New Jersey is not new to commercial truck accidents – for instance, in 2014 Tracy Morgan, a famous comedian, was injured in a serious accident after a 35-year-old commercial truck driver was found to not be abiding by trucking laws. He was overly fatigued from working long hours on the road and was speeding at 65 in a 45 mph zone in early hours when he struck the limousine carrying Tracy Morgan and six passengers, one of which was killed in the accident. As it stands, this has become a huge problem nationwide as fatigue plagues the lives of many commercial truck drivers who are forced to spend long hours on the road without breaks for higher pay incentives at times. It was found by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that fatigue actually contributes to an estimated four out of every ten accidents involving tractor-trailers. In the case of Kevin Roper, the truck driver responsible in the Tracy Morgan accident, he had not slept for more than 24 hours even though truck drivers are only permitted to log eleven hours a day!
Common Reasons for Trucking Accidents
In the United States alone, approximately 5,000 people will die in semi-truck accidents. Many of these accidents are due to elements like driver fatigue, poor or faulty maintenance practices, distracted driving, technical malfunction, brake failure, tire blowouts, override accidents, runaway trailers, overloaded trailers, jackknifing, driver error, or violation of the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. However, there are the three most common reasons:
- Fatigue: In many common practices, truck drivers will be paid by the mile. To them, this means that the more distance travelled, the higher the paycheck. However, this pushes truck drivers to stay behind the wheel for longer periods of time, which is vastly unsafe. This means that many of these drivers are fatigued and have problems concentrating on the road.
- Faulty Maintenance Practices: In the case of an accident, did a truck have a poor braking system, worn out tires, or a malfunctioning engine? Many companies fail to property maintain trucks to the best of their ability, which could ultimately lead to very serious and deadly accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Some truck drivers may find themselves bored on downtime when waiting in traffic and may use radios, iPods, cell phones, or other devices to keep themselves busy. Many of these distractions, like cell phones, have been banned but the accidents continue to happen.
Duty of Care
Drivers of these huge, sometimes 20,000-pound vehicles owe a duty of care to each other as well as passenger vehicles sharing the roadways with them. This means that they must keep a constant lookout for one another, comply with applicable traffic laws, and use all reasonable means necessary to avoid an accident. When this duty of care is not abided by and accidents occur, lawsuits may stem from the actions of the negligent truck driver. Courts will then take action and rely ultimately on state and federal regulations in place for truckers as well as traditional evidence used to prove negligence. Unfortunately, many state and federal trucking regulations are abused each year due to the fact that companies will push their drivers even despite the laws.
If a truck driver has injured you and you believe you have a case, you should consider contacting an attorney you can trust. We have truck accident experience and can handle your case no matter what size. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today for more.