Truck Driver Negligence Attorney in Omaha
When truck drivers break the rules, people get hurt. The United States Department of Transportation estimates that there are over 500,000 truck accidents every year, resulting in nearly 5,000 fatalities.
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The State of Nebraska reports that big rig trucks are a lot more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than passenger vehicles. And when a truck driver crashes into a car, the people in the car are much more likely than the truck driver to be injured or killed.
If you or a loved was injured by a careless truck driver, speak to an Omaha truck accident lawyer at Bottlinger Law L.L.C today. Call (402) 505-8234 to learn more.
When truck drivers violate these rules, whether by overloading a trailer or driving over the HOS, their negligent actions can result in dangerous collisions with everyday drivers.
Among the variety of actions that can cause a serious truck crash, the most common include:
- Driving with a BAC at or above 0.02%, the legal DUI limit for commercial drivers
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Driving over the HOS and falling asleep at the wheel
- Overloading a vehicle without a permit
- Transporting hazardous material without a permit
- Failing to perform maintenance on a vehicle
Nebraska law expressively forbids any driver from using a cell phone while driving without the aid of a hands-free device, whether texting, making calls, or looking up directions. For truck drivers, violating this law can result in driver disqualification and a revocation of a commercial driver’s license.
The trucking industry has an incentive to keep its drivers on the roads for as long as possible – more deliveries mean more money. Unfortunately, to increase their profits, some companies violate rules that are put into place to limit how many hours a truck driver can be on the road.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers must take at least one 30-minute break every eight hours. Additionally, they must stop driving after 14 hours on duty, and must take a 10-hour break before they can resume. And they may not spend more than 11 hours straight behind the wheel. If your accident was caused by a fatigued truck driver, your truck accident attorney will review their hours of service logs to see if a violation has occurred.
When truck drivers violate the mandated hours of service, they are more likely to become drowsy while driving. The main cause of commercial truck accidents is fatigued driving, according to a survey conducted by the FMCSA and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
A driver who is sleepy is less able to react to roadway hazards, unsafe driving by other cars, or adverse weather conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates up to 40% of all semi-truck accidents involve driver fatigue. As the National Sleep Foundation notes, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drugs and alcohol slow drivers’ reaction time and dramatically impair their judgment. Consequently, driving under the influence, also called "drunk driving," often involves worse injuries than other car accidents.
Professionals with a commercial driver's license are held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers. In Nebraska, drivers can be convicted of driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content ("BAC") measures at or above .08%. The threshold for drivers of commercial vehicles is lower – a truck driver can be convicted of driving under the influence with a BAC at .04%.
Truckers work long hours and sometimes they resort to illegal stimulants. Stimulants like methamphetamine are frequently combined with alcoholic beverages, creating a dangerous combination. Other substances, such as prescription medication and opioids, also contribute to truck accidents.
A fully-loaded big rig can weigh 80,000 pounds – which is about 25 times the weight of a passenger vehicle! Speeding causes crashes to be much more deadly.
Commercial truck drivers are often under a lot of pressure to deliver loads in a timely manner and are tempted to drive above the speed limit to meet their employer’s expectations. But there is never an excuse for endangering other people on the road.
The FMCSA has regulations regarding the weight of commercial trucks, and trucks may not exceed 20,000 pounds per axle. The maximum weight allowed for trucks is 80,000 pounds total.
A truck’s cargo must be properly loaded and balanced. Overloaded trucks are dangerous because drivers have more difficulty stopping to avoid a collision. The extra weight can also put too much pressure on the tires, increasing the likelihood of a blowout. When a truck is overloaded, it also becomes more susceptible to rollovers.
Any act of negligence or reckless driving that leads to a collision can make the driver and the company that hired them liable for your injuries. Your truck accident lawyer will investigate the accident to prove that the driver’s careless actions caused your injuries. This investigation may include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Surveillance footage
- Accident scene photos
- The driver’s DMV records
- Accident scene reconstructions
Trucking firms have high-powered insurance companies that try to pay out as little as possible in claims. They may even offer you a lowball settlement that doesn’t come close to covering the true cost of your medical expenses.
Don’t answer any questions about the accident until you meet with your attorney. And let your truck accident attorney handle all negotiations with insurance companies.
Jason Bottlinger has extensive experience on both sides of the insurance claims process. That’s why we aren’t afraid to take on the big insurance companies.
If you've been injured in an accident caused by a careless driver, contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. by calling (402) 505-8234 and get a FREE case evaluation today.
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