If you have been a victim of a truck accident in Tennessee and have survived, you will be wondering how to obtain compensation if either the truck driver or the truck company (or both) was to blame for the accident. Few truck accidents leave smaller vehicles intact without damage and the occupants of the vehicle uninjured.
Tennessee has one of the worst truck accident rates of any state in the U.S., ranking 11th worst for combination truck accidents and 14th worst for single truck accidents, so unfortunately you have a greater chance of being hit by an 18 wheeler or any other juggernaut on a Tennessee highway than most other states in the country. The only silver lining is that you actually have a greater chance of being hit by another car than a truck as Tennessee was ranked second worst in the country in 2018 for car accidents. The flip side of the silver lining is that any collision with a truck has more serious consequences than any crash with a smaller vehicle.
Federal commercial vehicle rules
Knowledge of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), which are in force in Tennessee, can help prepare a case for compensation.
Truck drivers and their employers have an advantage over other road users when it comes to a potential dispute over who was to blame for an accident as they are fully aware of Federal truck regulations – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These rules are designed to restrict the incidence of accidents by making trucks across America safer through careful and regular maintenance and measures to minimize driver fatigue. Of course, truck drivers and their employers may attempt to ignore these rules for their own reasons. However, a breach the FMCSR may be discovered as a result of a crash investigation and this can provide valuable evidence to assist a plaintiff in a personal injury claim against the driver or the company found to have been at fault.
Federal truck regulations are quite wide ranging but two main sets of rules are those that concern necessary maintenance by the company, truck owner and truck driver, as well as maximum hours behind the wheel in a set time period.
All trucks of a GVWR of more than 10,001 lbs that regularly cross state lines must be inspected annually by a qualified mechanic and the inspection report dated and kept inside the cab. The inspection must include all basic components of the truck including brakes, steering, lights, fuel systems, frame, tires, suspension, windshields, wipers and wheels.
Any failure in these components can easily lead to a serious accident, as the driver, even a competent, experienced and alert driver, could easily lose control with the truck likely to swerve into the path of nearby traffic or jackknife and skid along the road, often leading to a rollover.
Truck drivers are expected to inspect their loads before they drive away from a depot or roadside stop. The FMCSR has strict rules about loads to ensure they cannot tip out or be blown off the truck or a trailer. Trucks carrying hazardous waste have their own rules, but some rules regarding size and distribution of loads may not affect farmers.
The majority of truck accidents are not actually caused by poor maintenance, overloading, bad loading or defective parts. They are due to driver error. The same reasons why car drivers cause accidents also apply to truck drivers, but despite the fact that most truck drivers are experienced professionals they are particularly affected by fatigue and stress.
The FMCSR addresses the ever present problem of fatigue by regulating the number of hours a driver can work. No driver, unless with special exemption (usually a farmer within a certain distance from their farm) is allowed to drive more than 60 hours in any consecutive period of 7 days or more than 70 hours in any consecutive period of 8 days. There must be a period of at least 8 hours of rest after any 12 hours of consecutive driving. Drivers must keep a daily log of hours of work and this log must be kept as a record inside the cab. In addition, most Tennessee trucks have an electronic data recorder (EDR) installed which records a lot of data relating to the way the truck is driven and can be invaluable when used by an experienced investigator.
The value of using a Tennessee truck accident attorney
It should be stressed that the use of an experienced Tennessee truck accident attorney in the event of a truck accident will increase your chances of success if you choose to pursue compensation. The attorney will be familiar with the FMCSR and how truck companies and drivers try and circumvent them. Truck accident attorneys are familiar with the tricks that truck companies (and their insurers) get up to in order to cover up evidence which can indicate where the fault lay in an accident. If you, or a member of your family, have been a victim of a truck accident, you should contact a dedicated and experienced truck accident attorney at Keith Williams Law Group Nashville. You can contact Keith Williams at 615-313-3999.