We rely on 18-wheeled trucks to ship cargo all over the United States. Medical supplies, food, clothing, fuel…Everything is shipped across the interstate highway system. Everyday we share the road with trucks operated by trained professionals dedicated to safety.
Without the trucking industry, we would not enjoy many of the comforts of our daily lives. Fuel and food supplies would dry up in a matter of days without the constant movement of goods. We owe life as we know it to commerce driven by trucking, and because of that, we are usually not bothered by the idea of sharing the road with such immense machinery.
Despite the training and efforts made towards safe operation, there is always the chance that something terrible could happen. Whether traveling down Johnston Street or heading out on the Evangeline Thruway, we must always exercise the highest level of care. While truck drivers are highly trained, they are still human and accidents and error do still occur.
Why do I need a trucking accident attorney?
When you are injured through no fault of your own, the injuries and damage to your vehicle will have your mind and bank account spinning. Due to the size of an 18-wheeler, however, the damage can and likely will be catastrophic. When your time in court comes, an experienced Lafayette trucking accident lawyer will be of great use.
The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess have the experience you need in the event of a trucking accident. Not only will their team of legal experts investigate the accident and evidence, but they also have experience dealing with the multiple layers of liability involved in a trucking accident.
Liability in a trucking accident
In the event of a trucking accident, proving negligence will work similar to any other accident. Evidence gathered at the scene along with witness testimony and copies of the police report will work just as always. The tricky part is finding out exactly who is liable for your accident.
The truck itself may be owned by the driver or the company employing them. That company may have the employee as a regular employee or as an independent contractor. The vehicle itself may have upkeep done by that employer or by a regular mechanic. The trailer may be owned by the transportation company or by the client having goods shipped. And to top it all off? The parts on the trailer or how the load is managed may be incorrect as well.
Confused yet? Who wouldn’t be?
The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess know what to look for when reviewing employment records, maintenance records, and even weigh station check-ins. Drug testing done after the accident will also reveal the presence of illegal drugs and alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream. Our team has seen it all. You can count on us to remain focused on the important things in this case: Yourself and your family.
Hours of service
Sleep is the most important thing for a trucker to have. A sleepy driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver. As such, there are rules in place called the Hours of Service, set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
- The maximum drive time in a week is 70 hours
- A trucker can resume driving give 34 consecutive hours of rest
- A 30 minute break must occur during the first eight hours of driving
- There is an 11 hour daily drive limit and 14 hour work day limit
Drivers are required to keep a logbook detailing any sleep and rest periods. While electronic logging is becoming the industry standard, paper logs are still kept, which can lead to drivers falsifying records.
Truck drivers may be tempted (or encouraged by employers) to break these rules. In order to meet demands and to maintain profits, a company must make as many deliveries as possible. They may take liberties with safety requirements if a job is failing behind. Additionally, truckers are paid by the mile and not by the hour. This leads to many truckers relying on illegal drugs and over-the-counter methods of staying awake for longer than the human body can safely function.
Many factors determine who will be held liable in the event of an accident. Each factor must be investigated fully to determine who will be held responsible for your injuries.
For the driver:
- Presence of drugs or alcohol
- Adherence to hours of service
- Care in operation
- Adherence to safety protocol in transportation of hazardous materials
- Inspection of vehicle, trailer, and cargo
- Maintenance of vehicle if owned
For the employer:
- Hiring practices (background checks and drug screening)
- Training practices
- Adherence to hours of service
- Maintenance of vehicle/trailer if owned
Additionally, the manufacturer of any parts on the vehicle or trailer may be held liable due to faults in the manufacturing process.
It is the job of your trucking accident lawyer to weigh each factor in your accident thoroughly. Each party in a trucking accident will be doing their absolute best to prove they were not at fault. After your accident, give no information to anyone other than your insurance, your doctor, and your attorney. Any information that you give will likely be used to shift the blame to someone else.
Truck accidents are a complicated affair, and must be handled efficiently. Your injuries may be quite severe. After an 18 wheeler accident, you may suffer from:
- Broken bones
- Brain damage
- Severe concussion
- Deep lacerations and blood loss
- Severe and/or permanent nerve damage
- Ruptured or lacerated organs
- Chemical exposure (acid, fumes)
- Severe burns
When long-term disability is a real possibility, having a dedicated team of legal professionals fighting for you is the best-case scenario. As medical bills pile up, you will not be able to return to work for some time. The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess understand how crucial it is to maintain your family’s way of life. We will stop at nothing to see justice is served.
According to LSU Data Reports, 200 crashes involving trucks occurred in Lafayette Parish in 2016. 200 may seem like a low number, but there are only 365 days in the year. That’s an accident per day for over 6 months mathematically. Each of these accidents touches multiple lives. Each of these accidents leads to higher insurance rates and medical costs.
Should you be injured through no fault of your own, you have options. No matter what your income level, you can afford an attorney. The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess are a no-win/no-pay firm. We offer a free initial consultation to anyone needing legal advice after an accident. We are even able to come out to you should you be unable to come to the office. No matter how severe the accident and how terrible the injuries, do not give up hope. Injuries heal, cars can be replaced, and justice will be served.