Truck Accidents

Jackknife Truck Accidents

Category: Truck Accidents |

Being in an accident with a large truck is one of the scariest experiences a motorist can have. Over 4,000 people die in accidents with large trucks every year. Truck accidents are always serious, but one of the deadliest scenarios is a jackknife accident. Jackknife accidents can shut down highways and cause injuries to multiple motorists. What is a Jackknife Accident? A jackknife accident occurs when a large truck begins to lose control, and the trailer of the truck swings out to one side. The out-of-control truck then resembles a giant pocket knife folding in on itself. A jackknifed truck can block all lanes of traffic, and sometimes motorists can’t stop their vehicles in time to avoid a collision. What Causes Jackknife Accidents? A jackknife accident can result from a number of different causes, including: Improper brake adjustment and maintenance—if the brakes of a truck aren’t properly adjusted or maintained, they can lock up during heavy braking. The truck then drags the trailer with its locked brakes, and the trailer begins to swing around. Speeding—it takes an incredible amount of force to stop a large truck. The faster a truck is traveling, the more likely it is that a driver will have to slam on the brakes to come to a stop. This can lead to a braking imbalance which can cause the brakes to lock up. Sharp curves—drivers should know how to handle sharp curves on the road, but when they take improper evasive maneuvers, especially at high speed, the angle can cause the trailer to spin out. Slippery weather conditions—slippery roadways can cause a loss of traction, which can lead to the weight of a truck shifting. When this happens, both the cab and the trailer begin to slide, causing a jackknife effect. Driver fatigue and inexperience—driver fatigue slows reaction times and leads to impaired judgment. Unfortunately, trucking companies often encourage drivers to go over the allowed hours of service, which can lead to drowsiness. In addition, drivers who have not been properly trained on how to handle a large truck can also make mistakes that lead to a jackknife accident. Contact a Tampa Bay Truck Accident Attorney If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck, you may want an experienced truck accident attorney on your side. The attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have over 30 years of experience helping accident victims. Contact us online or call us at 855-293-5630 to set up your free consultation today.

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Can the Truck Driver Shortage Affect Safety?

Category: Truck Accidents |

According to the American Trucking Association, trucking companies are facing a shortage of approximately 60,000 drivers, a number which could go up to 100,000 over the next few years. The driver shortage has been attributed to a high number of baby boomers retiring, an increase in freight demand, and high driver turnover. Trucking companies have been trying to make the job more appealing, but the shortage remains. What does this truck driver shortage mean for other motorists on the road? DRIVE-Safe Act Proposed federal legislation has been introduced that would potentially increase the pool of driver candidates. The DRIVE-Safe Act aims to make it legal for drivers aged 18 years old and over to drive trucks in interstate commerce. This lowers the current minimum age of 21 years old. This can be dangerous to other motorists as younger drivers may have less experience on the road and are more likely to drive recklessly. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. Teens are more likely to be distracted and more likely to take risks on the road which can be especially dangerous if they are driving a large commercial truck.  Longer Hours on the Road With increased freight demand and fewer drivers, many drivers and trucking companies may be tempted to increase the number of hours trucks are on the road. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service regulations, trucking companies may try to find ways around these regulations. This could lead to an increase in driver fatigue. Overworked and tired drivers are extremely dangerous on the road. Inexperienced Drivers Behind the Wheel The shortage of drivers also means that some trucking companies may try to cut corners and put inexperienced drivers on the road as quickly as possible. With a smaller pool of drivers to choose from, companies may be tempted to hire less experienced drivers with questionable driving records. Trucking companies with high demand may feel pressured to put someone behind the wheel even if that person doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to operate a large commercial truck safely. This could have dangerous consequences as an inexperienced driver is more likely to cause an accident. Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you may need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we’ve been helping the injured for over 30 years. Contact us online or call us at 855-293-5630 to set up your free consultation today.

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Sleep Apnea and Truck Accidents: Should Companies Screen Drivers?

Category: Truck Accidents |

University of Pennsylvania researchers found in a study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) that 28% of truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can lead to drowsiness and fatigue which can be deadly for drivers of large trucks. Should trucking companies be screening their drivers for this condition before allowing them on the road? What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a disorder where someone periodically stops breathing while they are sleeping. This disorder can lead to poor quality and interrupted sleep which often leaves individuals fatigued during the day. Sleep apnea can be a potentially life-threatening condition. As many as 1 in 5 adults suffer from some form of sleep apnea. Risks factors for sleep apnea include: Obesity A family history of sleep apnea Smoking and alcohol use Thick neck circumference Being male Being over 40 years old Nasal congestion caused by allergies or an anatomical issue Sleep apnea is typically treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) which consists of a mask that the individual wears while sleeping that helps to improve breathing. Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous for Truck Drivers? Sleep apnea affects the amount and quality of sleep a person gets. Therefore, it can have a detrimental effect on someone’s performance and alertness during the day. Truck drivers should be focused and alert at all times when driving their large vehicles. If they are impaired by a lack of quality sleep, they may not be alert enough to react quickly, stay focused on the road, or even to stay awake. This impairment can be deadly to other motorists on the road. FMSCA Rules FMSCA rules currently state that a driver should not be permitted to drive a truck if they have a medical condition that would prevent them from safely driving. If this person is properly treated for their condition and it is no longer a concern, they can begin driving. However, sleep apnea may not always be apparent to a medical doctor. Many drivers may not even be aware that they have this condition. Given the potentially deadly results of sleep apnea, trucking companies should require some type of screening for the condition for all drivers.  Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have over 30 years of experience helping injured Floridians. Contact us online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to set up your free consultation today.

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Underride Collisions

Category: Truck Accidents |

Underride collisions are one of the deadliest types of truck accidents. An underride collision occurs when a smaller vehicle slides under a large tractor-trailer. These accidents are frequently fatal because the bottom of the truck may crush the top of the smaller vehicle on impact. Underride accidents aren’t limited to rear-end collisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (IIHS) of underride crashes, 57% were found to have occurred with the front of the truck, 22% involved the rear, and 20% involved the side of the truck.   Causes of Underride Collisions Anytime a smaller vehicle slides and becomes wedged under the truck it is considered an underride collision. These accidents often occur as the result of: Poor visibility—night blindness or inclement weather can make a tractor-trailer hard to see. Improper reflective gear on the truck can contribute to an accident. Poor brake maintenance—defective brake lights on a truck can prevent a car driver from noticing when the truck stops or slows down and increases the risk of slamming into the truck Reckless or distracted driving—these factors can lead to truck and car drivers making poor decisions. Improper lane changes and following too closely can all contribute to underride collisions Improper underside guards—in many cases trucks are not equipped with adequate safety guards to prevent a car from becoming lodged underneath. Either the truck doesn’t have guards or the guards are not sturdy enough to prevent a car from getting under the truck. In addition, even the sturdiest guards aren’t enough to prevent an underride collision when the vehicles are moving at a high rate of speed. Prevention of Underride Collisions While careful and attentive driving by both the car drivers and the truck drivers are the most important way to prevent underride collisions, proper underside guards also play a significant role. Trucks operating in the United States are required to have rear underride guards. They are not, however, required to have guards on the side of the trucks. An IIHS test found that side and rear underride guards have significant safety benefits. A push has been made to require side underride guards, but despite the fact that 200 people are killed in side underride collisions every year, action has still not been taken.   Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an underride collision, you should have your case evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the experienced and trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule a free consultation today.

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Truck Accidents and Hazardous Materials

Category: Truck Accidents |

Thousands of trucks containing hazardous materials are on the road in Florida on any given day. Depending on the type of hazardous materials being carried, collisions with these trucks can lead to explosions, fires, and even toxic chemical spills. This can result in serious and sometimes deadly injuries to the motorists involved. The industry is highly regulated by the government, and trucking companies who transport these materials are held to a greater safety standard. Federal Regulations The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) defines hazardous materials as those materials that may pose an unreasonable threat to the health and safety of people and the environment. The FMSCA has broken down hazardous materials into nine categories. Gasses Explosives Flammable solid Flammable and combustible liquid Oxidizer and organic peroxide Toxic Poison Radioactive Corrosive Miscellaneous Federal regulations require that trucks transporting hazardous materials have a placard on the truck indicating the type of material being hauled. According to the FMSCA, properly categorizing the type of hazardous material is one of the most important responsibilities of the trucking company. Carriers must also be sure to thoroughly train employees on how to handle the hazardous materials, properly load and unload the materials, and ensure the materials are properly secured. In addition, drivers who transport hazardous materials must have a special HazMat designation on their commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to obtain this designation, drivers are required to undergo a medical exam and a fingerprinted background check. Hazardous Material Trucking Accidents Despite the seriousness of transporting hazardous materials, some trucking companies and shippers can be careless when it comes to safety. For the fiscal year 2018, the FMSCA found over 43,000 violations in over 200,000 inspections. Violations and common causes of accidents include: Failure to properly secure materials—this increases the risk of hazardous materials shifting during transport which can lead to accidents and explosions. Driver error—things like driver distraction, driver fatigue, speeding, following too closely, and driving while impaired can all lead to severe accidents. Failure to properly train drivers and other employees—drivers who transport hazardous materials should receive specialized training, as should any employees who load and unload the cargo. Failure to properly maintain and inspect trucks—trucks that aren’t properly maintained can cause accidents or lead to leakage of hazardous materials. Trucks should be inspected on a regular basis and in accordance with FMSCA regulations. Contact a Trusted Attorney If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury law firm near you. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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Truck Safety Features May Prevent Accidents

Category: Truck Accidents |

Large commercial trucks are an important part of our economy, but they are also the source of destructive and deadly accidents. In 2016, 4,564 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks or buses. Florida is among the top 10 states for most fatal large truck crashes. A number of factors can lead to truck crashes, including impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, following too closely, truck maintenance failure, and driver fatigue. But there are a number of truck safety features that are currently on the market that may play a role in significantly reducing the number of truck accidents. According to a AAA Foundation study, truck safety technology can prevent up to 63,000 crashes per year. The technology reviewed by the AAA Foundation included: Lane Departure Warning Systems that warn a driver when the truck is drifting out of its lane can prevent a significant number of crashes. Based on lane line markings, lane departure warning systems provide drivers with a visual or audible warning when they begin crossing into another lane. According to the AAA Foundation, the use of lane departure warning systems in commercial trucks can prevent 6,372 crashes and potentially 115 deaths annually. Video-based Onboard Safety Monitoring Systems Video-based onboard safety monitoring systems use cameras and other sensors inside the truck to monitor a driver’s behavior and performance while driving. These systems help the driver’s employer to provide feedback on the driver’s performance. Use of the system can hold drivers accountable and lead to safer driving behavior. The AAA Foundation estimates that the use of these systems can prevent up to 63,000 accidents per year and 293 deaths. Automatic Emergency Braking Systems Automatic emergency braking systems combine forward-looking sensors, driver alerts, and automatic vehicle braking to prevent rear-end collisions. Sensors detect a vehicle within a preset distance and alert the driver. If the driver does not react, the automatic braking system will engage and stop the truck to prevent or mitigate a crash. The AAA Foundation found that these systems could prevent 5,294 crashes and 55 deaths annually. Air Disc Brakes Air disc brakes provide maintenance and performance advantages relative to traditional drum brakes. Compared to drum brakes, air disc brakes can reduce stopping distance by 40%. According to the AAA Foundation, the use of air disc brakes could prevent 2,411 crashes and 37 deaths annually. While federal regulations do not currently require the use of these safety features, it is clear that they will save lives. Contact a Trusted Attorney If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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Black Box Data in Truck Accidents

Category: Truck Accidents |

Every year there are thousands of people killed in accidents with large commercial trucks. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in the year 2016 alone. When seeking compensation for an injury or a death sustained in a truck accident, it can be crucial to establish what the truck driver was doing at the time of, and immediately before, an accident. A truck’s “black box” can be an important piece of evidence that contains much of this data. What is a truck’s black box? An electronic control module (EDM), also known as a black box, is very similar to the black boxes found on airplanes.  These devices can record information about what occurred right before or during a truck accident. ECM technology has advanced, and now black boxes are able to record a great deal of data about what is happening with the truck. The ECM records important information, including: Whether a driver was wearing a seatbelt The truck’s GPS location at the time of the accident How long the truck was in service Tire pressure Average speed of the truck Highest speed Number of hard stops taken by the truck Whether the driver braked before impact How does a black box or EDM help reconstruct the accident? An EDM can provide some important information about what the driver may have been doing right before an accident. For example, if the driver did not use the brakes right before impact, it may be possible that he was sleeping, impaired, or simply distracted and not keeping his eyes on the road. Information about a truck’s speed can demonstrate that the driver was driving at a reckless speed at the time of the accident. The EDM can also display information that may not be so obvious. For example, if the EDM shows that a vehicle was in service for an excessive amount of time, it may demonstrate that the driver was driving longer than the allowable number of hours. In that case, it could be a trucking company who was responsible for overworking the driver. Obtaining Black Box Data An EDM is installed on a truck by the manufacturer of the truck and is the property of the owner. An at-fault truck owner may attempt to remove the black box,or remove the data from the device to conceal any non-compliance with federal and state regulations. That’s why if you’ve been in an accident with a truck, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney quickly so that this information, if necessary, can be obtained as soon as possible. Contact a Trusted Attorney If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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Finding a Trucking Company Liable for an Accident

Category: Truck Accidents |

When you are seriously injured in an accident with a commercial truck, the issue of who is at fault can be more complex than in a typical auto accident. There are multiple parties involved, including the driver of the truck, the owner, the manufacturer, and the company for which the driver worked. Federal laws and regulations govern much of the trucking industry and establish standards that these trucking companies, owners, and the driver must meet. These laws and regulations can help to determine who is responsible in an accident. Trucking Companies May Attempt to Avoid Liability One of the most important parties in an accident may be the trucking company for which the driver worked. Trucking companies may sometimes attempt to avoid liability by labeling the drivers that work for them as independent contractors and not employees. They also may attempt to avoid liability by not owning, but leasing, the truck from the owner/operator. The trucking company may then claim that it is not responsible for an accident because the driver is not their employee and it does not own the truck that was involved. Federal laws and regulations have now put an end to these arguments. Now a company that owns a trucking permit can be held responsible for accidents involving any truck that has its placard or its name displayed somewhere on the vehicle. Examples Where a Trucking Company May be Liable While there are some clear situations where a driver is at fault for an accident, it is not always as clear when a trucking company may be responsible, at least in part. Common scenarios that arise include: Trucking company put pressure on the driver to drive over the allowable hours without the required amount of rest. Trucking company failed to provide the driver with proper training. Driver of the truck did not have the proper licensing or did not have a clean driving record. Trucking company was negligent in enforcing rules regarding safety. Trucking company did not ensure that the vehicle was properly maintained. Any of the above situations can lead to a trucking company being found liable an accident. Proving the Liability of a Trucking Company Because determining liability in a truck accident can be complicated, it often becomes necessary to hire certain professionals to help put together the case. A professional accident reconstructionist or an accident investigator can assist in putting the pieces of the accident together. An experienced personal injury attorney will make sure that you have the right people working on your claim. In addition, information such as trucking logs, drug screening records, maintenance reports, eyewitness reports, and recordings from any truck cameras or black boxes can help provide useful evidence of what happened and who is at fault. Contact a Trusted Attorney If you’ve been seriously injured in a truck accident, you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your case. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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Truck Maintenance Violations

Category: Truck Accidents |

When you hear about a truck accident in Florida, you may think that the accident was caused by driver error. However, it is just as likely that a truck accident was the result of a defective part on the truck that should have been found if the truck was properly maintained. Truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs are so essential that federal regulations mandate them. However, many trucking companies and truck drivers fail to follow these federal rules. This can result in tragic accidents that may involve serious injury or death. Federal Regulations Regarding Truck Maintenance The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) has detailed regulations regarding truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs that drivers and trucking companies must abide by. It is required that all truck drivers and trucking companies be familiar with these regulations. These regulations require drivers and companies to: “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained” all trucks within their control. This regulation is put in place to ensure that all parts and components of the truck are in good working order and safe for driving. Ensure that no truck is put on the road if it is in a condition that is likely to cause the breakdown of a truck or an accident Ensure that any truck that is in a condition that will likely cause an accident, or a breakdown of the truck be marked “out of service” and not operate trucks with an “out of service” sticker on them until all repairs have been completed Perform pre-trip inspections to ensure that trucks are in a safe condition and that loads are secured Complete an inspection of each truck at the end of every work day and prepare written reports documenting any defect or deficiency in the truck Trucking companies are required to keep detailed records regarding any truck that it owns, leases, or operates. What is Required to be Inspected FMCSA regulations mandate what the truck driver is required to inspect on a daily basis. This includes: Brakes Steering mechanism Reflectors and light Mirrors Horns Tires Wheels and rims Windshield wipers Coupling equipment Emergency equipment What Can Go Wrong If a truck is not adequately maintained or inspected, problems with the truck can lead to a severe accident. Improper maintenance and lack of inspection can lead to: Problems with the brake system Problems with headlights and brake lights Worn tires Faulty turn signals Any of these issues can lead to a serious accident. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you should have an attorney evaluate your case. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk onlineor call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents

Category: Truck Accidents |

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. Driver fatigue can lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel or taking unnecessary risks while they drive and can often lead to accidents. Fatigue can be caused by trucking companies having unrealistic expectations and schedules that call on drivers to hurry despite the risks involved. FMCSA Regulations The FMCSA limits the number of hours that drivers of large trucks and tractor trailers are allowed to drive in any given day. Drivers may only drive for 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours of being off duty. This 11 hours of driving must take place during the 14 consecutive hours after a 10-hour break. For example, if a driver begins driving at 6 a.m., he must complete his 11 hours of driving before 8 p.m. that night which is when his next 10 hours of off-duty time should begin. FMSCA also requires that drivers take a 30-minute break after every 8 consecutive hours of driving. Drivers are also limited to drive 60/70 hours in a 7/8 day period. This is the weekly limit and depends on the type of schedule the driver works. Truck drivers are required to keep clear records of when they are on and off duty. Why are Driving Hours Limited? The purpose of the FMCSA hours of service regulations is to eliminate the type of fatigue and drowsiness that can lead to serious accidents. Driver fatigue can result in slower reaction times, the inability to recognize hazards on the road, and even drivers falling asleep at the wheel. A driver’s ability to assess whether they are capable of driving or not is also impaired. A drowsy driver may not realize the need to pull over until it is too late. Trucking Company Responsibility Federal trucking regulations only help with safety if they are enforced. Most commercial truck drivers are paid by the miles they drive and are therefore given every incentive to break the FMCSA hours of service regulations. Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are not violating these important regulations. Trucking companies shouldn’t put pressure on their drivers to go beyond the allowed hours and should check driver logs. If a company suspects that a driver is violating FMSCA regulations, further investigation may be necessary. Evidence such as GPS tracking, receipts, shipping records, and surveillance video may be used to establish whether a driver is resting as often as he or she is required. Contact an Experienced Attorney If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, it may the result of trucker fatigue, and you should consult with an attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-855-293-5630 to schedule your free consultation.

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