Reno Truck Accident Lawyer
Collisions with massive commercial trucks often leave destruction, severe injuries, and death in their wake. If a truck accident has changed your life, turn to personal injury lawyer Matthew L. Sharp to begin your recovery. We’ll help you demand full compensation to pay for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. With more than 30 years experience representing injured Nevadans, a track record of obtaining high awards for victims, and the resources to help you reach your goals, our firm will ensure your recovery is a success.
To speak with an experienced truck crash lawyer in the Reno area, contact Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp.
The Impact of Large Trucks in Collisions
Disabling injuries and fatalities are common when large truck accidents happen due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. When fully loaded, these trucks typically weigh about 80,000 pounds. While this is generally considered the maximum allowable weight for semi-trucks in the U.S., those with indivisible loads can weigh much more. Trucks carrying housing units or heavy equipment sometimes weigh more than 250,000 pounds.
With such immense weight, trucks traveling at highway speeds deliver unimaginable force upon impact. Since smaller passenger vehicles weighing between 4,000 and 6,000 pounds on average are no match for these massive trucks, drivers and passengers of other vehicles are usually the ones who suffer the most. Approximately 83% of deaths in fatal truck crashes are pedestrians or passengers of other vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 97% of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle in 2017 were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Truck crashes took the lives of 4,761 people in the United States in 2017. Another 135,000 people were severely injured. For victims who survived, reconstructive surgeries, physical rehabilitation, long-term medical treatment, and permanent disabilities became a way of life.
Truck Driver Negligence a Major Factor in Crashes
It takes special training, skill, and focus to operate large trucks safely on Nevada roadways. Unfortunately, many truckers who maneuver their semis along I-80 and other highways in Reno have been driving for long hours, are unfamiliar with the area, and may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The truck driver shortage means many of these drivers are inexperienced or lack adequate training. Driver negligence is a contributing factor in about 87% of trucking accidents. According to the FMCSA, this is what goes wrong.
In about 42% of crashes that were deemed to be the fault of the trucker or trucking company, poor decision-making played a major role. Speeding, driving too fast for conditions, aggressive driving, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or making illegal maneuvers were common culprits.
Lack of Focus
About 35% of these crashes were caused by the driver’s inattention to the road. Internal and external driving distractions, lax surveillance, and just plain inattentive driving caused these wrecks. Since it takes about 525 feet for a fully loaded semi to stop after traveling 65 mph., even a few seconds of distraction or inattention can be deadly.
Overcompensation, driver hesitation, and other skill-related issues accounted for about 7% of crashes. Some of these issues can be linked to poor training, inexperience, or drug or alcohol impairment
Health and Wellness
Sickness, fatigue, and falling asleep at the wheel contributed to around 3% of accidents. Although hours of service regulations are designed to prevent drivers from staying behind the wheel past their limits, some truckers still violate these laws. Under current law, truckers may not drive more than 11 hours in a shift, must rest at least 10 hours between shifts, and cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day span.
Defective parts, poorly maintained trucks, and malfunctioning equipment contributed to approximately 8% of trucking crashes. While trucking companies are typically responsible for maintaining their trucks, truckers who are owner-operators must usually maintain their own vehicles. Additionally, truckers are required to inspect their own trucks before they hit the road.
The Negligence of Other Drivers in Truck Crashes
Drivers of passenger vehicles contribute to a large portion of trucking accidents in Reno. If another driver contributed to your crash, he or she can be held liable for injuries and losses. Common ways motorists play a role in 18-wheeler accidents include:
Driving in “No-Zones”
Truckers cannot see vehicles who are traveling in their blind spots. These “no-zones” are located directly behind and directly in front of large trucks and on either side of these massive vehicles. One rule of thumb experts recommend is: if you can’t see the trucker, he probably can’t see you either.
Maneuvering to the right of a truck making a right turn
Many large trucks must pull forward before making a right turn and some drivers may become confused by this move.
Stopping Too Quickly or Cutting Off a Large Truck
Their massive size makes it difficult for trucks to maneuver around vehicles or stop quickly. In many cases, by the time a trucker has a chance to react, apply the brakes, and allow time for the vehicle to stop, it’s already too late.
When motorists follow trucks too closely or drive distracted, they put themselves and their passengers at risk of suffering serious injuries or death in underride crashes. These accidents happen similarly to rear end crashes, except that semi trucks are so much larger than passenger vehicles that the smaller cars, SUVs, and even trucks slide underneath the trailer of the commercial vehicle.
Other Common Causes of Truck Accidents
A number of other factors have been linked to the large number of truck accidents in Reno.
- Unsafe weather or road conditions
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway
- Inadequate driver training
- Improper loading and securing of loads
- Malfunctioning traffic signals or missing signs
- Poorly designed or maintained roads and bridges
Is Accident Prevention Technology the Answer?
Despite thousands of deadly crashes, large commercial trucks are not required to be equipped with the newest technology to prevent accidents. Rear-end crash avoidance technology, lane departure warning systems, side blind-zone and lane change alerts, forward collision alerts, and pedestrian avoidance technology are all available. And a wide range of apps that do things like remind truckers about required maintenance, monitor trucker fatigue, and even alert drivers to their own dangerous behaviors are in existence as well. But these tools are rarely used by commercial trucking fleets. If the trucking industry would equip their trucks with just some of the in-vehicle safety tools available, it would significantly reduce the number of commercial truck accidents that injure or kill people in Reno and surrounding communities. Unfortunately, these companies cannot be held liable when they don’t equip their trucks with technology that isn’t yet required. As a result, advocates continue to plead for the implementation of lifesaving laws and regulations that impact technology use in the trucking industry.
Who Is Liable for Truck Accident Injuries?
While the first step for a truck accident lawyer is to determine the cause of the crash, the next step is to decide who should take the blame. Determining liability after a big rig accident is often more complicated than deciding who is liable in a car wreck. Federal and state commercial vehicle regulations and common carrier laws apply. And multiple entities like trucking companies, manufacturers and mechanics, loaders, leasing companies, and even distribution companies are typically involved when large trucks crash. In most truck accident cases, more than one party can be held liable for injuries and fatalities.
Trucking Companies Put Profits Before People
The trucking industry regularly puts their own bottom line ahead of the safety of motorists and pedestrians. Despite commercial trucking regulations that are in place, trucking companies often push truckers and their trucks beyond their limits to meet tight deadlines and come in under budget.
They employ drivers with expired, suspended, or no commercial driver’s licenses and those with histories of accidents, traffic violations, and even multiple DUIs. They don’t maintain or repair their trucks when needed. They encourage drivers to break laws. And they regularly cut corners, overload trucks, and disregard regulations, putting the safety of their drivers and the public at risk.
Trucking Companies Have Responsibilities
When trucking companies disregard the safety of people in Reno, they can be held liable for the injuries caused by their negligence or deliberate misconduct. Trucking companies are responsible for:
Hiring Trained Truck Drivers:
Negligent hiring practices like hiring drivers with little experience or those who don’t carry the proper endorsements can come back on the trucking company when an injury accident occurs.
Providing Adequate Safety Training to Drivers:
Trucking companies are responsible for providing safety training to their employees to reduce the risk of accidents.
Encouraging Truckers to Abide by Laws and Regulations:
Trucking companies who encourage drivers to bypass weigh stations, violate hours of service regulations, or speed can be held liable when accidents happen.
Encouraging Safe Driving Practices:
When a trucking company pushes drivers to operate large trucks when they are tired or in poor health, truckers may get behind the wheel when it is unsafe. They may take medications that could impair their driving abilities, fall asleep at the wheel, or have trouble concentrating.
Ensuring Their Trucks Are Properly Maintained and Repaired:
Trucking companies are responsible for making sure their trucks are in good repair, that they comply with regulations, and that inspections are completed.
Conducting Background Checks and Physicals:
Background checks and physicals can reveal dangerous driving histories, health problems that could interfere with safe driving, and alcohol or drug-related convictions or substance abuse problems that could jeopardize public safety.
Other Liable Parties in a Crash
Since so many factors are often involved in truck accidents, liability for injuries may not always be obvious. Our truck accident law firm will investigate every avenue of liability to ensure that every party responsible for your injuries or losses is held accountable. Some entities who may have contributed to your crash include:
- Truck mechanics and contracted maintenance teams can be held liable for injuries when they fail to make safe repairs to large trucks. When brake failures, bald tires, and other improperly maintained truck parts can be traced back to the mechanic, he or his employer may be liable for negligence.
- Loaders and staff who improperly load a commercial truck can be held liable for your losses when they don’t properly balance loads, they overload trucks, or they don’t adequately secure loads on the trailer. Sometimes loaders are the truckers themselves or employees of the trucking company. Other times, they may be employees of the product manufacturer or distribution center. Sometimes, they’re hired contractors.
- When trucking equipment is defectively designed or faulty, the manufacturer can be held liable if a crash occurs. Defective tires, brakes, and steering components have made headlines for the accidents they have caused in recent years.
- Truckers aren’t always at fault when truck crashes happen. Sometimes it is another motorist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian who causes a crash. When another driver swerves in front of a truck, stops too fast, or disobeys traffic laws and a crash occurs, you can file a claim against that party to recover compensation for your injuries. Likewise, when a distracted pedestrian moves into traffic or a motorcyclist weaves between lanes, they can be held accountable for their actions.
- Government agencies and road crews can be held accountable when roads or bridges are in disrepair, traffic signals don’t work, road signs and guardrails are missing, or other dangerous road conditions exist.
Preserving Evidence After a Commercial Truck Crash
Once of the most important actions you and your truck accident attorney can take after a large vehicle crash is to collect information and preserve evidence. Today’s technology can help you do just that.
Event Data Recorders (EDRs) provide information about the trucker’s activities and the condition of the truck immediately before and during an accident. These high-tech devices are similar to black boxes that provide information on plane crashes. EDRs can supply information about how far the truck was driven, how long it had been driving, speed patterns of the driver, and when the driver applied the brakes.
Taking pictures of the crash scene with your smartphone is a great way to help us prove fault after a truck accident. If possible, you or a loved one should take pictures or videos of the vehicles involved, the victims, the trucker, other drivers, and any incriminating evidence like beer cans, medication bottles, or even skid marks on the road. If road conditions, malfunctioning traffic signals, or other factors played a role in your accident, those should be photographed as well. With permission, you can even record witness statements with your smartphone to make it easier to remember the details of the crash later.
Dash cams have provided valuable evidence in truck accidents in recent years. In addition to recording valuable information about reckless driving, lawbreaking, and dangerous maneuvers, dash cams can help police identify vehicles when drivers leave the scene of a crash. If you don’t have a dash cam, you may be able to check with other drivers who were nearby when the accident happened to see if their cameras captured footage. Otherwise, nearby businesses and traffic cams may provide evidence.
Federal and state officials will also inspect the accident scene shortly after the crash. Unless it is required to ensure the safety of accident victims, you should avoid moving anything or disturbing the accident scene until after investigators have had a chance to collect photographs, measurements, and other evidence.
Unfortunately, chaos is common at the scene of a truck wreck. Usually within hours and sometimes much sooner, the press, trucking company representatives, emergency responders, law enforcement, insurance reps, tow trucks, bystanders, and even friends and family members of the victims flock to the site. While law enforcement tries to preserve the crash site as much as possible, evidence is often compromised.
Steps to Take After a Trucking Accident
The actions you take directly after a commercial vehicle accident may be critical to your physical and financial recovery. If you are involved in a truck crash:
- 1. Your health, and the wellbeing of other people who were involved in the crash, should always take priority. Before you do anything else, make sure everyone is safe.
- 2. The first phone call you make should be to emergency responders. Even if you and the other crash victims feel fine, it’s important to get help on the way immediately. The shock of what just happened can cause your body’s fight or flight response to kick in and the severity of your injuries may not be apparent. When the ambulance arrives, be sure to get checked over.
- 3. Shortly after you call 911, police should arrive at the scene. They are going to need to collect information from you if you are in the condition to be interviewed. You should provide the police with factual and accurate information, but only disclose necessary information. Never apologize for a crash, exaggerate the details, or tell the officers what you think might have happened. The information you provide may be included in an accident report and can be held against you if your case goes to trial.
- 4. If you are able, you’ll need to exchange information with the other parties who were involved in the crash. Remember to collect insurance information for all drivers, the names and contact information of anyone involved including witnesses, and the name of the trucking company. If your condition prevents you from obtaining this information, don’t worry, our accident team can retrieve it later when we obtain the police report.
- 5. Remember to use your smartphone and dash cam to preserve as much of the scene and the events that occurred right before the accident as you are able.
- 6. Insurance company representatives and people from the trucking company will likely try to contact you soon after your accident. They may approach you at the scene, in the hospital, or at your home. They may call you or meet with you in person. In some cases, they may portray themselves as people who are on your side. They are not on your side. In fact, your well-being and your financial recovery mean very little to these people. Their concern is the bottom line of the companies they work for and they will stop at nothing to make sure that’s protected. In many cases, this means twisting the words of victims, hiding evidence, or minimizing injuries. Do not speak with these people until you have contacted our firm. You are not obligated to make any statements.
Our Truck Accident Law Firm Is Here to Help You Recover
As soon as you are stable, call our office. It’s important that we act swiftly to make sure your rights are protected and evidence is preserved. Once you’ve enlisted our help, we’ll begin a complete investigation of your case.
- If necessary, we’ll get an accident reconstructionist on scene to document debris, skid marks, the wreckage, and other factors that may have contributed to your accident.
- We’ll serve notice on the trucking company to prevent the truck from getting cleaned or repaired until it has been inspected.
- We’ll locate witnesses and take their statements while the events are still fresh in their minds.
- Once we’ve reviewed your case, we’ll sit down with your to discuss your objectives. Together, we’ll decide upon a legal strategy that help you reach your goals. We’ll begin negotiating with the insurance companies and other liable parties until we reach a settlement that is appropriate and that you approve.
- We’ll obtain the accident report and make sure video footage, EDR information, driver and dispatch logs, GPS data, and other applicable evidence is preserved.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, our team will bring you case before the courts.
“I recently retained the professional services of Matthew Sharp and his law firm to represent my interest in a legal proceeding. Mr. Sharp and his firm shall I say was way over the top in providing excellent and sound legal advice. His professional attitude and attention to detail during the entire process was second to none as well as the rapid and courteous responses from Mr. Sharp and his staff to any and all of my questions regarding my case. Furthermore, I would give my utmost support to anyone choosing Mr. Sharp and his firm in any type of legal representation.”
- RICK S.