Mostly due to the nature of these incidents, large vehicle collisions are much different than other types of motor vehicle collisions. Perhaps the first order of business for a Buffalo personal injury attorney is determining if the truck accident was truly “accidental.” Typically, that is not the case, so victims are probably entitled to compensation.
A few truck collisions are beyond anyone’s control. For example, an earthquake might shake the ground and push a truck into another vehicle. But these incidents are incredibly unlikely. Typically, large truck crashes involve negligence, which is a lack of ordinary care.
Negligence is usually easier to establish in truck crash cases. Commercial operators are common carriers in Minnesota. Such an individual has a duty to “use all reasonable means at his disposal to avoid an accident.” This duty is much higher than the one which applies in non-commercial cases.
Compensation in large vehicle collision claims usually includes money for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Vehicles like multi-passenger intercity or tour buses are obviously much different than passenger cars. But neglect is neglect. So, while keeping the higher standard of care in mind, Buffalo personal injury attorneys use much the same approach in both types of cases.
Many crashes involve some form of behavioral negligence. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) makes a decision, or series of decisions, which impairs his/her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. When the vehicle is a huge land barge, like a tour bus or semi-truck, even a slight degree of impairment may have deadly consequences.
Behavioral negligence is one of the leading causes of car crashes. It usually involves one of the following kids of driving impairment:
- Drugs: Street drugs, like LSD and heroin, only cause a few truck crashes. But legal drugs, like Oxycontin or Percocet, sometimes cause more behavioral negligence crashes than alcohol. There is nothing wrong with taking these drugs, as long as the person has a valid prescription. But it’s incredibly unsafe to drive under the influence of these substances.
- Alcohol: This substance impairs both judgment ability and muscle reflexes. This impairment begins with the first drink. So, a Buffalo personal injury attorney can often use evidence of consumption, like an odor of alcohol, as evidence of impairment.
- Fatigue: Drowsiness affects the brain in roughly the same way as alcohol. In fact, driving after eighteen awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC. Additionally, most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning and late at night, no matter how much sleep they had the night before.
Dishonorable mention in the behavioral negligence category goes to driving with a medical condition, such as epilepsy or heart disease, which can cause sudden unconsciousness.
Operational negligence causes a significant number of truck accidents as well. This kind of negligence usually involves violating a safety law. SPeeding, failure to maintain a proper lookout, and making an illegal turn are the most common forms of operational negligence. Minnesota’s expansive negligence per se rule may mean that operationally negligent tortfeasors may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
How Do Buffalo Personal Injury Attorneys Prove Liability in Truck Accident Claims?
Drowsy driving is perhaps the most common type of behavioral negligence in truck accident cases. Many transportation companies pay drivers by the load. This system encourages them to drive for long hours at a time. Additionally, many tour bus drivers are behind the wheel early in the morning and/or late at night.
In both these cases, the vehicle’s Electronic Logging Device may provide valuable information. ELDs are attached to the truck’s engine. So, they provide near-irrefutable evidence about HOS (hours of service) compliance, as well as the times the driver operated the vehicle.
Operational negligence claims frequently involve the tortfeasor’s driving record. But since most commercial drivers operate in multiple states, Buffalo personal injury attorneys often have a hard time obtaining these records. Fortunately, the federal government’s Safety Management System contains a clearinghouse of information regarding things like:
- Unsafe driving,
- Crash history,
- Driver fitness, and
- Vehicle maintenance.
The SMS clearinghouse relies on law enforcement data, which is usually more reliable than judicial or even DMV records.
Contact Diligent Attorneys
Truck accident claims are usually quite complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo personal injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.