Most of us have experience driving a car. We took a driver’s education course, passed the road test, and log thousands of miles each year behind the wheel of our cars or pickup trucks. We understand what is required to drive safely and to look out for others on the road.
Although commercial truck drivers share the same public roads with us, commercial trucking is very different from driving an ordinary passenger vehicle. Commercial trucks —whether driving an eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer or a box truck— are generally much larger and heavier than ordinary passenger vehicles. When a commercial truck is not operated safely on public roads, it has the potential to wreak widescale havoc and carnage.
Do I Need A Truck Wreck Attorney?
Thousands of Americans and seriously injured and killed each year by trucks and trucking companies that do not take their responsibility for safety seriously. Because of these bleak statistics, the State and Federal Government have imposed strict rules on commercial trucking that are different and far more strict than the rules that govern ordinary passenger vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a trucking company or commercial truck driver, you need a lawyer who understands the laws, regulations, and rules that apply to trucking. Trucking cases can be far more complicated, expensive (and hopefully financially rewarding) than cases involving passenger vehicles.
So, the answer is, “YES.” If you have a truck accident, you need an experienced Portland truck accident lawyer. The trucking accident attorneys at Gideon Asen LLC have the skills and resources to get clients full and fair compensation for injuries resulting from truck crashes.
How Are Commercial Vehicle Accidents Different?
Truck drivers and their employers are required to abide by an array of federal and state laws and regulations. Failure to do so will often constitute evidence of negligence.
Truckers and trucking companies that operate interstate commerce must follow regulations set forth in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Likewise, because Maine has codified many of these regulations into state law, intrastate truckers (those who remain in-state) need to follow many of the same regulations.
These regulations put many stringent requirements on truckers and trucking companies, regarding, among other things:
- The number of hours a truck driver is allowed to drive;
- Maintenance of a logbook;
- Speed and following distance;
- Maintaining the truck’s air brakes and other safety equipment;
- Controlled substance and alcohol use and testing (49 C.F.R. § 382);
- Trucking companies and their drivers’ knowledge and compliance with federal regulations (49 C.F.R. § 390.3);
- Driver qualifications (49 C.F.R. § 391);
- Driving in hazardous conditions, including bad weather (49 C.F.R. § 392.14);
- Obscuring of lamps and reflective devices (49 C.F.R. § 392.33);
- Texting or using mobile phones while driving (49 C.F.R. §§ 392.80, 392.82)
Truckers are also required to comply with various guidelines, including their states’ Commercial Drivers License Manual. CDL Manuals explain that truckers are required to follow rules of the road that are very different from other drivers. For example, truckers should:
- Perform regular safety inspections of their vehicles;
- See 12 to 15 seconds ahead at all times;
- Keep a substantial amount of space between their trucks and other vehicles;
- Anticipate potential hazards and have plans to respond to emergencies that may arise;
- When crossing a road, make sure they can get all the way across before traffic reaches them;
- Drive at night at a slow enough speed so that they can stop within the area visible within their headlights.
The rules that truckers must follow are not always intuitive to non-commercial drivers. That is why it is important to retain a lawyer who is familiar with the rules of the road that apply to truckers and trucking companies.
When Should I Contact a Portland Attorney?
If you or a loved one was in a crash with a truck, it is important to contact an attorney right away, so that your attorney may begin an investigation of the crash.
Your attorney will want to send a letter to the trucking company as soon as possible, putting them on notice of the coming lawsuit and warning them not to destroy potential evidence. A trucking company with knowledge of a potential claim that destroys evidence has committed spoliation and may be subject to penalties by the Court.
Your attorney will also want to hire a qualified accident reconstructionist to exam the scene of the crash as well as the vehicles involved. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the more likely it is that some or all of the key evidence from the crash will be gone.
What If I Am At Fault For The Crash?
Maine is a “modified comparative negligence” state, meaning that a victim may be able to recover for personal injuries even if he or she is partially responsible for a crash, as long as the victim is less than 50 percent liable.
But remember: truckers are held to a different standard of care than non-commercial drivers, and if you or a loved one has been hit by a truck, you may be less at fault for the crash than you believe yourself to be.
There is no cost to speaking with an attorney about your potential case. If you have been catastrophically injured in a trucking crash, you should consult with a lawyer, even if you believe that you may be the primarily negligent party.
What Can I Recover In a Semi-Truck Crash Case?
It depends on the damages you and your loved ones have suffered. If a loved one died in a crash, you may be entitled to wrongful death damages, as well as damages for economic loss (such as lost wages) to you and your family arising from the death. For injured victims, recoverable damages include: (1) lost wages; (2) medical expenses; (3) compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life; and (4) compensation for pain and suffering. In addition, the spouse of a critically injured victim may have a claim for “loss of consortium”—in other words, for the losses a spouse suffers when a marriage is upended by a devastating injury.
Speak with a Portland Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been in a trucking accident, contact Gideon Asen LLC to speak with one of our Portland truck accident lawyers. We cannot undo the nightmare that has befallen you and your family, but we will do everything we can to ensure that you are fairly compensated for what you have lost. Contact us to learn more.