Trucks are a common sight on Kentucky’s roadways. While these vehicles are a vital element of our state’s economy, they can be extremely dangerous to people in passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Due to their size and weight compared to cars, an impact with a semi truck or a heavy duty truck can be devastating. The legal weight for an 18 wheeler is 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. This is without oversize or overweight permits. An average car weighs 4,000 pounds. Many injury accidents involving trucks become multi-vehicle accidents. This can complicate matters very quickly. Speak to an attorney about your injuries from a truck accident. Don’t accept a quick settlement from a trucking company until you know your rights.
Because of their sheer size, trucks can cause some serious damage with even the smallest mistakes:
If a truck does not stop in time, its wheels can continue to roll, smashing whatever is in front of it.
If a truck driver is not aware of his surroundings when turning, a potential jackknife (when the trailer of a truck swings to the front of the truck) can occur.
If a truck driver fails to see another driver in his blind spot, he may crush a car or cause an accident.
What Compensation Is Available in a Truck Accident Claim?
If you are injured in an accident with a truck, you have the same rights and legal options that you would have in any vehicle accident, including seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent injury, lost wages, and wrongful death.
Liability in a Truck Accident
A number of parties can be held liable in a big rig accident, including:
The truck driver
The company that employed the driver
The manufacturer of the commercial vehicle or a part of the vehicle
The entity charged with maintaining the truck (if not the company)
You may notice that the truck driver’s employer can be held liable in a civil suit. This is due to a legal concept known as respondeat superior, or “let the superior make answer.” This means that the driver’s employer is vicariously responsible for the driver’s actions, providing the accident was unintentional and occurred within the driver’s scope of employment. “Within scope of employment” means that the driver was performing work duties, such as making a delivery, when the accident occurred.
Five-Ton Trucks and Federal Commercial Vehicle Regulations
So, how do you know if a truck is operating under federal regulations? Because commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers, and five-ton trucks are so large and difficult to operate, the drivers need special training and licenses to operate them. There are also strict regulations regarding the loading of these vehicles and hours of operation. The commercial trucking industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Among the regulations the FMCSA attempts to enforce include:
Weight limits: A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh no more than 80,000 pounds.
Blood alcohol content (BAC): The threshold for being legally drunk while driving is lower for drivers of commercial vehicles than it is for non-commercial drivers.
Work hour limits: The FMSCA limits the hours a driver can drive in a week, in a shift, and without taking at least a 30-minute break (drivers are required to keep detailed operation logs).
Driver certification includes passing the certification processes and keeping up with re-certifications. Driving with an expired certificate is a clear violation.
Can These Regulations Be Used to Prove Negligence?
The FMCSA and United States Department of Transportation (DOT) enforce safety precautions under Title 49 in the FMCSA guidelines. In addition to the above regulations, the DOT requires all trucks to be equipped with up-to-date parts that run smoothly. This means that a truck must undergo maintenance and cannot be operated with faulty equipment.
If a company allows the use of a truck that has not been properly maintained, they are negligent. The company can be seen as negligent even if they did not know about a faulty part, as they should be running routine checkups. The company’s negligence can also be proven if they violated employee safety and health standards.
Of course, negligence can include the use of a cellphone or the driver’s disobedience of general traffic laws as well.
It’s important to note that multiple parties can be negligent at the same time. For example, a driver can be held responsible for neglecting to follow traffic signals or safety protocols. That company (or the company’s maintenance group) can be negligent if they allowed the truck to be driven when the brakes were not functioning correctly. The actual manufacturer of the brakes is negligent if they installed and/or sold a defective product. Defective brakes, engines, or other parts can also be grounds for a product liability case. Contact an experienced attorney to determine which case might apply to your specific situation.
Furthermore, if a company hired a truck driver who was not licensed or qualified, both parties can be pursued for compensation. The company is negligent also if they allowed a driver to continue working without renewing the proper certification.
What Can I Do?
If you have been injured in an accident with a truck, you may be entitled to significant compensation. To ensure that you get the financial settlement you deserve, it is important that you have the representation of an experienced Louisville auto accident lawyer. At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, our Louisville truck accident attorneys have over 90 years of combined experience representing injury clients in Kentucky and Indiana, winning them substantial settlements.
How Much Will It Cost to File a Claim?
It won’t cost you anything to file a claim. Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, charges no upfront fees to represent you. We only collect fees if we win your claim or achieve a settlement that you approve. Remember, contacting us will cost you nothing. Your initial consultation is free. If we decide to represent you, you pay nothing until we recover on your behalf.
But you’ll need to act quickly, so that we can investigate your accident and collect all the evidence that will be needed for settlement or trial. In some cases, you may only have one year to file a claim. In other cases, you may have two years. The best way to understand and know your rights is to call Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, at (800) 937-8443.
With the NO FEE PROMISE, you never pay us a fee unless we win or settle your case Call us for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding your rights to compensation after an accident with a big truck or bus, can help you and your family rebuild and recover after this traumatic event. Please look over the FAQ’s to get insights about truck accidents. Call Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC Injury Lawyers to talk about your accident and concerns.
To determine if you have a case, consult with one of our experienced big truck and bus accident lawyers. With the NO FEE PROMISE, the first consultation is FREE. With the help of medical professionals and our team of big truck and bus accident reconstruction experts, our lawyers will investigate your claim and determine all of your legal options to make sure you have a full and fair recovery for your injury.
Most truck and bus drivers are hard-working, honest people that pride themselves in following the rules of the road. Most often these drivers adhere to state and federal regulations that govern their industry. Yet, a few of the truck drivers and their companies who violate the laws can cause devastating life changing damage.
Yes. Each state has a filing deadline for individual types of civil cases, called a “statute of limitations”. If you allow the statute of limitation to expire on your claim, you will be barred from making a recovery. This is why it is important to consult with one of our lawyers as soon as possibleafter an accident with a big truck or bus.
If the big truck or bus was at fault in your accident, you may have a right to seek money damages from that person, their employer, and the insurance companies involved. This may pay for your medical care, hospitalization, medication, medical supplies, lost earnings, future medical care, future loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. Call one of our lawyers as soon as possible after a big truck or bus accident to advise you of your rights.
The fairness of any settlement offered by your insurance company should always be reviewed by an experienced truck or bus accident attorney. We recommend you contact Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC Injury Lawyers first before trying to settle any case with the insurance company. Do not sign anything or accept any offer without getting a FREE consultation immediately following your truck or bus accident. You may be unaware of additional compensation you are entitled to, which may NOT be included in the original settlement offer. Our team of attorneys have decades of experience with truck and bus accidents. We can help make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for all the money damages the law allows.
If you were seriously injured, handling your own claim would be difficult. We provide a FREE consultation for this purpose. Our attorneys can investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident to determine who should be held legally and financially responsible. Our attorneys can negotiate and fight for a fair settlement on your behalf, including all financial, emotional and physical injuries related to your case. Our attorneys will use their decades of experience with injury cases to insure your rights and interests are looked after.
Every case is different. The value of your claim may vary depending on the severity of injuries, lost earnings, and the future impact that your injuries may have on all areas of your life. It is best to consult with one of our attorneys and discuss your specific truck or bus accident.
State laws can differ, but you may be entitled to payment for medical care, hospitalization, medication, medical supplies, lost earnings, future medical care, future loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. If you lost a loved one in a truck or bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for funeral costs, lost future earnings, and loss of companionship.
The majority of injury cases related to truck and bus accidents do not go to trial. Most are settled out of court, meaning the parties reach an agreement without a judge and jury getting involved. Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC Injury Lawyers handles each client’s case to secure the best possible result. For most cases, we are able to negotiate a settlement. However we are prepared to go to court and have done so when needed to make sure each client is fully compensated for their injuries.
Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC Injury Lawyers handles all truck and bus accident cases on a contingency fee basis. We call this our NO FEE PROMISE. This means that our clients never pay a fee unless we win or settle their case.
Yes. This means that we charge NO legal fees to our client until we recover monetary damages for our client through a jury verdict, settlement or other means. If we do not recover monetary damages, then the client does not owe us any attorney fees.
Yes. A majority of the cases we handle are in Kentucky and Indiana. Our lawyers are admitted to practice in these states. In some cases we utilize co-counsel to represent clients outside of Kentucky and Indiana.
The insurance company is looking out for their best interest, not yours. Insurance companies may try rush you to sign paperwork for as little payment as possible. Our attorneys have a legal and ethical duty to act in the best interests of our clients, insurance company adjusters do not. We work only for you and part of our job is to advise and protect your interests after a truck or bus accident.
Even if you didn’t have insurance on your vehicle at the time of the accident, you are still entitled to recover damages from a person or company at fault in your accident. In some cases the at fault truck or bus is not insured, but the driver of the at fault vehicle does have insurance. Our lawyers investigate and examine all of the details of the accident to determine all insurance coverage that may be available to fully compensate you after a truck or bus accident.