Of course, the general rules relating to driving a truck are similar to those that govern people driving a car.
But truck accidents are different from car crashes in several important respects.
First, the average car weighs about 3,500 pounds, while the average loaded tractor-trailer weigh more than 80,000 pounds.
Second, while truck crashes are less frequent, they cause significant damage and can lead to catastrophic injuries.
This means that truck drivers have a greater duty and responsibility to drive safely because the results of a mistake carry much higher consequences.
Truck drivers also have special knowledge and training in how to safely drive a big rig and should be held to a higher standard of care than a person who did not receive such training.
Establishing the Standard of Care in a Trucking Accident
To get a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL), truck drivers must complete over 100 hours of study, pass a test to obtain a special license, and go through specialized training. They must meet certain physical requirements, adhere to special rules about drug and alcohol use and consumption, and receive special training on how to maneuver and stop a truck.
In car crashes and truck accidents, driver must act with “reasonable care.” But what constitutes reasonable care for the driver of an 80,000-pound truck is vastly different from reasonable care for the driver of a 3,500-pound car.
To succeed in holding a truck driver responsible, an injured person must prove that the driver or company was negligent, that the negligence caused the injuries, and the extent of the injured person’s damages.
However, truck accidents are unique because there are more rules and regulations that apply to truck drivers and trucking companies than apply to people who drive a car. And because the trucking industry is heavily regulated and there are often multiple parties involved, this leads to complex litigation that can include multiple defendants, complex insurance issues, and state and federal regulations.
Holding Trucking Companies Responsible
Truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to standards that relate to proper maintenance of the truck, loading principles, and hours of service regulations, to name just a few.
A trucking company can be found negligent if it negligently hired a truck driver, failed to ensure that the driver was properly licensed, failed to properly instruct the truck driver on safe loading or unloading procedures, improperly loaded or unloaded the truck, or allowed the driver to operate the truck when it had not been properly maintained.
The trucking company is likewise responsible for the actions of the driver if the driver is acting within the course and scope of his employment with the trucking company at the time of an accident.
Even though some truck drivers are independent contractors, the company that hired them can still be held liable for harm caused by the driver.
Using Federal Regulations to Establish “Rules of the Road”
All commercial vehicles are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), as well as state specific trucking regulations.
The FMCSR applies to all commercial drivers in all 50 states. There are also state-specific regulations that apply to commercial drivers who operate a vehicle within a particular state.
The FMCSR is wide-ranging and can be used to establish driver qualifications and training, screenings for alcohol and drugs, medical examinations, how to handle hazardous conditions, night operations, hours of service regulations, driver fatigue, and more.
These regulations make up the Rules of the Road for commercial drivers and are the basis for safe driving practices that are taught in all commercial driving schools across the country.
A skilled trucking accident lawyer will use these standards to establish liability on the part of the truck driver, the broker, and the shipper, and will identify specific violations that will become a theme throughout the case.
In fact, pairing the FMCSR with the Commercial Driver’s License Manual can be an effective way to establish the Rules of the Road in a trucking case, and to show how the defendants violated those rules.
An Ohio Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash involving a truck or other commercial vehicle, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. Once you have received initial medical care, find an experienced Ohio truck accident attorney who can help you and your family get the compensation you need and deserve.
At Robenalt Law, our experienced truck accident lawyers work hard to hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible for the harm they caused, and will help protect your family’s financial future by fighting for the compensation that you need and deserve.
If you were injured in a truck accident, you and your family might be eligible for financial compensation, including payment for:
Medical and hospital bills
Pain and suffering
Damage to your relationship with your family
Because trucking accident cases are complex, you will need to work with various experts including medical doctors, accident reconstructionists, and economists to establish liability on the part of the truck driver and the trucking company, and to establish the extent of your past and future damages.
The experienced Ohio truck accident lawyers at Robenalt Law will work hard to help your family obtain the compensation you deserve. We will thoroughly investigate your case, and will fight to hold the people who caused your injuries responsible.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured to secure compensation for trucking accidents.
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