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Articles Posted in Tractor Trailer Accidents

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

big rig accidentsThis winter’s weather challenged everyone who was out driving in it, but especially those driving tractor-trailers. Some big rig accidents occurred during last week’s heavy snow, no doubt, as trucks weigh several tons and are hard to stop even during ideal driving conditions.

The best thing to do during bad weather is stay home, of course, but not everyone has that option. If you’re called into work on a day when it is snowing, your bosses are expecting you to report for duty. Those who work in hospitals, emergency responders and city government officials have no choice. It’s their duty to take care of the rest of us – and we’re certainly all grateful for that.

While truck drivers are limited in how far and how long they can drive in a day by rules created and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government agency has rules and regulations as it relates to adverse driving conditions. Adverse conditions means snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions, none of which were apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

One of the most commonly ignored truck rules is the requirement to keep records of how long truckers have been behind the wheel on a given day. Federal law requires truckers to rest for a certain amount of time, for safety reasons, and to keep a log of where they traveled and how long they were gone. Those truck rules have been in effect since 1938 – nearly 80 years.

Those rules are pretty easy for truckers and the companies they work for to bend, though. They can easily write down whatever they want, if they’re not honest, or keep two sets of log books, one that’s accurate and one that’s only to show if asked by authorities. We’ve written about this issue before on our blog. See our July 23, 2015 post on this same topic.

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Although the basic law of negligence is the same across the country – namely, that to be successful, the plaintiff must show duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages – there are some nuances of negligence law that are different in various states. Thus, the outcome of a particular case can vary considerably, depending upon the state in which the accident occurred.

For instance, under the law of comparative fault, there can be wide variations in the outcome of a suit based on similar circumstances, depending upon the state where the suit is filed. The state of Tennessee follows what is called the “modified system of comparative fault.”

Beginning with the 1992 case of McIntyre v. Balentine, a plaintiff may recover damages in proportion to a defendant’s percentage of fault in an accident, as long as the defendant’s fault outweighed any fault by the plaintiff. In cases in which the jury finds the parties to be equally at fault (or finds the plaintiff to be more than 50 percent at fault), the plaintiff recovers nothing.

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By Kyle Roby, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

In tractor-trailer wreck lawsuits, one obvious defendant is the truck driver whose negligent driving led to the crash. The trucking company that employed him or her is usually also named as a defendant, under the doctrine of respondeat superior (which holds employers liable for the tortious acts of their employees, if the act was within the scope of the employment relationship).

In some instances, the circumstances of the accident may give rise to possible claims against others with a less obvious connection to the case.

For instance, in the recent case of Commonwealth v. Collins, the state was named as a defendant in a suit arising from a tractor-trailer wreck that also involved a school bus.

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By Kyle Roby
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

drones photos

Drones can get bird’s eye view of a roadway like nothing else can.

Telling a story about an event is one thing. But it’s so much more powerful when you can show what happened. That’s the job of accident reconstructionists, and their work is extremely important in helping juries and judges understand how, exactly, a crash occurred.

Accident re-constructionists now have a new tool available that has been a game-changer for showing what happened: drones. If you aren’t familiar with drones, these are remote-powered cameras that fly. They’re lightweight and powerful, and can take both video and still photos, and they’re becoming very popular as they’ve come down in price.

The drones can get a view of a roadway like nothing else can. Drones can show exactly how an intersection comes together from many angles, including from directly above and from all sides. With video footage and still photos from a drone, accident re-constructionists can create an animation of how vehicles crashed together on a roadway. The footage a drone shoots can also be rendered into CAD drawings that contain complete information on measurements, scale, size of vehicles and other scientific information that helps court officials properly review a case.
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You aren’t just imagining it. There are more commercial trucks on the road than ever before. According to statistics from the trucking industry, around two-thirds of the nation’s freight is moved by semi-truck, and it takes about 3.5 million professional truck drivers to make it happen.

Considering the tens of millions of hours these truckers spend on the road, it isn’t surprising that truck accidents, too, are on the rise. Here in Kentucky and in neighboring Tennessee, news of a fatal truck accident, especially on an interstate highway, is a common occurrence. Yet, each commercial truck wreck is unique, with its own set of facts and likely causes.

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file2811244091888 morguefile username wallyirBy Kyle Roby, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Tractor trailer drivers are required to keep log books. Log books record the time a truck driver has been driving or on-duty. It’s one of the first things we examine when we’re called on to help someone who has been injured in an accident that involves a truck. Few drivers, however, are as dutiful with keeping those truck log books as they should be. Log books are hand-written, and simple to read, and easy to keep up with if a driver wants to do so.

The truck log books require the following of a driver and the company he or she works for:

  • Log books must be kept as the driver goes. Every time a driver begins the day, he or she is required to note the city, state, and time.
  • The driver is to keep track of the amount of time driving – time left, time arrived, and time spent on breaks throughout the day.
  • The name of the company that owns the truck and its headquarter’s location are required at the top of each log book page.
  • The driver must sign the log book to indicate that the information in it is accurate and truthful.

If the driver is following the law, the truck log books should show that he or she abided by the time limits specified by law. Police officers, state troopers and officials from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are allowed to examine the log books at any time to check to see if the driver is following the law. Many times, though, drivers do not keep up with log books, or falsify the books to indicate he or she has abided by the law.

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2014-10-17 09.29.59By Kyle Roby, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to all tractor-trailers and truck drivers  in the U.S., including those in Kentucky and Tennessee. These regulations cover every aspect of operating, maintaining, and driving a truck. One of the most important, but also most ignored, part of these regulations concerns how long a driver can be behind the wheel in a given day, called hours of service rule. The hours of service rule provides that a truck driver may work no more than 14 hours in a day, with only 11 of those hours actual driving time. The rule is intended to limit truck driver fatigue. A truck driver can only operate a vehicle for 8 consecutive hours before taking a break, which must be 30 minutes or longer. The truck driver must record his hours of service in a drivers log book that he or she must keep updated at all times while driving.
These rules are hard to enforce. Often, when we handle a truck accident case for a client, this is one of the first things we examine, and we often find that the trucking company and truck driver has violated this rule, falsified their log book, or exceed their hours of service. Having an experienced attorney examine the drivers log books and hours of services is critical when a truck driver has caused a wreck.

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If you drive or ride in an automobile, there’s a pretty good chance that you will be involved in an accident at some point in your life. If and when this happens, it pays to seek legal counsel early in the process, even if the negligent driver’s insurance company seems cooperative. This is because the legal process can be complex. This Tennessee injury accident case shows why it is important to have a qualified attorney involved in your lawsuit as soon as possible.

Unexpected issues such as the timeliness of service of process or the determination of whether a negligent driver is covered under a vehicle owner’s insurance policy can pop up even in a seemingly simple car accident case in which fault is clear.

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The Kentucky Court of Appeals has found that Virginia law applied in an uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage dispute arising out of a Kentucky tractor-trailer crash. In an unpublished opinion, a Virginia truck driver sued the insurance carrier for another motorist who struck his big rig head-on. The tractor-trailer wreck occurred on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 2009. At the time of the collision, the other motorist was allegedly intoxicated and traveling in the wrong direction on the freeway. Following the accident, the truck driver settled with the at-fault driver’s liability insurer for the full policy limits of $25,000.

After that, the semi-truck driver’s motor vehicle insurer waived its subrogation rights against the other driver.  The trucker then sought $25,000 in UIM benefits from his own auto insurer. The truck driver’s UIM insurer denied his claim because the at-fault driver was not an underinsured motorist according to the definition included in his insurance policy. In addition, the company claimed that Virginia law allowed it to offset the $25,000 payment the truck driver received from the other driver’s insurer against his potential UIM benefits. Because of this, the trucker’s insurer claimed that he was not entitled to receive additional payment as a result of his UIM coverage.

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