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What You Should Know About Semi-Truck Accidents

Semi-truck drivers play a pivotal role in the American economy, with over 15.5 million of these vehicles operating daily on our nation’s highways and in our cities. However, given their incredible size, these vehicles are capable of massive damage when they are part of an accident.

Semi-truck drivers are held to higher standards than other drivers on the road, partly because of their professional accountability and partly because of the sheer size of the vehicles they operate. Indeed, drivers must handle semi-trucks and tractor trailers with great care and responsibility. Rarely are semi-trucks accidents not serious. These huge vehicles can weigh over 80,000 pounds and can deal serious damage to other vehicles on the road. In fact, 98% of accidents with these vehicles cause a fatality. If you or a loved one was involved in a semi-truck accident, contact the Salt Lake City truck accident lawyers.

Factors at Play in a Semi-Truck Accidents

Like all other motor vehicle accidents, fatigue, distracted driving, drug and/or alcohol use, speeding, weather conditions, visibility and similar factors may contribute to an accident. Professional drivers, however, are up against tight deadlines and work long hours. Moreover, even rules that other drivers commonly break, such as improper passing, speeding, and failing to maintain one’s lane, become exponentially more dangerous when a large vehicle is a factor. The following parties may take part in a semi-truck accident:

  • The individual driver
  • His or her employer
  • The driver and/or company’s insurer
  • Your insurance company
  • The Utah Department of Transportation

Even national agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may be involved if factors such as failure to log hours or failure to take appropriate rest breaks factor into your claim. An attorney can investigate all aspects related to the event, such as road conditions, whether the company had appropriately maintained their vehicles, and whether the driver had complied with the relevant safety laws.

Meeting the Hours of Service Regulations and Other Safety Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service rules outlines the maximum number of hours that property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicle drivers may operate without taking a rest. The law even regulates the rest duration of professional drivers; the fact that a driver did not complete a sufficient sleeper berth period or did not take the appropriate number of consecutive hours off could totally alter the outcome of a case. Devoted attention and the experience to know where to look are thus essential.

The Utah Department of Transportation also has its own requirements, such as regulations limiting the height, length, and width of semi-trucks that operate on states roads. The law requires special permits to exceed these limits, and these laws exist to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road. Failure to comply with these maximum legal dimensions or going above weight restrictions will affect the vehicle’s handling and ability to come to a stop, which may cause or contribute to an accident and lead to an accident claim.

Operators may fail to meet the safety requirements that a company has outlined, or perhaps a company has neglected legally-mandated maintenance to meet a tight turnaround time. A competent legal team will investigate these factors and determine whether a violation of these rules was a contributing element to the event.

Though these issues may contribute to an accident, human error is still a leading cause of semi-truck accidents. Reach out to Fielding Law for more information – we have the expertise to determine whether the company’s or driver’s negligence may be grounds for a Salt Lake City wrongful death claim or additional punitive damages. You can contact us at (801) 666-2912.