Articles Posted in Semi Truck Accidents

A large truck crash that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his colleagues recently spotlighted the ongoing problem with truck driver fatigue. The trucker had reportedly been awake for 24 hours prior to the wreck. Just days before that crash, U.S. Senators – spearheaded by Sent. Susan Collins of Maine –  moved to weaken laws intended to curb accidents caused by tired truckers, which is the root cause in roughly 1 in 7 large trucking accidents.

Add to that the fact that one in every 10 fatal crashes involves a large truck, and this is reason for serious alarm.

In Maine, our Bangor truck accident lawyers understand there have been a series of major crashes involving large trucks just in the last few weeks.

A new federal rule meant to help to reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings will have some unintended consequences for truck drivers, says the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).According to Land Line, officials with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)sare set to issue a final rule that prohibits a truck hauling hazardous and dangerous materials from driving “onto a highway-rail grade crossing without having sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.”

Our Bangor accident lawyers understand that there are close to 20,000 grade crossings in the U. . where the clearance space after a railroad crossing is less than 100 feet and sometimes can be even less than the length of a tractor-trailer. The concern here is that truckers won’t be able to cross the road legally at any of these areas. In some cases, truckers say that it’s virtually impossible to get across the railroad tracks without violating the traffic control device that’s located on the other side.

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Rescue officials from three different communities were called in to help free the driver of a dump truck hit by a train recently. According to the Bangor Daily News, the 63-year-old driver was heading east on Route 202 when he wasn’t able to stop his truck in time to avoid a collision with a vehicle stopped at the train tracks. The driver veered to miss the stopped vehicle and wound up driving onto the tracks, where he was hit by an oncoming train. Many of the responders were actually surprised that the truck driver made it out alive.At the time of the accident, the bells at the tracks were reportedly ringing, but an officer’s report doesn’t reveal whether the train was sounding its horn or whether additional crossing equipment was present and operational. The crossing reportedly had red lights but no gate. Western Avenue was closed down in both directions so that officials could clean up and reconstruct the accident.

Our Bangor trucking accident lawyers understand that this isn’t the first truck-train accident to happen at this crossing. Back in 2006, a passing train ripped off the rear end of a tractor-trailer when the driver wasn’t able to stop before crossing the tracks. Instead, the driver tried to speed through the crossing to avoid getting hit by the train. After that accident, officers slapped the driver of the truck with a more than $300 fine for neglecting to obey a railroad signal.

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Distracted driving car accidents in Portland and elsewhere are becoming a top concern for officials as more drivers than ever are taking their eyes off the road. To help combat the problem and to save some lives along the way, the National Safety Council (NSC) has released a new video series, “Understanding Distracted Driving,” to help drivers to fully understand the dangers and the consequences of the dangerous driving behavior.Our Maine car accident attorneys understand that state officials have yet to enact a ban on cell phone use by drivers. Currently, novice drivers in Maine are the only ones who are covered under a ban of cell phone use for both hand-held and hands-free devices. As of September 28th, no driver in our state is allowed to text while operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, not all motorists will abide by these laws and will continue to put other driver’s lives in danger.

Throughout the NSC’s new video series, the Senior Director of Transportation Initiatives at the NSC, David Teater, addresses a dozen popular questions regarding the dangerous habit, including just how severe distractions can be, why cell phones prove to be such a dangerous distraction and how employers can create an effective and beneficial cell phone policy for all employees.

Teater has chosen to conduct these videos because he and the NSC saw him as a good fit. Teater lost his 12-year-old son in a motor-vehicle accident that involved a distracted driver in 2004.

“Cell phone use and driving are a dangerous, and oftentimes deadly, combination,” Teater said.

The NSC isn’t the only one targeting distracted drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is at it, too. The NTSB recently made a proposal to ban all commercial truck drivers from using a cell phone and texting while driving.

The most recent proposal comes after a hearing that addressed a driver that was involved in a fatal accident just seconds after hanging up his cell phone. The accident took the lives of 11 people and sent local shops crumbling to the ground, according to FOX News.

According to the U. . Department of Transportation, there is a rule in place that bans truck drivers in Maine and nationwide from using texting while driving. The NTSB is trying to build on this rule by asking that the ban cover both truck and bus drivers and to prohibit both cell phone use and texting by these drivers.

“This is the most comprehensive recommendation we’ve made,” said the NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman.

The NTSB doesn’t have the authority to make something like this a federal law, so the proposal has been sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and each of the 50 states. This ban could potentially regulate the driving habits of nearly 3 million truck drivers in the United States and help to save thousands of lives on our roadways.

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A fatal trucking accident in Maine claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl on a YMCA horseback riding trip.

The Boston Herald reports a tractor-trailer was hauling sawdust on Route 2 when it collided into the back of a YMCA minivan headed to Acadia National Park in Vermont. Two adults and two other teenagers were transported to a local hospital. The family mourns the death of the young girl, who by age 12 had already established herself as an environmentalist winning the top prize for her reusable pizza box invention at the Invention Convention in Storrs, Connecticut.Saving trees and global warming were two areas of interest for the young 12 year-old. The accident remains under investigation by Farmington police and State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit; the cause of the accident is still unknown.

Bangor car accident attorneys know that car collisions involving large trucks are not only dangerous because of the size of the truck but because many times they are transporting a load that can spill onto a roadway and make the situation that much more dangerous. Large trucking companies have a responsibility to hire reliable drivers and maintain their equipment. If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, contact an experienced attorney to help you sort out who is at fault and to fight for the compensation that you deserve.

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 21 fatal large truck crashes involving another vehicle in Maine. This equated to roughly 10 percent of total fatal accidents involving all vehicles for that year.

In the news recently was a legislative proposal by Senator Snow to permit large trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds access to all highways and interstates in Maine.

Truckinginfo.com reports that current legislation limits overweight trucks of more than 80,000 pounds to use secondary roads with the Maine Turnpike from Kittery to Augusta being the only exception. The Commercial Truck Safety Act of 2011 would make states more consistent in allowable weights. There are 27 states that currently allow loads up to 100,000 pounds to travel on interstate highways. Maine truck drivers either have to unload some of their cargo when transporting through the state or take winding roads which travel through small towns and create a safety hazard for rural communities.

A report by the Maine Department of Transportation last fall indicated several advantages to the new proposed legislation which include: improving the environment, reduce transportation infrastructure costs, making businesses more competitive, increasing traffic safety, and saving on fuel costs.

We’re not sure heavier trucks are the answer — certainly we question whether allowing heavier trucks on the road can be spun as a way to improve safety. But neither do we think having heavier trucks traveling secondary roads through small communities is a good idea.

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In Maine, there is a potential intersection of the workers’ compensation and personal injury systems when the injury is caused by a third party.

Generally, if you are injured at work, regardless of the cause, you are compensated for that injury entirely through the workers’ compensation system. However, did you know that if a party other than your employer is responsible for the injury, you may also have a separate claim against that party?

For example, if you were driving a vehicle as part of your job and were injured in an accident caused by another driver, you have both a workers’ compensation claim and a claim against the other driver.

Reported in the Sun Journal, October 16, 2010

PARIS — Two people were injured late Friday morning when a car delivering mail was struck from behind by an 18-wheel tractor-trailer on a rainy, windswept stretch of Route 26 near the West Paris town line.

According to Lt. Michael Dailey of the Paris police, a 1998 Buick Century driven by 31-year-old Katie Brett of Paris was traveling south at 11:30 a.m. and had stopped to let a northbound car pass before she attempted to turn into Doe’s Variety. Her car was hit by a Freightliner fuel truck driven by 53-year-old William LeTarte of Dummer, N.H. The truck was lettered with “Bill LeTarte Trucking” of Dummer.

INSURANCE ADJUSTERS HAVE THE INTERNET TOO!

Most people at one time or another have heard the advice “Do not put anything in an email or online that you would not want on the front page of the newspaper”. This is never truer than when you are bringing a personal injury claim. The insurance company WILL search for your online profiles. More than once, we have received a call from an adjuster directing us to a client’s online profile.

“So what?” you might be thinking, “I have nothing to hide. Besides, nothing I put on my Facebook or MySpace account has anything to do with my accident.”sThis is almost never true. For example, if you are claiming an injury, and you are writing about all of the things you did over the weekend, that is relevant. If you are posting pictures of your participation in a charity walk, that is relevant. As your attorneys, we know the truth is accident victims have good days and bad days while recovering. It is our job to make that argument on your behalf. However, the insurance adjuster will use this to show that your injuries are not very serious.

What happens if someone else’s negligence behind the wheel causes you injury and they don’t have enough insurance?sIn Maine, every auto insurance policy is required to have several components. In a previous post, we discussed uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, or the coverage that exists when the other party is not insured. The partner component of UM coverage is underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Like with UM coverage, every auto insurance policy in Maine must have a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of UIM coverage (See Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 29-A Section 1605 (1)(C)(2) & (3) and Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 24-A Section 2902). This means, if you have insurance, you automatically have this coverage as part of your policy.

UIM coverage is used when someone causes you injury and their insurance policy is not sufficient to cover your damages. For example, although Maine requires $50,000 minimum of insurance, Massachusetts only requires $20,000 minimum. With the rising costs of medical expenses, even a moderate injury can easily use up this amount. This must also cover any lost wages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and all other damages you may have. (The only exception is your vehicle damage, which is usually covered separately.)

So, if you are injured by someone who has $20,000 of insurance and you have $50,000, then there is a total of $70,000 of coverage right?sUnfortunately, no. In Maine, your UIM carrier receives a credit for the amount paid by the insurance company for the at fault driver. Therefore, in this example there is only a total of $50,000 of coverage. $20,000 paid by the at fault driver and $30,000 paid by your UIM carrier. Therefore, if you only have the minimum required insurance coverage of $50,000 of UIM, and someone else with the minimum causes you an injury, there is no additional coverage for your injuries.

What happens if someone else’s negligence behind the wheel causes you injury and they don’t have insurance?sIn Maine, every auto insurance policy is required to have several components. One of those components is uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Every auto insurance policy must have a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of UM coverage. (See Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 29-A Section 1605 (1)(C)(2) & (3) and Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Chapter 24-A Section 2902). This means, if you have insurance, you automatically have this coverage as part of your policy.

UM coverage is used when someone with no insurance at all causes you injury. In that case, you can use up to the amount of your policy. Therefore, if you have only purchased the state minimum of insurance, the maximum amount available tosyou from an accident will be $50,000. This is true even if the accident was not your fault. With the rising costs of medical expenses, even a moderate injury can easily use up this amount. This must also cover any lost wages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and all other damages you may have. (The only exception is your vehicle damage, which is usually covered separately.)

Note that the limit is further split, depending on how many people are injured in the accident. For example, if a family of three are traveling in the same car and all three are injured, the maximum amount available for the whole accident is capped at $100,000. No one person can recover more than $50,000 and the total amount the insurance company will have to pay will not exceed $100,000. Again, if all three have even moderate injuries, there will likely not be enough money to properly compensate everyone.

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