As you drive along Alabama’s highways, you will likely be sharing the road with many truckers driving tractor-trailers. A tractor-trailer is often called a semi or 18-wheeler. These large vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, which is 20 to 30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle.
When passenger vehicles and trucks collide, it’s typically those in smaller vehicles who suffer the more severe consequences. The truck driver may walk away unscathed, while the passengers in the car are left with life-altering injuries or fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured in an Alabama tractor-trailer accident, you may have the right to recover compensation for your losses.
Our Alabama truck accident lawyers have helped thousands of victims recover the compensation they deserve, and we can help you too. Schedule your free case review today. There are three easy ways to get in touch with us. Call us 24/7 at 800-477-7510, fill out our free contact form, or chat with us now.
Common Causes of Alabama Tractor-Trailer Accidents
There are many different reasons why an Alabama tractor-trailer accident may occur. While some happen for the same reasons as car accidents, others are unique to tractor-trailer collisions.
The following are some common causes of tractor-trailer accidents:
- Hours of service violations and truck driver fatigue: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours of service regulations to prevent truck drivers from driving while exhausted. Commercial drivers are prohibited from driving more than 70 hours a week. They cannot drive for more than 11 consecutive hours and must take a 10-hour break in between. After a 70-hour workweek, a driver must take at least 34 hours off.
- Speeding: Some trucking companies pressure drivers to make deliveries within an unrealistic period of time. In an effort to meet their employer’s demands, drivers may speed to make up time. Speeding is dangerous, especially when driving a tractor-trailer; these large vehicles react slower to changes in speed and direction than a regular-sized vehicle and drivers have less control.
- Distracted driving: The boredom of being on the road for long stretches of time may cause some drivers to resort to engaging in distracted driving behaviors to entertain themselves. Texting, scrolling through social media, checking emails, reading, and playing games are some of the many forms of distracted driving that have caused tractor-trailer accidents.
- Poor maintenance: Trucking companies are required to inspect each tractor-trailer before every haul. However, the expense and time it takes to properly maintain a truck cuts into profits, so some trucking companies choose to skip some inspections and needed maintenance. This could result in brake failure or other mechanical issues.
- Drunk driving: Under state or federal regulations, commercial drivers are considered to be driving under the influence if their blood alcohol level (BAC) is .04 percent or higher. Tractor-trailer drivers are prohibited from consuming alcohol within 4 hours of driving a company commercial vehicle, and they are not allowed to drink alcohol while on duty.
Who is Liable for a Tractor-Trailer Accident?
After a tractor-trailer accident occurs, a thorough investigation will typically need to be held to determine what happened and why. A full review of the evidence may indicate that one or more parties are responsible for the incident.
Parties that may be held liable for a tractor-trailer accident include the:
- Truck driver: If a truck driver was engaging in negligent behavior such as texting, speeding, or drunk driving, then he or she could be held accountable for the accident. A truck driver is also responsible for inspecting the rig before getting on the road; thus, if a maintenance issue or cargo shift caused the accident, the trucker could be held partially liable.
- Trucking company: Trucking companies are responsible for each truck and truck driver they put on the road. Each truck should be thoroughly inspected and well-maintained before each trip, and every truck driver hired should have a clean driving record and the proper training qualifications. If a trucking company fails to follow any FMCSA guidelines, they could be held responsible for the accident.
- Cargo loader: Some accidents are caused by the cargo on the truck shifting or falling. If the cargo loader did not thoroughly inspect the cargo and load it properly, then they could be held liable if items shifting damaged another vehicle or caused an injury.
- Truck manufacturer: The manufacturer of parts of the truck may be liable if an accident is caused by a component failing. Examples include tire blowouts, brake failure, or problems with the steering system.
- Government agencies: If broken pavement, a soft shoulder, or other roadway hazard contributed to the accident, then the government agency responsible for that stretch of road could be held responsible for the tractor-trailer accident.
Why Hire an Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer
Semi-truck collisions tend to be particularly devastating, often resulting in fatalities and leaving survivors with catastrophic injuries. Accident victims may be left feeling overwhelmed and helpless as medical bills begin accumulating before a settlement is paid out by the insurance company.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer crash, the compassionate personal injury lawyers at our law firm are here to help. You may have the right to recover compensation from multiple parties. Our legal team can investigate the cause of the accident, identify all liable parties, and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
One of the biggest challenges in recovering compensation after a semi-truck accident is determining fault. You will likely face resistance from the trucking company, their lawyers, and their insurance company. This is why you need a skilled tractor-trailer accident lawyer on your side representing your best interests. After taking on your case, our firm will handle all negotiations with the trucking company and their representatives.
The following evidence may be collected to determine fault after a tractor-trailer accident:
- Eyewitness statements
- Truck driver logs
- Video footage
- Cell phone records
- Testimony from accident reconstructionists
- Maintenance and inspection logs
- Truck’s black box
When you work with Norris Injury Lawyers as your attorneys, our team will handle every aspect of your personal injury case. As we fight to obtain maximum compensation for your losses, you can focus on what matters most – your recovery.
What is a Black Box and What Information Can It Provide?
Many commercial trucks are equipped with an electronic control module (EDM) or an event data recorder (EDR). These devices are similar to the black boxes found on airplanes. They collect and store information that can be invaluable in proving fault in truck accident cases.
Data recovered from a tractor-trailer’s black box may include:
- Sudden acceleration or deceleration right before the collision
- Tire pressure
- GPS coordinates
- Speed at the moment of the accident
- Engine revolution per minute (RPM)
- Seatbelt usage
- Airbag deployment
- Communication between the driver and the trucking company
Usually, after an accident, trucking companies do not want the information in the EDR to be obtained and aren’t readily going to give it out. A lawyer can send out a letter informing the company that you are officially filing a claim against them, thereby obligating them to preserve information essential to your claim. This would include the data stored on the black box.
Keep in mind black box data is sometimes only stored for 30 days and then automatically erased. For this reason, it is important to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the collision.
Damages Available to Alabama Tractor-Trailer Accident Victims
If a person was seriously injured in a tractor-trailer crash, it could take weeks or months to get back on his or her feet. Some victims may be faced with a life-altering disability. At Norris Injury Lawyers, we have helped many truck accident victims file a claim or personal injury case and recover maximum compensation for medical bills and other losses.
Truck accident victims may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
If you suffered the loss of a loved one in a tractor-trailer accident due to a company’s or driver’s negligence, then you may be eligible to recover wrongful death damages. While no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one, these damages are awarded to cover funeral expenses, burial costs, loss of financial support, and other losses.
Contact Norris Injury Lawyers Today
Do not accept a settlement without first discussing your case with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Our legal team has the resources needed to fully investigate a truck accident and bring solid claims against all liable parties. We work diligently to help our clients recover every dollar that they deserve.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, we offer our clients our No Fee Guarantee. Your initial consultation with us is free, and you do not pay any out-of-pocket expenses. If we don’t win you a settlement, then you don’t owe us a dime.
Schedule a free case review today by calling (800) 477-7510. We will review your case, explain your legal rights, and do our best to answer any questions and address any concerns that you may have. If you decide to file a personal injury claim, Norris Injury Lawyers will be by your side throughout the entire process.