Frequently Asked Questions In A Kentucky Truck Accident
What parties can be sued in a trucking accident case?
Any person or entity that has contributed to the cause of an accident can be sued. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Owner of the trailer
- The shipper
- Any other driver or person involved who was at fault
- Any manufacturer whose product contributed to the accident
- The owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident
What factors could contribute to winning my case?
Many accidents are caused by a combination of factors. Some causes of trucking accidents that we will investigate on your behalf include:
- Inadequate truck driver training
- Oversized or overloaded trucks
- Poorly maintained brakes on trucks
- Driving in unsafe conditions, or at unsafe speeds in snow, ice, rain or fog
- Driving an excessive number of hours without rest
- Speeding or otherwise aggressive driving behavior
- Running off the road or crossing the center line
- Failure to yield the right of way
- A truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A truck driver with a history or reckless behavior
- Inoperable safety systems such as reflectors, lights and other warning devices
- The truck does not have underride protection
- Failure to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations regarding truck inspection
- Improper or inadequate truck maintenance
- Improper placarding and markings
- Non-compliance with hazardous materials transportation and safety regulations
How much is my trucking accident case worth?
Many factors enter into the valuation. They include the length and type of medical treatment required, your loss of current and future income, the length of time you continue to experience pain and suffering from an accident and other factors. Of course, the actual circumstances surrounding the accident and the degree of negligence of others weigh heavily in evaluating the strength and ultimate value of any personal injury claim.
Are trucks required by federal law to carry insurance?
Yes. Commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage resulting from trucking accidents. For trucks not covered under federal law, most states have minimum insurance requirements for trucks.
What role do accident investigations play in a trucking accident case?
They are critical. If the truck involved was commercially owned, in most instances the larger trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately following the accident. They have considerable resources and are experts in accident scene investigations and defending claims. Their primary goal is to pursue information and evidence that will assist them in defending their case, not yours. This puts individual victims at a natural disadvantage. Likewise, it is important that you retain an experienced truck accident attorney who will immediately begin to investigate the case, interview witnesses, obtain evidence and establish liability on any potential at-fault defendants.
Timeliness is the most crucial factor. For example, although driver logs must be kept for six months, items like scale tickets, inspection records, and other documents might require a lawyer’s immediate intervention to preserve. All the while, how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and other codes relating to the safe operation of these commercial vehicles are thoroughly analyzed for violations – all too frequently factors in many a truck accident. As hours and days pass, key evidence can disappear, witnesses become more difficult to locate and interview, memories fade, etc. Get us involved as soon as possible.
Does federal law limit the hours that a trucker can operate their truck?
Yes. FMCSA regulations have placed restrictions on the “hours of service” that truckers may operate their trucks, to ensure that truck drivers have adequate rest to operate their rigs safely. Kentucky has adopted Part 395 of the federal regulations with regard to hours of service. Some exceptions apply, such as utility companies attempting to restore service during emergencies. Maximum driving and on-duty requirements also don’t apply to intrastate drivers transporting agricultural commodities or farm supplies within a 100-mile radius from the source of the commodities or distribution point.
What role do expert witnesses play in trucking accident cases?
Unless there is no question that one party was completely at fault, experts usually play a role for a plaintiff involved in any serious injury or death. These experts require special knowledge in the design, manufacture and operation of trucks, plus, all applicable trucking laws. Oftentimes, engineers are involved to help reconstruct the accident scene. Selecting the most appropriate expert is an important task that attorneys specializing in trucking accident cases will bring to your defense.
What about accidents involving the transportation of hazardous materials (hazmat)?
These operators have special obligations. For example, if a shipper failed to advise the driver or trucking company of the hazardous nature of material contained in the freight, in some circumstances, a shipper can be held legally responsible if injuries resulted from the type of cargo on the truck.
What if I was injured in a truck accident outside of Kentucky? Can you help me?
Yes. First, we help determine which state to pursue your claim, up to and including the filing of a lawsuit. Next, we carefully screen local counsel for the necessary qualifications and experience in these types of cases. Then, we typically join forces with a local attorney in that state. There is no additional cost to the client. In these instances, the usual fees involved are simply divided between the firms. Every state has different requirements governing how lawyers work together and we make certain we are in compliance with each state’s ethical requirements.
What laws govern the operation of trucks?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Title 49, Parts 350-399) govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic. There are some situations where a tractor-trailer or other commercial motor vehicles are involved in only intrastate travel. For example, a store in Louisville operates a truck that only makes in-state deliveries. The Kentucky Department of Public Safety has adopted Title 49, Parts 382-384 and 390-399 of the federal regulations. For driver qualifications, Kentucky has adopted Part 391 of the federal regulations with modifications to the age requirement and medical waivers. Intrastate drivers must be at least 18 years old except for transporters of hazardous materials and school bus drivers, who must be 21. Medical waivers in addition to those allowed in Sec. 391.49 are allowed for drivers exclusively in intrastate commerce. With regard to parts and accessories, Kentucky has adopted Part 393 of the federal regulations, except that private carriers engaged in intrastate farm-to-market agricultural operations aren’t required to comply with the lighting device requirements in Part 393, Subpart B when driving during daylight hours.