Wilmington Trucking Accident Attorneys
Representing Clients Injured in Accidents Involving Large Trucks
Tractor-trailers, buses, and commercial transport vehicles present serious threats to other drivers on North Carolina roadways, such as I-40, I-95, Highway 74/76, Highway 140, Highway 421, and Highway 130 in the Wilmington area. With many trucks weighing in close to 40 tons and reaching 80 feet in length, their sizes alone are enough to cause overwhelming property damage and catastrophic injuries in an accident.
Holding Drivers and Their Employers Accountable in Wilmington
Commercial vehicle accidents are often caused by operators of taxis, delivery trucks, garbage trucks, and tow trucks who are under time restrictions. Their need to get from one destination to the other in a short amount of time often leads to:
While commercial vehicle drivers have a responsibility to put safety first, their employers also must be held accountable for poor driver supervision, improper hiring practices, and inadequate vehicle repairs and maintenance. Additionally, many companies have pay policies that put drivers in a position to violate traffic laws, specifically speeding.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The majority of people fatally injured in commercial truck accidents are the ones traveling in passenger vehicles. When loaded with cargo, tractor-trailers weigh nearly 20 times more than most cars. Trucks require a 20-40% greater distance in order to come to a complete stop, and slippery road conditions or bad brakes make this worse. Also, trucks have higher ground clearance and high centers of gravity that make them susceptible to rollover accidents.
When a trucker causes an accident, it’s usually due to:
- Non-performance: A driver experiencing a physical impairment, falling asleep, or suffering a heart attack would not be able to perform his duties.
- Recognition: A driver becoming distracted or demonstrating a failure to observe does not recognize and respond to road conditions.
- Decision: A driver who underestimates the speed of an approaching vehicle, or does not allow for adequate braking distance with a vehicle he or she is following, makes a poor decision.
- Performance: A driver who fails to properly control his vehicle or overcompensates on a turn is not performing his duties.
The injuries incurred in a truck accident can be life-altering or even fatal. Even with nonfatal injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, lack of quality of life, and pain and suffering can make life very difficult for the victims and their families. If a truck driver or company caused your accident, call Rhine Law Firm, P.C., to talk to an experienced Wilmington truck accident lawyer.
Safety Standards for Tractor-Trailer Drivers
Federal limitations prevent big rig operators from driving more than 11 hours in a day and over 77 hours in a period of seven days.
Trucking companies and their drivers are subject to federal safety standards, inspections, and enforcement. Here are a few regulations:
- Drivers must acquire and maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that requires enhanced training and testing.
- Drivers must maintain a minimum of $750,000 in accident liability insurance coverage.
- Drivers must follow a clearly defined schedule for logging their activity, as well as safety and maintenance schedules.
- Federal limitations prevent big rig operators from driving more than 11 hours in a day and over 77 hours in a period of seven days.
Transport companies are legally required to abide by and enforce these regulations.
Trucking Black Boxes and Logging Devices
Many people have heard of “black boxes,” devices for recording or documenting activity on board an aircraft. Some manufacturers of cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles install these Event Data Recorders (EDRs) to better track their drivers’ behaviors. While not legally required, these black boxes are common in commercial motor vehicles. Some useful data that can be retrieved from a black box includes:
- The speed of travel at the time of a collision
- When the vehicle accelerated
- When the brakes were used
- Daily or weekly driving activity
- Use of cruise control
Another form of a black box is an Electronic Logging Device, or ELD. These devices are far more limited in their scope and primarily track driving time. This information is useful to trucking companies as it allows them to more easily track and log how long a driver has been working to ensure they do not drive more than the federal limit. As of December 18, 2017, all trucking companies are required by law to install and use ELDs to help combat driver’s fatigue.
Both EDR and ELD data can be used as evidence in collisions to determine liability and better reenact the circumstances.
If You Are in an Accident Involving a Commercial Vehicle
North Carolina law requires that collisions resulting in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000 be reported to law enforcement. If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle you should:
- Safely stop your vehicle where it is unlikely to obstruct traffic.
- Contact the authorities.
- Get assistance for injuries.
- Gather the information of all parties involved and wait for law enforcement.
Do not admit fault at the time of the accident, and speak with a personal injury lawyer for the best protection.
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Insurance Carriers and Trucking Companies
Commercial transport trucking companies and the drivers they hire typically have high-value insurance policies. This means they have experienced insurance adjusters and attorneys to help minimize their financial responsibilities. The opposing counsel will be tough, smart, and effective. At Rhine Law Firm, P.C., we enjoy the opportunity to battle these well-funded big-firm attorneys. The stakes are high, and we fight as hard as we can to combat their teams with experts, cutting-edge research, and strategies we have developed over decades of litigation.
Don't be taken advantage of by trucking companies and their insurance carriers. Hiring an experienced trucking or transport accident lawyer will help you to protect and enforce your rights.
- The Real Dangers of Truck Accidents
- Recent Tractor-Trailer Accident On I-140
- How to Deal with Trucking Companies and Insurance After an Accident
- How to Avoid Trucking Accidents On North Carolina Roads
- North Carolina Commercial Driver License Manual
- North Carolina Commercial Trucking
- NCDOT: Commercial Drivers (CDL)
- The Large Truck Crash Causation Study - Analysis Brief
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