Semi Truck Accidents

By Gregory H. Haubrich

Attorney at Law

On Interstate 40 near Shawnee, Oklahoma: The May 19th 2013 tornado blew these big trucks off overpasses and tossed them around like toys.  Photo courtesy Daily Oklahoman.

On Interstate 40 near Shawnee, Oklahoma: The May 19th 2013 tornado blew these big trucks off overpasses and tossed them around like toys.
Photo courtesy Daily Oklahoman.

When an 80,000 pound vehicle hits a 3000 pound vehicle at highway speeds the results are usually not good. Force equals mass times velocity squared.

When I read about mandatory CDLs for truck drivers, I assumed they were then required to undergo extensive training before they could drive eighteen wheelers from Tucson to Tucumcari. They should, but they aren’t. OTJ (on the job) is maybe the best way to learn most things, but if I were a big company I would not use OTJ as the primary training method for operating nuclear power plants …. or learning how to drive an 18 wheeler without killing others. Still, today, there are LOTS of certified intrastate and interstate truck drivers who have never been to a defensive driving class — much less a truck driving academy.

Big trucks are subject to a lot of regulations for a reason. The Federal Government has passed laws designed to ensure that trucks will be safe, have well-trained drivers, and have adequate liability insurance to cover most of the injuries that they cause. Every truck in interstate commerce must drive under a Department of Transportation (DOT) number, the idea being that whoever’s DOT number is on that truck is responsible for injuries and damages caused or contributed to by the truck.

A big-truck driver should be a professional driver with special expertise. The Commercial Drivers’ License manual in Oklahoma gives excellent advice on how truck drivers can remain alert, anticipate oncoming hazards, plan escape routes, and be aware at all times of the vehicles around them.

I drove large trucks when I was younger, because I was a farm kid. But trucks and trucking companies today are very different from the 1960s and 70s. They have GPS tracking devices, sophisticated electronic equipment, drivers’ logs, driver qualification records, driver inspections, equipment inspections, and repair and maintenance records. Knowing what to ask for and how to get those kinds of records often provides a backdrop (i.e., excessive hours driving = driver fatigue) for why a particular tragedy occurred.

Usually in trucking injury cases we hire accident re-constructionists to determine the cause or causes of a crash. Sometimes we also need experts on trucking regulations and practices.

One of the really helpful things we can do nowadays is video animations that represent our experts’ opinions of how an incident occurred. I was one of the first lawyers in Oklahoma to develop and use video animations as demonstrative aids in personal injury cases. The first one took over thirty days to transfer from computer to video even though the animator had one of the fastest computers available at the time. Today all of that can be done in a day or two, at about one tenth the cost it used to be.

If you want to make sure the negligent party is held responsible for your loss, call me today to learn about your legal rights and obligations. There’s never a fee unless I win your case or you decide to settle, so call now and keep all your options on the table.

Don’t deal with your expenses alone:

  • Medical care and rehabilitation
  • Funeral costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional hardships
  • Lost wages and future damages
  • Damage to your vehicle or property

Contact me now to schedule your free initial consultation.

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