Posted in Truck accidents on July 22, 2019
The commercial trucking industry is not always safe for its drivers or others on the road. Every year, trucking accidents take thousands of lives. More than 2,500 traffic crashes in 2016 involved heavy trucks in Nebraska, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Truck accidents caused 46 deaths and 771 injuries. Liability for a trucking accident could come down to the truck driver, trucking company, the product manufacturer or another party.
Employer Liability for Truck Driver Misconduct
After an accident with a commercial truck, the discovery that the driver is an independent contractor could make a victim assume no corporation is liable for damages. This is not usually the case. Federal laws do not allow trucking companies to escape responsibility for their trucks and drivers, regardless of employment status. A trucking company’s liability for damages, however, is not always clear.
- The trucking company was negligent. The company could be responsible if it cut corners to try to save time or money, resulting in a collision. Examples include rushing driver training, ignoring fleet maintenance and violating hours of service regulations.
- An employee was negligent. An employer will be vicariously responsible for the actions of its employees. Truck driver fatigue, drunkenness, and drowsy driving could point to employer liability. If the driver was on the clock at the time of the collision, the company could be liable.
- The truck driver was an independent contractor. If an independent contractor is not fully connected to the trucking company, the employer might not be liable. However, in most cases, classifying drivers as contractors will not bar an employer from vicarious liability.
Proving an employer’s liability for the actions of a negligent or reckless driver may be difficult in Nebraska. Victims may benefit from truck accident attorneys in Omaha helping them investigate their accidents. The lawyer will need evidence to hold the company, rather than the independent truck driver or the plaintiff’s insurance company, liable. The lawyer will need proof that the company or one of its employees contributed to the crash.
Who Is Responsible for Improper Loading?
Improperly loaded cargo could fall into the road and cause serious accidents. Lost loads may force a vehicle following the truck to slam on its brakes or swerve off the road. Lost loads may send dangerous materials through windshields, killing or seriously injuring the occupants inside. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has cargo securement rules to optimize the safety of cargo during transport. If someone was guilty of improperly loading or securing the cargo, that party could be liable for the accident.
- Using the incorrect straps
- Overloading or under-loading a trailer
- Failing to properly accommodate dangerous cargo
- Stacking boxes dangerously
- Forgetting to use edge protection
- Failing to use enough tie-downs
Debris falling off a truck could cause a fatal car accident in Omaha. In these accident cases, the trucking company could be responsible. The company will be accountable for its employees – including the people who incorrectly loaded the truck. Failure to adhere to the FMCSA’s securement standards is an act of negligence that could point to liability for a subsequent truck accident. If the cargo loaders operate under a separate company, that employer could be responsible.
Can an Employer Be Liable for Bad Weather?
Rain, fog, snow or sleet could compromise the safe transportation of cargo in Omaha. If bad weather contributes to a trucking accident, victims should not dismiss the possibility of employer liability. A combination of bad weather and human error could have caused the accident. A dangerous truck driver, improper braking techniques, speeding or poor truck maintenance could contribute to a crash that occurs in bad weather. If an investigation discovers a human-related cause, the trucking company or another employer could be responsible for damages.
Posted in Truck accidents on July 17, 2019
The structure of an 18-wheeler truck makes accidents happen differently than standard vehicle collisions. What might have been a regular rear-end collision with two passenger vehicles, for example, could take the form of an underride or override truck accident. These are two of the deadliest types of truck accidents for passenger vehicle occupants. Understanding the dynamics of an underride accident could allow you to prevent these fatal collisions in the future.
What Is an Underride Accident?
When a small passenger vehicle slams into the back of a semi and slides beneath the trailer, it is an underride accident. In this type of accident, the smaller vehicle generally does not stop its forward motion until the bed of the trailer contacts the highest part of the car – the cab. The trailer of the truck can kill vehicle occupants in underride accidents. Common fatal injuries are traumatic brain injuries and decapitation. If occupants survive, they may suffer disabilities from catastrophic injuries.
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic amputation
- Permanent disfigurement
Serious underride accidents could cost thousands of dollars in medical bills, vehicle damage and lost shifts at work. Depending on the cause of the collision, you could be eligible for financial recovery through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Recovering compensation for a catastrophic truck accident could help you move forward. Holding a truck company accountable for underride accidents could help improve the safety of trailer designs in the future.
Underride vs. Override Accidents
Although the two terms are often used together, an underride accident is not the same as an override accident. In an underride accident, a passenger car rear-ends a truck. In an override accident, the truck rear-ends a passenger car. If an override accident occurs, the commercial truck rolls up and over the back of the smaller car. Override accidents can crush the smaller car and its occupants. These collisions are usually fatal for passenger car occupants.
Which Cars Are Most at Risk?
Passenger cars that are low to the ground are most at risk of getting into underride accidents. The average trailer rests a few feet off the ground. A vehicle with a low front could slide beneath the bed of the trailer rather than colliding into its back. Sports cars and small economy vehicles are most likely to get into fatal underride truck accidents. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, are more likely to crash into the bed of the truck than wedge beneath the trailer.
How To Prevent an Underride Truck Accident
Vehicle manufacturers and safety organizations are working on solutions to underride accidents. The Code of Federal Regulations already requires rear impact guards on most trailers. All trailers and semitrailers manufactured after January 26, 1998, weighing 10,000 pounds or more must have rear impact guards, or underride bars, to help prevent accidents. New and improved underride guards are currently in development with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As a driver, do not solely depend on rear impact guards to prevent underride accidents. Take proactive steps to reduce your risk of rear-ending a commercial truck. Always keep a safe following distance of at least 30 feet behind the commercial truck. This will keep you out of the truck’s blind spots and give you ample room to come to a stop. Do not tailgate or speed when driving near tractor-trailers. Prepare to stop at any time behind a commercial truck.
Dedicate your attention to the road. Do not text or look down at your cellphone while driving. Distracted driving could make it easy to miss a stopped truck in front of you. Drowsy driving and drunk driving could also cause underride accidents. Any negligent or reckless behavior that could impact your driving abilities could lead to a deadly rear-end collision or underride accident in Omaha. Practice safe driving to reduce your risk.