A tractor-trailer is often referred to as a semi-truck or 18-wheeler. These vehicles are comprised of an engine and cab section (the tractor) connected to a large trailer for hauling products. Commercial trucks are the largest vehicles on the road in Alabama, and an accident with one of these trucks can result in severe injuries or death.
Most tractor-trailers are subject to very strict Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. The Motor Carrier Enforcement Section of the Alabama Public Services Commission (APSC) conducts investigative, monitoring, and enforcement activities to assure compliance with the provisions of the Alabama Motor Carrier Act. Despite the variety of rules commercial trucking companies are expected to abide by, many crashes are the result of violations of such regulations.
Tractor-trailer accidents are extremely complex because, depending on the actual cause of the wreck, many different parties could be liable for a victim’s injuries. Victims of a tractor-trailer crash in Albertville should quickly retain legal counsel if they were injured or a loved one was killed in a commercial vehicle crash.
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., represents clients in Albertville and surrounding areas of Alabama. Call us or contact us online right now to schedule a free consultation that will allow our Albertville personal injury attorneys to review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.
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How to Hold the Tractor-Trailer Company Accountable for the Accident
While many people involved in commercial truck crashes initially assume the truck driver was the person at fault for causing the wreck, it is not uncommon for a number of other factors to have played a role. In many cases, the owner of the tractor-trailer can be held liable for damages in these types of cases.
Accidents that are caused by a failure to properly maintain a vehicle will often make the trucking company liable. Similarly, tractor-trailer companies can also be held liable for violations of state or federal regulations. In many cases, companies can also be responsible for the conduct (or employment) of the at-fault truck driver.
Trucking companies have long attempted to use a variety of tricks in an attempt to avoid liability for crashes, such as using the “owner/operator” label to claim that the company is not the actual owner of a vehicle or employer of the driver. Fortunately, federal regulations have since stated that any company whose name is on the placard of a tractor-trailer can be held liable for accidents involving that vehicle.
Liability is far from being limited to truck drivers and trucking companies though. Other possible liable parties may include:
- Maintenance companies
- Vehicle and part manufacturers
- Leasing agencies
- Third party responsible for loading trailer
- Other drivers
The variety of possible liable parties underscores the importance of having a thorough independent investigation performed for a tractor-trailer accident. Many trucking companies will quickly try to cover up or even destroy incriminating evidence in these cases.
Reasons for Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Driver error is certainly one reason that commercial trucks cause accidents, but multiple other factors could also be contributing or sole causes. Again, the actual cause of a tractor-trailer crash can often be determined only through an exhaustive investigation.
Some of the other common causes of commercial truck wrecks include:
- Brake failure
- Failure to maintain vehicle
- Improper repairs
- Overloaded trailers
- Unsecured loads
- Driver fatigue
- Inclement weather
- Inadequate driver training
- Mechanical defects
The number of possible causes often leads to liable parties attempting to blame one another. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Albertville will know how to make sure that all negligent parties are held accountable.
What to Do If You Have Been in a Tractor-Trailer Wreck in Albertville
The first thing any person should do after being involved in a commercial truck crash is seek medical attention. While this is fairly obvious when severe injuries are apparent, even individuals who at first do not think they were hurt should still seek a full medical exam in order to make sure they did not suffer injuries involving delayed symptoms.
When possible, people should try to take pictures of the accident scene. Such photographs can provide an attorney with a valuable understanding of the crash and may even contain important evidence that can be used in a civil claim.
One very important step for victims to take is to avoid speaking to any insurance company representing the tractor-trailer owner, driver or other potentially liable party. In these types of cases, insurers for trucking companies will act very quickly, sometimes even sending agents to the scenes of crashes to try to get victims to accept hastily concocted settlement offers or sign paperwork limiting their legal rights.
You should not engage any representative from the trucking company or its insurer in conversation because what you say can and very likely will be used against you — especially if you admit to any kind of fault for the crash. Such statements can be incredibly harmful because Alabama is one of only five states in the country that recognizes the doctrine of contributory negligence – a system that prohibits a plaintiff from recovering any damages when they were at all responsible for the crash.
The most important step you should take is to make sure that you contact an Albertville tractor-trailer accident lawyer at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., as soon as possible.
Tractor-Trailer Accident Statistics
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, large trucks were involved in 8,484 crashes in a single recent year. This was the highest total since 2007. Truck crashes in Alabama resulted in 2,367 injuries. That was the highest total since 2006.
Alabama truck crashes in also led to 118 fatalities that year. The primary cause of all crashes involving trucks was improper lane change or use, with failure to yield right of way, unseen object, person, or vehicle, tailgating, and misjudged stopping distance rounding out the top five causes.
Contact Our Albertville Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorneys Today
If you were seriously injured or your loved one was killed in a tractor-trailer crash in Albertville, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation.
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., can fight to make sure that you receive all of the compensation you need and deserve. You can have our firm provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation.