A Michigan 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer can get you the maximum settlement you deserve after an injury or death caused by these huge vehicles. Deadly large truck and 18-wheeler crashes are occurring with greater frequency on highways and roads in Michigan and throughout the United States. In fact, truck and commercial accidents have resulted in over 5,000 fatalities in 2019. This compares to fewer than 3,200 in 2009, just ten years earlier.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to the negligence of an 18-wheeler driver, you should contact the Lee Steinberg Law Firm to start your case. Trucking companies are extremely aggressive in defending big truck accident cases. That is why it is very important to talk to a Michigan 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer immediately to being your road to recovery.
While most truck drivers and trucking companies do a good job ensuring their big trucks and 18-wheelers are driven safely, mistakes do happen. In fact, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation, driver error and drier negligence caused or contributed to the most serious accidents involving large trucks.
The reasons and causes of 18-wheeler accidents in Michigan are numerous. But first, a little background about 18-wheelers is helpful to better understand how powerful and different these commercial vehicles are from a normal car.
Information about 18-Wheeler Trucks
There are more than 2 million tractor-trailers on American roads. Interestingly, California, Texas, and Florida alone have approximately one-third of all registered semi-trucks.
18-wheelers can have up to 18 gears, although most standard 18 wheelers typically have 10 gears. These gears are necessary for accelerating, slowing down, and hauling heavy loads on different terrains and inclines. An 18-wheeler has up to 5 axles. Many are up to 80 feel in length and can haul up to 80,000 pounds.
One of the most important facts about a semi-truck is they require more than a 40% stop time than a standard car. Factors that increase the length of time needed to stop an 18-wheeler include the load weight, road conditions, and if the truck is driving without the trailer attached (bobtailing).
Further, unlike a car, an 18-wheeler needs approximately 55 feet of turning radius. This is why big rigs have large side mirrors and drivers need to be trained to properly back up and maneuver on tight roadways.
18-Wheeler Truck Accidents and Texting and Cell Phone Use
Cell phones have become a daily part of our lives. Unfortunately, they are very distracting and dangerous to use while driving.
Under FMCSA 392.82, drivers of commercial vehicles such as an 18-wheeler are prohibited from holding a hand-held cell phone while driving. In addition, texting while driving is prohibited. Unfortunately, for some drivers, the urge is too great and they will text and drive, use social media or search on the Internet while operating their truck.
Hands-free use is allowed under federal regulation. But even this can be distracting and dangerous. Drivers can place more attention on the person they are talking to than the road conditions in front of them. This can lead to driver error and serious personal injuries.
Distracted driving is not just using a cell phone. Other examples of distracted driving can include eating, playing with the radio, or reading paperwork. According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving contributed to almost 80% of all large truck accidents.
The use of in-cab technology can also be distracting for 18-wheelers and big truck drivers. This can include the use of two-way radios, dispatch devices, and any technology used while driving. Electronic devices used by drivers should only require a single button press to use. Further, nothing should be installed that blocks the view of the road.
Driver Fatigue and 18-Wheeler Crashes
Truck drivers are under constant pressure to get their loads to their destinations on time. With the huge increase in online shopping, trucks from UPS, Fed Ex and Amazon have taken over Michigan highways and interstates. This had led to situations where the driver is behind the wheel for too long and becomes drowsy and tired drivers. Studies have shown that driving fatigued is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
There are federal and state regulations that control the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel at one time, and over the course of a week. These are called hours-of-service rules and they limit the number of driving hours truck drivers can complete over a set time period.
For example, a driver carrying property can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. A passenger carrying driver can drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty. In addition, drivers must take a 30-minute break within 8 hours of any previous off duty period of at least 30 minutes or more before continuing to drive.
Long-haul drivers are required by law to log the amount of time they have driven. This includes keeping track of breaks, total miles driven in a day, and changes in the duty of status. The daily log must be an accurate and complete record of a driver’s activities for a 24-hour period. Usually, this is now done electronically and the data is saved.
The reasons for these strict commercial vehicle rules are obvious. We must prevent drowsy and sleepy drivers, especially when they are carrying large loads on an 18-wheeler, big rig, delivery truck or tanker. Some of the nation’s worst trucking accidents have resulted from fatigued commercial drivers.
Intoxicated and Impaired Semi-Truck Drivers
Drinking and driving is an awful combination no matter what the situation. It is compounded when an 18-wheeler operator is impaired. Under federal law, there is a zero-tolerance level for alcohol in a driver’s system when driving. Alcohol slows reaction time and prevents drivers from making proper decisions while on the road.
But alcohol is not the only intoxicant that is problematic on the road. According to the FMCSA, marijuana use among truck drivers has been increasing over the past several years as more states legalize the drug. This has led to an increase in 18-wheeler truck crashes involving the use of marijuana and other mind-altering drugs by 18-wheeler drivers.
According to a recent study by the FMCSA, marijuana accounted for 61% of all positive drug tests reported. There were a staggering 20,678 drug violations over a five month period. This included actual drug reports, drug test refusals and other reports.
Truck drivers are under immense pressure. It is not surprising that some may turn to stimulants to stay alert and to finish the job. But when impaired semi-truck drivers cause a serious accident, they must be held responsible. The best 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm can ensure you get full compensation for your pain and suffering.
18-Wheeler Drivers and Speeding
Speeding is one of the main causes of 18-wheeler crashes in Michigan and the country. It is the experience of the 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm that speed is the largest contributor to a major personal injury in a commercial truck accident. Recent data shows that 25% of all traffic-related fatalities in Michigan are the result of speeding.
Speeding is especially dangerous in an 18-wheeler. Due to its large force and velocity, it takes much longer for an 18-wheeler to slow down. A quick slow down or back up on a freeway can turn into an absolute nightmare.
But speeding is not the only form of reckless driving. Erratic lane changes, tailgating, unsafe and improper passing and failing to yield the right of way to other passenger cars can also be dangerous and evidence of negligent driving.
Failing to Account for Bad Weather and Poor Road Conditions
Michigan has it’s fair share of snow and ice. Driving in these conditions is never easy, even when using a normal sedan or SUV. But driving an 18-wheeler in snow, ice, sleet, ice or even just during a bad thunderstorm demands extra causation.
Because the stopping time is so much longer for an 18-wheeler, the driver is required to give extra space between itself and the vehicle in front of them. This is especially important when the weather conditions are poor. An experienced 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer can help prove a truck driver was acting negligently due to bad driving in poor weather conditions. This cam make the different in obtaining a large settlement.
Improper Maintenance of Semi-Trucks
Carriers and truck companies are required by law to conduct and perform constant inspections of their vehicles, in particular large tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers. If an inspection shows a repair is necessary, that repair must be made before the vehicle can go back out on the road.
Some of the most comment maintenance issues 18-wheelers have include:
- Bad Brakes – A recent study found that more than 10% of all vehicles inspected were placed out service due to bad brakes. Many truck operators and carriers are small, with less than 6 trucks. They don’t want to spend the money on proper brake maintenance and not have their trucks making deliveries. But brake failure is a major issue and can cause horrible injuries for both the driver and other motorists.
- Tire Failure – Drivers must check their tires before every ride. Tread failure or wore out tires can cause a tire to explode. And spare tires must be in proper condition. Just because they haven’t been used doesn’t mean they can’t blow out.
- Engine failure – The engine inside an 18-wheeler is a complicated machine. Engine failure can cause all sorts of problems, including a driver losing control of his or her vehicle.
- Lighting devices and reflectors – broken or missing lights and deflectors can create dangerous conditions at night.
- Windshield wipers – broken or defective wipers will impair a truck driver’s ability to see the road.
- Rear-view mirrors – if a truck is missing a rearview mirror, this will prevent the driver from seeing surrounding traffic.
Motor carriers are responsible for training their drivers. Every 18-wheeler and commercial truck must be inspected by a qualified inspection once every 12 months. The carrier must keep a copy of the inspection report for at least 14 months following the inspection. FMCSA 396.17.
Preventing Semi-Truck Accidents in Michigan
Preventing an 18-wheeler accident and ensuring the safety of all motorists must be the top objective of every single truck driver and carrier. The Lee Steinberg Law Firm advocates that all drivers do the following to make sure truckers and surrounding motorists stay safe:
- Keep your distance. Don’t follow another vehicle too closely. Big trucks take longer to stop and are harder to maneuver. Rear-end accidents happen when a car in front of you stops suddenly and you don’t have enough room to stop.
- Maintain your truck. Ensure your vehicle is properly inspected and in working order before and after every trip. Make sure any and all cargo is securely fastened and balanced in your trailer.
- Don’t drive fatigued or drowsy. Federal rules give strict guidelines on how long you can drive. Don’t violate these rules. If you are tried, pull over and rest before continuing on with the trip.
- Don’t text and drive and don’t use your cell phone while driving. The temptation is always there. But it’s against the law and only leads to tragic consequences. It is important to not be distracted and to keep your eyes on the road at all times.
Who Can I Sue for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
There are many potential defendants in an 18-wheeler truck accident. To file a lawsuit, you must prove the other driver was negligent in causing the crash that caused your injuries. Potential negligent parties include the driver, the owner of the 18-wheeler, the carrier, the manufacturer, independent carriers or the employer.
Our experienced Michigan 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers will investigate your case to determine the reason for the crash and why the semi-truck driver was negligent. Our team of dedicated truck accident attorneys will hire experts, take witness statements, obtain all investigative reports, obtain video surveillance and collect other evidence to win your case.
Call our Michigan 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers
18-wheeler crashes in Michigan can lead to property damage and serious injuries. The reasons for the crash are complex, and trucking companies and their accident attorneys do everything they can to shed blame and move responsibility elsewhere. That’s why it is important to contact an experienced and knowledgeable Michigan 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer following a crash.
We can get accident investigators and experts involved quickly to ensure evidence is collected and maintained. That way, the truck driver, the truck company and other carriers or defendants involved don’t get away with causing the crash.
We will work tirelessly to ensure maximum compensation for you, including the payment of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other benefits. Call our office today for a free consultation at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).