Truck Driver Negligence Attorney in Omaha
Although there are federal regulations designed to protect the public from dangerous truck drivers and companies, sometimes the rules are broken and people are hurt in serious accidents. The United States Department of Transportation estimates that there are over 500,000 truck accidents every year, resulting in nearly 5,000 fatalities. The State of Nebraska has reported an alarming trend demonstrating that large commercial trucks are disproportionately associated with serious traffic accidents.
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What can you do if you are hurt in a collision with a semi-truck? We urge you to contact an Omaha truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to see if there is compensation available for you. Trucking companies are known to be aggressive and take action immediately to keep from paying out on legitimate claims. Our team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. can investigate your case and gather evidence to contest the trucking company’s insurer and get you the money you are owed. Call (402) 505-8234 to get your free consultation.
Truck drivers are negligent when they:
- Violate the mandated hours of service (HOS), telling them how long they can be on the road
- Drive fatigued
- Drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication
- Fail to obey the rules of the road
- Overload their vehicles
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. They may not spend more than 11 hours straight behind the wheel.
While truck drivers and commercial trucking companies are required under the law to keep records to show that these HOS regulations are being followed, sometimes these logs are falsified in an effort to hide the violations. It is important to hire an attorney who has experience in reading and interpreting the logbooks kept by truck drivers so you can be sure that any evidence provided by the truck driver or company is accurate.
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 most states, all 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%.
Due to the fact that truckers work long hours and often through the night, illegal stimulants are becoming a growing problem. Drugs like methamphetamine are considered "uppers" that give energy, and are frequently combined with alcoholic beverages. 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 20 times the weight of a passenger vehicle! Any mistake that a truck driver makes is amplified by the sheer size and weight of the truck itself. 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. Despite this fact, 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. The truck’s cargo must be properly loaded and balanced. Overloaded trucks are dangerous because they may have more difficulty stopping suddenly 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 and is more difficult for the driver to handle properly.
Truck accidents cause massive property damage and serious injuries to other drivers. If you've been injured in an accident due to the negligence of a truck driver or a trucking company, contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. by calling (402) 505-8234 for a case evaluation.
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