In the midst of a devastating situation, it can help to know where one can immediately turn for help. For victims of truck accidents in the Wilmington area, the attorneys at Murphy & Landon are an established resource with a reassuring track record of success.
Due to their tendency to produce extremely serious injuries and loss of life, semi truck accidents can be outrageously costly to a victim. If the victim survives, he or she may have mountains of medical bills with a decreased ability to pay, as the victim is likely to be unable to work after a wreck. If the victim does not survive, his or her family could be left to bear the cost of an unexpected funeral, medical bills stemming from the incident as well as the potential loss of a breadwinner or income-earner.
Regardless of the outcome of an 18-wheeler accident, the result can quickly turn into financial calamity for victims. If one has been hit by a truck, there are key legal resources available at Murphy & Landon. Prospective clients are not just a number to the attorneys at this firm. The professionals at Murphy & Landon take the time to genuinely care for each case.
These Delaware truck accident attorneys have won millions of dollars on behalf of harmed clients in the past. Victims who do not secure an attorney can be on the hook for huge amounts of money as the medical expenses and other costs from the accident continue to mount. By going to an attorney as soon as possible after a wreck, victims can put seasoned professionals in the driver’s seat of a difficult situation.
Avoiding accidents is something that most Delaware drivers probably do every day without even thinking about it. For truck drivers, though, safety is literally a job requirement. In a recent webinar, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration focused on the many statistics that have recently come out concerning truck accidents.
The FMCSA’s recent study on collision fatalities has one finding that is probably unsurprising: according to data through 2013, large semi trucks are overrepresented in roadway crashes. Per the FMCSA, heavy trucks, as well as buses, were involved in 13 percent of accidents as well as an equal percentage of traffic fatalities. However, these vehicles account for less than five percent of registered vehicles, and less than 10 percent of miles driven on the roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large truck or bus crashes took the lives of over 4,000 people in over 3,800 accidents nationwide.
What can be done to reduce the involvement of these large, heavy vehicles in traffic accidents nationwide? For some, focusing on small, manageable changes and particular problems is productive. For instance, data from 2013 reveal that 78 bicyclists and 338 pedestrians were killed in these types of accidents. A U.S. Department of Transportation statistician discovered that many of these accidents were due to environmental factors, such as poor lighting or overall dark conditions. However, truck driver inattention or distraction was cited as a factor in over 14 percent of wrecks.
An inattentive truck driver is a dangerous presence on Delaware’s roads or anywhere there are other vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians. Other factors, such as truck driver fatigue or defective auto parts, can also contribute to America’s gruesome statistics regarding semi truck accidents. While truck crashes will likely never disappear entirely, safety should be every truck driver’s number one priority.
Source: Fleet Owner, “FMCSA discusses large truck fatalities, calls for police training,” Aaron Marsh, Nov. 19, 2015
Semi trucks are a formidable presence on Delaware’s roadways. A tractor-trailer itself can pose a huge risk to other drivers; the size and weight of these vehicles tends to dwarf the passenger cars, trucks and SUVs that most residents use to get around. However, the loads that semi trucks carry can also prove dangerous and even deadly when involved in truck accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it’s vitally important for truck drivers to secure their loads correctly. The cargo being transported has to be transported securely, either on the truck’s bed or inside a truck. The cargo must remain secure under all types of conditions which could reasonably be anticipated, including when a driver is reacting to an emergency.
The FMCSA notes that improperly secured cargo can lead to a crash, serious injuries, loss of life, the loss of a truck’s load, vehicle damage and damage to the cargo. In addition, poorly secured cargo can also lead to penalties for a truck driver including citations and fines. So, how can a truck driver secure their load properly? There are many federal trucking regulations that detail specifically how different types of cargo must be secured; however, there are some general principles that can guide the securement of a load.
Cargo must be prevented from falling off the vehicle, of course, but also falling through the vehicle, spilling or leaking. Additionally, it should not be able to be blown off the vehicle. Properly secured cargo shouldn’t be distributed in such a manner that it affects the truck’s maneuverability or stability. In addition, cargo should not obstruct a driver’s view, either to the right, to the left or ahead, nor should it interfere with a truck driver’s ability to move their arms or legs.
If a Delaware resident is in an accident with a semi truck, there may be a chance that person is injured or even killed by improperly secured cargo. A negligent truck company or truck driver can be held accountable for failing to secure a load properly and contributing to someone’s injuries or death. A Delaware trucking accident attorney can provide legal advice and strategic guidance.
Source: FMCSA, “Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement – Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Cargo Securement,” accessed Oct. 5, 2015
Should tractor-trailers be allowed to be bigger? That question might make some Delaware residents uneasy, as Congress ponders transportation bills that could affect the literal impact of truck accidents. With Delaware being so close to some of the busiest sections of the East Coast, many local residents likely have to maneuver around tractor-trailers every day. While most of the time truck drivers operate their rigs safely, an 18-wheeler accident is rarely just a fender bender and can easily cause serious injuries.
Due to their sheer size alone, not to mention other factors such as truck driver fatigue, trucks are an often-intimidating presence on highways, interstates, country roads and city streets. Still, trucks are needed to transport many of the goods Delaware residents rely on every day, so it’s likely that large, heavy trucks are here to stay. If some carriers have their way, though, some of these trucks may become even larger and heavier in the future.
Several carriers, including UPS and FedEx, are pushing for longer allowable lengths for double trailers. Those who argue that this would be beneficial cite their potential increased efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, truck traffic has shot up 15 percent between 2002 and 2012. This may be due in part to Americans’ strong propensity for the convenience of online shopping.
The proposal being considered by Congress includes adding ten feet to the maximum allowable length of trucks pulling two trailers. Currently, the common configuration for two trailers is each trailer being 28 feet in length. However, a truck hauling two 33-foot trailers requires 20 more feet to stop than the current setup of 28-foot trailers. It has yet to be seen whether federal trucking regulations will change, although the Obama administration has noted it is against allowing trucks more size or weight.
Source: The Indianapolis Star, “Bigger trucks weigh economics against safety,” Maureen Groppe, Sept. 22, 2015
Many Delaware drivers use GPS systems in their personal vehicles. These navigation systems can make it much easier to go on a long trip or simply to get around town. However, these devices must be used safely. This is easier said than done, considering drivers must usually look at the screen to view the map. Truck drivers, in particular, must be exceptionally careful when using their GPS, so as not to inadvertently cause truck accidents on the road.
A glance at GPS system may be behind a recent tanker truck crash in Newport. The incident took place on July 18 in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95. According the police, the chain of events resulting in a collision started when a truck driver glanced at his GPS. The truck collided with a Subaru, swerved, struck a guardrail and then overturned and spilled its fuel. A passenger in the other vehicle had to be taken to a hospital, but the individual’s injuries were reported as non-life-threatening. The wreck closed several lanes near I-295 for more than three hours.
The 40-year-old truck driver had to be pulled from the wreckage and suffered serious injuries. Police have charged him with being an inattentive truck driver, not having proof of insurance and other offenses. The Delaware State Police are investigating the incident.
Even when a truck driver faces charges from police, he or she can still be held accountable for harmful negligence in civil court. A personal injury lawsuit is one way that victims of truck accidents can remedy their sudden and shocking situation. A civil lawsuit can result in compensation for damages suffered, such as unexpected medical bills and lost wages, if the accident victim misses work due to their injuries. A Delaware personal injury attorney can offer more information on initiating a truck accident lawsuit.
Source: ABC 6, “Driver facing charges in tanker truck crash on I-95 in Newport, Delaware,” July 18, 2015
Crisscrossing America’s highways are semi-trucks. Semi-trucks transporting all types of goods to all types of destinations are an essential component of the economy. However, operating one of these vehicles is not without its risks. Semi-trucks can be overloaded, have significant blind spots and may be slower to stop and start than automobiles. Therefore, drivers of semi-trucks must be especially careful to avoid truck accidents. This is because one negligent move could cause a collision with a smaller vehicle, ending in vehicular damage and serious or fatal injuries.
However, Wilmington residents may be interested to learn of a technological development one company is making in semi-trucks which has the potential to make driving around one of these vehicles safer. Samsung has recently revealed new technology that makes semi trucks “see-through.” The development involves placing a special camera that is not connected to wires in the front of the semi-truck. The camera then sends images of the road in front of the semi-truck to video screens in the back of the vehicle. This gives drivers of other vehicles the ability to “see-through” the big rig in order to determine what the traffic conditions are in front of it, including whether there will be the need for a truck to come to a sudden stop.
It is very important for truck drivers to be aware of not only the vehicles surrounding them but also of the road conditions that could lead to a sudden stop. In addition to the safety component of this new technology, it may be possible that companies that adopt the new technology might see a positive uptick in their public image.
While it is important for drivers of smaller vehicles to take care when driving around semi-trucks, semi-truck drivers need to also take care while on the road. Negligent truck driver behavior could include drowsy driving, drunk driving and aggressive driving. Hopefully, however, this new technology will lead to fewer truck accidents, serious injuries and deaths on the road.
Source: Sci-Tech Today, “Samsung to make ‘see through’ trucks for safety,” Shirley Siluk, June 23, 2015
It’s no surprise that speeding is a factor in many serious and fatal tractor trailer accidents. As many states throughout the country are increasing the speed limits on their roads, the American Trucking Associations wants large trucks to put on the breaks.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is again asking the Department of Transportation to do this by imposing a rule that requires all large tracks to be equipped with electronic speed limiters that prevent drivers from going faster than 65 mph.
This is reportedly the second time the ATA has asked federal officials to impose a speed limiter rule, and the government said it would move forward with it in 2011 but the efforts stalled.
The ATA has also said it supports a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles. Currently, states set their own speed limits and there are five states that have raised their maximum speed limits to 80 mph.
The ATA favors lower speed limits because it has found that speed is a cause or factor in about 18 percent of fatal accidents caused by truckers and close to 30 percent of all fatal accidents.
Currently, about 70 percent of all large trucks already use the speed limiters, the ATA reported.
While the ATA represents the largest trucking companies in the country, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association represents owner-operators and small fleet owners, and it is against the speed limiters.
Ultimately, it will be up to federal officials to determine whether speed limiters should be mandated on all large trucks. From a personal injury firm’s standpoint, it seems to be a live-saving and cost-effective law to implement.
If all truck fleets are limited at the same speeds, there could be less pressure on drivers to speed in order to be more efficient in their deliveries. Fewer speeding trucks means fewer lives destroyed by fatal trucking accidents.
Truck drivers are required to carry insurance coverage like all other drivers on the road. The minimum amount of insurance they must carry under federal law is $750,000, and that number has not been increased in three decades.
Pursuant to a 2012 federal transportation bill, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates interstate trucking, asked the public whether the number is still sufficient, and the agency got more than 2,000 responses.
On one side, truck owners and operators argued that the current $750,000 minimum is plenty considering that most truckers already carry $1 million liability policies, the trucking and insurance industries claim.
But many personal injury lawyers who represent truck accident victims and their families told the FMCSA that a catastrophic or deadly trucking accident can easily result in well-over $1 million in medical expenses and related damages, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.
For example, the founder of the Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice said a 20-year-old who was catastrophically injured in a trucking accident would need $4.4 million to cover semi-private nursing home care, or $2.4 million to pay for an assisted living facility, if he or she lives to the age of 77.
The group also pointed out that that $750,000 in medical care when the minimum level was set in 1980 is equal to $4.8 million in medical costs today after considering inflation. Additionally, there is an average of 4,000 fatal trucking accidents each year, and nearly every one results in a claim exceeding $750,000.
Ultimately, the FMCSA seems to agree that catastrophic trucking accidents “can easily exceed $1 million,” but it also noted how rare these cases are, so there is no telling what the agency will decide.
The comment period on the matter closed on Feb. 26, and the FMCSA said it will now review all of the comments. But there is no deadline in place, so it could be years before any decision is made.
Even with advanced crash avoidance technology in many trucks and better safety features in most vehicles, trucking accidents continue to claim far too many lives in Delaware and elsewhere. Safety advocates say it’s, in part, due to ineffective regulations on the trucking industry.
Because of the trucking industry’s powerful lobbyists and bureaucratic red tape, it’s hard to keep existing safety measures in place let alone get any new regulations adopted.
As we discussed in our last post, Congress is even considering a measure that would temporarily suspend regulations that were put into place in 2012 in effort to curb trucking accidents caused by truck driver fatigue.
In another example of ineffective regulations, truck underride accidents have been a known problem on American roads for decades, and safety measures have only slightly improved since they were originally adopted in the early 1950s.
It was 1953 when federal regulators first required underride guards on the backs of tractor-trailers in effort to prevent underride accidents, which occur when a vehicle slips under the back of a truck and often crush or kill the people inside.
The guards, made up of two vertical steel bars that extend down from the truck and hold a horizontal bar, have been known to fail and thousands of people have been killed in underride accidents since.
The guard regulations were moderately adapted in 1996 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed the size and strength standards for the guards. But the fatalities have persisted.
In 2013 after her two daughters were killed in a truck underride accident, a North Carolina mom took on the issue head on. She meticulously studied data, contacted safety advocates and officials, and shared videos she made telling the world her family’s tragic story.
The woman accomplished more in one year than most safety advocates have been able to over decades when she persuaded the NHTSA to reexamine its regulations regarding underride guards this summer.
The woman and others claim that the guards could be made much safer by extending them wider on the sides of the truck frame; something they say can be done for just $100 per truck.
Of course, the battle for stronger regulations will still be fraught with opposition, but there is hope that something will finally be done to put an end to these tragic accidents once and for all.
Source: Bloomberg, “Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters,” Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 15, 2014
Trucking accidents have resulted in countless fatalities and injuries over the years in Delaware and elsewhere. Ultimately, when a tractor-trailer and a smaller vehicle collide, the smaller vehicle almost always ends up demolished because of the size and weight difference.
Even though truck drivers carry a huge responsibility in operating these massive vehicles on public roadways, the accidents are often a result of driver negligence. Truck driver fatigue, in particular, has been cited in numerous trucking fatalities and is a known problem in the industry.
Truckers are often pressured to drive around the clock in effort to make more money for their employers. Additionally, truckers often drive early in the morning and late at night, when the human body is naturally trying to sleep.
Because these accidents are so serious, and so prevalent, federal officials placed safety regulations on the trucking industry in 2012 in effort to make sure that truckers are getting the rest they need while on the roads.
The regulations limit the amount of time drivers can spend on the road over a certain number of hours and require drivers to keep track of their driving and sleeping in logs. For example, one provision limits the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel each week to 70, on average.
Since the hours of service limitations were put in place, the American Trucking Association has argued that they are unfair. And as a result of fierce lobbying from the trucking industry, the 70-hour limit could soon be raised to more than 82.
An editorial piece this week in the New York Times says the move, which was filed as a rider with Congress’ omnibus spending bill, could put additional lives at risk.
Many safety officials and some lawmakers have called for the rider to be eliminated from the year-end budget deal. Hopefully, for the sake of everyone on the roadways, it will be.
Source: The New York Times, “More Drowsy, Overworked Truck Drivers,” Dorothy J. Samuels, Dec. 9, 2014