Truck Accident Lawyer in Vermont
Trucking accidents often have tragic results due to the force involved with these collisions. A tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (or 40 tons) before an overweight or oversize permit is even required. To give you an idea of just how massive that is, by comparison, the average weight of a passenger car is about 5,000 pounds (or 2.5 tons). What are the implications of driving around 80,000 pounds on steel chassis? Well, there are a number of them.
Due to the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers, they present extreme and unique dangers on the road if they are not properly maintained, handled and driven. That is why there are many critical regulations governing a number of practices and standards in the trucking business, including lighting, maintenance, equipment, and, of course, driver-conduct, to keep the public as safe from these massive machines as can reasonably be expected. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is almost entirely responsible for regulating the critical industry of trucking and putting safeguards in place to protect the public.
One very basic example of the unique dangers posed by tractor-trailers is that it is a heck of a lot harder for an 80,000 pound truck (or for that matter a 40,000 or 20,000 pound truck) to come to a stop, despite their specialized brakes. Does that mean they get extra time to react to traffic? Absolutely not. What that means is that they have to be more vigilant of the traffic around them in order to ensure safe operation of the tractor-trailer and the safety of those around them. That’s one of many reasons the average Joe or Jane isn’t allowed to operate a semi without first getting a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).
Another phenomenon unique to tractor-trailers is Jackknifing. This happens when when a tractor-trailer skids and causes the trailer to swing out to one side of the truck, forming an angle that looks like a jackknife. We have seen any number of jackknifed tractor-trailers throughout Vermont, and especially when the roads are slippery during the winter. A jackknife becomes pretty much inevitable when the trailer exceeds a 45 degree angle to the cab. Once this happens, the tractor-trailer loses all control and essentially acts as a massive street sweeper. Other passenger or commercial vehicles within the immediate vicinity don’t stand much of a chance in the event a jackknifing tractor-trailer strikes their vehicle.
Another common cause of tractor-trailer accidents is due to lack of sleep, or exhaustion, of the driver. There are too many heartbreaking stories of truckers colliding with vehicles on roads and interstates because they simply fell asleep or were too tired to reasonably react to their surroundings. Trucking is a seriously demanding job that requires long hours and concentration. That is why the FMCSA requires truckers to limit their time driving and maintain log books verifying their time on the road and their down time. Otherwise, like many other people, they would try and work as much as they could to secure the best payday possible. However, unlike most other jobs, the result of doing so in the world of trucking can often be deadly for both the driver and other people on the road. Unfortunately, too many truckers will try and alter or ignore their log books to allow them to drive longer (sometimes assisted by “uppers”) endangering the public and causing catastrophic results.
Truckers are required to follow a high duty of care when operating their tractor-trailers because of the inherent dangers of operating such massive machines and the often tragic consequences that tractor-trailer crashes result in. Said duty is not just to themselves, but to the public at large that deserves to be able to safely use public highways and return home to their families and loved ones at the end of the day.
Litigating tractor-trailer collision cases requires a specialized approach. As discussed above, there is a considerable amount of critical rules and regulations that tractor-trailer drivers and their employers are required to follow to ensure the reasonable safety of the public. Therefore, such cases often require the hiring of experts to examine all matters related to the cause of the collision. There is no such thing as too thorough an investigation in tractor-trailer collisions if fault is at all in dispute. Sabbeth Law advances all expenses for any such experts if and until there is a settlement or jury verdict. We work tirelessly to perform our own investigations in addition to, and in conjunction with, our experts’ investigations. If there is no recovery, our clients are not responsible for reimbursing any of the costs associated with the hiring of experts (or any other costs for that matter).
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer, click the “What to Do When You’ve Been Injured” link, and give us a call at 802-457-1112 or get a free evaluation by clicking here. My promise to you is that I will always give you my best legal analysis free of charge. Whether or not I agree to take your case, I will at least be sure to set you on the right path to help to make sure you’re not taken advantage of.