Seeking Full Compensation from Negligent Drivers and Trucking Companies for Tennessee Crash Victims
Semi-truck crashes can be devastating, and can result in catastrophic injury and death. These crashes often occur at high rates of speed on highways, when vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds can crash into passenger vehicles that often weigh only several thousand pounds.
We understand the tragic consequences that result in major truck crashes in Tennessee and throughout the United States. Statistically, truck accidents and crashes have a fatality rate that is significantly higher than crashes involving passenger vehicles. Severe long-term injuries are also commonplace in semi-truck crashes, which can change forever the lives of victims and their families.
We are dedicated to seeking full compensation for the victims of truck crashes in Johnson City and the surrounding areas from all those who are liable.
All firm clients are represented directly by firm founding attorney Mark Hurt. Mark graduated with honors in the top 10% of his law school class at Duke Law School. As a practicing attorney for nearly 30 years, Mark has helped countless crash victims and their families secure full compensation through settlements and at trial.
Mark and our firm are committed to going the distance for clients in truck crash and other injury cases. We do not seek quick settlements with insurance companies that pay only a fraction of the compensation to which our clients may be entitled. Instead, we engage in the painstaking work necessary to prove liability and damages. If the defendants and their insurance companies are not willing to pay what they owe, we will not hesitate to take a case to trial and let a jury determine fault and damages.
Why You and Your Family Need an Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer for Big Rig Crashes
The Complex Federal Rules and Regulations Covering Truckers
Truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with complex rules and regulations (the “Federal Trucking Regulations”) adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (the “FMCSA”) under the federal Motor Carrier Act. These rules and regulations are designed to make trucking safer for the public, and include stringent regulations concerning safety, training, load inspection, and other matters.
One set of regulations adopted for interstate truckers is referred to as the “Hours of Service” rules and regulations, which limits the number of hours truck and bus drivers may drive over certain time periods (those of us who are non-commercial drivers can drive as long as we want). Among other matters, these rules and regulations prohibit truck drivers from:
- Being on duty more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days
- Driving for more than 11 hours out of 14 hours on duty following 10 hours off-duty
In addition, truck and bus drivers must take a 30 minute break by their 8th hour after coming on duty.
The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
The limitations on the number of hours that commercial truckers can drive during a day (or over a certain time period) were motivated in large part due to the number of accidents caused by sleep-deprived drivers. Before these regulations, truckers could drive as long as they wanted.
While all interstate truck drivers must comply with these regulations and must keep logs of their driving, many truck drivers nonetheless break these rules and drive while sleep-deprived, causing crashes, injuries and death.
As an example, according to a Washington Post article and a criminal complaint, the Walmart driver allegedly causing the crash that seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan had not slept in more than 24 hours prior to the crash. If this allegation is true, it is highly likely that the crash will have been caused in part due to driver fatigue.
As of December 18, 2017, truck drivers are required to use electronic logging devices (referred to as “ELDs”). These devices carefully track vehicle movement, and are designed to replace the paper log books that drivers historically were required to us to document the number of hours driven, stops, inspection points, and other matters to prove compliance with the Hours of Service and other rules and regulations.
It’s important to understand that truck drivers usually will have a strong incentive to break the Hours of Service rules and regulations, since they typically are paid based upon the number of miles driven. In the past, many truck drivers falsified the paper records to earn more money by exceeding the limit on the number of hours they could drive. While ELDs make it harder to falsify information, nonetheless some truckers still break the rules, and drive over the required hour limits.
As Tennessee truck crash lawyers, we are knowledgeable with the FMCSA and Federal Trucking Regulations, and are dedicated in seeking to uncover the truth about how a truck crash occurred. In a truck crash investigation, in addition to hiring accident reconstructionists, we will want to obtain all of the records relating to matters such as driver and safety training, vehicle inspection, and the ELDs.
Potential Punitive Damages
In some instances, trucking company actions are egregious. They may hire drivers who don’t have licenses, or have a past history of unsafe driving (such as drunk driving). They may also “cut corners” by allowing unsafe vehicles to be driven in order to make more money.
In Tennessee, trucking companies may be liable for what are known as “punitive” damages if they act recklessly. Punitive damages are designed to punish companies that act in a reckless disregard to the safety of others, and, in a truck crash case, can provide additional compensation to injury victims and their families.
As an example, if a truck crash resulted from a truck having defective brakes, and the truck driver knew about this defect but chose to drive anyway, a jury may award punitive damages to the injury victim or the family who has lost a loved one. In large truck and bus investigations, we will want to determine whether a cause for seeking punitive damages exists.
Who We Serve
We not only serve truck crash injury victims in Johnson City, but crash victims in the surrounding communities in northern Tennessee and southern Virginia.
In Johnson City, we note that U.S. Interstate 26 (known locally as “James H. Quillen Parkway”) cuts through town. As a major interstate, this highway has its shares of significant crashes, particularly as drivers are entering the highway, or seeking to exit. A number of other highways surround the town, which also are the scene of crashes.
If you or a family member are injured, or if a family member has been killed on any of these highways, we would urge you to contact us as soon as possible so that we can discuss how we can help.
Required Levels of Insurance, and What this Means for Injury Victims and Their Families
Under the Federal Trucking Regulations, Act, those driving trucks over 10,001 pounds that carry non-hazardous waste must maintain minimum liability coverage of at least $750,000, which is usually 10 or more times the minimum amount of insurance required for passenger vehicles by most states. If oil or other hazardous materials are being transported, these minimum requirements may be $1,000,000 or more. In addition to these minimum coverages, most large trucking companies carry insurance with significantly higher levels of coverage, typically extending into the millions of dollars.
With these higher level of insurance, accident victims and families often have access to “deep pockets” which will better help them in obtaining full monetary compensation compared to other drivers, who may be uninsured or underinsured.
Call Us for a Free Consultation, and to Learn How We Carefully Investigate Truck Crashes and Seek to Hold Drivers and Trucking Companies Fully Responsible
Once we learn about you case, we can explain how we will work tenaciously on your behalf in seeking full compensation for you and your family.
We hired Mr. Hurt to help settle a worker’s comp injury case for my husband. Mark, Bart, and Mary worked tirelessly to resolve his case and reach a settlement we were pleased with. They were always available to answer questions and returned calls in a timely manner.