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Sharing driving space with very large, heavy tractor-trailers is a daily occurrence on Arizona highways, and while you might exercise every caution possible to avoid collision with one of these mammoth vehicles, the reality is that it’s a chance we all take every time we drive on the public roads and highways.
When a trucker causes a collision, you need the premier Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, truck accident law firm Snyder & Wenner, because make no mistake about it: a trucking accident is NOT the same as a run-of-the-mill car accident.
Since trucking accidents require significant experience, knowledge, and strategy to properly litigate, hiring any average car accident law firm can be a major mistake. Instead, you or your loved ones must hire an experienced, aggressive Phoenix or Tucson, AZ, truck accident lawyer.
Contrary to popular belief, trucking accidents do not only include big rigs and semi-trucks. In fact, trucking accidents also include collisions caused by:
- Cement trucks
- Delivery vehicles
- Work vans and work trucks
- Construction vehicles
- Other large commercial vehicles
For more information on these other types of vehicles, please visit our commercial vehicle accident page. Each year, trucking accidents across the country cause more than 140,000 injuries requiring extensive medical treatment. These collisions cause more than 5,000 deaths each year. Unfortunately, Arizona is no different. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in 2013, 11,826 truck and bus accidents were reported in the state of Arizona. Snyder & Wenner can help with all types of truck-related accidents, including cross-border trucking, accidents caused by overloaded trucks, and accidents caused by unrealistic trucking schedules.
Phoenix & Tucson, AZ, Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys Helping Victims Take Legal Action
Accident victims may pursue a liability claim against the responsible party or parties in order to recover compensation for damages, this may include damages related to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
The claim process for a trucking accident can be complicated and frustrating. Because many truck drivers are employees or contractors of a larger entity, you may be dealing with multiple parties while determining liability and obtaining compensation for damages. In addition, sometimes there are questions regarding who is at fault for the accident or the degree of fault that should be assigned to each driver involved.
An attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents and specifically commercial truck accidents in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, can serve as a liaison between you and all involved parties, helping you make sure that the responsible entity is properly identified quickly and efficiently and that fault is assigned appropriately.
What Are the Most Frequent Causes of a Trucking Accident?
The reason that trucking accidents are not the same as the run-of-the-mill car accident is because there are certain factors that typically lead to these collisions. Unfortunately for the victims, these factors can be easily prevented if the trucker and the trucking company simply act reasonably and appropriately.
Unrealistic Trucking Schedules
When an 18-wheeler is in an accident with a car or SUV of any size, the collision is likely to cause serious injury to the car driver and passengers. If the truck driver is under pressure to deliver cargo at a certain time because of unrealistic truck schedules, truck driver fatigue can add to the seriousness of the accident.
At Snyder & Wenner, P.C. a truck accident law firm, we devote the time necessary to every client we represent in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ. A truck accident case requires careful investigation to determine the causes of the accident—driver fatigue, cargo problems, maintenance issues, speeding, or other problems.
Regulations Are in Place to Prevent Driver Fatigue
By law, truck drivers are required to keep a log of their meal breaks, rest stops, arrival times, total driving time, and so on. Most drivers do this responsibly. Most also keep a watchful eye on cargo stability, the surrounding traffic, road signs, and road conditions. Most of the time, accidents do not occur.
When truck accidents do occur, one common cause is unrealistic scheduling. Responsible truck driver schedules should take delay factors into account, such as dangerous weather and high traffic areas. When a trucking company’s profits depend on how quickly its drivers can deliver cargo, owners or managers may impose stressful or difficult time expectations on their drivers.
Although there are legally mandated safety protocols, drivers may feel pressured to speed, skip sleep, or ignore maintenance issues as they try to meet their deadlines. Many drivers are paid according to how many miles or hours they drive, which is an incentive to push the limits of driving time.
The Driving Limits Are Clear
Truck drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours (or work for more than 14 hours if the job requires loading or unloading cargo) after being off-duty for 10 hours.
A driver may not drive at all if that driver has worked for 60 hours in the previous seven days or 70 hours in the previous eight days unless the driver has taken at least 34 consecutive hours off.
If a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a truck accident, our personal injury lawyers have the resources and the ability to determine the cause and to fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
The Truck’s Load Was Too Big or Improperly Loaded
When 80,000 pounds of cargo is traveling at highway speeds, it is essential that weight restrictions are followed and the cargo is properly loaded, distributed, and secured within the trailer of a tractor-trailer big rig.
An accident that involves an overloaded truck and a car or SUV almost always causes serious injuries or wrongful death. If the cargo is overweight or improperly loaded, that can increase the danger to everyone involved in the accident.
Was It an Overloaded Truck? Was the Load Properly Secured?
Our personal injury attorneys and accident experts review all aspects of a truck accident. Because catastrophic injuries are usually involved in an accident with a semi-truck, it is important for a semi-truck accident attorney in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, to understand how the accident happened and who or what might have contributed to the accident.
We also investigate the medical conditions of those injured so that our commercial truck accident attorneys in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, will know how much compensation is appropriate. After determining the extent of the injuries and the causes of the accident, our law firm will then develop an effective, persuasive case to present to an insurance company, and, when necessary, to a jury.
An Overloaded Truck Is a Safety Hazard on the Highway
Weigh stations along the highway emphasize the importance regulators place on truck weight. In spite of this, overweight cargo can still be a problem. Other problems occur because of how a truck is loaded. An out-of-balance load can cause a truck to tip over when it makes a turn or stops suddenly.
Unrealistic truck schedules can contribute to the problem by not allowing enough time to check and recheck the cargo of an 18-wheeler.
We Look at All the Details and Prepare the Case for Trial
It is in the details that accidents happen. At Snyder & Wenner, P.C., we examine the details so that our commercial accident lawyers in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, can present a thorough case. If you have been seriously injured in a truck accident, contact us for a free consultation. We handle cases throughout Arizona and nationwide.
There are a number of complex issues to confront when investigating or litigating a truck accident. There are a number of state and federal regulations, ownership issues, and other legal matters. Cross-border trucking adds to the complexity. That is why it is a good idea to talk to personal injury attorneys with truck accident experience.
When a truck is owned by our neighbors in Mexico or Canada, a truck accident investigation can be especially complicated. At Snyder & Wenner, P.C., our semi-truck accident attorneys in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ, understand how to deal effectively with challenging investigations. In Arizona, most cross-border trucking accidents involve trucks from Mexico.
Different Countries Have Different Standards
U.S. federal and state standards for the loading, maintenance, and operation of trucks are different from the standards in Mexico. However, when a cross-border trucking accident takes place in the U.S., U.S. laws are applied. However, the investigation may be more complex because of the need to determine ownership and liability.
At Snyder & Wenner, P.C., our trial lawyers are meticulous in finding the details necessary to present an effective case, both to insurance companies in settlement discussions and to juries in the courtroom. The more serious the injuries, the more important it is to know all the causes of a cross-border trucking accident and determine all the liable parties.
We Have the Experience to Litigate Cross-Border Trucking Accidents
For more than 25 years, our law firm has focused our time and financial resources on complex personal injury and wrongful death cases. We cannot take every case, but when the injuries are serious, we can give the case the attention it needs and deserves. Our personal injury attorneys are prepared to help. Contact us for a free consultation.
Truck drivers (and their companies) all know that these potential problems exist, but they often put profits in front of safety. Instead of driving less or ensuring safety checks have been done, the drivers will put everyone else at risk. When that happens, the results can be catastrophic.
Who Might Be a Responsible Party in My Trucking Accident Claim?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, there are multiple possibilities for who might be a liable party for your damages. Even if the fault is clearly assigned to the driver of the truck, you might be dealing with other parties when working through your claim.
The Following Factors Could Come into Play When Determining Liability
Regulation of the trucking industry – The federal government regulates the business and operation of trucking companies and has issued a series of laws and mandates that set the standards for owning or driving a tractor-trailer.
Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains this set of regulations. It is important to understand and review these laws and standards when trying to identify liability because the breach of any of the regulations—such as the hours-of-service regulations that dictate how long truckers can drive—could be a contributing factor to the accident.
Negligence or recklessness – If the driver of the truck acted in a way that was negligent or was cited for reckless driving at the scene of the accident, he or she may be responsible for your damages. The trucking company employing the driver may also be vicariously liable.
Mechanical failure or lack of maintenance – In the case of a faulty piece of equipment on the truck that contributed to the collision, it could be the manufacturing company that produced that part—of the truck—that is liable. Another scenario could involve brakes that needed to be replaced or a tire that was no longer safe. In this case, you would consider seeking damages from the party responsible for truck maintenance.
While these are only a few examples of the possible scenarios affecting liability in a truck accident, it should be clear that the process of narrowing down the potentially responsible parties might not be a clear-cut or simple one. You may need assistance in navigating the investigation process and in coordinating communications.
With offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Avondale & Scottsdale, our team of personal injury attorneys can help you with your serious injury or wrongful death case.