commercial vehicle accident in birmingham

I Was in an Accident with a Commercial Truck – Who Can I Sue?

Each year, thousands of individuals are killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured in trucking accidents. Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, making them a potentially deadly force on the roadways, and cars and other passenger vehicles that are involved in collisions with 18-wheelers usually sustain the lion’s share of the property damage and injuries.

Almost 70% of those who are killed in crashes with commercial trucks are occupants of the passenger vehicle, with another 10% to 15% being bicyclists, motorcyclist, and pedestrians. Only about 15% to 20% of those killed in truck accidents are occupants of the large commercial vehicle.

Who is Responsible for a Truck Accident in Alabama?

Trucking accidents are among the most complicated types of personal injury cases, because of the number of parties that may be involved. For example, if the accident is the fault of the truck driver, the trucking company who hired the driver may also share liability. It is important to look at all parties that may be liable, so that the injured party receives maximum compensation, and so that those responsible are held fully accountable for their actions.

Here are some of the parties that someone who is injured in an accident with a commercial truck could go after:

The Truck Driver

Driver negligence is a major contributing factor in a large number of commercial vehicle accidents. And in a truck accident case, proving that the driver violated federal or state trucking regulations leading up to the accident can help demonstrate fault. Examples of commercial trucking violations include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI);
  • Hours of service violations (i.e., driving too long without taking a break);
  • Traffic violations such as speeding, driving recklessly, distracted driving, etc.

The Trucking Company

The company that employs the driver or contracted with them to make the delivery may also be responsible for the accident. Trucking companies will often try to avoid liability by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor rather than an employee. However, just because the company says the driver is an independent contractor, this does not necessarily mean it is true. 

For example, even if the company does not withhold taxes and provide workers’ compensation, unemployment, and health insurance benefits, the driver may still be an employee if they are required to display a company placard in the vehicle and/or they make deliveries exclusively for this trucking company. An experienced truck accident lawyer can thoroughly examine the relationship between the driver and the trucking company to determine if the trucking company can be held responsible for the accident.

The Cargo/Shipping Company

Some commercial trucking accidents happen because the truck was overloaded (beyond allowed weight limits) or loaded unevenly, causing the truck to rollover or tip to its side. When this is the case, the shipping company that loaded the truck may be partially responsible for the accident, particularly if they violated cargo loading rules.

The Designer or Manufacturer of a Faulty Vehicle or Vehicle Part

If the defective vehicle or defective vehicle part played a role in the accident, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or another party in the supply chain. Common product defects that can cause truck accidents include tire blowouts, brake line failures, computer dashboard malfunctions, and steering system failures.

The Party Responsible for Maintaining the Truck

Big rig trucks put on thousands of miles over-the-road in a typical month. But sometimes, in a rush to get them back on the road in time to meet tight and often unrealistic schedules, they are not serviced properly. Truck maintenance is essential to keeping the vehicle in safe working order, and when the party who is in charge of maintenance fails in this duty, they can also be held responsible if a preventable mechanical failure plays a role in the accident.

Contact a Seasoned Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured in a commercial trucking accident, you may be wondering who you can sue and how the process works. As mentioned previously, truck accident cases are extremely complex, and there are numerous factors that must be looked at in order to ensure that you receive maximum compensation. 

First and foremost, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to review the case and discuss your rights and legal options. Representatives from the other side will likely contact you very soon after the accident, hoping to get you to agree to far less than what the case is worth.  Do NOT discuss the case with anyone from the other side without first talking to your lawyer.

At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have years of experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward recovering the full and fair compensation our clients need and deserve.

Contact our Birmingham office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.

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Dangers of Speeding Trucks

Because 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers are so heavy and large, it is vital that truck drivers operate the vehicles with the highest level of attention and care. Many operators mistakenly believe that there is nothing wrong with speeding. While the legal penalties associated with driving over the posted limited aren’t anything close to a DUI, the lifelong consequences for accident victims can be the same or worse.

Statistics show that speeding trucks not only cause serious crashes with injuries, but also claim lives. In Alabama alone, there were over 7,500 trucks involved in crashes in 2017, and speeding was listed as the specific cause in 356 of them. However, it was no doubt a secondary cause in the majority of other accidents as well.

Why Speeding Trucks Are So Dangerous

There is a common misconception about the definition of speeding. While it is true that speeding refers to driving faster than the posted speed limit, it can also mean driving a truck too fast for current conditions. For example, operating a truck on a road with a 65-mph speed limit when that speed would be unsafe in a blizzard or heavy thunderstorm.

Few things are as dangerous as a truck that is speeding down the road. The NHTSA reports that speed is a contributing factor in one-third of fatal accidents. The danger is compounded for everyone on the road when the vehicle speeding is an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Some of the reasons that speeding trucks are so dangerous include:

  • Increased stopping distance. 18-wheelers need much more distance to stop than the average vehicle. When there is excessive or inappropriate speed involved, the distance required to stop will be even greater.
  • Difficulty turning. Large trucks must make wide turns and need to drastically reduce speed to navigate corners. If the driver is speeding, they might overcorrect or overshoot a turn.
  • Shifting cargo. The vibrations caused by excessive speed can cause a truck’s cargo to shift, which can unbalance the vehicle. This increases the chance of a rollover accident.
  • Increased jackknife and rollover risk. Tractor-trailers have a high center of gravity, so they are already at risk of rollover and jackknife accidents, but high speeds increase this risk.
  • Truck tires not made for high speed. The Associated Press published a story revealing that most commercial trucks have tires that aren’t meant for high speeds. Specifically, large truck tires are designed to be driven at 75 mph or less, so higher speeds can increase the odds of a blowout.
  • More difficult to control. Large trucks are harder to control at higher speeds. Not only will the operator have less time to react to unexpected events and road conditions, but the truck is also limited in maneuverability at high speeds.

The Department of Transportation Regulations on Speeding

Truck drivers have a variety of reasons for speeding, and none of them are justified. Some might want to make a delivery deadline and others are simply frustrated with the traffic on the road. The FMCSA has issued regulations meant to keep commercial trucks from speeding in dangerous conditions.

Under the rules, trucks are supposed to slow the speed and use extreme caution, regardless of the posted speed limit, when the following scenarios are present:

  • A truck is entering a curve in a road;
  • A truck is driving with a fully-loaded trailer;
  • A truck is driving through a work or construction zone;
  • The weather creates hazardous road conditions; or
  • When pulling off an exit ramp.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck where speed was a factor, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

How a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney Can Help After a Crash

An accident with a big rig can be incredibly traumatic, and most victims of these crashes find themselves overwhelmed by the claims process and other obstacles suddenly in their path. Between speaking with insurance adjusters, doctors, and trying to recover from your injuries, this can be a difficult time.

At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have extensive experience guiding people just like yourself through this legal process so you can focus on reclaiming your life. Our legal team will not only protect your rights to recovery from the responsible parties, but also speak directly with the insurance companies so that you don’t have to. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a crash with a commercial truck, our qualified Alabama personal injury attorneys know what it takes to investigate these matters and pursue the just compensation you need and deserve. Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.

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Five Things You Should Do Immediately After a Car Accident

If you have been involved in a car accident, this is not the time to be complacent. It is understandable that you’re upset and want things to return to the way they were just before the crash, but it’s vital that you take some steps to protect your legal rights before they are jeopardized.

When another party acted carelessly or negligently and caused your injuries, you have the right to make a claim for damages. But this can become increasingly difficult as time passes or if you fail to take the proper actions in the wake of a crash.

Whether you have just been in a wreck and you are reading this article from your mobile phone at the accident scene or want to know what to do if something happens down the road, here are five steps to take to protect your rights just after a car accident:

1. Never leave the scene.

As a general rule, you should never leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, this could be treated as a hit-and-run, and you’ll face charges. The only time you are justified in leaving the scene of an accident is when you require emergency medical treatment. And even in cases like this, you should only leave in an ambulance and not with another bystander, family member, or friend.

2. Call the police.

Your safest bet is to call 911 immediately after an accident and request that the police come to the scene. If there are no injuries, you may have to wait a long time or the police might not come, but there will still be a record of the call. If the police do show up, getting a police report filed is the best way to have an official record of the accident, which is something generally used by insurance companies to determine fault.

3. Get medical treatment.

If anyone is injured in the accident, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even a minor fender bender can lead to serious and life-changing injuries. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better it will be for your case since you will have reliable documentation of your injuries.

4. Collect important information.

Even though the police will collect information at the scene of the accident, you should do this as well if you are physically able. In addition to taking pictures of the scene and damages with your phone, be sure to get the names and contact information of the other drivers, any witnesses, driver’s license and license plate numbers of vehicles involved, and insurance company information.

5. Call your insurance company.

You are required to report motor vehicle accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours. What you don’t have to do is sign any release forms, give a recorded statement, or make any statements regarding fault. Make sure that you report the accident as required, but don’t go any further until you speak with an attorney.

In the Days Just After an Accident

Even after you’ve taken the above steps, there is still plenty to deal with after a serious car wreck. The next vital move is to contact an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney for a free consultation. The right attorney will thoroughly review your circumstances and outline your legal options.

Once hired, they can perform an independent accident investigation and keep track of all the details involved in pursuing a claim against the responsible parties. They will also deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, which allows you to focus entirely on your physical and emotional recovery.

This is the time that you should pay the closest attention to the messages from your body and keep in close contact with your treating physician. Since not all serious injury symptoms show up immediately, it is important to stay vigilant and document anything out of the ordinary such as numbness, pain, and dizziness.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with a Qualified Car Accident Lawyer

Time is not on your side after a car crash. Evidence can slip away or be destroyed, and witnesses can disappear. There is also the chance that an unscrupulous insurance adjuster might attempt to deny your legitimate claim or offer a settlement for much less than your case is worth. At Mann & Potter, P.C., we fiercely protect the rights of car accident victims throughout the Birmingham area and will aggressively pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve from the parties responsible for your crash. Contact our office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.