Tractor trailer accidents are even more delicate cases than your typical automobile accident. As personal injury attorneys, Harris Law Firm can help you navigate these complicated 18-wheeler accident cases. If you were injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, call our personal injury attorneys at 540-371-4941 today to receive your free consultation.
Trucking is an essential part of U.S. commerce, and will continue to be for many years to come. As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continues to expand, most of this new trade is being carried in trucks across the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. In 2002, 4.7 million trucks crossed the Mexican border into the United States. While travel under NAFTA is currently restricted to states bordering Mexico, plans to extend its reach into all of the continental U.S., including Virginia, aren’t far from fruition.
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs the safe travel of trucks, commercial buses and other large passenger vehicles throughout the United States. Because trucks and other large vehicles share the roads with tax-paying citizens, and because the sheer size and weight of trucks poses unique dangers to other drivers on the road, the federal government strictly regulates the safety procedures and conduct of truck companies, and the fitness and workloads of the truck drivers they hire to deliver their freight.
Through increasing compliance from the trucking industry, tough federal regulations and even tougher verdicts and settlements dispensed by state and federal juries against acts of misconduct by the trucking industry, truck accidents involving fatalities and injuries have undergone a noticeable decline in recent years. In Virginia, the FMCSA reported that only 84 deaths occurred as a result of truck accidents in 2002, a 10 year low. Nationwide, injuries have also stayed steady at about 130,000 per year, despite an increase of 30 percent in the number of registered trucks in the U.S. (now approaching 8 million) since 1992.
But despite improvements, the struggle to keep the driving public safe from unfit truck drivers and the trucking companies that hire them is far from over. For every reputable trucking company that abides by federal safety regulations and puts safety at the forefront of its operations, there is a competitor offering businesses cheaper shipping rates, usually at the expense of safety.
For example, instead of hiring members of truck driver unions to deliver their freight, many trucking companies hire independent owner-operators instead. Unlike unionized truck drivers, owner-operators lack many of the basic rights required not only to protect themselves, but others on the road. Among these types of drivers, violations in hours of service limits are rampant, as are scheduled maintenance checks, poor driving records and loading, weight and size violations. These are the very problems that lead to deaths and catastrophic injuries, like brain injury, spinal cord injury, dismemberment and severe burns. Until such companies recognize that their hunger for profit hurts and kills innocent people, the work of attorneys who specialize in truck accident injuries will never be done.
If you or a loved one has had the misfortune of being involved in a truck accident, you deserve the most competent legal help you can attain. Fredericksburg attorney John Harris is a lawyer with many years of experience working to enforce the regulations of the FMCSA and making the roads of Virginia safer for drivers. In addition to his expert knowledge and application of FMCSA regulations in settlements and trials, John is also experienced in investigating defective truck components, and the fitness and driving records of negligent truck drivers.
Brake Fade in Trucks
How often have you been driving down a highway and been passed by a truck going more than 60 miles an hour? Probably more than once. What most people don’t realize (including many truck drivers themselves) is that in the event that trucks have to make a sudden stop to avoid a collision or obstacle on the road, they are facing dangerous risks of brake failure.
Because of their massive weight and cargo load, trucks must use complex and elaborate braking systems to decelerate. Most trucks use air brake systems, which heat up when they are applied. When a fully loaded truck makes a sudden stop at 60 mph, the brakes can heat up to as high as 600 degrees. This is considered the maximum temperature a truck can handle without irreparable wear and tear on the braking system. When trucks exceed this limit and must make sudden stops at speeds above 60 mph, the temperatures can reach levels as high as 1000 degrees, leading to a condition in the brakes known as ‘over-stroking.’
Trucks traveling cross-country must often make numerous sudden stops in a single trip. Because many truckers are so often racing to meet deadlines for the delivery of their freight, speeds of 60 mph are often exceeded.
Contact The Harris Law Firm
If you are in need of legal representation by a caring, professional, and experience attorney with a track record of success with personal injury, wrongful death, and accident cases, call us today or click the link below to schedule a consultation.