Have you ever felt nervous when sharing the road with a large commercial truck? If you have, it's for a good reason.
These massive 18-wheelers we often see on Maine roads can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. when fully loaded with cargo. The average car weighs less than 4,000 lbs. When a crash between an 18-wheeler and a car occurs, the driver of the smaller vehicle is more likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries. The driver of the larger vehicle may walk away with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises.
Due to the size and weight of 18-wheelers, trucking companies often pay high insurance premiums. Insurance companies stand to lose millions of dollars from a single truck crash, especially if multiple people sustain injuries.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a high standard
It takes a considerable amount of skill, experience and good judgment to safely operate a large commercial truck. There is absolutely no room for error. The slightest error in judgment or negligent action can result in a catastrophe. That's why truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a high standard. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established several rules and regulations to help prevent truck crashes from occurring. Here are the federal regulations for trucking companies:
- Hiring. Truck drivers are required to complete truck driving school and obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Hiring an unqualified driver is prohibited under Section § 391.51. In addition, trucking companies are expected to hire drivers who have clean driving records.
- Limiting driving time. The federal hours-of-service rule limits driving time for truck drivers to 11 hours within a 14-hour period. Drivers must also take 10 consecutive hours off between shifts and take a 30-minute break after 8 cumulative, uninterrupted hours of driving.
- Maintaining and inspecting vehicles. Trucking companies are required to inspect, repair, and maintain all commercial vehicles under Section § 396.3. This includes ensuring that the brakes, tires, steering systems, axles and engine are in proper working order. Trucking companies must also keep records of inspections, repairs and maintenance.
- Prohibiting impaired driving. The blood alcohol concentration level for truck drivers is 0.04 percent, but trucking companies have a duty to prevent their drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired. Prospective drivers are required to undergo drug testing in order to be hired. In addition, trucking companies are required to give random drug tests and prohibit drivers from reporting to duty while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Putting your life back together after a truck accident in Maine
Truck accidents in Maine are often the result of distracted driving, impaired driving, drowsy driving or speeding. Motorists who survive catastrophes with 18-wheelers often sustain severe injuries. If you were hurt in a truck accident, recovery can take months and possibly years. The medical bills will likely pile up while you're out of work and unable to earn a living.
It's crucial that you speak to an experienced Maine truck accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights. Without an attorney, you're up against a trucking company that can deploy its own team of investigators to the scene of the crash within hours. In addition, you're up against an insurance company with a lot to lose and the best attorneys money can buy. In many cases, there are multiple insurance companies involved. That's because the cab, trailer and cargo could be insured separately.
Don't try to handle your case alone. Your only job is to focus on your recovery. The attorneys at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord, LLC can handle the rest. We know how to investigate truck drivers and the companies that employ them. We know how to deal with insurance companies and negotiate for maximum settlements for our clients. Our law firm has fought to help truck accident victims and their families recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. We are located in Waterville and Portland, Maine. Contact us online to set up your free consultation.