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Nebraska Truck Accident Attorney

Defending Accident Victims Locally and Nationwide

Truckers' logs, driver fatigue, failure to pull over in unsafe conditions. Misuse of cell phones and radios. Medical unsuitability. Intoxication and illegal drugs. All these are prominent parts of truck wreck investigations where big rigs hurt people.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and industry standards define commonly breached duties by trucking companies, "rent-a-driver" firms, and big rig operators. This is a necessary regulatory action because of the risk of death and dramatic impairments by crash, fire, and horrible wreckage in truck crashes. To make a difference in court, the story needs to be told well, which requires it to be well researched. It's what we do.

Big Rig Wrecks & Tractor Trailer Collisions

Trucks move America's cargo. The American Trucking Association (ATA) says over nine billion tons of freight moved around the U.S. in trucks in 2004. Trucking revenues totaled more than $676 billion in 2017 alone, and that figure will likely continue to increase.

Trucking is good for the economy, but it is bad for drivers in cars, vans, and SUVs who share the road with big rigs. Someone is killed or seriously injured every 16 minutes in U.S. accidents involving 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers or semi-trucks. 98 percent of deaths in truck collisions are passengers in smaller vehicles.

Semi-trailer trucks accounted for 17 fatal accidents and 244 injury accidents in 2013, and other heavy trucks contributed to 7 fatal accidents and 286 injury accidents. 

Why do large truck accidents occur?

Vehicles with gross vehicle weights over 10,000 pounds are classified as "large trucks" and are governed by specific federal safety laws. The drivers of these big rigs must hold commercial licenses and undergo limited drug and alcohol testing.

Accidents involving semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and large trucks require careful investigation. Issues for consideration include:

  • Driver Service - Driver fatigue and drowsiness give rise to reckless behavior like lane drift and drifting off the road entirely. Tired truckers caused the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to institute new hours of service regulations in 2003. Even after these rules, analysts estimate that driver fatigue is a probable factor causing 20 to 40 percent of truck wrecks.
  • Intoxicated Drivers - A recent study of body fluids from 168 fatally injured drivers showed that one or more drugs were detected in 67 percent of fatally injured drivers. A third of these drivers' blood had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.

Driver error - Big-rig driver errors cause collisions that often group into these categories:

  • "Underrides" - Passenger vehicles that slide under another vehicle, with the majority of these incidences happening between large trucks and passenger cars.
  • "No-zones" or blind spots - These areas exist in the front, back and sides of a big rig truck. Recognizing these "no-zones", the trucking industry has advised that for safety's sake the driver of a passenger car should not be in front, back or in two lanes beside a large truck. Wide turns into passenger cars are risks due to blind spots.
  • "Squeeze plays" - This can occur when trucks make wide right turns. A passenger vehicle caught between a large truck and the curb finds itself in a "squeeze" and huge danger.
  • "Off-track" events - This can happen when a truck turns at high speed into an adjacent lane.
  • "Following too closely" - Trucks take londer to come to a complete stop, and when drivers don't leave enough stopping distance between the vehicle in front of them, they can cause devastating collisions.
  • Substandard inspection - The FMCSA reports that trucks are included in two million roadside inspections per year. These vital inspections often lead to the discovery of unsafe big rigs. In fact, more than 23 percent of inspected vehicles had serious violations.
  • Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs) - These types of vehicles are tractor-trailer combinations with two or more trailers that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. These trucks have a greater risk of jackknifing (the rig jackknifes when the drive axle brakes lock up), roll-over, sway, and loss of control events than other big rigs. Huge vehicle length, height, and weight make these trucks perform and handle differently than others. LCVs are especially dangerous because they sway, move in the wind, and are prone to leave their lane.
  • Hazardous Materials (hazmat) - Hazardous materials move in more than 800,000 shipments every day. Hazardous materials (hazmat) in trucks are usually flammable liquids, such as gasoline and explosive materials like anhydrous ammonia. Each year about 200 hazmat trucks are involved in fatal and 5,000 nonfatal crashes.

Protecting the Victims

Trucking companies are insured by carriers with special skills and focus on prompt response to major truck collisions. Insurers often deploy investigators in the middle of the night, fly to crash scenes, and do all they can to preserve good evidence for the trucker and de-emphasize harmful evidence against their trucker customers.

The insurers also study families, injured parties and their vulnerabilities. They try to pick the ideal time of greatest vulnerability to confront an accident victim and force the victim to make critically important decisions when decision-making skills are at low levels. Insured parties and their families need skilled legal help from a truck accident attorney in Omaha as quickly as possible after a collision occurs.

Improving the Likelihood for Justice

These ideas will help motorists to improve the chances potential collision victims will survive collisions and avoid them when sharing the road with large commercial trucks:

  • Be and stay visible. Stay out of the truck's blind spots. Be sure the driver can see you in both of
    the truck's side mirrors.
  • Maintain a safe distance to ensure enough space and time to brake.
  • Drive defensively and alertly. Expect the unexpected.
  • Indicate turns or passing movements with signals, and avoid sudden moves such as swerving to pass.
  • Drive with lights on and be sure windshield wipers work.
  • Keep windows and windshields clean
  • Do not talk on a cell phone without a headset, or contrary to law, while driving.
  • Do not drive when emotionally upset or unstable.
  • Do not express emotions through the vehicle.
  • Respect the differences in size between your vehicle and others.
  • Remember, no amount of rage or rushing is worth the risks of recklessness.
  • Wear your seatbelt and make your passengers do so.
  • Be aware of highway shoulders and objects on or near them at all times.
  • Don't cut in front of trucks.

Don't Cut In Front of Trucks.

Trucks leave extra room behind the vehicles they follow because it can take them twice as long to stop. If you move into that space and have to brake suddenly, you cut the truck's available stopping distance in half placing you and your passengers in danger. Anticipate the flow of traffic before pulling in front of trucks.

More than 60 percent of fatal truck crashes involve impacts with the front of the truck. Trucks are not equipped with the same type of energy-absorbing bumpers as cars. When a car is hit from behind by a truck the results are too often deadly.

If a collision occurs:

  1. Make all decisions in reasonable priority. Do not panic.
  2. Make quality medical decisions your first priority.
  3. Fulfill legal reporting requirements in a timely fashion. Get professional help to do so.
  4. Give no information to persons with no need to know what is going on with you.
  5. Give no statements except to law enforcement, your attorney, and medical professionals.
  6. Make a prompt, intelligent search for a quality lawyer and engage counsel.
  7. Hold off inquiries from the trucking company's insurer until all these steps are done.

Our law firm not only advocates for accident victims and families of those killed in tractor-trailer crashes, but also for effective remedies and action that will accomplish change.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact an Omaha truck accident lawyer at Domina Law Group today by calling us at (402) 493-4100.

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