Billings Truck Accident Attorney
Were You Injured in an accident involving a semi-truck or large commercial vehicle?
On any given day there are 5.5 million trucks on the U.S. highways and roadways. An accident involving a semi-truck, bus, or another type of large commercial vehicle (LCV), can be catastrophic. Individuals who are involved in these types of accidents face life-altering injuries, catastrophic injuries, and even death. As our roadways continue to become more crowded, the risk of these types of accidents continues to rise:
- Last year hundreds of motorists in Montana were injured in accidents involving semi-trucks or large commercial vehicles.
- Deaths arising from large truck accidents are at an all-time high and are continuing to rise.
- Injuries from accidents involving semi-trucks and large commercial vehicles are typically more severe and extensive, requiring more significant and expensive medical care.
- Engaging the assistance of an experienced and qualified attorney like Matt Tourtlotte can significantly improve your chances of recovery.
How and When do semi-truck accidents and LCV accidents occur?
Semi-truck accidents and LCV accidents can occur in a variety of situations, locations, and circumstances. These accidents often occur on the open highway where speed, road conditions, and driver negligence may be at issue. Semi-truck accidents also can and do occur in town, at traffic lights, intersections, and other high traffic areas.
No matter where the accident occurs, some or all of the following factors may be involved in your accident:
- Poor Road Conditions: Winter driving in Montana offers some of the worst driving conditions in the country. Snow- and ice-covered roads, poor visibility, and other conditions can create extra-dangerous situations when encountering semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles.
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers often work long hours. They can drive hundreds of miles during a day. Even though they are required by law to log their hours and limit driving time on the highways, semi-truck and commercial truck drivers are noted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to be among the population of ‘drowsy drivers’ sharing our roadways.
- Driving Impaired: Most trucking companies have rules and regulations limiting the circumstances under which a driver may operate a vehicle for the company. Additionally, state and federal laws are in place to prevent commercial vehicle operators from operating a vehicle when they might be impaired. Sometimes driver impairment occurs even where these rules, regulations, and laws are in place to protect you and other people on our Montana roadways.
Other times commercial driver’s, like other drivers, may not realize they are impaired when they get behind the wheel. Sleep drugs such as Ambien or zolpidem have been linked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to driver impairment. It is possible that a semi-truck driver or commercial vehicle operator is unaware that their insomnia medication has rendered them an impaired driver.
- Excessive Speed: Semi-trucks and commercial vehicles using our roadways are typically regulated to drive at reduced speeds. Scientific studies have shown that the critical stopping time for large commercial vehicles is significantly greater than that of typical passenger vehicles. Just a few miles per hour over the legal speed limit can make a huge difference in commercial vehicle stopping time. Accidents and injuries occur when there is not enough reaction time for the vehicle operator to safely come to a stop, slow down, or avoid a collision.
- Driver Negligence: Negligence is the failure of an individual to utilize reasonable care. Negligence can occur in a variety of different circumstances and often times in situations like the ones described above. If you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle you should consider the following:
- Was the semi-truck driver operating his or her vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner for the conditions of the road?
- Was the driver operating his or her vehicle at a safe rate of speed?
- Was the driver’s load properly secured? Driving hazards can be created when the load is not properly secured. Debris left on the roadway can also cause accidents and injuries to unsuspecting drivers.
- Was the driver keeping a proper lookout? Many semi-trucks and commercial vehicles are equipped with dash-cameras as well as cameras within the cab. Accidents can occur where the driver is fatigued, distracted, or failing to keep a proper lookout.
- Improper Hiring & Supervision: The trucking industry is experiencing tremendous growth. Qualified drivers are in high demand. Some areas of the country have experienced a shortage of these drivers. Trucking companies typically have policies and procedures in place to assure that the people they are hiring are competent, safe and qualified. Accidents that are the result of driver negligence may also be the result of negligent hiring and retention policies. Background checks, verified driving records, assurance of proper licensing, route and driver log monitoring, and other safety checks are the responsibility of the trucking company. Hiring an experienced attorney like Matt Tourtlotte can help you determine whether or not your accident was caused by employer negligence.
Accidents involving semi-trucks and LCVs can also occur when truck’s ‘fade’ outside of their lane of travel while cornering or when the truck/LCV is changing lanes in order to avoid a roadside hazard. Accidents can occur when a truck trailer jackknifes or the truck LCV becomes disabled in the roadway. There is a risk of accident when the driver is unable to see hazards in the truck/LCV blind spot. A truck’s blind spots are called ‘No Zones’. When a driver is driving in the truck/LCV ‘No Zone’ the truck driver typically cannot see that driver.
What should you do if you or someone you know is involved in an accident with a semi-truck or commercial vehicle?
In the face of any accident, assuring your safety and the safety of those around you is of paramount importance. Some of the things you can do are the following:
- Call for emergency assistance: Many trucking companies and commercial vehicle operators have policies and procedures in place for contacting emergency assistance after an accident.
- Do Not wait for someone else to contact the authorities. If you are able, you should make sure the police are called to the accident scene.
- Call an Ambulance: If there are injuries involved, an ambulance should be called.
- Collect Information: Get the driver’s insurance and company information.
- Create a Record of the Accident: Report the accident to the trucking company and/or commercial vehicle operator.
- Write a Letter or Email: Memorialize the reporting of the accident via email or through some other writing.
- Preserve the Evidence: Ask the trucking company and/or commercial operator to preserve all onboard video, dash camera evidence, computerized crash logs, repair estimates, and driver logs.
- Take a Picture: If possible, you or someone on your behalf should photograph the accident scene.
- Contact an attorney: Trucking cases can be complicated and because of this, it is always a good idea to ask for legal advice soon after the accident.
What can we do to help?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, getting the help you need can be extremely difficult and confusing. Whether it’s the filing of the initial claim, dealing with an insurance adjuster, or getting medical bills and other expenses that should be taken care of by the insurance company paid, we have the experience you need and a team you can trust.
Matt Tourtlotte has twenty years of legal experience, both defending and litigating against people and companies responsible for causing accidents. He has represented trucking companies, corporations, insurance companies, and the people who have caused accidents like the one you were involved in. Now, Matt and the decades of his experience and the litigation experience of his team are here to help you.
Call Matt Tourtlotte at Tourtlotte Law Firm today.