A head-on collision with a commercial truck is a particularly dangerous type of accident. Semi-trucks, big rigs, and other commercial vehicles are substantially larger and heavier than passenger cars. In many instances, a driver in a smaller vehicle will suffer catastrophic injuries or a wrongful death as a result of hitting a commercial truck head-on. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a head-on collision in Alabama, you should consult Decatur truck accident lawyer Greg Reeves.
Truck accidents involve many aspects that are distinct from ordinary car accidents. Among other things, trucking companies have been known to hide or tamper with evidence. At the Reeves Law Firm, we understand the tactics used by trucking companies and insurers, and we know how to fight those tactics to obtain the evidence that is necessary to pursue damages on behalf of truck accident victims and their families.
When a passenger car and a light truck collide head-on, it is 3.5 times more likely for the people inside the passenger car to die than the people in the truck. These odds are even worse if it is a heavy commercial truck — it is rare to survive a head-on collision with a semi-truck. Other catastrophic injuries may include broken bones, paralysis, spinal cord damage, lacerations, burns, crushing injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and amputation.Holding a Trucker Accountable for a Head-on Collision
Head-on collisions happen when the front ends of two vehicles crash into each other. If one of these vehicles is a commercial truck, and the other is a passenger car, the people inside the passenger car may suffer catastrophic injuries or death, while the truck driver walks away without a scratch. Many head-on collisions involving trucks happen on rural roads or two-lane roads, but they can also occur on highways with no median if a truck driver is sleepy, under the influence, or distracted.
In most cases, to recover damages for a head-on collision, your attorney will need to show the truck driver's negligence. This means proving by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) the truck driver owed you a duty of care, (2) the truck driver breached this duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages. A truck driver may breach the duty to use reasonable care in many different ways, including executing a passing maneuver by driving into oncoming traffic, falling asleep at the wheel, drunk driving, texting, talking on the phone, failing to take a curve at the appropriate speed, losing control of the truck due to an equipment malfunction, failing to yield, or ignoring a sign or signal.
Truck drivers and their employers are required to follow federal and state regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has promulgated numerous and intricate regulations with regard to how many hours a truck driver operates a truck (hours of service), logbooks, background checks, drug and alcohol testing, truck maintenance, training, and more. For example, there is an FMCSA regulation that restricts interstate truck drivers to driving a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. An interstate truck driver is not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truck drivers must take mandatory rest breaks.Liability of Trucking Companies and Other Entities
Trucking companies also have regulations that they must follow. It is possible to hold a trucking company vicariously liable when it is the employer of a truck driver who was in the course and scope of employment when an accident happened. This is important because insurance policy coverage for a trucking company is likely to be more substantial than it is for a truck driver.
In addition, a trucking company can be held liable under theories of negligent hiring, training, or supervision. For example, trucking companies that fail to check interstate truck drivers' logbooks for accuracy regarding hours driven, or encourage flagrant violations of the hours of service, may be held liable under a theory of negligent supervision if a truck driver's fatigue because of failing to abide by the hours of service rules causes a head-on collision. For another example, a trucking company that fails to conduct an appropriate background check that would have uncovered a job applicant’s DUI record and hires that applicant may be held liable under a theory of negligent hiring if the truck driver gets into a head-on collision due to drunk driving.
In other situations, there may be liability on the part of a manufacturer or the owner of a road. Dangerous property conditions or equipment failure may contribute to a head-on collision.
It is important immediately after a major head-on collision to look at all of the contributing causes of the truck accident. In some instances, it may be necessary to hire an accident reconstruction expert to gather evidence, analyze black box evidence, debris, and property damage, and establish basic facts, such as where the collision occurred on the roadway, as well as opinions about fault. If the impact occurred in the truck driver's lane, it would seem more likely that the driver of the passenger car crossed into the truck driver's lane, rather than vice versa. On the other hand, if the impact occurred in the passenger car driver's lane of traffic, it would seem more likely that the truck driver crossed into the opposite lane of traffic.Hire an Experienced Truck Crash Attorney in the Decatur Area
Head-on collisions with a truck are likely to produce devastating consequences for people in a passenger car. There may be multiple victims of the accident, all making claims against the driver's insurance policy. The driver's insurance policy has limits, and it is important to work with an attorney who will look into all of the contributing causes and pursue remedies from every party that contributed to the accident. If you have suffered brain injuries, back injuries, burns, or other trauma in a head-on collision in Alabama, you should consult an attorney right away. Greg Reeves has 30 years of experience and represents people in Decatur, Athens, Huntsville, Madison, Hartselle, and Birmingham, as well as other areas of Cullman, Lauderdale, Madison, Morgan, Lawrence, Limestone, and Jackson Counties. Contact us at 256.355.3311 or via our online form for a free consultation.