Trucks can be a true danger on the road. Unsafe truck drivers cause accidents, stopping traffic for everyone else. Even when they do not cause accidents, they can cause other drivers to make unsafe moves when they are intimidated by the size of trucks.
For so many, trucks are more than an inconvenience, especially in the case of a truck accident. In the vast majority of fatal truck accidents, the truck driver walks away, but the driver or passenger of another car pays the ultimate price. As long as shipping by trucks is common, we are still going to have trucks on the road, and truck accidents.
Especially in Baltimore, right near the juncture between Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., and right in the path of some of the most heavily-traveled highways in the Eastern United States, truck accidents are common. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck accident, no matter what kind of car or truck they were driving, contact an experienced personal injury attorney about the case. You might have options to receive compensation, and working with a lawyer can help you get that compensation. Bennett and Heyman, P.A., has lawyers that have been serving clients in Baltimore for nearly 50 years, and is always looking to help new clients as well.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Anyone who has ever driven alongside a truck can understand the fear that some drivers face when sharing the road with a truck, and anyone who has been involved in an accident with a truck certainly understands that fear. Because of their size, they create a few different hazards – but the biggest hazards of trucks are due to the business of trucking.
Truck Size and Weight
The sheer size and weight of trucks creates driving issues. Trucks can take much longer to slow down than other vehicles, just because they are so much bigger and heavier. A tractor trailer is legally allowed to weight up to 80,000 pounds in the U.S. Compare this to the weight of some other common vehicles:
- Tractor trailer: 80,000 pounds
- Toyota Camry: around 3,300 pounds
- Honda CR-V: around 3,400 pounds
- Ford F150 pickup: around 4,500 pounds
A fully-loaded big rig can weigh over 20 times some of the most popular cars on the road.
The fundamental laws of physics tell us that this weight difference is a problem. When these trucks hit the much lighter cars, they are prone to destroying the other car and harming its driver and passenger. Trucks can require a much longer stopping distance than a car, and have slower handling – meaning a lesser ability to avoid crashes.
On top of this, visibility is a huge issue. Trucks usually have blind spots directly in front of the cab, directly behind the trailer, and directly next to the rear of the cab on both sides (where a typical car also has a blind spot). Because of this, they cannot see other drivers as easily and make dangerous moves. Plus, trucks block other drivers’ view of the road and other cars.
The business behind trucking means that companies and drivers are rewarded for driving more cargo. To accomplish this, trucking companies and drivers make decisions that put others at risk on the road.
In order to get more cargo to a destination, trucking companies may break weight limits. The 80,000-pound limit is a national maximum, but overladen trucks are still put on the road every day. Breaking the weight limit puts more strain on the vehicle and its tires, risking greater chances of malfunction or failure. More weight also means more damage to other cars in a collision and, if the weight is not loaded properly, could increase a truck’s chance of rolling over or causing the trailer to swerve uncontrollably.
Trucking companies would rather use their same drivers and trucks to carry more cargo rather than hire more drivers or buy more trucks. This means they send the same trucks and drivers back into service without maintenance or rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency responsible for creating and enforcing rules for truckers and trucking companies. They create limits for how long a truck can be on the road at a time as well as rules requiring truck drivers to take breaks.
Truck drivers are required to take 30-minute rest breaks every eight hours of driving. They also have a 14-hour window in which they are allowed to be on-duty (including the time they take for breaks), and cannot drive again until 10 hours after this window passes. There is also a maximum time limit of 60 hours of driving in any seven-day period (or 70 hours in an 8-day period).
Though these limits may seem complicated, the purpose of them is to make sure drivers are rested and alert when they drive. Some drivers ignore these limits in order to bring home higher paychecks, or are instructed by their employers to ignore these limits. That sometimes means abusing drugs, caffeine, or alcohol to stay alert, causing other issues for drivers.
Compensation May be Available
When you sue a truck driver for injuries in a trucking accident, you can usually sue the trucking company as well. That provides a large, wealthy opponent who should be able to pay for any lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering you need compensated.
But these companies hire legal teams to limit how much they spend on lawsuits, and may make settlement offers that fall short of your needs. Always talk to your own lawyer about settlement before accepting or even talking to the legal teams of truck companies.
Also, make sure to speak with an attorney as soon as you can; your case may have important deadlines involved.
Talk to a Baltimore Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident in Baltimore, compensation may be waiting for you. To get it, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. The lawyers of Bennett and Heyman, P.A., have decades of experience fighting for clients, and may be able to help you, too. For a free consultation with our attorneys, call (410) 429-7856.