While the country relies on big rigs to keep the economy running, drivers bear the brunt of the risks. These large and heavy vehicles sharing the roadways result in thousands of serious injuries and deaths every year. With major highways such as I-95 and Route 8/Route 25 running through the city, drivers can’t avoid driving alongside big rigs. After a truck accident in the area, come to speak to our Bridgeport truck accident attorneys at Harlow, Friedman & Adams, P.C., to discuss potential compensation.
Why Do Tractor-Trailer Accidents Happen?
Tractor-trailers are very different from typical passenger vehicles. They can come at weights of up to 80,000 pounds, while the average car only weighs 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. They are much taller, wider, and altogether larger than passenger vehicles. Since the cab is pulling a trailer, there are also considerations of the towing process, such as the connection between components. Tractor-trailers cannot drive safely at the same speeds as smaller vehicles and require more time to stop. They also need more clearance when making maneuvers such as turns and lane merges.
With all of the unique risks that tractor-trailers pose, it is up to the trucking companies and drivers to prevent accidents as best they can. Companies and drivers should understand the dangers of loaded tractor-trailers, such as requiring 20-40% more stopping distance or greater in wet or slippery conditions. A driver who follows too closely or a company that fails to maintain a vehicle’s brakes may be liable for related accidents. Every party involved in the transportation of goods across Bridgeport is responsible for doing his/her/its duty to reasonably prevent crashes.
Breaches of any duty can result in deadly accidents. There were 632 large truck accidents in Connecticut in 2014. In 2015, 3,852 people died in crashes involving tractor-trailers throughout the U.S. Almost 70% of these fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. Clearly, it is other parties who suffer the most when truck companies and drivers make mistakes. If you are an injured victim after a collision with a tractor-trailer, someone else may owe you damage recovery. It may be a distracted truck driver, negligent company, and/or another party.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Large trucks must obey all the typical roadway rules as other drivers – stopping at red lights, obeying speed limits, yielding the right of way, among others. Yet they also have a set of rules from the federal government, namely, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA imposes regulations on truck maintenance, cargo securement, driver behaviors, and more. Breaking any federal, state, or local laws, resulting in a truck accident, could lead to trucking company liability. Common causes of trucking accidents include:
- Driver error. Truck drivers often make fatal errors such as texting behind the wheel, driving while intoxicated, speeding, eating and drinking, ignoring roadway rules, and failing to obey rules such as hours of service regulations. Trucking companies are vicariously liable for the actions of their drivers while on duty. You may have a case against both the driver and the company.
- Company negligence. Numerous trucking companies have headquarters in Bridgeport, with 18-wheelers coming in and out daily. Local companies include XPO Logistics, Jada Trucking, Mojo’s Trucking, and several moving companies. Our firm has experience going up against local trucking companies after harmful collisions. A company may be liable for driver errors, poor vehicle maintenance, lack of driver training, false electronic records, and many other common accident causes.
- Defective vehicle parts. Product manufacturers may join the list of defendants if a defective or dangerous truck part contributed to the crash. Vehicle parts on big rigs must be able to accommodate weights of up to 80,000 pounds. Defective brakes, tires, or other components can easily result in a terrible accident. You may have a product liability claim on top of negligence claims against other defendants.
Negligence is at the heart of most truck accidents in Connecticut. If this is the case, victims can seek compensation through personal injury claims by hiring a personal injury lawyer in Bridgeport. Most civil claims rely on the plaintiff’s ability to prove the defendant’s negligence. This requires showing that the defendant owed a duty of care, breached this duty, and that the breach caused the accident. A team of experienced attorneys can help you with these elements and make a push for maximum compensation.
When to Call an Attorney
Commercial insurance companies often act quickly when it comes to accident investigations. They want to find evidence that the collision did not stem from the truck driver or company negligence but rather the negligence of another party – namely, you. It is important to protect your rights immediately after a crash with a tractor-trailer, by hiring an attorney. Do not admit fault for the collision, or even apologize to the other driver. Do not agree to let an insurance claims adjuster record a statement from you. Call an attorney for help right away.
Negligence, negligence per se or product liability are legal theories on which you may be able to base your trucking accident. Negligence per se refers to assumed negligence because of a broken law, such as a broken FMCSA rule. There are many potential legal outlets for victims of harmful trucking accidents. Speak to our team about your individual rights and opportunities after these types of collisions in Bridgeport. We can help you seek maximum recovery for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.