Posts in Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents

How Truck Accident and Car Accident Claims Differ

March 19, 2019 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Truck on freeway

Injury claims involving common passenger vehicles are handled much differently than those involving large trucks such as 18-wheelers and semis. From understanding laws governing drivers and their responsibilities, to producing the necessary documentation to pursue compensation, there is much to be gained by retaining an experienced truck accident lawyer.

Trucking accident cases are often more complex and bound by stricter time constraints compared to motorcycle or vehicle crashes. Although tractor trailers and other commercial trucks are responsible for a small portion of Louisiana’s traffic accidents, their sheer size increases the likelihood of catastrophic and even fatal injury. Beyond the severity of injuries and property damage, here are a few other ways that truck accident claims are different.

Liability issues

Commercial vehicle drivers and trucking companies must adhere to regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pertaining to driver training, shift limits, inspections, maintenance and proper loading of cargo. If you are in an accident with a large truck, liability is not always cut and dry. If evidence shows that FMCSA regulations were ignored, the driver did not possess the correct license or training, or the truck wasn’t roadworthy, the trucking company and other entities may face legal responsibility for the ensuing damages.

In-depth investigations needed

A significant amount of evidence is needed to prove whether the truck driver or the employing company was compliant with industry standards and regulations, or whether negligence was a factor. A skilled attorney will investigate all sources of information, including but not limited to:

  • The truck’s onboard communications systems
  • Driver’s logbook
  • Maintenance history and records
  • Records of routine inspections and repairs
  • Driver’s training file and licensing
  • Dispatch instructions and bills of lading

Larger insurance policies

The legal weight for the average tractor trailer is 80,000 pounds. By comparison, the average passenger vehicle weighs just 4,000 pounds.  When the two collide, permanent, debilitating injuries are not uncommon, and medical expenses can climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Trucking companies realize and attempt to mitigate this risk by carrying massive liability insurance policies. As a result, truck accident lawsuits typically net higher compensation awards, particularly if the victim requires months of hospitalization and medical treatment.

Trucking companies will assign senior insurance adjusters to the case, who are trained to reduce liability, regardless of who is actually to blame. 

Increased chance of fatality

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some 4,000 Americans die in trucking accidents every year. Over the last 8 years, the number of people who died in large truck accidents has risen 30 percent. The grim reality is that a collision with an 18-wheeler is more likely to result in death compared to a crash involving two cars. The sudden loss of a loved one is horrific enough without taking on the financial hardships that can accompany this loss.

Speak to a Lafayette truck accident attorney

If you or someone you love needs assistance filing a truck accident claim in Louisiana, you need a lawyer you can count on. Attorney Bart Bernard understands the intricacies of trucking accident cases and can improve your chances of securing justice and fair compensation.

Reach out for a free case evaluation today and Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™.

Additional Resources:

  1. Truckers Report, Facts About Trucks – Everything You Want To Know About Eighteen Wheelers
  2. Insurance Institute for Highways Safety, Large Trucks 2017

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?

January 4, 2019 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Truck on freewayIn the aftermath of a truck accident, you may find yourself burdened with injuries, medical bills, lost time from work, and, in the tragic case of the loss of a loved one, funeral costs. If the insurance company is dragging its heels or pressuring you to accept a lowball offer, you may also be considering hiring a lawyer. But how much does hiring a lawyer cost?

Lawyers Don’t Always Get Paid Upfront

There is no charge for your first meeting with Louisiana truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard. Bart will discuss the circumstances of your accident, the nature of your injuries and losses, and whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit to seek monetary damages from the liable party or parties.

Bart Bernard works for his clients on a contingency fee basis. “Contingency” means that your lawyer will take a certain previously agreed upon percentage of any compensation you receive as payment, once the case is over. This percentage may include costs incurred during the investigation and litigation of your case.

So, how much does it cost to get a lawyer after a truck accident? When you work with renowned truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard, the answer is nothing. You owe us no money unless we win money damages for you in a settlement or trial verdict.

Don’t Handle the Accident Alone

Truck accidents can result in serious damage to both people and property, and can be complicated to litigate. An experienced truck accident lawyer can make all the difference in the world to the outcome of your lawsuit.

Why? Because several parties and a whole chain of events may have contributed to the crash. The accident may have been caused by the condition of the truck, which may mean that the owner or the maintenance company is on the hook for liability. It could have been caused by the state of the road, which means that the local municipality could be responsible. It could have been caused by improper loading of the truck, which means the loading company could be at fault. It could have been caused by another driver or the driver of the truck itself. The driver may have been operating without sufficient sleep, or he or she could have felt pressured to keep driving despite suffering extreme exhaustion.

Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes pressure injured parties to accept a low-ball settlement, or even deny a settlement. Attorney Bart Bernard and his team of experts and investigators can help establish who is at fault and build a strong case to help injured parties get fair and full compensation for their losses.

How Bart Bernard Can Help in Louisiana Truck Accidents

Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard has years of experience helping victims of big rig crashes in Louisiana. He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum, with a strong history of obtaining top results for truck accident victims.

Contact us today to discuss your case. All initial consultations are complimentary. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™ !

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. October 2016.
  2. Rhee, Joseph and Alexa Valiente. “The Danger of Forcing Truck Drivers to Drive Sleep-Deprived Exposed.” ABC News. September 18, 2014.

How Long Do Truck Drivers Stay on the Road Without a Break?

December 17, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

semi tractor trailer driving on the highway in the eveningTruck drivers move products all over the country. Long-haul trucks often drive all night to get the cargo where it needs to go. But if truckers stay on the road too long without a break, the consequences can be disastrous.  Big rigs and tractor-trailers are known to cause some of the most dangerous accidents on the road.

Federal Regulations Often Violated

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours a trucker can work without a break. Truck drivers are supposed to drive no more than 11 hours in any 14 consecutive-hour period, and are mandated to be off duty 10 or more consecutive hours before beginning their next shift.

Yet the news headlines tell an all-too familiar tale of companies who put pressure on the drivers to continue driving no matter how tired they feel. They may be pressured by their employers to drive for longer than the mandated limit. Interstate truckers are supposed to keep a log that verifies they have not worked longer than the mandated amount. But many feel economic pressure to falsify the data in the log book so the trucking companies will continue to hire them.

Truck crash investigations have revealed instances where drivers reported being on the road for 36 straight hours. No one can drive well, much less even function with that amount of sleep deprivation.

A Truck Accident Lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana

Lack of sleep and inadequate breaks are two primary risk factors for a truck driver causing a serious accident. Post-crash investigations are often quick to reveal an exhausted, overworked driver as the root cause.  If you or a family member was injured in a truck accident, the drivers as well as the company he or she represents may be liable for your injuries including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Bart Bernard is a truck accident lawyer Lafayette and Baton Rouge residents trust to fight for their rights and maximum compensation after a serious, life-altering accident such as these. Initial consultations are always free and you pay no legal fees unless we win compensation on your behalf. Call today and “Hit Hard with Bart Bernard”™.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. October 2016.
  2. Rhee, Joseph and Alexa Valiente. “The Danger of Forcing Truck Drivers to Drive Sleep-Deprived Exposed.” ABC News. September 18, 2014.

What Are the “No Zones” of a Truck?

December 12, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Big rig semi truck blue wolf of roadsTrucks, tractor-trailers, semis, and buses can be more dangerous to each other and to other vehicles than cars can. Why? Because they have “no zones.” No zones are the blind spots where even the most attentive truck driver cannot see other vehicles. As a result, the drivers have no idea that another vehicle is there. They may move into another lane, back up, or make other moves that they assume are safe – but that can be dangerous and even fatal to other motorists.

What’s the best way to deal with no zones? Be aware of them. Drive defensively whenever you are around a large truck. Position your own vehicle so that the truck driver can see you at all times.

Make Sure You Can See the Driver’s Face

The best defensive driving tip around trucks is to look for the driver’s face in the side mirrors. If you see the truck driver’s face, it means the driver can also see you. It’s a sure sign that you are not in a blind spot.

But if you look in the driver’s side mirrors on a truck and do not see his face, the driver also cannot see you. You are in a blind spot. They have no idea you are driving to the side of them or in back of them. Your chances of having an accident while driving in the truck’s “no zone” are much greater.

Avoid the 4 “No Zones”

There are “no zones”  on each side of a large, 18-wheeler style truck.

  • The front
  • Left side
  • Right side
  • The rear

The Front

A truck driver cannot see for almost 20 feet in front of his vehicle, because of the way trucks are designed and the height at which drivers sit. Never cut in front of a truck in the 20-foot no zone in front.

The Left and Right Sides

Tractor trailers have very big blind spots on both sides, that angle outward. Use the rule of thumb that you should be able to see the driver. To be on the safe side, avoid driving to the side of a truck if at all possible.

The Rear

Many drivers do not realize that trucks don’t have a rear-view mirror. As a result, they have a blind spot of roughly 200 feet from the truck’s rear end. To be on the safe side, don’t follow too closely behind a truck. Not only can the driver not see you, but the size of an average vehicle relative to the significant height of the truck makes it impossible for you to see what might be ahead of it and cause it make a sudden stop.

Truck Accident Attorney in Louisiana

If you or a loved one needs expert legal representation in the wake of an accident, the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has years of experience handling 18-wheeler accident claims. Get it Done Right™ with truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard.

Additional Resources:

  1. State of Utah Department of Transportation. Know the No-Zones.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. What Is the No-Zone?

Five Tips for Driving in Gusty Winds

December 10, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Most drivers are well aware of the hazards posed by inclement weather conditions such as heavy rains, snow, and ice. But what about gusty winds?

Winds of even 30 to 45 mph can make driving significantly more dangerous. First, they can actually blow your car off course. Second, they can blow other vehicles, including big tractor-trailers, off course, posing significant danger to other motorists on the road. High profile vehicles such as trucks, vans, and SUVs are particularly at increased risk in high winds.

Strong winds can also blow around debris such as tree limbs, road detritus, or fallen cargo. Here are 5 tips for safe driving in gusty winds.

#1 Watch the weather report

The U.S. National Weather Service provides wind advisories prior to and during the time high winds are expected. A Wind Advisory, for example, alerts viewers that gusts of up to 45 mph or sustained hour-long winds of 30 mph or above are expected in 36 hours. A High Wind Watch will let you know if sustained winds of 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or above are expected in the coming 12 to 48 hours.

Even the low end of the scale, 30 mph, is enough to blow smaller objects around. If you have a choice of whether or not to drive when wind advisories are issued, it is safer not to. If you must drive, follow the steps below.

#2 Be alert

Stay extra vigilant behind the wheel during wind advisories. If a large truck is moving from side to side, try to get away from it – semis or big rigs can cause fatal injury if their trailers detach and collide with another vehicle. Also be on the lookout for tree limbs that can blow into the stream of traffic, posing additional dangers.

#3 Drive slowly

It’s prudent to decrease your speed during high winds. The faster you’re going, the less reaction time you have. If you need to stop or pull over suddenly, it’s safer to do so if you’re already traveling at a slower speed.

#4 In side winds, steer in the opposite direction

For drivers, side winds are likely the most frightening, as they can make your vehicle skid laterally– and, if they are high enough, give you the sensation you are fighting with your car to stay on the road.

If side winds occur as you’re driving, steer gently and slowly in the opposite direction. Never panic or turn the steering wheel suddenly.

#5 Adjust to head or tail winds

Head or tail winds are much easier to drive in, as they do not affect the orientation of the car. They may either slow you (head winds) or speed you up (tail winds). If tail winds are making the car go too fast, adjust your speed, but don’t use the break to slow the car, because it can cause the vehicle to spin.

Legal representation you can count on

If you have been involved in a vehicle crash where the other driver was negligent, you may be eligible for compensation.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has extensive experience in successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Our initial consultation on your case is free of charge. Call today to speak with a Louisiana truck accident lawyer who gets results. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™!

Additional Resources:

  1. How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind. November 12, 2014.
  2. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Weather Service. Wind Information Page.

What Are Truck Underride Crashes, and What Can Be Done About Them?

November 20, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Big rig semi truck blue wolf of roadsSo far this year, there have been reports of at least 25 truck underride accidents in 20 different states. These gruesome collisions have claimed the lives of 20 people and seriously injured scores more. Every year, hundreds of people are killed in underride crashes, when a passenger vehicle slides under the back or side of a commercial tractor trailer, typically sheering off its top. All too often, these crashes result in debilitating harm and horrific death for vehicle occupants.

One of the earliest truck underride accidents involved the famous Hollywood star, Jayne Mansfield, who was killed in a crash just outside of New Orleans. Nearly six decades later, these deadly accidents are still happening on our nation’s roadways.

Regulators say side underride guards will save lives

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 1,470 people in passenger cars died in accidents involving 18-wheelers in 2016. Of those fatalities, nearly 300 passengers were in a vehicle that struck the side of a semi-truck, and 238 were killed when their vehicle hit the rear.

Russ Radar, a spokesperson for IIHS, states that truck underride crashes are entirely preventable, adding that side underride guards will save lives. By law, all tractor trailers and 18-wheelers are required to install rear guards, which have been shown to increase likelihood of survival in the event of an underride.

These large metal barriers are designed to keep smaller passenger vehicles from going underneath the truck’s carriage during a crash. However, IIHS crash data has shown that underride guards manufactured under the current U.S. safety standards are not strong enough and need to be upgraded.

New bill to stop underride accidents

Last year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bipartisan bill known as The Stop Underrides Act of 2017. If passed, the bill would fortify rear underride guards and mandate that all tractor trailers be fitted with metal barriers on their sides and front. The legislation would also mandate periodic inspections of truck underride guards. Semis that fail the inspection would be taken out of service until the underride guard defects were addressed.

“There is a massive safety design flaw that makes collisions between cars and trucks much deadlier than they need to be,” Senator Gillibrand told NBC News. “This bipartisan legislation would save lives.”

Many critics say this important legislation is long overdue, and that the government has waited far too long to adopt tougher safety standards regarding underride laws.

Truck accident lawyer serving Louisiana

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has a long track record of success litigating 18-wheeler accident claims, helping clients recover money damages for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma and the wrongful death of a loved one.

If you or someone you love needs expert legal guidance from a Lafayette and Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer, we invite you to reach out for a free and confidential case evaluation with attorney Bart Bernard today. Click Bart First, Call Bart First™. 

Additional Resources on Truck Underride Crashes:

  1., Lawmakers Call for Guards on Trucks to Prevent Deadly Underride Crashes
  3. NBC News, Senators say bill would save motorists from being killed in truck crashes

Why 18 Wheelers Crash: Common Causes and Statistics

November 7, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Truck on freewayThe size of semi trucks or 18-wheelers makes them dangerous on the road, especially for smaller passenger cars. A collision with an 18-wheeler can wreck a car or send it spinning into traffic. In some cases, passenger cars can get crushed under the carriage.

In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 4,213 large trucks were involved in crashes in which someone was killed, a 3% increase from the prior year. The number of total accidents between passenger cars and large trucks? A quarter of a million.

Let’s look at some of the most common types of accidents.

1. Jackknife

A jackknife refers to an 18-wheeler turning in an L shape, or the shape of an open jackknife, with one half twisting to become perpendicular to the other. Jackknife accidents occur when the truck is going too fast to stop: the brakes lock, causing half of the truck to turn. Jackknife accidents can be exacerbated by improper loading.

It’s important to note that causes of a jackknife accident are not simple. The driver may be speeding, but jackknifes can also be caused by other vehicles cutting in front of an 18-wheeler, forcing them to stop. Drivers need to be very cautious in giving 18-wheelers room to stop, because these trucks take longer to stop than other types of vehicles.

2. Rollovers

Truck rollovers are most often caused by speeding, often when the truck is turning. The cabs of 18-wheelers are very high, making the center of gravity very high. If the center of gravity is upset, the truck can roll. Rollovers can also be caused by improper loading of cargo, or a combination of those two factors.

A rollover can spread debris around the roadways, creating a dangerous obstacle course on the highway for other motorists.

3. Underrides

Some of the most devastating crashes on our roadways occur when cars go underneath the body of an 18-wheeler truck. These types of accidents are called “underrides”. They can be caused if a car is following a truck too closely to stop in time, or if a truck comes to an abrupt stop.

Underrides can be catastrophic for the car’s occupants, as the car can be crushed by the weight of the truck.

18 wheeler accident lawyer Lafayette LA

Accidents involving 18-wheelers, whether in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, or elsewhere in Louisiana, can cause severe injuries and deaths. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in Louisiana, you need an experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyer Baton Rouge residents rely on to fight aggressively for their rights and pursue maximum compensation.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has extensive experience litigating big rig accidents. Your initial consultation with an 18 wheeler accident lawyer in Louisiana is free of charge and comes with no obligation. Call today, and remember: Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™.

Additional Resources:

  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016.
  2. Nationwide. How to Share the Road with Semi Trucks.