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Tractor Trailer Accidents

Personal Injury Lawyer for Tractor Trailer Trucking Accidents

NC car accidents of any size can be painful life changing events. However, when you have a car versus a tractor trailer usually the injuries can be much more severe. As such, to protect people there are specific laws in North Carolina that govern the use of tractor trailers. These rules regulate the vehicles themselves and the individuals who drive them.
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Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyers - Rosensteel Fleishman
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Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC represented me in my personal injury auto accident case and traffic citation. Attorney Matthew Fleishman and his Paralegal Tory Johnson were there for me from the minute I called for their services. The Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC team was outstanding and guided me through every step of the process for a successful outcome in the resolution of my case.
~ Donnie Berry
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I was involved in an accident with an automobile while riding my bicycle. After being rejected by three “prominent” attorneys in Charlotte I fortunately contacted Matthew Fleishman. After reviewing the evidence Mr. Fleishman immediately took my case and filed a lawsuit. I found him to be consistently honest, factual, and to the point. Because of his integrity, knowledge of the law, and excellent presentation of the case, the lawsuit was settled in my favor and complete satisfaction in four months. I strongly recommend Matthew Fleishman to anyone who may have a legal problem.
~ Tyron Thorson
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Attorney Fleishman was a great relief to me and my family when he personally took over my car accident case. He was inspirational, detailed, professional, engaging, understanding, hardworking, thorough, and I received a huge settlement. So I thank attorney Fleishman from the bottom of my heart – forever; he helped to change my life.
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Charlotte Tractor Trailer Accident

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

When prosecuting a trucking accident in NC our lawyers will look into all aspects of the companies employment practices. The FMCSR govern the hiring process and requirements, annual safety reviews on the drivers, Inspection and Maintenance requirements for the tractors and trailers, 4) the number of hours the driver can safely drive, 5) alcohol and drug use testing, 6) what safety equipment and procedures to use in the event of a break down and 7) how long the trucking company must retain their records.

If the company is in violation of the federal regulations it could significantly improve the chances of successful litigation, especially in disputed cases. An examination of each requirement is the best practice for a NC tractor trailer attorney.

I. The Hiring Process:

Under Section 391.21 A trucking company is required to maintain a document called a driver qualification file. Each employer is required by law to inquire into each prospective employees:
a) prior driver’s licenses;
b) the applicant’s experience;
c) A list of all crashes in the prior three years and any injuries it caused;
d) A list of all traffic tickets for the past 3 years;
e) A explanation of prior license suspension;
f) A list of the prior employers for the last three years including the reason for leaving;
The company has to contact prior employers to verify whether the driver had safety or substance abuse issues. Further the company is required to send a request to the department of motor vehicles for a three year prior driving history and this request has to be refreshed every year on the anniversary of the driver’s hiring.

The trucking company is required to give the truck driver a medical exam. This is to ensure that the prospective drivers health does not pose an unnecessary risk to the public at large.

II. Annual Safety Reviews

Under §391.25, a trucking company is required to make an annual review the trucker’s record including:
(a) Request the driving record from the DMV for each driver, specifically looking for motor vehicle accidents;
(b) The company must conduct a review with each driver going over their driving record;

III. Inspection and Maintenance

§396.3, states that “…every motor carrier shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles…” The findings of any inspection must be recorded and maintained for at least one year.
Prior to the operation of any tractor trailer the driver is tasked with a pre-trip inspection. Further §396.11 requires the Driver to prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated. The report must cover any issue with the brakes, lighting, reflectors, steering, tires, wipers, mirrors, and emergency equipment:
There are four terms commonly associated with tractor trailer accidents on North Carolina roadways are:

- No-Zones: These are blind spots commonly found with large trucks or tractor trailers. These blind spots are located at different points including the front, back and sides of the truck. If, at any time, a vehicle enters into the No-Zone the driver of the tractor trailer would be unable to see it.

- Squeeze Play: We have all seen when a tractor trailer makes a right turn they have to first enter the left hand lane. The problem occurs when tractor trailer drivers are unable to see cars directly behind them or to their immediate left.

- Stopping Distance: Because of their size and weight tractor trailers have different stopping distances than typical passenger vehicles. When traveling at high speeds the stopping distance increases significantly.

- “Off-Track”: Off-track describes when a tractor trailer makes a right hand turn at a higher speed than safe and turns into the left hand lane.
"Matthew Fleishman is a consummate professional and gentleman. His skills are clearly reflected in the positive results he produced. Moreover, he shows keen insight into the human element, keeping me informed of his progress and important events. A true advocate, Mr. Fleishman listens carefully, offers expert opinion, presents clear options and works tirelessly. I would surely use him again and recommend him highly."

Black Box EDS Data

EDRs in newer vehicles can provide even more robust data-sets including lateral deltaV, tire pressure, cruise control, averages speed, rpm, time spent in gear, ABS and Airbag information. This information is crucial when used by your accident reconstructionist. The EDR information can help accurately portray the accident sequence, identify causation and provide compelling evidence in a trial or mediation setting. This hard evidence can prove invaluable with a trucker who claims he was stopped or not speeding. The black box also contains historical data. This data can be used to show patterns of speeding or Hard Brakes as well as compare the drivers log book for inaccuracies.

Step One Retrieving the Data

Your expert should either download the data with the vehicle owner present or acquire the raw data from the tractor owner in a controlled exchange. Ever since December 1997 trucks with Detroit Diesel engines are EDS ready. In 2003 Mercedes-Benz bought Detroit Diesel and are now also EDS ready. Most other manufactures including Volvo and Caterpillar all have Electronic Control Modules on their engine since the beginning of the1990’s.

Step Two Discern The Types of Data

There are generally two types of recordable events. The first is a Hard Brake record and the second is a Last Stop record. The Hard Brake record is triggered when they tractor trailer slams on brakes and loses over 7 mph of speed in one second. If a Hard Brake event occurs the recorder records one minute of data before the event and 15 seconds of data after the event. Every time a tractor comes to a stop a A Last Stop record is recorded. However, it is overwritten if the tractor begins to move again.

Some trucks are equipped with satellite data. One of the most popular is Qualcomm. This data can be extremely useful in disputed cases as it provides GPS location, speed, as well as any emails the driver is receiving or sending. Federal Courts have ruled that Qualcomm data is operational data that must be maintained for six months. Failure to request this information may result in the loss of this data permanently.
Finally, some of the newest trucks are equipped with collision avoidance radar systems. One example is the Eaton VORAD system. These systems use radar waves off other vehicle on the road. When the waves bounce back to the system it can warn the driver if they are too close to another vehicle or if they need to take action to avoid a crash. This data can also be used by experienced attorneys to demonstrate where on the road al of the vehicles were prior to the crash.

Client Financial Victories

$2.30
MILLION
Car Accident/Wrongful Death
Defendant denied liability and blamed our client for causing the accident. Further, our client’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. Settled right before trial.
$2.20
MILLION
Car Accident/Drunk Driver
Individual defendant got intoxicated at a bar. While not disclosed by the individual we were able to find the offending bar and file a lawsuit. While the Bar denied being responsible they eventually settled for full insurance policy.
$1.91
MILLION
Car Accident/Wrongful Death
Defendant denied liability and blamed our client for causing the accident. We filed suit against the defendant, defendant’s employer as well as five other businesses associated with the defendant. Following extensive litigation and multiple mediations the case resolved shortly before trial.

NC Tractor Trailer Accident Stats

A trucking accident occurs when large trailers (10,000+ lbs.) collide with other vehicles or pedestrians. Around 500,000 trucking accidents occur every year in the United States. Of these, approximately 5,000 trucking accidents result in fatalities. In fact, one out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a trucking collision. Tractor trailers and cars collide as often as every sixteen minutes in the United States. Because of the size (and most often high rates of speed) injuries sustained in tractor trailer accidents are severe. What people frequently overlook is the fact that a tractor trailer traveling at 70 miles per hour has nearly double the energy of a tractor trailer traveling at 50 miles per hour. The average passenger car was not built to protect against forty ton trucks, and forty ton trucks were not built to mitigate collision damage to passenger cars.

Drugs and Alcohol

Tests performed by the National Transportation Safety Board over a period of one year, it was found that drugs and alcohol do play a strong role in tractor trailer accidents. Through comprehensive drug screenings performed on 168 fatally injured drivers, it was found that one or more drugs were detected in 67% of those drivers. Along with this, of the drivers tested, 33% were found to have detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol contained in their body.

In a study conducted on tractor trailer drivers by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety, a number of the participants tested positive for drugs an alcohol. Specifically:
Marijuana (15%)
Non-prescription stimulants (12%) Cocaine (2%)
Alcohol (1%).

In a different study performed on 182 fatal tractor trailer accidents, 23 of the truck drivers tested positive for marijuana (12.5%) and 45 tested positive for cocaine (25%).

Underlying Cause For Accident

The NC DMV statistics reveal that tractor trailer accidents occur for a multitude of reasons, including:
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Illegal use of the shoulder
  • Failing to signal
  • Failing to yield
  • Improper merging
  • Unsafe passing
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Driver fatigue
  • Cell phone use
  • Worn tires
  • Worn brakes
  • Defective reflective and safety equipment
  • Lack of safety equipment
Tractor trailer drivers have specific protocols they have to follow following an accident. These usually include contacting the insurance carrier or risk management of the company. If you or a loved one is injured in a tractor trailer accident it is imperative to retain competent experienced counsel as quickly as possible. An experienced lawyer will know what to look for following an accident, and what to request.

While no dollar amount can adequately compensate for a loss, the legal system is structured to permit monetary recovery where the injured party can prove that another negligently caused his/her harm. The amount of recovery is determined either by a jury at trial, or through a fair settlement made prior to trial, that is based upon jury verdicts in similar cases. If Rosensteel Fleishman accepts your case it will be actively researched and aggressively pursued to a conclusion. Please contact us to discuss your case.

Black Box EDS Data

EDRs in newer vehicles can provide even more robust data-sets including lateral deltaV, tire pressure, cruise control, averages speed, rpm, time spent in gear, ABS and Airbag information. This information is crucial when used by your accident reconstructionist. The EDR information can help accurately portray the accident sequence, identify causation and provide compelling evidence in a trial or mediation setting. This hard evidence can prove invaluable with a trucker who claims he was stopped or not speeding. The black box also contains historical data. This data can be used to show patterns of speeding or Hard Brakes as well as compare the drivers log book for inaccuracies.
"My experience with Rosensteel Fleishman was, in a word, outstanding. After my accident, Mr. Fleishman and his staff exceeded my expectations, and got me the maximum amount money that I was owed by the insurance company. They were thorough, efficient and professional. I will highly recommend them to anyone needing a personal injury attorney."

NC Tractor Trailer FAQs

NC trucking cases are typically much more complex than comparable accidents involving passenger vehicles. In the average case you will be dealing with a myriad of different laws and competing interests. In many cases, if the driver was charged with a crime he will have a separate lawyer. Further, the trailer may be owned by a separate company and it will have its own insurance and defense attorney. Our NC attorneys are frequently asked the following questions:

What is the definition of a ‘commercial motor vehicle’ or ‘tractor trailer’?

A commercial truck is a motorized vehicle that is used to transport commercial goods in the course of business. A commercial truck can be an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, a dump truck, delivery vehicle, or any other large truck used for the purpose of commercial business activity.

Is there a federal law that regulates trucking companies?

Yes. All interstate trucking companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This administration governs equipment regulations and the hours of service a truck driver can operate a tractor trailer. Some of the more important regulations are that drivers are required to maintain a driver’s logbook of all of their daily activities while operating their tractor trailer. Drivers and companies must maintain certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the size of the truck and the materials that are being transported. You can review the regulations by reviewing their handbook called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Any violation of these safety regulations may result in the Court charging the jury on negligence per se, this is negligence as a matter of law.

Is it true truckers can’t use radar detectors?

Radar detectors are forbidden under 49 CFR §392.71. A finding during the investigation which reveals the driver was using a radar detector while speeding can support punitive damages.

Are truck drivers limited in the number of hours they can drive?

Yes. This regulation, commonly known as Hours of Service, or HOS, is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Under section 49 CFR 395.3, truck drivers cannot legally drive more than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. They also cannot drive for any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. During the work week, the driver cannot drive if they have been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days or having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week. There is a reset provision if there are 34 hours of consecutive rest.

Are truck drivers required to record the amount of time they are driving?

Yes. Truck drivers are required to record their hours of service every day. More companies are now doing this electronically but the majority of companies still use paper logs. One area of investigation is comparing the written logs to the dispatch records to see if there is evidence of speeding or improper records.

Are there more stringent restrictions on truck drivers regarding alcohol?

Yes. A driver is prohibited from reporting to duty with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 or greater. In North Carolina a BAC of .08 is considered impaired for a driver of a passenger vehicle. Further regulations provide that is driver of a tractor trailer is prohibited from refusing a DOT mandated alcohol or drug test, consuming alcohol while performing any on-duty task, reporting for duty while under the influence of any drug that affects his or her ability to operate the CMV, possessing alcohol unless it is part of a shipment, and from consuming alcohol within 8 hours preceding an accident.

Speak to a Charlotte, NC Lawyer about your Tractor Trailer Accident Case Today

At Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC our Charlotte personal injury lawyers handle every aspect of your car accident from start to finish. Our lawyers have handled trucking cases all over North Carolina and are regularly brought in to assist other lawyers with their client’s cases. It is not without a small amount of pride that we continue to serve thousands of people across NC despite the fact that we have never advertised our services via TV, radio or send letters to people’s houses.

Call (704) 714-1450 to make an appointment to speak with a tractor trailer Attorney, or stop by the office during regular business hours. We will schedule an appointment that meets your needs.There is no fee for the initial consultation. Whether you call, come in the office or request a home visit you will speak directly with a lawyer who can answer your questions.
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