The attorneys at Charbonnet Law Firm are members of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. We are specifically trained to represent those injured by 18-Wheelers and big box trucks.
Did you know there are special laws set up by the federal government that apply only to 18-Wheelers and big trucks? It is very important that you contact an attorney ASAP after any wreck involving an 18-Wheeler. We may need to recover black box data from the truck and obtain evidence from the scene of the wreck.
Large commercial trucks are the lifeblood of Louisiana commerce. They transport everything from the food and clothing we buy to construction equipment for our road and crude oil to Louisiana refineries. Sadly, auto accidents involving large trucks occur every day in Louisiana, and these crashes can be very dangerous and often deadly for other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,761 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2017. Four out of five people killed in a crash involving a large truck are the drivers or occupants of the other vehicles involved, or a pedestrian or bicyclist.
On average, 100 people are killed and 3,0000 people are injured each year in Louisiana in large truck and bus accidents, according to data compiled by the Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation at Louisiana State University.
Facts About Large Truck Crashes
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- A third of all fatal crashes that involve a large truck are head-on collisions.
- Another 30 percent involve the front of the truck hitting the back or side of another vehicle.
- More than one in four fatal large-truck crashes occurred on interstate highways.
- Nearly 60 percent occurred in rural areas.
- Deadly crashes involving large trucks typically happen on weekdays during daylight hours.
- More than 21 percent of all large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction, roughly the same as drivers of passenger cars involved in fatal crashes.
A comprehensive study of the causes of large-truck crashes that involved injury or death by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that in 55 percent of crashes the large truck was the “critical reason” (or the cause of) the accident event. Nine out of ten these critical reasons involved driver error on the part of the large truck operator.
The most common factors involved in truck driver error that led to a crash were:
- Traveling too fast for conditions (23% of crashes)
- Unfamiliar with roadway (22% of crashes)
- Over-the-counter drug use (17% of crashes)
- Inadequate surveillance (14% of crashes)
- Driver Fatigue (13% of crashes)
An average semi-truck weighs 40 tons, compared to 1.5 tons for a typical compact car. This weight difference makes semi-trucks the most hazardous vehicles on the road. Semi-trucks require more stopping and merging distance, and they have large blindspots at their front and sides. They often carry massive loads long distances across a variety of road types and conditions.
Louisiana Law and Truck Accident Victims
Liability Under Louisiana Law
Because of the inherent risks of large trucks, especially to other motor vehicle operators, truck drivers have a duty to other drivers to use “reasonable care” in operating vehicles. Essentially, an injured party seeks damages based on a truck driver’s negligence that caused the accident.
Damages under Louisiana Law
When a trucker causes an accident, that duty is breached and injured parties hold him or her liable failing to use such care. Injured parties may seek compensation for medical expenses incident to the accident, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as future treatment and rehabilitation expenses.
Louisiana car accident judgements are subject to a comparative negligence law. This means that a court can find you, the victim, partially at fault for your car accident. You can not recover damages for your case. But the court will reduce your award by the percentage that it decides you were at fault. So, if you would have received a $100,000 award and you are found to be 20% at fault for the car accident, your award would be reduced to by 20% to $80,000. An insurance claims adjuster will use the same logic in determining what it will offer as a settlement.
Obviously, there is no empirical measure of fault, so any assignment of liability is really a judgement call that is subject to your ability to negotiate with insurers or persuade a judge or jury. A skilled, experienced attorney with knowledge of past awards and how “fault” is determined can be invaluable in helping you through this process.
Statute of Limitations Under Louisiana Law
The statute of limitations to bring a civil suit for damages in Louisiana is one year from the date of the accident.
Commercial Truckers Insurance Requirements
Under current state and federal laws, commercial large truck drivers are required to have a minimum liability coverage from $300,000 (up to 10,000 lbs) and $750,000 (over 10,000 lbs), rising to $5 million for certain hazardous cargoes.
Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?
While typically the driver of a vehicle is liable for the damages they cause in an auto accident in Louisiana, there can be special circumstances when a commercial truck is involved. It is important to understand your rights if you’ve been injured in a crash with a large truck. A skilled attorney with experience winning Louisiana truck accident cases can help you navigate the process to ensure the best possible compensation for your injuries.
Louisiana Law When The Truck Driver Is An Employee
Louisiana law holds employers responsible for wrongful acts, including negligent driving, when they are committed by an employee while the employee is performing job duties. When two parties have a certain relationship with one another, the law can hold one party liable for the misconduct of another. For example, if an employee runs a red light and hits another car while driving a company truck during work hours, the employer could be responsible for the damages caused by the employee.
Louisiana Law and Truck Fleet Owners and Operators
Truck drivers are, however, are often classified (and sometimes misclassified) as independent contractors by the companies that employ them. This allows a company to shift costs onto truck drivers and avoid federal labor standards like overtime pay and workers compensation. This does not nullify the company’s responsibility as a fleet owner or operator when a victim is injured by a driver under their employ.
Damages suffered by victims of a truck accident can quickly exceed a truck driver’s insurance policy limits. Because of this, federal regulations require that trucking companies carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance.
Call the Charbonnet Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck-involved crash in Louisiana, you owe it to yourself to find a strong legal advocate. Insurance and trucking companies will always work to protect their bottom line. That can mean pressuring accident victims to settle quickly for less than the compensation they need and deserve for their injuries.
Call today for a free consultation. Let our team of experienced, trusted attorneys at the Charbonnet Law Firm evaluate your case and help you decide the best possible course of action to take. If you decide to work with our firm, we collect nothing unless we prevail, and we will fight tireless to ensure the best possible outcome of your case, so you can focus on healing.