The average weight of an 18-wheeler truck is 40,000 pounds or 20 tons. It is no surprise that many people feel uncomfortable driving alongside these vehicles. When semi trucks are involved in traffic accidents, the results can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, even careful and responsible drivers cannot always prevent collisions with large trucks- it’s especially difficult when fatigued.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, the trucking company may be liable for your losses. Depending on the accident’s circumstances, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the Oklahoma City trucking company negligence attorneys at the Abel Law Firm to discuss your case. Call (405) 239-7046 today to schedule a free initial consultation.

With over 130 years of combined experience among our six practicing attorneys, Abel Law Firm can offer proven expertise that can get direct results for you. The Able Law Firm has represented countless affected individuals and has recovered over 400 million dollars for our clients. Our firm prioritizes our client’s rights, so much so that we recently prevailed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court in overturning an unjust law for our client. Our attorneys have consistently been named among Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Top Guns of the legal profession, and the Top 40 Under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers.

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    Trucking Company Responsibilities

    Trucking companies are responsible for maintaining their vehicles and monitoring their workers to ensure the general public’s safety. A trucking company may be liable for accidents caused by negligent actions such as:

    Failure to Maintain Vehicles

    Almost every aspect of the maintenance and repair of commercial trucks or 18-wheelers is regulated by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Truckers are required by law to maintain and upkeep their vehicle by performing regular inspections to ensure their truck is safe for continued operation. A driver must not operate a truck if defects or damages render the vehicle unsafe.

    Ensuring that the 18-wheelers in operation are well maintained and in working condition is standard practice to ensure that other drivers on the road are protected from any potential hazards created by the presence of large 18-wheelers on the road. This responsibility required that truck drivers consistently check their vehicle for any potential malfunctions or defects and ensure that it is safe and streetworthy.

    Initially, it may seem like these types of accidents are rare, but the reality is much different. A majority of the parts located on an 18-wheeler are only rated for operation at certain and lose this rating when that speed is exceeded. This means that when a truck driver speeds past a part’s speed rating, they risk causing serious equipment failure. The most often equipment to fail is the 18-wheeler’s tires, with many accidents resulting from a tire blowout.

    Several things could render trucking equipment faulty, including:

    • Malfunction electronics
    • Damaged windshield wipers and windows
    • Worn breaks and tires
    • Burnt-out lights and turn indicators
    • Improper maintenance

    Hours of Service Violations

    Driver fatigue and drowsiness are the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents. This is because truckers often experience pressure to meet strict deadlines. Hence, when a driver’s tiredness causes accidents, they are often the result of hours of service violation.

    Because of the serious danger associated with hours of service violations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set rules that govern the number of hours they may drive to improve road safety for everyone on the road. Some of the more important provisions for those operating property-carrying commercial trucks include:

    • Drivers may work for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours.
    • Drivers can only drive 11 consecutive hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
    • Drivers may only operate their vehicles if it has been eight hours or less since their last break of at least 30 minutes.
    • The driver cannot operate their vehicles after 60 (or 70) hours on duty in seven (or eight) consecutive days.
    • The clock re-starts after taking 34 consecutive hours off.

    It may seem easy to blame the truck drivers due to their fatigue, but the reality is that most of them are just trying to adhere to the demanding schedule set by their employers. These schedules can have serious consequences.

    Negligent Hiring

    By law, a trucking company must ensure that their drivers have sufficient qualifications and operate their 18-wheelers safely. If the company does not thoroughly screen its employees during the hiring process or properly monitor its drivers throughout their employment period, they may be liable for negligent hiring or inadequate training.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations on who trucking companies can hire to operate their vehicles. Companies are required to document that each driver:

    • Has a valid commercial driver’s license;
    • Has passed an examination and meets the physical requirements to drive a commercial vehicle;
      21 or older;
    • Reads and speaks English well enough to understand traffic signs and signals;
    • Has an acceptable driving and employment record; and
    • Has tested negative for alcohol and other drugs.

    Unfortunately, trucking companies do not always follow these regulations. Very often, they hire unqualified drivers and thus put all motorists on the road at risk. Sometimes employers don’t ask the required questions. This is negligent hiring. Other times, employers do ask, but they hire an individual even if they don’t meet the requirements. This is also negligent.

    Failure to Train

    The operation of 18-wheelers requires a high level of continuous training and experience. When inexperienced drivers get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, it can have devastating consequences. Every year, several innocent people are harmed by the consequences of inexperienced drivers.

    These trailers can often weigh up to 80,000 pounds and often carry hazardous materials. To drive one of these large vehicles or commercial trucks, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required. However, this license is insufficient to ensure proper training in commercial vehicle driving. Commercial truck drivers must attend an educational program to help compensate for their training. Yet, many of these schools train for too short a period or may not event provide the necessary and required training for individuals. Classroom training is often insufficient, and many schools only offer paper-based lessons and little to no driving instruction. As a result, many of these drives feel unprepared for their work.

    If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, your case should be investigated for liability. If a trucking company’s negligence contributed to your accident, its owners may be liable for your losses. Our OKC trucking company negligence lawyers can help you protect your rights.

    Contact Us

    To speak with an experienced Oklahoma City trucking company negligence attorney, contact attorneys at the Abel Law Firm. Call (405) 239-7046 today to discuss your case and determine your legal options or click here to learn more online.

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    The Journal Record 2023 Reader Rankings - Top Winner - Abel Law Firm - Best Peronal Injury Law Firm

    Oklahomans across the state have recognized the Abel Law Firm's unique heritage as a statewide institution. Founded by Ed Abel, and today led by his son, Luke Abel, our personal injury law firm has become synonymous with empathy, compassion, and the highest professional performance serving our neighbors. Our family has sought to leave a profound impact upon the State of Oklahoma. We appreciate that former Governor Mary Fallin recognized that dedication when she declared May 1st "Ed Abel Day."

    To be named Oklahoma's Best Personal Injury Law Firm is humbling. We are grateful to have won this prestigious honor. We work every day to earn the trust of those we serve: Oklahoma families who are facing some of the most difficulty days of their lives due to the negligence of others. It is our intention and resolve to continue to be deserving of the faith Oklahomans have placed in our family's law firm. Thank you!

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