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Gary C. Eto

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Truck Accident Attorney

Trucking Accidents

wrecked silver automobileBig Rig, 18 Wheeler, Tractor-trailer or semi-truck accidents, and commercial truck accidents in general, can be more complicated than car accidents.

Sometimes the victim of a truck driver's negligence can sue the driver if he was in the "course and scope " of his employment at the time of the accident as well as the trucking company, broker, sub-haulers and owner of the trailer. Frequently laws are violated due to driver fatigue, vehicle maintenance or improper loading.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the number of hours a driver can drive without resting. We work with truck experts to get to the facts of each accident by preserving the evidence, obtaining police report, photos and witnesses.

Frequently laws are violated due to driver fatigue, vehicle maintenance or improper loading. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) limits the number of hours a driver can drive without resting.

For example, FMCSA Regulation 395.3(a) (2) is known as the 14 hour rule: A driver can only be on duty for 14 consecutive hours, and can only drive a total of 11 hours during this 14 hour period (Reg. 395 (a) (3)). Beginning June 30, 2013, driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. In other words, drivers have to take a break every 8 hours.

Unfortunately, because most long haul truck drivers are not paid by the hour, but are paid by the mile, (or by the load) their system of compensation actually encourages fast driving – because the more miles they drive, the more money they will make. This of course provides a financial incentive for truck drivers to speed and to ignore the Federal limitations imposed on the number of hours they can drive.

In other words, truck drivers can make more money if they ignore these safety laws. However, the employers of these drivers are the ones encouraging these violations by how the compensation system is designed.

Underride Collisions

What is an “Underride Collision”?

An underride collision, in the context of a big rig or semi-truck accident, occurs when a passenger vehicle slides underneath an 18 wheeler. This occurs because the semi-truck sits much higher than passenger vehicles. When this happens, the results can be catastrophic. When a passenger car slides beneath a big rig, the windshield and roof of the car are crushed and often the entire top portion of the vehicle is sheared off - in other words the car is actually decapitated! Obviously this type of collision results in serious traumatic injuries, such as head trauma and brain injuries, permanent disfigurement, as well as death.

Underride Guards

An underride guard is a metal device designed to prevent and/or limit the distance that a passenger car slides underneath the big rig. Underride guards often fail in real world collisions because they are either too weak and/or not low enough.

Tread Separations on Big Rigs and Semi Trucks

Semi -Trucks, Big Rigs, Long Haul Trucks are also referred to as “18 wheelers” because, of course, they have 18 wheels. If one of the 18 tires has a tread separation, the remaining 17 can, in many instances, enable the vehicle to maintain its stability (unlike a passenger vehicle that only has four (4) tires), unless it occurs on a steer axle tire. If a big rig or semi truck loses a tread on a steer axle tire, a loss of control and ensuing crash are almost a certainty.

When a semi-truck crashes the magnitude of the damage caused is typically far greater than a “normal” automobile accident, due in large part to the size and the weight of the truck. In addition to the violence of the collision, semi trucks that crash have a high risk of causing a post collision fuel fed fire, due to the lack of fuel system integrity in the design of the vehicle.

Post Collision Fuel Fed Fires in Semi Trucks

The Fuel System, particularly the gas tank, is exposed in semi trucks, outside the frame rails and often right next to the battery box. These fuel tanks hold up to 300 gallons of gasoline and are made of aluminum. The battery box holder is made of steel, and in a collision, the steel box can penetrate and rupture the gas tank - a highly dangerous scenario.

We work with truck experts to get to the facts of each accident by preserving the evidence, obtaining police report, photos and witnesses. We identify the numerous defendants and insurance companies that are involved. We will investigate the driver’s history to ascertain whether he has prior accidents, DUI’s, and was properly licensed. We fight to protect your rights and help you secure the settlement you deserve.

We identify the numerous defendants and insurance companies that are involved. We fight to protect your rights and help you secure the settlement you deserve.