Truck Accident Attorney in Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Semis (also known as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers) can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. If you collide with one in your passenger vehicle of 3,000 to 5,000 pounds, you definitely are going to be the underdog. Serious injuries can result.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tracks roadway accidents across the nation. In 2020 — the latest complete reporting period — FMCSA reported that 4,998 fatalities were caused by large trucks and buses nationwide. In addition, there were also 108,000 injuries caused by collisions involving large trucks and buses the same year.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a big rig — or worse, someone you love has lost their life — in or around Elizabethtown, Kentucky, don’t face it alone. Reach out to our personal injury and car accident attorney at Caleb Bland Law, PLLC. Let us investigate what happened and steer you toward your best legal options to recover for your injuries and losses.
Our firm also proudly serves clients in neighboring communities such as Radcliff, Shepherdsville, Bardstown, and Louisville, as well as through the counties in Central Kentucky, including Hardin County, Meade County, Grayson County, Nelson County, Hart County, Bullitt County, and Jefferson County.
Federal and State Laws Affecting Truck Operations
Federal law covers everything that includes truck driver qualifications, truck maintenance, and standards of operation on the road. These standards focus to a great extent on how many hours per day and per week a driver can operate a large truck.
Federal trucking regulations include the following:
Within a 24-hour period, drivers cannot work more than 14 hours. However, drivers cannot drive behind the wheel more than 11 of those 14 hours.
In a 7-day period, drivers cannot work more than 60 hours. Or, if the truck sits idle for a day, the driver can work up to 70.
30-minute breaks are mandatory for 8-hour driving shifts. This break can include being on-duty but not driving, being off-duty, sleeper berth, or any combination of these taken consecutively.
Kentucky trucking regulations largely mirror the federal standards, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel each day and 14 overall for matters like maintenance, loading and paperwork. The week is limited to 70 hours, and at least 36 consecutive off-duty hours must be logged to commence a new week. The 36 hours must include two nights of rest between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Both federal and state regulations require drivers to keep a log of the hours at work and rest and how they were spent. Some trucks are also equipped with electronic monitoring devices to record hours behind the wheel and other happenings.
Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents
The most common cause of large truck accidents is driver error. Other factors that can lead to a truck accident can include the following:
In other words, a truck accident can result in more than one personal injury lawsuit being filed.
Of course, passenger vehicles operators can also cause accidents with big rigs by driving between two large trucks, driving in the truck driver’s blind spots, making fast maneuvers like lane changes in front of a truck, or failing to adapt speed-wise when a truck makes a lane change.
Vicarious Liability: Who’s at Fault for the Accident?
While the driver is the most likely cause of a trucking accident, provided you yourself didn’t contribute to or cause the collision, other people and entities can also be liable, in the possible following situations:
If the driver works for a trucking company, that company may have rushed the driver into service without proper training, or even forced the driver to ignore hour-of-operation restrictions.
Maintenance crews may have skimped on servicing the vehicle, overlooking potential problems with brakes or tires that can come back to cause accidents out on the highway.
Cargo loaders may also be responsible. If they don’t load the cargo correctly, it can throw the truck’s center of gravity off, making the vehicle hard to control. The cargo itself may be insecurely loaded and can spill out on the highway during quick turns or stops, leading to accidents.
The truck manufacturer may also have relied on lesser quality or unproven products in assembling the vehicle. If a defective part leads to an accident, the manufacturer can also be held liable.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
Of course, the driver or trucking company will no doubt carry insurance to cover injuries and property damage, but insurance policies have caps. Insurers also have a way of trying to pin the blame on the aggrieved party so they can low ball or even deny the claim. Then, there is also the matter of vicarious liability.
In Kentucky, which is a no-fault auto insurance state, you are normally required to turn to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to receive compensation for medical expenses and lost wages related to accident injuries. But in some cases, depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit, for which there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident.
If others contributed or are to blame for the accident and resulting damages and losses, the insurance on the truck and driver may not cover the accident. You may need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, perhaps on several fronts.
This requires a careful examination and investigation of all the factors involved. This is not something the average person, especially one suffering and recovering from injuries, can undertake. An experienced accident/personal injury attorney will need to carry out the investigative process.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a trucking accident, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is one year from the date of the death. However, to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be the personal representative of the deceased. This means you must have been named so in that person’s last will and testament. If there is no will, then the court will name someone, usually a family member, to be the personal representative. All compensation, however, will accrue to the family members, not just to the representative.
Truck Accident Attorney in Elizabethville, Kentucky
A collision with a big rig can present more challenges than a fender-bender or even a serious car accident with another passenger car. There may be multiple parties responsible, but you may be entitled to compensation. If you’ve been victimized in a truck accident, contact us immediately at Caleb Bland Law, PLLC. We will listen to your story, investigate to assess liability, and advise you of your options going forward. If you’re in the central Kentucky area, reach out today for a free consultation.