevented from going completely under the truck.

What are some unique features of trucks that contribute to the severe nature of many truck accidents?

Trucks often have large tank bodies that affect the truck’s maneuverability. Further, a tanker truck that is carrying liquid may be swayed by the sloshing of the liquid it carries.

Trucks also have a longer stopping distance than passenger cars, and the brake systems of trucks and cars are completely different. Most tractor trailers have air brakes in which pressure is used to increase the braking force. Proper use of air brakes can help prevent a truck from sliding and jack-knifing. If a brake system is unbalanced, it can affect the steering, control and stopping distance.

If I am injured in a truck accident, who is responsible?

Generally, the driver of the truck, the trucking company and perhaps the truck’s manufacturer are liable. If the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, the company can be held liable for the driver’s negligence.

If a truck driver is an independent contractor of the trucking company, and not an employee, it will probably not be possible to establish liability. However, the trucking company may be liable for negligent hiring or supervision of the truck driver. It may be possible to sue the truck’s manufacturer if you can show that the accident was caused by some defect in the truck.

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, a Duncan Firm attorney can help you determine if you have a case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 501-381-1703 or completing the form on this page today.

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