Phoenix Truck Accident Attorneys
Experienced Phoenix Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers
The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team fights aggressively to provide maximum compensation and closure to victims of trucking accidents and their families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest.
Our Phoenix-based truck accident attorneys and our co-counsel attorneys conduct thorough forensic investigations and, in appropriate cases, work with accident reconstructionists to develop legal theories capable of securing the compensation our clients need and deserve. We work with speed and precision to recover all pertinent evidence and witness statements.
Our team has the resources and bandwidth to invest into a full-blown investigation of the crash when warranted. With our no-fee promise, we don’t get paid unless and until you get paid, which allows you and your family to heal and recover as we carry the legal burden.
The Causes of Tractor-Trailer Crashes
Most tractor-trailer accidents are avoidable when the trucking company and its drivers take the proper precautions. A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) that reviewed more than 120,000 large truck (trucks with gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds) collisions concluded that 87 percent of the truck crashes were due to negligence of the driver. These actions included:
- Recognition: the driver was distracted, inattentive or failed to observe a situation adequately.
- Decision: the driver followed other vehicles too closely, was driving too fast or misjudged the speed of other vehicles.
- Performance: the driver exercised poor directional control or panicked and overcompensated.
- Non-Performance: the driver was disabled by a seizure or heart attack, fell asleep or was physically impaired for another reason.
- Other associated factors: interruption of the traffic flow, illegal maneuvers, fatigue, illness and unfamiliarity with roadway.
The FMCSA concluded that the remaining 13 percent of factors causing a truck accident were divided into 10 percent maintenance problems, such as worn out tires, and three percent environmental factors, such as bad weather.
Federal Trucking Laws
The FMCSA is the federal agency responsible for devising rules, laws and regulations that govern motor carriers in the United States. Additionally, the FMCSA has created numerous safety regulations designed to increase the safety of large trucks and other vehicles, drivers and passengers on the roadways.
Under Part 383 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”):
- A truck driver can only operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 continuous hours in a 14-hour work day. Then they must rest for 10 continuous hours before getting behind the wheel.
- The operator may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days, or after 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days. They may restart the seven or eight-day period only after taking 34 or more hours off duty.
- Truck drivers are allowed to have one driver’s license, which has been issued to them by their home state. This license (a CPL or CDL) can only be issued after a skills and knowledge test. Furthermore, hazardous materials (“Hazmat”) carriers must pass additional tests before they are given a license.
- Truck drivers must pass a physical exam every two years in order to be eligible to drive.
- No driver may report to work with a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or more. Additionally, drivers cannot carry any alcohol with them while driving, unless the alcohol is part of their cargo.
- Drivers must maintain a log book of their time spent behind the wheel.
- Drivers must follow certain rules (created in January 1, 2004) for tying down cargo and using certain security devices.
- Trucks are required to display their USDOT number, Hazmat markings and other important information.
In addition to the rules and regulations above, there are many other regulations the FMCSA has created to govern the actions of trucking companies, and Hazmat carriers, including such regulations as: complying with USDOT safety rules, unfit carrier rules, skills requirements, disqualification of drivers, logbook rules for companies, hours of service, Hazmat regulations and how to comply with them and State Hazmat registration procedures.
Arizona Truck Accident Statistics and Laws
According to a report from the Arizona Department of Transportation, ‘Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2016,’ there were 10,873 accidents that involved some type of truck combination. One hundred and two of the crashes involved fatalities and 2,555 involved serious injury. A substantial amount of these crashes occurred in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, where businesses are located and interstates converge. In order to combat these statistics, Arizona has created its own set of laws and regulations.
In addition to following the federal trucking regulations, each state has commercial trucking laws in place to protect commercial drivers and other motorists on the roadways. In Arizona, there are many laws for commercial truckers and their semi-trucks that are aimed at keeping both truck drivers and other motorists safe on the road. These laws concern the amount of time drivers may spend behind the wheel, the maximum weight the truck may haul, the maximum size of the truck, quality control, commercial licensing, Hazmat and more. Common Phoenix truck laws include:
Maximum Speed Limit for Large Vehicles and Vehicles with Trailers
- Unless a lower maximum speed limit is posted or the department designates a greater maximum speed limit pursuant to subsection B of this section, a person shall not drive either of the following on a highway in this state at a speed that is greater than sixty-five miles per hour:
- A motor vehicle or vehicle combination with a declared gross weight of more than twenty-six thousand pounds, excluding a motor vehicle designed for carrying sixteen or more passengers, including the driver. For the purposes of this paragraph, “declared gross weight” and “vehicle combination” have the same meaning prescribed in section 28-5431.
- A vehicle that is drawing a pole trailer that weighs six thousand or more pounds.
- The length of a semitrailer operating in a truck tractor-semitrailer combination or a truck tractor-semitrailer-forklift combination shall not exceed fifty-seven feet six inches.
- The length of a semitrailer or trailer operating in a truck tractor-semitrailer-trailer combination shall not exceed twenty-eight feet six inches.
- The length of a trailer operating in a truck-trailer combination shall not exceed twenty-eight feet six inches.
- If the length of a semitrailer is more than fifty-three feet, the overall length of a truck tractor-semitrailer combination shall not exceed sixty-five feet on all highways, except for the national intercity truck route network designated by the United States secretary of transportation as required by the surface transportation assistance act of 1982 or on a system of highways that is designated by a local authority. In designating the streets, the local authority shall consider any reasonable restriction including such safety restrictions as structural hazards and street width and any other safety factors identified by the local authority as a hazard to the motoring public.
- A vehicle transporter and the semitrailer it draws shall not exceed a length of seventy-five feet.
- A truck-semitrailer combination shall not exceed an overall length of sixty-five feet.
If you are interested in learning more about commercial truck regulations or licensing through the Arizona Department of Transportation please visit their website by clicking here, or call 602-712-8851.
Proactive Investigation and Litigation
A commercial truck accident can be more complicated than an accident between a two-person vehicle. This may be due to the sheer size of the truck, the type of materials the truck may be carrying or the multiple defendants that may be involved.
In many cases there are multiple defendants in a truck accident case, including: trucking companies, contractors, drivers, the owner of the trailer, the owner of the truck and the company that owns the cargo.
If there is an employment relationship between the truck driver and the trucking or shipping company, then that company may be held liable under a theory called respondeat superior for the driver’s negligence. In order for the employer to be held liable under the theory respondeat superior, there must be a master-servant relationship.
Usually, in order to create this type of relationship the employee has to have been hired to perform a service at a specified wage and is, or is expected to be, supervised. Once it is determined that an employee-employer relationship exists, the employer becomes liable for the negligence committed by the employee if they are acting within the scope of their employment. For the act to be considered within the scope of employment, it must be connected with the employer’s business and for the purpose of furthering the employer’s interest.
This may become more difficult to prove if the truck driver is an independent contractor. In this case, Arizona law looks at a variety of factors, including the amount of supervision the company has over the independent contractor.
Occasionally, a manufacturer may be held liable for a faulty part or the shipper of hazardous materials may be held liable for injuries caused by the truck’s cargo. In this case, the shipper may have a duty to inform the driver and the company of the cargo’s potential dangers.
Arizona Trucking Accident Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time after an event in which legal proceedings must be initiated.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 12-542 establishes a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. If the victim fails to file a lawsuit within this prescribed time period they will be barred from pursuing the wrongdoer for their damages.
With so many moving parts it is imperative to have a proactive investigation and litigation approach to truck accidents. Many times, trucking companies may lose or destroy evidence or valuable leads that would prove their liability and negligence. The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team has experience with commercial trucking accidents and knows the importance of sending investigators and experts to study each facet of the accident in order to find liability. It is important that all aspects of truck accidents be considered, including:
Drivers earn endorsements to carry loads. This ensures that the driver is trained and certified to pack, load, and move certain types and volumes of cargo. If an accident is caused by improper loading, we can investigate to determine if the driver made an error, or if the company forced the driver to carry the load, knowing that he or she did not have the proper endorsement.
If you have been involved in a commercial trucking accident in the Phoenix-based area, contact The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team to learn more about your rights and legal options. It is possible if not likely that you may face obstacles from the insurance companies who insure the trucking companies. Our Phoenix truck accident attorneys, however, have successfully prosecuted personal injury and wrongful death claims deriving from trucking accidents in Arizona for decades. We know the law that applies to the commercial truck industry and use it to our clients’ benefit when lawsuits are filed in state and federal court.
Commercial trucking accidents are complicated and it is important that you get assistance from an experienced attorney. Additionally, you may also click the following links for education resources about commercial trucking:
- American Trucking Association: serves as an advocate for the trucking industry and provides information and research on the trucking industry.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, offering regulations, safety programs and facts related to the prevention of commercial trucking fatalities and injuries.
- Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance: an organization made up of various safety officials from various governmental entities and industry representatives which offer research and suggestions to help standardize truck measures throughout the United States.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: the “Large Trucks” section features regulatory policies, safety rating, fatality and injury statistics and related safety information.
- National Safety Council: Safety on the Road: includes general information about focusing on the roadways, defensive driving and other safety considerations.
- Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Enforcement (NHTSA): information about the enforcement of commercial safety laws and regulations.
Contact our Arizona Truck Accident Attorneys Today
Take advantage of our no-fee promise:
- We offer free initial consultations.
- We fully finance all costs of litigation.
- We do not get paid unless we obtain a favorable verdict or settlement.
To arrange a free initial consultation to discuss a tractor-trailer accident and how we can fight for justice on your behalf, please contact our law firm today at 602-274-9662 or toll free at 800- 283-2652.
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