Injured in a Birmingham Truck Accident? Our Birmingham Truck Accident Lawyer Help You Get Fully Compensated to Assist Your Recovery
Do you get nervous driving around trucks? You’re not the only one.
The slightest miscalculation by the truck driver could spell disaster for everyone around them. The average car weighs just 5000 pounds while a semi-truck could weigh over 80,000 pounds. And a high-speed truck accident could easily lead to a multi-car pile-up without several fatalities.
It’s not just a speculation. The statistics speak for themselves.
97 percent of truck accident fatalities include drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles that were part of the crash.
What’s unsettling is that number keeps growing every year. There are over 4,700 fatalities and 155,000 injuries due to truck accidents annually in America.
Even if a truck accident injury isn’t life-taking, it’s often life-threatening. You must’ve seen some scary images of cars after colliding with trucks in local news reports. They get pancaked and contorted into an unrecognizable mess. Just imagine what they can do to a vulnerable driver or passenger sitting inside them.
Survivors may have to face traumatic brain injuries, multiple fractures, burns, deep wounds, internal bleeding, and many other severe complications. It could take you several months to recover. Sometimes, you won’t be able to recover at all and it will permanently alter your quality of life.
You’ll require serious compensation to handle these devastating consequences. You’ll have to take on insurance companies that are hellbent on serving their own interest above yours. You may also have to legally deal with the trucking company employing the driver at fault. There will be more obstacles than usual to get the compensation you deserve.
Mezrano’s Birmingham truck accident lawyer knows that you deserve compassion and compensation in this time of crisis. We’ll take on all your legal burden to help you secure your financial future while you recover peacefully with your loved ones.
Understanding the Impact of Semi-Truck Accidents
Here are a few reasons why trucks are notorious for causing devastating accidents on highways:
- Weight – The average semi-truck is 10-20 times heavier than the average car. Weight will naturally increase the kinetic energy of an object. The heavier objects will always cause more damage to the smaller ones when they collide. The smaller vehicles won’t be able to stop the momentum of the truck easily.
- Height – The average semi-truck is at least 8 feet taller than the average car. These massive trucks are more likely to roll over if they make a sudden turn or hit a bump. They can crush any cars that get in their way when this happens.
- Stopping distance – Trucks are a lot heavier than cars and face more resistance when you try to accelerate. Most semi-trucks usually take 20 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. On the other hand, an average car could reach that speed within 8 seconds. Unfortunately, it also means that trucks will take more time to come to a complete halt when the driver pushes the brakes. They have significantly higher momentum than cars. An average car will just need 88 feet to stop, while an average semi-truck needs around 525 feet. It can take even longer, depending on the amount of cargo or road conditions. So it’s important to maintain a good distance while driving behind semi-trucks.
- Turning radius – The average turning radius of a semi-truck is around 50 feet. Trucks always need more room to turn than it appears, especially when turning right. You should be extremely cautious trying to squeeze into a side lane when a huge truck is turning.
- Blind spots – The elevated height and size of trucks make it really challenging for the driver to navigate. You have to deal with many more blind spots compared to cars. It’s possible to miss smaller vehicles driving near your truck and get into an accident while changing lanes. It’s better to avoid driving next to a truck for too long. You should either keep your distance or find a safe opportunity to accelerate past it.
Types of Trucks Involved in Accidents
Based on their weight, trucks are classified into three categories in America:
- Light-duty trucks (LT) – These vehicles generally weigh up to 14,000 pounds. They include SUVs, pickup trucks, and small tow trucks.
- Medium duty trucks (MDT) – These vehicles weigh between 14,001 to 26,000 pounds. They include RVs, flatbeds, large vans, and minibusses.
- Heavy-duty trucks (HDT) weigh 26,001 to 33,000 lbs. They include semi-trucks, dump trucks, garbage trucks, or large construction vehicles.
Here are some of the most commonly reported types of trucks that are involved in accidents:
- Pickup trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Car carrier trailer
- Refrigerator trucks
- Cement mixers
- Garbage trucks
- Dump trucks
- Fire trucks
- Crane trucks
Birmingham’s Highways and Truck Accidents
There’s a vehicle collision happening in Alabama every 3 minutes and 27 seconds. Nearly 15 percent of fatalities in these accidents are caused by truck collisions in Alabama.
There are over 10,000 truck accidents in the state annually. Even though there are far more vehicle crashes, truck accidents cause a much higher rate of fatalities and serious injuries.
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ADT) reported that most truck accidents happen on state and interstate routes.
Contributing Factors to Truck Accidents
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest factors behind truck accidents:
- Fatigue – Commercial truck drivers have to keep up with intense and haphazard working schedules. They have to cover hundreds of miles every day following a strict delivery schedule. They have multiple deliveries to make and several deadlines to keep, which makes it a high-pressure job. So they often get no break and end up going on a few hours of sleep for long periods. Their concentration and coordination start slipping when they’re fighting fatigue. Even though there are laws laying out the rest and break hours necessary for truck drivers, many companies try to bypass them.
- Distractions – Over 15 percent of truck collisions are caused by distracted driving. Driving for long hours on the highway every day can get boring. And boredom naturally makes you want to fidget around for some entertainment. It could be reaching out for your phone to check your text, watching videos, eating, taking calls, or messing around with the radio. Even repetitively configuring your GPS can be enough of a distraction for you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Intoxicants – You may be wondering why would truck drivers sabotage their performance with alcohol and drugs. But they often take certain drugs to stimulate themselves to keep up with their hectic schedules. Nearly 30 percent of truck drivers admitted to using amphetamines and 20 percent admitted to using marijuana. They claim the drugs help them fight fatigue behind the wheel. However, these intoxicants also compromise good judgment. They encourage reckless driving behavior and make it more likely for them to fall asleep while driving when the effects wear off.
- Overspeeding – Truck drivers often feel compelled to drive faster when they’re at risk of missing delivery deadlines. They try to pull off driving maneuvers that are completely unsuitable for a vehicle of that size. Overtaking and rapidly changing lanes in a huge truck can easily imbalance the vehicle. It can also scare smaller vehicles around them to abruptly maneuver their vehicles out of the way, which can lead to an accident.
- Poor training – Commercial truck drivers need to complete certain hours of special training to qualify for operating a truck. They must be trained to safely maneuver the vehicle in different road and weather conditions. Not all trucking companies strictly comply with these regulations. They hire unqualified drivers to cut hiring costs.
- Bad maintenance – Commercial trucks can rake up thousands of miles within a few months. They go through a lot of wear and tear. So trucking companies have a vital responsibility to maintain their fleet of trucks. They must conduct regular inspections before the truck departs for a trip. Routine maintenance is an essential duty they must fulfill to ensure the vehicle can operate safely. Malfunctioning brakes or burst tires may cause deadly rollovers and other accidents. Some trucking companies prefer to cut costs on the time and money spent on maintenance.
- Unsafe cargo loading – There are clear specifications for cargo loads permitted for commercial trucks. The cargo load has to abide by strict weight, size, length, width, and height limits. It can drastically change the way your truck performs on the road. If your truck is overloaded, it can become too top-heavy and unstable. So it may tip over even when you try to make a normal turn. Trucks carrying fuel and other hazardous chemical materials have to follow some other important norms too.
Exploring Different Types of Truck Accidents
Here are the most common types of truck accidents that you should know about:
- Rear-end crashes – You must be extra cautious about traveling directly in front of or behind a large truck. They are heavy and slow to maneuver and require a huge stopping distance when they apply brakes. Your small vehicle doesn’t stand a chance in front of the truck’s massive size and momentum. It’s important to maintain a safe distance when you’re sharing the road with such vehicles.
- Head-on crashes – A head-on collision is usually fatal even if there’s no truck involved. The opposing momentum exerts a brutal force on both vehicles as they crash into each other. These accidents usually happen when drivers don’t observe the proper right-of-way and drift into oncoming traffic lanes.
- Tire blowout accidents – Truck tires need to be properly maintained since they go through a lot of wear and tear. A bulge, small cut, or break in the tire is enough to trigger a tire blowout. It can occur unpredictably and quickly turn into a dangerous situation. The driver may swerve into another lane as they struggle to regain control and crash into the barrier or other vehicles. The blowout may also send flying debris hurtling toward other vehicles that could shatter their windshields.
- Rollover truck accidents – They can be caused when a truck rolls over because of running into an obstruction or due to a sudden turn. Rollover truck accidents are usually caused by reckless driving, improper cargo loading, or bad weather. They end up causing a lot more damage to vehicles around them compared to other types of truck accidents.
- Underride truck accidents – These accidents occur when a car runs into a truck from the side or behind and goes underneath the truck. It usually leads to the front and top of the car getting pancaked by the wheels of the truck. There’s a high risk of fatalities and severe injuries for any passengers traveling inside the car involved in such as crash. A few trucks even install an underride guard to prevent cars from sliding underneath them. They are caused by sudden lane changes or stops, inconsistent speeds, or a failure to check blind spots.
- Jackknife truck accidents – What happens when a big rig with a large cargo trailer makes a sudden turn or improper stop? There’s a chance that the trailer swings around the joint and collapses on the road. Basically, it turns the trailer into a giant wrecking ball. This makes the truck look like a folding jackknife. It can wipe out several vehicles around the truck as the trailer skids to a stop. They’re one of the leading causes of multi-car pile-ups on American highways.
- T-Bone truck accidents – These accidents usually happen at intersections with vehicles traveling perpendicular to each other. Distracted driving, failing to follow traffic lights, and refusing to yield the way cause these collisions most of the time. T-bone accidents have fatal consequences for drivers or passengers on the side of the car where the truck collides.
- Cargo spill truck accidents – Commercial trucks often carry loads heavier than their own weight. There are strict cargo loading and securing regulations that all trucking companies must abide by. Even a small piece of flying debris can cause a lot of damage to cars near the truck. In fact, almost 37% of fatalities caused by cargo spills were due to drivers swerving to avoid the debris and losing control.
Complexities of Liability in Truck Accidents
Most car accident cases are far simpler to resolve than truck accident cases. They just involve the insurance providers of the victim and the driver at fault. Commercial truck accidents can involve multiple parties such as:
- The injured drivers and passengers
- Truck drivers
- Truck driving company
- Leasing companies
- Maintenance company
- Cargo loading crew
The more parties that get involved, the more complicated it is to establish liability. It’s hard to know how much liability each party shares for the accident. You need to gather evidence from several sources to prove it. Getting so many parties to cooperate when their reputation and finances are at stake is not going to be easy.
Federal Regulations and Trucking Industry Standards
The trucking industry is carefully regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and individual states.
The regulations are designed to ensure safety and quality assurance in the trucking industry, with specific regulations on:
- Driver qualifications
- Hours of service
- Equipment requirements
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Cargo loading
- Hazardous material transportation
Truck owners or truck companies must adhere to these regulations to remain compliant. Violating these standards can lead to hefty fines or even a temporary loss of their commercial driver’s license.
Birmingham’s Regulations for Truck Accidents
The Alabama Public Safety Commission and the Alabama Department of Public Safety abide by most of the commercial trucking regulations established by the FMCSA.
Any driver operating a truck with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) over 26,000 pounds, transporting 16 or more passengers, or carrying hazardous materials needs to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Birmingham.
Truck drivers must meet the following criteria to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL):
- Be at least 18 years old
- Clear a vision exam
- Get a DOT medical certificate.
- Pass a written knowledge exam
- Pass a driving test
The Legal Process After a Truck Accident
Here are the important legal steps your Birmingham truck accident lawyer will take after a truck accident to secure the compensation you deserve:
- Lead a thorough investigation to gather evidence from the accident scene
- Send a spoliation letter to the trucking company to ensure all evidence from the accident is safely stored
- Hire an expert to reconstruct the accident scene to help establish liability
- Hire an expert to examine the truck to determine any defects or maintenance issues that could’ve contributed to the collision
- Interview witnesses
- Review your insurance coverage and file your insurance claim
- Negotiate a settlement with insurers and lawyers representing multiple parties\
- Take your case to trial if a settlement isn’t reached
How a Mezrano Birmingham Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
At Mezrano, we’ve helped several truck accident victims get rightfully compensated for their losses. We know how devastating the consequences can be and how complex the litigation can turn out.
Our Birmingham truck accident lawyer will take charge of every legal step so you can focus on your recovery.
Our skillful Birmingham injury lawyers will take the fastest way to win the best possible settlement for you.
Complexities of Truck Accidents Involving Construction Workers
Accidents involving trucks operating in construction zones can get even more complicated. It increases the number of parties involved and brings up the question of workplace safety regulations.
The construction site owner, contractors, and equipment manufacturers may be held liable too. Your lawyer may have to conduct a longer investigation before filing a claim. Injured workers may also be entitled to workplace compensation claims.
The Role of a Skillful Birmingham Truck Accident Lawyer
A skillful truck accident lawyer knows how to play the right cards at the right time. They are the ones who clearly and convincingly present your case to justify your demands.
Here are some key roles and responsibilities that we will fulfill:
- Giving you a free case evaluation to help estimate your settlement worth
- Leading a thorough investigation to gather police reports, trucking logs, hiring data, surveillance footage, witness statements, and maintenance records
- Identifying all liable parties and their role in the accident
- Using knowledge of federal and state trucking laws to identify violations
- Knowing how to counter the tricks and tactics used by insurance companies to negotiate a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and preparing to represent you in court