While all motor vehicle accidents can result in drivers and passengers experiencing devastating permanent injuries, trucking accidents present a disproportionate risk of serious injury, as well as unique challenges in seeking compensation. Because tractor-trailers can outweigh a small economy car by 25 times or more, the basic principles of physics dictate that such collisions are especially dangerous for occupants of a small passenger car. When large tractor-trailers are involved in fatal trucking accidents, the person who dies is an occupant of the other vehicle in over three out of four fatal collisions according to data from the federal government. Further, large trucks account for only five percent of registered vehicles, but they are involved in 11 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Extensive Knowledge of Trucking Regulation and Industry Practices
Because semi-truck crashes pose an increased risk of permanent debilitating injuries and fatalities, the trucking industry is subject to a complex matrix of federal and state regulations designed to promote highway safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary entity responsible for enacting federal regulations that govern interstate trucking, which involves commercial drivers that operate in multiple states. Trucking companies and drivers that operate exclusively within Mississippi are primarily regulated by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). This extensive regulatory scheme is designed to mitigate the increased danger posed by big-rigs by establishing safety rules regarding matters like:
- Pre-employment screening and hiring standards
- Inspection and maintenance of tractor-trailers
- Hours of service (HOS) rules to keep fatigued truck drivers off the road
- Pre-employment and random screening for drugs and alcohol
- Maximum length and weight requirements
- Proper securing of loads
- Medical fitness of commercial drivers
- Recordkeeping requirements to verify compliance (i.e. driver logbooks)
Many trucking accidents in Jackson and throughout Mississippi are the result of truck drivers who violate these safety regulations with the tacit or express approval of the trucking company. When drivers use methamphetamines to drive longer shifts and disregard HOS rules, both the truck driver and trucking company can benefit from increase profits. Effective litigation of Mississippi trucking cases requires extensive knowledge of trucking regulations and industry practices because many cases turn on non-compliance with these types of safety regulations.
Preservation and Gathering of Evidence in Mississippi Trucking Lawsuits
Trucking litigation is also complicated because commercial carriers and truck drivers have no real incentive to preserve evidence that can be used to establish liability. Trucking companies often employ rapid response teams that can be dispatched to the scene of a tractor-trailer crash almost immediately. These trucking experts begin an immediate investigation so that they can develop a strategy for minimizing or evading liability.
A successful Mississippi trucking accident lawsuit typically is contingent on promptly contacting experienced trucking accident lawyers. Our Jackson tractor-trailer accident lawyers promptly send written notice to the trucking company indicating that the semi-truck and data contained in the rig’s black box is the subject of litigation so it must not be destroyed or altered. When a truck is quickly repaired and placed back into service, this can undermine the efforts of accident reconstruction experts because the vehicle damage cannot be examined. When the rig is rapidly deployed back into service, this also can result in the black box data being erased. Because logbooks are routinely fabricated or manipulated to conceal non-compliance, black box data can be critical in exposing safety violation and establishing the cause of a trucking accident.
Our Mississippi truck accident attorneys also engage in extensive discovery of other records that might reveal negligence by the commercial carrier or driver. Some of the documents and information we might seek in discovery include:
- Driver’s personnel file
- Carrier’s hiring procedures and criteria
- Maintenance and inspection records
- Driver lodging and fuel receipts
- Documents related to prior violation of safety regulations
The bottom line is that trucking litigation is complicated, so you should schedule a consultation with an experienced trucking accident law firm promptly so that you can explore your rights and remedies. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Mississippi tractor-trailer accident or a loved one dies in a semi-truck collision, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss. We invite you to contact our Jackson trucking accident law firm for a free consultation with a Mississippi semi-truck accident attorney. We invite you to call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help!