Scottsdale Trucking Accident Attorney
Interstate trucking is a high profit business. Almost every sector of industry uses commercial motor carriers to make, present and sell its products. From manufacturing to retail to agriculture—these industries rely on quickly and efficiently moving products or parts from place to place. When products and parts do not move quickly, this affects the bottom line and profit margins of these companies. As a result, these companies often cut corners and put profits over people when moving products through commercial trucking channels. In doing so, you and your loved ones are put at risk.
Arizona is a pass-through state for moving products from the west coast to the center of the country. Arizona has a major arterial highway passing through it. This is Interstate 10 which is the southernmost cross-country interstate highway in the United States. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the State of Florida. Typically, products that are shipped from overseas arrive in the ports off California. This product is then loaded into commercial trucks and transported to the rest of the states by passing through Arizona and Maricopa County on Interstate 10. As a result, Arizona and Maricopa County see a high volume of trucking accidents on this dangerous stretch of roadway.
If you were involved in a trucking accident it is important that you hire an experienced attorney to help you without delay. Trucking accident cases differ from a regular car accident case in several important ways. These differences are important in developing your case and presenting your claims for full compensation. If you do not have an attorney who understands these cases, you or your loved ones are at a significant disadvantage.
First, trucking accidents almost always involve a corporate defendant. In other words, the at-fault party is a corporation or other business. Big corporations have teams of individuals who are dedicated to minimizing payouts resulting from collisions caused by their truck drivers. These corporations often have risk loss employees and in-house attorneys who know how to quickly obtain evidence that is favorable to their defense and conceal evidence that is not. For major collisions resulting in severe injuries, it is not out of the ordinary for these corporations to send out agents to the site of the collision immediately after. Once there, these agents document the scene, try to obtain witness statements and perform their own “independent” investigation. However, all these agents are really doing is trying to protect the truck driver, the trucking company and the company for whom they were working for.
If you or a loved one was involved in a collision with a commercial truck and sustained a serious injury you should contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers right away. Our firm has relationships with trusted private investigators who can obtain evidence quickly after a collision occurs. Securing this evidence early could make the difference in winning or losing your case.
Second, trucking accidents also differ from regular car accidents, because trucks or commercial freight carriers are controlled by federal trucking regulations that are established by the Department of Transportation. These federal rules, that control trucking companies and their drivers, include rules covering: the hiring of drivers, drug and alcohol testing, mandatory rest periods, limits on driving hours, diary log requirements, cargo limitations, medical certifications and truck inspection and maintenance.
Third, trucking accidents may present unique issues involving the potential responsible parties and insurance coverage. For example, often times a company may use a commercial trucking company to move its products. The commercial trucking company may hire a driver who is an independent contractor or may have its own employee drivers. The commercial trucking company may also hire other companies to perform it’s inspections and maintenance. The commercial trucking company may even hire a different company to repair it’s trucks. From this example, you can see how many potential parties may be involved or responsible for a collision and the resulting injuries that occur.
Below is a list of seven factors that can cause a trucking accident:
- Dangerous Driving: This is operating a truck or commercial motor vehicle in an unsafe manner. This may include: failure to pay attention, following too closely, driving too fast for conditions, improper lane changes, use of cell phones and anything which constitutes a violation of traffic laws.
- Drowsy Driving: This is the operation of a truck or commercial motor vehicle in violation of the maximum hours of service allowed. This includes any log book violations, driving when ill or driving when too tired to do so safely.
- Unqualified Drivers: This includes drivers who lack the education, experience, training, mental fitness and health qualifications to drive a commercial vehicle. These unqualified drivers may not have a valid or appropriate commercial driver’s license. They may also suffer from a health condition that makes it unsafe for them to operate a commercial truck such as a history of seizures or a physical deformity.
- Drug and Alcohol Use: This includes operators who are impaired while driving due to the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, overuse of prescription narcotics or abuse of over-the-counter medications.
- Vehicle Maintenance: This includes the failure to adequately maintain a truck or other commercial motor vehicle. Some common problems areas include: damaged tires, unbalanced tire pressure, worn out or ineffective brakes, low tire tread, missing or burnt out lights or other mechanical defects that make the vehicle unsafe. This also includes the failure to adequately document vehicle condition and make the necessary repairs.
- Distracted Driving: This is when a driver or operator diverts his or her attention while driving. There are several areas where a driver can be distracted. These include: taking eyes off of the road, cell phone use, taking hands off the wheel, thinking about something else other than driving or listening to music or talking. A driver may be distracted visually, manually, mentally and audibly. Distracted driving is not limited to physical distractions, mental distractions can be just as dangerous and lead to a collision.
- Cargo: This is the failure to properly situate, secure, account for or calculate the cargo carried. This includes carrying cargo loads that exceed the maximum allowed for the commercial vehicle and also includes the failure to properly load the cargo creating and imbalance in the commercial truck. Failure to secure cargo properly may result in dangerous shifting loads or spilled cargo that becomes a hazardous roadway obstruction.
Not only are there specific laws and regulations that control commercial trucking, there are also unique databases and systems that were created to help with trucking safety. These include databases covering the history of trucking companies as well as companies large enough to have their own trucking departments. The databases were designed to track and document the histories of these companies with respect to safety. These databases track: inspections and compliance, incidents of unsafe behavior, traffic violations, accidents and overall safety ratings. There are also national databases that collect crash statistics, safety violations, and the seriousness of the violations and collisions as well as the efforts taken to address safety problems.
Commercial motor vehicles include more than just semi-trucks and “big-rigs.” A commercial motor vehicle is any motor vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds and that transports products from state to state. Any vehicle exceeding this weight is subject to the special federal regulations covering commercial motor vehicles. Even box trucks, buses and certain heavy duty trucks with trailers, may qualify as a commercial motor vehicle.
Arizona Revised Statute § 28-5201 specifically defines what constitutes a commercial motor vehicle under Arizona law. The list includes: 1) any vehicle or combination of vehicles over 18,000 pounds that is used for purposes of intrastate commerce; 2) any vehicle or combination of vehicles over 10,000 pounds that is used for purposes of interstate commerce; 3) any school bus; 4) any bus; 5) any vehicle that transports passengers for hire and that has a design capacity for more than eight persons.
The driver of a commercial motor vehicle or commercial truck is a professional driver. As such, that driver should be held to the highest standards of safety and driver fitness. These drivers are controlling a machine that is 15-20 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle. Even minor mistakes or single instances of neglect can cause those commercial vehicles to be turned into death machines. These vehicles are a deadly risk to Scottsdale drivers and their operators must be held to the highest standard of care.
If you or a loved one was involved in a commercial trucking collision and injured as a result, you need to hire an attorney who has knowledge and experience handling trucking cases. You cannot afford to take a risk with an attorney who is not familiar with these cases. The attorneys with Scottsdale Injury Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help you with your trucking case. Call our office today to receive a free consultation from a skilled attorney.