The American economy runs on its highways. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about 65% of all freight travels by truck on America’s roads. That’s more than twice the amount moved by rail, air, and ship combined. Of course, with all that traffic comes a sobering truth: over-the-road truck drivers get involved in accidents, and because of the large size of the semi-trucks, many of those trucking accidents result in fatalities or serious injuries to the drivers of smaller vehicles. In early 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that approximately 400,000 large truck or bus accidents occurred each year in the U.S. from 2014 through 2016. Devastatingly, according to that same report, there were approximately 5,000 deaths caused by large truck or bus accidents in 2017.
Trucking companies know that over time accidents on the highway are inevitable, no matter how careful their drivers are, and taking the utmost care to reduce injuries and damage is the right thing to do. However, taking extra precautions can bite into a trucking company’s profits. It can be tempting for trucking companies to cut corners, which causes more accidents in the long run. This is where the law comes in. A complex system of federal and state guidelines exists to ensure that trucking companies act responsibly. These include federal regulations that govern “commercial motor vehicles” that operate across state lines, as well as state-level regulations that fill in the gaps for local vehicles. This system of laws includes licensing and insurance requirements, weight restrictions, and laws that require care in how loads are handled. They also prohibit hauling in “extreme” weather, which is all too common in Michigan during the winter months. The statistics show that violation of these regulations increases the number of accidents involving large trucks. Thus, in Michigan, for example, the law presumes that violating a safety statute constitutes a “breach of care.”
Wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits can be an important tool in keeping trucking companies honest and their drivers (and other drivers) as safe as possible. Put another way, these types of lawsuits help keep trucking companies accountable nationwide. Thus, it’s important that those who were seriously injured in trucking accidents, or who lost a loved one to a trucking accident, exercise their rights to sue. If trucking companies know that people will seek a recovery, those companies will take trucking safety more seriously.
Occasionally, a safety violation that occurred weeks before or several states away can lead to an accident somewhere else in the country. Thus, proving claims against commercial trucking companies can be complex. It requires close examination of page after page of statutory regulation, and an extensive investigation. Retaining diligent and experienced legal counsel can significantly improve an accident victim’s chances of recovery from a trucking company or its insurance provider.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial semi-truck, or any commercial vehicle for that matter, we urge you to contact the experienced attorneys at Drew Cooper & Anding at (616) 454-8300. You can also visit us at our Facebook page.
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