Highways such as I-22, US-331, US-90, and US-78 connect Alabama cities and neighboring states. The average person makes between 3 and 4 trips per day on these and other familiar roads, thinking nothing of the huge 18-wheeler trucks passing them by.
Then, tragedy strikes. An 18-wheeler accident can cause catastrophic injuries and a lifetime of regret. If you have been in a large truck collision, you might feel that you will never be able to face the medical bills, police reports, and insurance company demands on your own.
Call Norris Injury Lawyers at (800) 477-7510 anytime 24/7 for a helping hand. Over the past 40 years, our personal injury lawyers have fought at the forefront of justice for Alabama residents.
Alabama Truck Regulations You Should Know
One glance at an 18-wheeler will tell you that these trucks are different from other vehicles. They consist of a tractor and trailer designed to support heavy loads at high speeds. Alabama law regulates truck features like those described below to minimize the risk and severity of auto accidents.
An 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds on interstate highways. Despite this generous allowance, truck companies might still overload their vehicles to save money and time. Such rule-breakers endanger everyone in their path.
Why is an overweight 18-wheeler unsafe? First, roads can only withstand so much weight, especially on bridges and overpasses.
Secondly, weight can affect a truck’s ability to stop and maneuver. Being unable to slow down or stop in the event of a sudden road hazard can be disastrous.
Length and height
The State of Alabama limits semi-trailers to 53 feet and 6 inches on streets less than 12 feet wide. On other roads, an 18-wheeler can be up to 57 feet.
The length of a commercial truck affects its stability and agility. For instance, a short car might have an easier time navigating curves and turning corners than an 18-wheeler. Longer vehicles also need more room and time for braking.
While the federal government does not regulate the height of commercial trucks, 18-wheeler drivers must pay close attention to the dimensions of their vehicles. Trucks can get stuck in tunnels and run into overhanging obstacles when drivers are not careful.
The size of an 18-wheeler in relation to surrounding vehicles also matters. Truckers might have trouble seeing cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians around them because of their extreme dimensions. Besides the implications for the truck driver, other drivers need to be able to travel safely on the road with them.
For instance, wet or slippery road conditions could contribute to jackknife accidents. In these events, trucks skid and trailers swing out of control, endangering anything and anyone in their way.
The US trucking industry is a $700 billion business. When greedy companies ignore Alabama state guidelines for 18-wheelers, they might be able to save time and money. Yet, there is no excuse for prioritizing time and money over people’s lives.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we offer free case evaluations for accidents involving 18-wheelers. If a truck company failed to comply with the law, that entity could be held liable for any victims’ losses.
The Role of Truck Drivers in Alabama Accidents
We all have likely heard of negligent truck drivers who practice unsafe behaviors on the road. When 18-wheeler drivers are irresponsible, serious injuries and death often follow. Consider these common causes of 18-wheeler accidents.
In 2019, 210 people died in Alabama crashes with alcohol or drug impairment as the suspected cause. Impaired-driving crashes are 7.62 times more likely to be fatal than other accidents. Why?
Medication, illegal drugs, or alcohol can severely affect cognitive skills which are necessary for driving, including:
- Reaction time
- Information and task processing
- Hand-eye coordination
Drugs can become even more dangerous when mixed with alcohol. In Alabama, a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) should never be higher than .08.
Commercial drivers are held to an even stricter standard because the potential damage of an 18-wheeler accident is so great. Drivers with a BAC of 0.04 or higher can be charged with a DUI. Alabama authorities can also put truckers with any alcohol in their systems out of service for 24 hours.
Trucking companies must hire responsible drivers. If a truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol injured you, contact our 18-wheeler accident injury team for immediate attention. Click “Live Chat” below to speak to an agent now.
For truckers who spend long hours on the road, staying focused can pose a real challenge. Potential distractors surround truck drivers all day long.
Note the following external distractions, whether events or objects, that take attention away from driving an 18-wheeler:
- Cellphones (e.g. calls, texts, notifications)
- Adjustable features (e.g. radios, climate control, mirrors)
- Food or drink
- Roadside attractions and billboards
- GPS or maps
- Passengers or pedestrians
A trucker can also fall prey to internal distractions like daydreams or road rage. Regardless of the source, drivers should avoid all forms of distracted driving.
All hard workers can experience fatigue, but truckers may find their jobs especially difficult. Fatigue can result from:
- Long shifts
- Multiple days with little to no sleep
- Early morning or late evening driving
- Health factors (e.g. sleep disorders, illness)
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Monotonous tasks
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health compares the following effects of fatigue to alcohol impairment:
- Slow reaction times
- Poor decisions
- Lane-to-lane drifting
- Tunnel vision
- Microsleeps (nodding off in brief episodes lasting from a fraction of a second to 30 seconds)
Driver fatigue led to at least 2,652 accidents in Alabama in 2019 alone. Clearly, employers should limit overtime and manage shifts to prevent 18-wheeler drivers from becoming overtired.
No amount of professional experience can make an 18-wheeler safe in the hands of a tired, distracted, or impaired driver. These three driver errors are only a few examples of the many dangerous practices that can lead to disaster on the road
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we can investigate all the contributing factors that led to your 18-wheeler accident. Only with a full case review can you understand the reasons behind the crash, which could significantly impact your right to seek compensation. To learn whether you are eligible for monetary damages, fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.
Pursuing Damages After an 18-Wheeler Accident
Most personal injury claims are based on the premise that a truck driver took actions that a reasonable person would not have. Yet, determining the causes of an 18-wheeler accident can be complex.
Once your attorney determines who is liable for your accident, he or she can help you get what you deserve for your losses.
An 18-wheeler can cause unimaginable destruction in an accident. If your car is not totaled, the cost of repairs could amount to thousands of dollars.
About 94 percent of Alabama residents depend on a personal car to get to work. Are you wondering how to get around while your vehicle is at the autobody shop? Anyone who has rented a car knows that it can quickly become expensive.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, your needs are important. Our diligent attorneys work hard and fast to help you deal with the consequences of your 18-wheeler crash. Our phone lines at (800) 477-7510 are open 24 hours a day so you can get the answers to your questions right away.
There is no question that the driver who caused the car accident should pay for the injured party’s medical expenses. Yet, getting what is fair from insurance is easier said than done. Even the insurers could take months or even years to pay out what you deserve.
Though you might be willing to wait patiently for your reimbursement check, hospitals and doctors are not always as gracious. If they send you to collections, you might soon have debt collectors and creditors at your back.
Being injured is never pleasant, but dealing with insurers can make it even more of a hassle. Why not leave this task in the capable hands of our personal injury team?
Norris Injury Lawyers is known for fighting to the end for our clients, even if that means taking your case to court. Yet, more often than not, our resourceful attorneys are able to resolve claims without a legal battle. You might be surprised at how simple it is to get results when you have an experienced legal team at your side.
Did you know you can be compensated for lost financial opportunities? Victims of 18-wheeler crashes can seek compensation for lost wages if they were unable to work due to an injury. You can also claim loss of earning capacity for permanent injuries.
Get Help with Your 18-Wheeler Case Today
After an 18-wheeler accident, you might not be sure what to do next. But having a member of our friendly staff review your claim could be just what you need to set your mind at ease.
During your free consultation, you will be able to ask questions and get personalized legal advice. There is no obligation, but if you decide to hire us, you will be protected by our No Fee Guarantee®. In other words, we charge no fees unless we get you money.
Let’s begin the journey to your economic recovery. Get in contact with Norris Injury Lawyers today by calling (800) 477-7510 or clicking the chat icon to speak to a live agent.