In the Event of an Accident, Regardless of the Resulting Injuries, it may be Wise for Victims to Learn about Their Legal Rights

Two people died and approximately 18-19 athletes were injured in a three-vehicle crash near Talco, Texas, on March 23 (2017). The tragic accident involved a bus, which carried 33 high school boys of Mount Pleasant High School’s track team, a car that was being driven by the female assistant track coach of the girl’s track team (of the same High School), and an 18-wheeler, which was said to have veered into oncoming traffic toward the boys team’s bus.

To avoid head-on collision, the coach (of the boy’s team) who was driving the bus steered the bus toward a ditch, but rolled over after it was hit by the rig on the side. The rig, still on the wrong lane, hit the car behind the bus head-on, killing the female assistant track coach on the scene. The driver of the 18-wheeler was the other person killed in the accident.

Of the more than 15 million trucks operating in the U.S., about 2 million are semi-trucks, also called tractor-trailers, big rigs, or 18-wheelers. Due to their very large size and heavy weight, semi-trucks are considered threats on the road due to the damage these can cause in case of an accident. For this reason, the federal government strictly requires that only those who have earned a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can operate a semi-truck (to earn a CDL, an applicant driver will need to go through a special training and education, and a series of tests that deal with the proper operation and handling of a semi-truck).

After earning a CDL, a licensed driver and his or her employer are expected to comply with federal laws enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), such as regular maintenance checks on trucks used, use of standard parts, especially the tires and brakes, observance of the hours of service, which is the allowed maximum number or driving hours allowed of drivers, and other laws that will help ensure avoidance of road crashes. All these mandates, as well as the special training and tests, are aimed at ensuring the overall safety of interstate commercial driving.

Unfortunately, though these can definitely be prevented, truck accidents still occur – up to 500,000 every year, causing injury to more than 100,000 individuals and killing, at least, 4,000 others.

Different studies have shown that majority of truck accidents can be blamed on truck drivers. The FMCSA identifies the following as the most common causes of these accidents: driver fatigue; impairment due to prescription or over-the-counter-drugs; not being familiar with the road or the truck; inattention or driving distractions; improper way of attaching the trailer; failure of the driver to double-check blind spots; failure to ensure that the brakes are in good working condition; depowering of the front brakes, which is commonly done by truck operators to lessen wear and tear of tires and breaks for lesser operating costs; and, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions.

The law firm Williams Kherkher emphasizes that using excessive speeds in any vehicle is dangerous, which is why posted speed limit signs mark the maximum speeds that a vehicle should travel. In addition to these posted speed limits, semi-trucks are usually limited to an even slower speed, as these vehicles are more difficult to control and can cause much greater damage.

Unfortunately, sometimes drivers of 18-wheeler vehicles travel at high speeds despite the danger, resulting in serious car accidents that involve innocent people like you in injury and exorbitant expenses. Driving at high speeds in a commercial 18-wheeler is more dangerous because this can easily result to loss of vehicular control, skidding / hydroplaning, inability to make sharp turns, inability to stop at a red light, decreased visibility, decreased ability to react to sudden changes. Speeding is typically considered a reckless driving action, thus, truck drivers who commit this may actually be held accountable for any repercussions in a truck accident lawsuit.

In addition to the above, the law firm Mazin & Associates, PC, says that cars and vehicles are a valuable asset for independent individuals. They enable people to travel, earn wages, engage in social activities, and have the freedom of going wherever they please. However, car accidents happen far too frequently, resulting in lost wages, and even death or serious injury. When a car accident is the fault of one specific party, it is greatly unfair to expect the innocent party to waste their time and resources dealing with the situation, especially in the event of a wrongful death.

Victims of reckless truck drivers that choose to speed are sometimes due compensation for their injuries and the losses they have incurred. It may be wise for them to learn more about their rights as a motorist and victim in the event of an accident.

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