Commercial tractor-trailers and trucks are the largest vehicles on public
roadways, with some weighing as much as 80,000 pounds. Because these commercial
vehicles are so massive, difficult to steer, and slow to stop, they often
cause some of the most devastating vehicular accidents, and pose increased
risks of injuries, catastrophic injuries, and death. Due to these extreme
risks, federal regulators have a vested interest in regulating the trucking
industry to ensure the safety of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians
with whom trucks share the road.
Although the federal government enforces trucking regulations designed
to protect the public, numerous advocates have called for federal agencies
such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take
a closer look at what’s causing a recent spike in truck accidents
over the past several years, and take decisive action to pass better and
tougher laws. As reported by the Kansas City Star, the call for better
regulations are warranted by clear and convincing statistics, including
data that shows:
- Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers caused more than 4,300 deaths in
2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- The number of fatalities resulting from truck accidents in 2016 represented
a nearly 30% increase from numbers reported in 2009.
- Of particular concern are trucking accidents involving commercial vehicles
that rear-end passenger cars. Since the summer of 2017, statistics show
at least 8 victims in the Kansas City area have died as a result of rear-end
truck accidents. Despite the statistics, the Kansas City Star reported
federal regulators have declined on at least 10 occasions since the late
1990s to require crash avoidance technology on commercial tractor-trailers.
The Star’s recent investigation into trucking safety is an important
reminder of the constant need for vigilance and accountability when it
comes to ensuring our federal government takes needed steps to protect
the public. Although the shocking statistics show ample room for improvement,
and are part of larger efforts to pass tougher trucking safety laws, problems
with the industry’s constant focus on profits over people, as well
as their lobbying efforts, often mean these types of tougher rules don’t
get passed by Congress.
Trucking Regulations & Personal Injury Lawsuits
As efforts to support tougher trucking laws continue, it is important to
note that these regulations can also play an important role in
personal injury cases involving preventable
trucking accidents. As a firm focused on representing injured victims and families throughout
Missouri, Kansas, and the U.S., our team at Montee Law Firm, P.C. has
an extensive understanding of federal trucking regulations, how violations
occur, and the common
causes of truck accidents.
This insight allows us to identify when trucking companies and drivers
fail to abide by the law, fail to meet their duty of care, and cause preventable injury,
catastrophic injuries, or
wrongful death for which they should be held liable. Examples of important trucking regulations
and violations commonly involved in personal injury cases include:
HOS Rules – HOS rules stands for Hours-of-Service regulations, which are federal
laws that limit the amount of time commercial drivers can be on duty and
/ or behind the wheel of a commercial bus or truck. HOS rules are critical
to protecting the public against risks posed by
tired truckers, but are often violated by negligent truckers or trucking companies that
care more about maximizing their profits and carrying more cargo than
they care about the risks a tired truck driver may create.
Cargo Regulations – Tractor-trailers and commercial trucks are designed for the transportation
of cargo. Whether it’s on a flat-bed truck or in an enclosed trucking
container, cargo can pose risks to public safety, especially when
overloaded trucks or improperly loaded and secured cargo make vehicles less stable and safe, or pose risks of
fallen cargo that can create roadway hazards and cause traffic accidents.
Investigating whether cargo securement violations, as well as violations
involving certain types of cargo or hazardous materials, led to preventable
accidents can be a critical aspect of a trucking accident lawsuit.
Vehicle maintenance – Trucking companies have a legal obligation to comply with various
rules and regulations for maintaining their fleet. This includes requirements
for periodic maintenance and the duty to address any hazards they knew
or should have known about, such as old tires, broken tail lights, and
other dangerous issues. Trucking operators that fail to properly maintain
vehicles can be held liable for damages caused by poorly maintained rigs.
Employee Accountability – There are strict rules when it comes to a trucking company’s
duties for hiring and retaining employees. For example, rules over regularly
testing drivers for alcohol or substance abuse, identifying certain medical
conditions that would preclude them from a commercial driver’s license,
and evaluating an applicant’s or employee’s driving history
are all critical steps to reducing risks and protecting the public. Should
accidents result from a trucking company’s failure to meet these
types of rules, or their general negligence in hiring and retaining unfit
drivers and employees, they can be held accountable for damages victims’ suffer.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Montee Law Firm, P.C. Can Fight for You!
Truck accidents can make for difficult and high stakes cases, especially
when victims suffer serious injuries and have elevated needs for full
compensation, or when trucking companies and any insurance carriers representing
them fight to deny or dispute liability, and pay as little as they possibly
can. By working with experienced personal injury lawyers like those at
Montee Law Firm, P.C., victims and families can gain the support of proven
advocates who have the insight and resources to help them fight for the
compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident in Kansas
City or any of the surrounding areas of Missouri or Kansas,
contact us to learn more about your rights and how Montee Law Group, P.C. can fight for you.