Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer in Owensboro, Kentucky
Devastating injuries or the loss of a loved one in a tractor-trailer accident creates enormous stress for Kentucky families. Of course, the top priority should be healing, coping, and grieving. Unfortunately, the necessary next steps after a serious accident cannot be put off for very long.
Financial burdens can be overwhelming and increase the stress and pressure on your family. After a tractor-trailer collision, the truck company and/or the driver can be held liable for your injuries and the life changes you’re now facing.
Why You Need a Tractor Trailer Truck Accident Lawyer
You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. The experienced truck accident lawyers at Rhoads & Rhoads have the expertise to help you recover the financial damages you are owed.
The sheer size of these trucks creates a major risk to other drivers on the road, who may experience severe and life-changing injuries in big rig accidents. An experienced truck accident lawyer will allow you to focus on recovery while aggressively fighting to protect your rights.
Rhoads & Rhoads has been protecting the rights of the injured throughout Western Kentucky for over 50 years. Our team of experienced trial attorneys and knowledgeable support staff are available to help provide you with legal advice and guide you through this difficult time to get you the financial recovery you need. Contact us for a free consultation at 888-709-9329 today.
What Are the Common Types of Trailer Tractor Truck Accidents?
Blind-Spot Truck Accident
When a truck driver changes lanes without checking their blind spot, a blind spot crash can occur. Blind spots on a truck are located in the back and along the sides of the vehicle. Trucks have such large blind spots that they can easily hit another vehicle if they’re not paying attention, intoxicated, or otherwise unable to check their blind spots appropriately.
Cargo Overload Truck Accident
Were you hit by an overloaded semi truck carrying improperly loaded cargo? A tractor trailer may lose its cargo while being transported or, in the case of an accident, if it is overcrowded or has its cargo poorly secured. Loose cargo has the potential to collide with other cars on the road and cause accidents.
When the front ends of two cars moving in opposing directions connect, it results in a head-on collision, which is a very deadly mishap. A head-on accident may happen if a truck swerves out of its lane and into a lane with approaching traffic. As you might imagine, in the event of an accident, the semi truck could completely destroy a smaller passenger car.
Jackknife Truck Accident
When the truck’s trailer swings out to the side and makes a 90-degree angle with the cab, a jackknife accident can easily occur when another vehicle is in the path of the swinging truck body. This kind of mishap typically happens when the truck’s trailer skids to one side or the other due to the truck’s brakes locking up.
Rear-End Truck Accident
Compared to passenger cars, commercial vehicles need greater room to stop completely. To stop completely, a tractor trailer moving at a high rate of speed needs to traverse the length of two football fields before stopping. A car needs much less time and space to come to a complete stop. The disparity in size and weight between a passenger car and a commercial truck can have particularly disastrous consequences in a rear-end collision.
Rollover Truck Accident
A semi truck or trailer tractor is more likely than a passenger car to roll over. Its size can cause its equilibrium to shift as it rolls over. When commercial trucks collide with other cars on the road, they sometimes spill cargo into traffic and cause even bigger accidents.
Underride Truck Accident
An accident occurs when a semi truck or big rig abruptly stops and a following car slides underneath causing an underride accident. These accidents often result in personal injury cases against truck companies and truck manufacturers who fail to have the equipment necessary to prevent underride accidents.
Wide-Turn Crash Accident
A commercial truck requires a lot of space to turn because of its wide turning radius. Drivers of lorries stuck in small junctions have to switch lanes to make a turn. The truck may crush a smaller car or collide with oncoming traffic depending on which way the driver is turning.
Why Does the Pressure on Tractor-Trailer Drivers Cause Truck Accidents?
Tractor-trailer trucking companies across the United States often place undue stress on their truck drivers to make deliveries more quickly than safely feasible. Long hours driving a big rig can cause fatigue, resulting in delayed reaction times, poor decision-making, and even falling asleep at the wheel, leading to auto accidents.
Some commercial truck drivers will rely on stimulants to prevent drowsiness, but in reality, these energy drinks and pills may cause dangerous side effects of their own. Other time-saving methods may involve overloading a tractor-trailer to get more product to the destination faster.
What Are the Commercial Trucking Laws for Tractor Trailers in Kentucky?
Tractor-trailer truck companies are regulated by state and federal guidelines to maximize safety. Unfortunately, these regulations are often compromised for profit, creating a dangerous environment on the roadways in Kentucky and throughout the U.S.
Based on statistics from the National Safety Council, in 71% of trucking accidents, the injured person is not the trucker but the other driver. A trucker is high up in their cabin and better protected from the forces of the accident.
The U.S. has federal and state laws to help prevent crashes through strict standards for truckers’ required licenses, standard equipment, and mandated driving hours. Some truckers and trucking companies don’t abide by these rules and end up causing horrific crashes.
A trucker who is driving a tractor trailer should hold a Class-A commercial driver’s license (CDL) if their vehicle is over a weight of 10,000 pounds or if they will be carrying hazardous substances. Their license will need to be updated regularly to stay within the law.
The rigorous requirements for a Kentucky CDL include a skills test, medical assessment, vision test, written test, and a background qualifications test known as a “hot file check.” Any trucker who will transport hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must also take additional tests to prove their capability to haul these dangerous substances.
In Kentucky, a truck driver is not permitted to transport a vehicle that exceeds 80,000 pounds in total gross weight. There are also many other limits to trucks including truck height limits, truck length limits, wheel axle pound limits, and axle arrangement limits. Every trucker is expected to be aware of these rules and follow them.
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also has trucking rules about other aspects of driving, like who and what truckers can transport, whether they are permitted to have passengers on board, how often they must engage in drug testing, which types of inspection rules they must follow, and how long they can drive before taking breaks.
How Many Hours Can a Tractor Trailer Trucker Legally Drive?
Truckers must abide by motor carrier safety administration laws which set three maximum limits for the upper limit of hours they can drive during a certain time period. Below, we will lay out the details of the 14-hour, 11-hour, and 60/70-hour limits.
Based on the FMCSA Interstate Truck Driver Rules, trucking hour regulation exists to prevent the leading cause of truck accidents, which is driver fatigue. Thus, the rules mandate driver hours and break times for proper rest.
The 14-Hour Driving Window
Truckers can drive 11 hours in a row within a 14-hour timeframe if they have been off for 10 hours previously. Over 24 hours, driving times should be 10 hours apart with rest time in between.
The 11-Hour Driving Limit
If more than 8 hours passed since a rest period, another 10-hour rest period is required before driving 11 hours, with some exceptions for short-haul drivers.
The 60/70-Hour Duty Limit
Over a 7 or 8-day period, other limits also apply. A truck driver who has driven 60 hours over 7 days should stop until they drop below 60 hours. Over 8 rolling days, they should stop driving after 70 hours.
34-Hour Restart Period
After 34 or more consecutive hours off, there is a restart point. This is designed to prevent truck driver fatigue. A truck driver should review the full language of the FMCSA rules before hitting the road.
Common Causes of Tractor Trailer Truck Crashes
Drunk and Drugged Driving
Drunk driving and drugged driving are huge problems in Kentucky and across the entire U.S., including among truckers driving large trucks. Truck accidents can happen when truck drivers are too intoxicated to drive safely. This is also a violation of federal and state laws regarding safe driving for truck drivers to prevent truck accidents.
Trucker Road Fatigue
Fatigue is a major problem among truck drivers due to the expectation that semi trucks will deliver their loads quickly and on time. Some truckers inappropriately push through fatigue to continue driving when they are too tired.
Truck Driver Error and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is extremely dangerous behavior for truckers, but many of them engage in it frequently. A distracted trucker can easily cause a major crash as their enormous truck slams into other drivers during the moments of their distraction from devices, music, food, and many other causes.
Truck Defects and Equipment Malfunctions
Any large commercial truck must be inspected regularly, and trucking companies are expected to maintain their vehicles to high standards. When truckers and truck companies fail to conduct the proper inspections and maintenance, they violate the law and are more prone to causing truck accidents.
A trucker may be negligent when they do something to set off a car crash. For example, they might act recklessly or show road rage and make dangerous maneuvers that endanger others around them. Many forms of trucker negligence may be present in your case, so consult with a truck accident law firm to determine your specific circumstances.
Trucker Medical Issues
In some cases, a trucker experiences a health issue or medical crisis that causes them to drive erratically and hit another vehicle. These cases call for the assistance of experienced truck accident attorneys who can help injury victims access medical records and other evidence to back up a truck accident claim.
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking companies may demonstrate negligence when they fail to have proper inspection and maintenance protocols in place, fail to train their drivers appropriately, allow dangerous behavior to continue, or do other things to put the public at risk. A truck accident lawyer can help you understand the components of negligence as they apply to truck accidents and trucking companies.
Common Injuries Caused By Truck Accidents
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2 million heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers are currently employed in the U.S. In addition to thousands of injury victims, more than 5,700 people per year lose their lives in fatal tractor trailer accidents.
Common injuries resulting from truck accidents are:
- Back injuries
- Bone fractures
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Any injury from a truck accident should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Tell your doctor about your truck accident and explain that as a truck accident victim, you need to establish clear medical records related to your injuries. Focus on healing and follow your doctor’s orders.
Speak to a truck accident lawyer who can help you understand how your injuries may be related to your options for pursuing accident compensation. Your truck accident lawyer will explain your options and help you find the evidence you’ll need to build a strong accident claim.
Steps To Take After A Commercial Truck Accident
A car accident is frightening, especially when large trucks are involved. After seeking medical attention, it’s time to assemble your evidence to help a truck accident lawyer file your personal injury claim. Truck accident lawyers are in the business of helping injured people, but you must act fast. To ensure safety and protect your rights, seek professional advice as soon as possible after the accident.
After an accident, make sure to take these steps:
- Call 911 or the police to come to the accident scene.
- Get to a safe place and wait for help to arrive.
- Interact with the police and first responders calmly and provide your contact information plus the basic details of the truck accident.
- Don’t share your opinion about the truck accident or get into a debate with anyone.
- Gather evidence from the accident scene by taking photos, collecting witness contact information, and noting details like the weather and locations of video cameras.
- Request a copy of the police report or accident report.
- Before speaking to the insurance company, contact a truck crash lawyer with experience handling trailer tractor cases.
- Tell your truck accident attorney about the details of your case and stay in communication with them as you work together to seek the compensation you need for your recovery.
The aftermath of a truck accident is scary and overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. A truck accident lawyer will help you understand your situation and evaluate your options as you seek compensation. Truck accident lawyers help people through times of legal, financial, and medical crisis.
How Can I Show the Tractor Trailer Driver or Their Employer Was Negligent?
Personal injury claims, including semi truck accidents and 18-wheeler claims, require much more than just claiming you had an accident involving a truck. You’ll need to demonstrate the truck driver’s negligence, and in the face of this task, it’s a good idea to hire the best truck accident lawyer you can find to work on your behalf.
Show the truck company or truck driver was negligent by looking at your case’s connection to truck accident law and similar truck accident cases. Keep in mind that the truck company’s insurance company and truck accident lawyer will also be doing the same thing, so you’ll need strong evidence supporting your side of what happened in the truck crash.
Truck accident cases are strengthened with research and background information about the trucking accident itself, plus the background of the driver and the impact on the truck accident victims.
Personal injury lawyers who handle truck accident cases often handle the tasks listed below.
- Reviewing inspection and repair records to see whether the truck was properly maintained before the truck accident..
- Making records requests regarding the driver’s rest periods and driving logs to see whether they have been complying with federal motor carrier safety regulations.
- Getting toxicology reports showing whether drugs or alcohol played a role.
- Investigating commercial truck driver backgrounds, licenses, records, and more.
- Assessing which laws for truck drivers might have a bearing on your case.
- Working with experts in accident scene reconstruction and investigation.
- Interacting with the other side’s truck accident attorney.
The truck accident lawyers at Rhoads & Rhoads know Kentucky laws and the federal laws regulating the tractor-trailer industry. Our personal injury lawyers will advocate on your behalf and ensure you understand your rights. We have extensive experience including anything from a car accident to a truck accident case and frequently help our clients understand how to start truck accident claims.
Negligent Maintenance and Hiring Can Lead to Truck Accidents
Did you know trucking companies can be held responsible for negligence in truck maintenance after a car accident? If you choose to work with a truck accident lawyer from Rhoads & Rhoads, we may hire an expert to investigate the trucks and determine how negligently the driver may have used the trucks.
We will also assess the driver’s employment history to determine whether the driver has had the necessary training and experience to operate tractor trailers. There are federal and state laws on the correct procedures for trucking companies to check drivers’ safety records. Truckers and their employers can face huge legal consequences if they do not comply with the law.
An experienced truck accident lawyer understands how to hold a trucking company responsible for its driver’s behavior and they have plenty of truck accident cases under their belts. They may also have years of experience with car accidents, semi truck accident claims, and working with injury victims who have many different types of injuries.
Experience matters in these cases, so work with the right truck accident law firm. You’ll need a truck accident lawyer who has the background and credentials to take on your case.
How Long Does it Take to Settle A Trucking Accident Claim?
Truck accident lawyers can’t provide you with a timeframe without knowing the details of your particular truck accident. All accidents occur differently and we’ll need to speak with you and possibly conduct an accident investigation to discover more information about how the accident occurred.
Typically, a simple truck accident claim settles in a matter of days or weeks. However, truck crash lawsuits often require lengthy negotiations with trucking companies or court proceedings, which can be more time-consuming for the parties to settle. If the truck company puts up a fight, your battle may be longer and you may need more legal insight from your truck accident lawyer than you expected.
A truck accident claim doesn’t always result in a truck accident lawsuit. Every trucking accident is different and many can be resolved through out-of-court settlements where the specific details are negotiated between the involved parties.
Truck accident lawsuits are often avoidable when seasoned truck accident lawyers get involved to carefully and expertly negotiate with the other side. Most truck accident cases result in settlements rather than in-court battles. A personal injury attorney understands what will typically affect truck accident claims and can work proactively to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf from the trucking company or another responsible party.
If you’re worried about how long it will take, consider which factors might impact your truck crash claim. Factors can lengthen the process of settling your accident case including whether the other party negotiates quickly, how much evidence is available, the status of your injuries and medical treatment, the behavior of the insurance company, and more.
Depending on the type of case involved, you may need a semi truck accident lawyer, wrongful death lawyer, or truck accident lawyer with a background in the type of accident you’ve experienced. Contact us for a consultation about the details of your truck accident case and learn more about the potential timeframe.
Damages Covered in Claims for Truck Accidents
With help from a truck accident lawyer, some of the damages recoverable in a personal injury claim, truck accident claim, or wrongful death claim for a tractor-trailer collision include:
- Medical expenses like ambulance bills, surgical costs, and doctor visits
- Future medical expenses
- The cost of your prescriptions
- Physical, occupational, and rehabilitative therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of your lifestyle and hobbies
- Medical equipment for ongoing care
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages
While monetary amounts are easier to figure for your medical bills and lost wages, other damages are harder to readily estimate, such as the loss of your previous lifestyle or your extensive pain and suffering. Trucking accidents often cause extreme losses on many fronts, from damaging your relationships to giving you a trauma-based fear of future car accidents.
A trucking accident lawyer from a reputable law firm can help you assess the full range of your trucking accident damages and put them into dollar figures. The truck accident attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads work to maximize your damages to recover the largest tractor trailer crash settlement possible. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers.
Owensboro and Madisonville Truck Accident Lawyers – No Recovery, No Fee
With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads are truck accident lawyers representing tractor-trailer accident victims throughout Western Kentucky. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no payment required at the start of your case.
Your truck accident doesn’t have to ruin your life or wreck your finances. Our truck accident lawyers get paid only if we win or settle your case, so there is NO RISK involved.