Approximately 500,000 accidents occur each year involving big-rig trucks—and since trucks can weigh as much as 30 times more than the passenger vehicles around them, an accident involving a truck and a car often ends up with the people in the smaller vehicle being seriously injured. If you were injured in a car accident with a big rig, what sort of things can an attorney investigate to determine whether or not the truck driver or trucking company was at fault?
Looking for Safety-Violation Histories
One of the first things an attorney familiar with these type of accidents is likely to do is to seek out the safety histories of both the trucking company and the driver. If either have repeated violations of a similar nature, that could be a good clue about what caused the accident and what direction to take an investigation.
For example, the driver may have a past history of tickets for speeding or aggressive driving. Trucking companies are supposed to maintain records of their drivers and weed out those that aren't safe. The attorney will also check into the company's practices on drug and alcohol testing as well as what health documentation they require from their drivers. For example, the company should require annual physicals to make sure that drivers don't have a hidden condition, like uncontrolled diabetes, that could affect their safety on the road while driving.
In addition, the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) does regular roadside inspections—so an attorney will look for safety violations that were identified prior to the accident and determine if the vehicle had been properly repaired before being put on the road or allowed to continue operating pending repairs.
Looking for Compliance with Cargo Securement Rules
Big rigs and other trucks are required to follow guidelines created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to securing their cargo. The rules are designed to help prevent issues like load shifting, overloading, and rollovers. An attorney is going to look for information like:
Was the securement system the appropriate one for the cargo's size, shape, and weight?
Was the cargo evenly distributed?
Did the cargo obscure the driver's visibility in any way?
Did the company make use of any additional securing devices like friction mats, clamps, and anchor posts?
Another thing that the attorney will check into is whether or not the truck's driver fully inspected the cargo and the securement methods prior to departure. If he or she relied on the truck's packers, that's a violation of safety rules and the type of negligence that can easily lead to an accident.
For more information on how you can determine if the tragic roadway accident that injured you was preventable, contact an attorney in your area, such as one from Swartz & Swartz P.C.
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