Each day, for-profit trucking companies send out 80,000-pound, 80-foot-long tractor-trailers to drive hundreds of miles on the same highways that you and I use. Whether you call them tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, or semi-trucks, they can’t stop as fast as most vehicles, can’t turn as quickly, and are sometimes on the road for 10 hours or more per day. Our country gives truck companies the privilege of using public highways to make a profit, but that privilege comes with responsibility: truck companies must not endanger private citizens.
But sometimes these large vehicles cause serious accidents that hurt people. Hiring a knowledgeable and dedicated truck accident lawyer who understands how to hold truck companies accountable is important.
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The truck driver’s responsibility to follow federal rules applies whether the truck is stopped or on the move. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”) carefully limit the length of time that a truck driver can be on the road, and the length of the breaks that he or she must take. Truck drivers on the move must keep focused, paying attention to what his happening 12 to 15 seconds ahead of them. Stopped trucks must not be parked in places that endanger other drivers or passengers. A truck accident lawyer understands the rules, the consequences of a truck accident, and the serious injuries that can follow.
Federal and state laws confirm the responsibility of trucking companies. For instance, drivers of tractor-trailers must keep accurate logbooks confirming that the driver has not been driving too long and has had adequate rest. 49 C.F.R. § 398.6. Truck drivers must regularly inspect their trucks, must keep the trucks from rolling away out of control while they’re being inspected, and must not park their trucks in ways that put other people in danger. See 49 C.F.R. § 396.3. Trucking companies have a legal duty to hire honest, competent drivers and keep their trucks in good working order. Coe v. Carroll & Carroll, Inc., 308 Ga. App. 777, 785-86 (2011); Fouts v. Builders Transport, Inc., 222 Ga. App. 568, 570 (1996). Truck drivers should not consume alcohol or other intoxicating substances in any amount while on the job. 49 C.F.R. § 382.205. Hiring a knowledgeable and smart truck accident lawyer who understands the rules, the justice system, and the way to present a truck accident injury to a jury is important.
As soon as a collision happens, most trucking companies move to cover their tracks. They hire ‘investigators’ who rush to the scene of the wreck and they hire lawyers to deny that the company did anything wrong. But when we cross-examined this truck company owner, the truth came out.
Trucking companies often deny responsibility when they should admit it. Through this cross-examination of the trucking company’s Safety Director, we got to the heart of the matter.
After a terrorist attack overseas in which a commercial truck was driven into a crowd of innocent people, news reporters sought out Butler Tobin for expert analysis of the dangers created by a large commercial vehicle.
In this tractor trailer case, Butler Tobin obtained the monthly newsletters of the trucking company that crashed into our client. We learned that at the time of the collision, the company was under investigation by the federal government because its truck drivers were driving for too many hours consecutively, which put other vehicles at risk. During cross-examination, the trucking company’s ‘safety director’ denied that the company was under investigation. We were ready with the evidence.