commercial truck accident attorney in mobile alabama

Tips for Avoiding Accidents with Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks are an important part of the economy, so you can spot them on roadways all over the United States. As a result, it’s important to know how to drive safely and appropriately while near a tractor-trailer. While all car accidents can have tragic outcomes, collisions with tractor-trailers are far more likely to be fatal or severe than crashes involving two passenger vehicles. Following these key safety tips can help you avoid disaster.

1. Stay Out of Their Blind Spots

Commercial trucks have extremely large blind spots, and it is crucial to move out of a truck’s blind spot as quickly as possible while passing. The worst place to be is on the truck’s passenger side, as the passenger side’s blind spot is significantly larger than the blind spot on the driver’s side. When passing, always pass on the driver’s side. Try to avoid staying directly next to a commercial truck, since it is easy to move into their blind spot without even knowing it.

2. Leave Plenty of Space

The larger a vehicle is, the more time it needs to slow down and stop to avoid an obstacle. If you are following a truck too closely and they experience a tire blowout, brake to avoid an obstacle, or lose control of the vehicle, you are at serious risk of being involved in an accident. Leave four seconds of distance between you and the truck at all times. Follow this rule even as they slow down to turn. Trucks often need two lanes to make wide turns.

3. Pass and Switch Lanes with Caution

Move carefully while passing a truck and switching lanes in front of it. If you do not leave enough space between your vehicle and the truck, they may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid an accident. Avoid passing while going up or down hills, always pass on the driver’s side, and leave plenty of space when moving into the truck’s lane of travel.

4. Think Twice When Merging

Merging onto the highway is challenging when the road is full of commercial trucks and traffic is barely moving. You may be tempted to squeeze in wherever possible and force the drivers around you to let you in. However, doing this near a truck can have disastrous consequences. Even if a truck is moving very slowly in heavy traffic, you could cause an accident by merging directly in front of them if you do not leave enough space. Wait to merge until there is enough space for you to merge safely.

5. Use Extra Caution While Driving in Poor Weather

Snow, ice, wind, and fog are dangerous for those in passenger vehicles, but they are especially risky for those in large tractor-trailers. Truck drivers are often relegated to driving extremely slowly when visibility is low, as they may need even more time to stop if the weather is dangerous.

Tractor-trailers, by design, are much more difficult to handle and maneuver than smaller, lighter passenger vehicles. The difficulty increases with bad weather. If you must drive in bad weather, be exceedingly cautious around tractor-trailers. Remember that they need more time and space to slow down, so you should maintain as much distance as possible. Trucks that hit icy patches or high winds could roll over or spin out, and if that happens, you do not want to be in their path or be so close that you collide with them.

6. Be Patient

Drivers of passenger vehicles often get frustrated with commercial drivers. Road rage and aggressive driving are not the answer. If you put your passenger vehicle up against a truck twenty times its size, your vehicle is unlikely to win. Be patient and remember that trucks often have speed caps that may prevent them from traveling at the speed of traffic. Commercial drivers are not trying to aggravate you—they simply want to reach their destination safely, just like you. Remembering this and taking a deep breath can prevent unnecessary collisions.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Trucking Accident

No matter how safely you drive, you could still be the victim of a trucking accident. The greatest cause of collisions is human error, and you could be entitled to compensation if the other driver is responsible for the crash. Find out what your options are by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. Call us at 800-574-4332 to discuss your case.

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Why Should I Hire an Attorney After My Accident with a Big Rig?

Most people have a fairly high chance of getting into a motor vehicle accident at some point in their lives. But when a big rig is involved, the results are nearly always devastating. In the wake of such a collision, how can you be sure that you are being treated fairly by the insurance company?

“The Insurance Company Is Offering Me a Fair Settlement”

If you believe that an insurance company is offering to settle your case for a fair amount, it’s a near certainty that you are selling yourself short and haven’t considered the true value of your damages. Over the years, our firm has heard clients come to us repeating some of these statements from insurance companies that might sound familiar:

“There’s no reason for you to hire a lawyer.”

“We accept full responsibility. Why would you want to share settlement proceeds with a lawyer?”

“You don’t need a lawyer. We can work this out.”

If an insurance adjuster has tried to convince you of this, there’s a good reason. They want you to believe that hiring an attorney is not in your best interests when the truth is exactly the opposite. It’s noteworthy that the truck accident victims that hear these statements the most are the ones who have complex cases where the damage amounts can be significant.

Settlements are legal contracts that, once signed and approved by the courts, cannot be reversed. Many accident victims fail to understand the long-term consequences of agreeing to a settlement that may not be in their best interests.

Assuming you were hit by a big rig, you may have injuries that will require lifetime medical care, prevent you from returning to work, and cause significant pain and suffering. Placing a fair value on these damages takes experience, and large insurance companies didn’t get to be that way by voluntarily paying reasonable values on serious claims.

In short, the insurance company representative doesn’t want you to hire an attorney because they hope to save money and close their file as quickly as possible. If your case is serious, they may well be forced to pay as much as ten times what you’ve been offered, so it’s always to your benefit to speak with a qualified truck accident attorney.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer After a Truck Accident

Big rigs can weigh as much as 40 tons, and accidents with these trucks can lead to severe and lasting injuries. As soon as a commercial truck is involved in a crash, the trucking company generally gets notified and springs into action.

If the truck driver or trucking company is at fault, they have a big incentive to take any steps necessary to protect their financial interests. This might include cleaning up the accident scene, removing the truck, taking control of defective parts or the black box, and hiding or destroying other evidence.

There are also additional regulations that apply to the trucking industry that may impact your case. For example, commercial truckers are subject to a series of regulations that require them to document their hours of driving and rest. Trucking companies must keep documentation relative to background investigations of drivers, drug testing programs, and regular maintenance on vehicles.

If you want the best chance of holding these parties accountable, it’s vital that you speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as quickly as possible after the crash. Your legal counsel can independently investigate the crash, and get court orders to preserve evidence.

There may also be more than one party responsible for your harm. For example, the truck driver might be at fault, but a defective piece of equipment could have also contributed to the crash. When you work with a skilled personal injury attorney, you’ll get the information and assistance you need to maximize your recovery.

Speak with an Experienced Mobile Truck Accident Attorney

As a general rule of thumb, the more serious the accident, the more likely it is that the victim needs strong legal counsel. In all our years of handling personal injury cases at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we’ve yet to see a reasonable settlement offer from an insurance company on a serious truck accident case when a personal injury attorney wasn’t involved in the negotiations.

Besides the protection from unfair insurance company representatives, hiring an attorney also gives you peace of mind knowing that you will have the best opportunity to settle your case for maximum compensation. In addition, our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us a dime until we settle your case.

Contact our Mobile office today at (251) 260-3815 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation and options.

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

Truck accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Each year, thousands of individuals in the U.S. are killed and tens of thousands are injured in accidents with large trucks. And when a big rig truck that typically weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded collides with a regular passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle are the ones who tend to sustain the most severe injuries.

Data published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) helps illustrate this point. The IIHS reports that in 2017, a total of 4,102 individuals were killed in large truck crashes. Of those killed, 17% were occupants of the big rig truck, and 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles that were involved in the crash. Another 14% were bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. The IIHS also reports that the number of people killed in large truck crashes in 2017 was 30% higher than the number killed and 2009, just eight years earlier.

Who do I Sue if I Was in a Truck Accident in Alabama?

Trucking accidents are far more complicated than most other types of personal injury cases.  There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry and there are often multiple factors that contribute to an accident.

Some of the parties that could be held liable in an 18-wheeler accident include:

  • The truck driver: Driver negligence plays a major role in a large number of truck accident cases. Some examples may include speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, driving while drowsy, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The driver may also have violated the Federal Hours of Service Regulations, which restrict the number of hours they are allowed to be on the road.
  • The trucking company: The company that employs the truck driver may share fault in the accident. Trucking companies often try to avoid responsibility by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor. This may or may not be the case, and the working relationship between the driver and the company needs to be closely examined to determine if the trucking company can be held liable. For example, the trucking company may be responsible if the driver displays the company placard with their logo inside the vehicle, even if the company claims to have an independent contractor relationship with the driver.
  • The shipping company: The company that is shipping cargo could play a role in a trucking accident if they overloaded the truck (beyond its legally allowed weight limit) and/or loaded the truck unevenly. Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks are more susceptible to rolling over or being flipped on their side when they encounter heavy winds and other types of inclement weather while traveling at higher speeds.
  • The truck mechanic: Semi-trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road per month. For this reason, proper maintenance is absolutely critical to help ensure that the truck remains in safe driving condition. There are times, however, when the party responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck fails in this duty. This can cause a mechanical breakdown while on the road, putting the truck driver and those they share the road with in serious danger.
  • The vehicle or vehicle part designer or manufacturer: If a vehicle or vehicle part defect plays a role in a trucking accident, it may be possible to hold the designer, manufacturer, or other parties in the supply chain partly responsible for the accident. Examples of product defects that can cause a vehicle accident include brake line failures, tire blowouts, steering system failures, and many others.

Filing a Truck Accident Injury Claim in Alabama

As mentioned earlier, trucking accident cases can be very complex because they are often caused by the convergence of multiple factors. Things are further complicated if the accident occurs in Alabama. This is one of the few states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying accident.

Defendants in a truck accident case will no doubt try to use Alabama’s defendant-friendly laws against you by claiming you were at least partially at fault. This is why it is extremely important to get an experienced personal injury lawyer involved as early as possible in the process, so you can preserve your legal right to compensation.

Call the Skilled Alabama Truck Accident Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a trucking accident, there are numerous parties that you may be able to sue for damages. In order to be successful with a personal injury claim, however, you need strong legal counsel in your corner. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we have extensive experience and a successful track record with even the most complex accident injury cases, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward securing full and fair compensation on their behalf. 

Call our Mobile office today at (800) 574-4332 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.