Of course, any vehicle accident can be traumatic, leading to serious injuries or even fatalities. However, there are some important differences between large truck accidents and passenger vehicle accidents. Depending on which vehicle accident you were involved in, you may be dealing with differences of insurance coverage, negligent parties and the extent of the injuries sustained. Of primary importance is the size difference between the two vehicles. A loaded truck can weigh 80,000 pounds while the average passenger vehicle weighs a mere 3,000 pounds. Truck accidents are more likely to result in fatalities due to the size difference, and, overall, the compensation awarded in a trucking accident will be much higher due to those fatalities or the more severe injuries.
Causes of Trucking and Passenger Vehicle Accidents in Louisiana
A truck accident may be caused by blind spots which render smaller vehicles invisible to the driver, braking or acceleration issues, improperly secured loads or loads which are too heavy for the truck and trailer. If driver error is involved on the part of the truck driver, it will most likely relate to exhaustion or fatigue from driving too many hours. Truck drivers may also take to the road prior to being properly trained and therefore, may lack the necessary experience to deal with hazardous road conditions and other unforeseen challenges. Passenger vehicle drivers are more likely to cause accidents due to distractions and inattention. Eating, fiddling with the radio or GPS, talking to passengers, talking on a cell phone, tending to children, or even daydreaming can all lead to serious accidents as the driver’s attention is diverted for just a few crucial seconds.
Issues Relating to Liability in Louisiana
Generally speaking, when two passenger vehicles collide, one driver will be deemed at fault. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you will likely file a claim against that driver in order to ensure your medical expenses, lost wages, property damages and pain and suffering are all completely covered. Trucking accidents are much more complex as there may be several responsible parties. The truck driver may have been negligent or the company who owns the truck and employs the driver may be at fault for improperly training the driver or for faulty equipment. Even the loading company, the manufacturer of the truck and the maintenance company could all be deemed to have some liability in the accident.
While federal law mandates that drivers are only allowed to drive a specific number of hours before taking a rest break, many companies condone the practice of allowing their drivers to keep “double” log books. This practice gets the loads delivered more quickly, increasing the financial bottom line for the trucking company. However, the company remains responsible for exhausted truck drivers, who may be less alert than they should be. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes regulations which govern interstate trucking operations. These regulations include rules regarding the number of hours a driver is allowed to operate the truck, equipment and maintenance standards, driver qualifications, record keeping related to accidents, and minimum insurance limits. However, the presence of federal regulations does not automatically mean that all companies and drivers comply with the regulations. Some sources say that the FMCSA regulates over 700,000 interstate and foreignbased trucking companies, but that it can audit less than 12,000 of them per year for compliance. Additionally, some say that trucks represent less than four percent of the vehicles on our highways, yet they are involved in over twelve percent of all highway fatality accidents. Thus, it is extremely important that the attorney selected by one injured in a trucking accident be experienced in handling this type of case, and in enforcing the legal rights of the injured victim. Finally, federal regulations provide minimal liability insurance limits for interstate trucking companies, but those limits are often inadequate for the damage caused by these large vehicles.
What Happens at the Scene of the Accident
If you have an automobile accident, you will call the police, both parties will exchange insurance information and witness statements may be taken. A truck accident will likely result in the trucking company immediately dispatching lawyers to assess the scene where evidence will be gathered, photos taken, and eyewitnesses interviewed. This immediate response tends to give the trucking company a distinct advantage over those who were injured in the collision. We advise against giving a written or recorded statement to any representative of the trucking company, until you have consulted with an attorney.
Obtaining the Help You Need
Whether you have been injured in a car accident or a trucking accident, it is important that you have the skills and knowledge of an attorney from the Koederitz Law Firm to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve. Gary P. Koederitz has extensive experience managing the complexities of trucking accidents, and he can guide you through the legal process as painlessly and efficiently as possible. Call (225) 295-9494 today to speak with an attorney whose primary goal will be to protect your rights.