On our blog, we focus a lot on accident cases involving commercial trucks and tractor-trailers. As our legal team and many other attorneys who represent injured victims know, truck accidents create some of the most profound risks when it comes to devastating outcomes. That’s because commercial tractor-trailers are among the largest vehicles on public roads, and because they pose increased risks of catastrophic, if not fatal, injuries that can forever alter the lives of victims and their families.
The factors that make tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles so dangerous to the public are the same factors that prompt our government to take decisive steps in regulating them. From addressing the condition of vehicles to the qualifications and conduct of the truckers who operate them, there are a multitude of trucking regulations in existence. While these regulations and laws may address unique aspects within trucking, they all function together for the purpose of ensuring safety on our roads.
Safety Failures Can Mean Consequences for Negligent Trucking Companies
In addition to ensuring safety, trucking regulations also play a critical role in showing us how trucking companies and truck drivers should be conducting themselves, especially when reviewing their conduct after accidents and injuries have already taken place. In fact, these laws provide much of the foundation for arguments as to how trucking companies and truckers failed to uphold their legal obligations – a point that is critical in prevailing in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
As discussed in an article from Law360, more personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits over trucking accidents are being resolved through mega verdicts, meaning juries commonly award substantial damages to the victims and families who file them. That was the case in one truck accident lawsuit we blogged on last month, in which a Texas jury awarded $101 million in damages to a motorist who suffered severe injuries when he was rear-ended by a truck driver who was under the influence.
Large awards like these – both from verdicts and out-of-court settlements – are becoming increasingly more common in truck accident cases. According to the Law360 article, that’s due in part to plaintiffs’ attorneys who represent these victims. These plaintiffs’ attorneys, often lawyers who focus on personal injury law like we do at CSCS, have helped collectively refine the approaches and tools that help their clients prevail in their lawsuits. The article cites several ways this has happened, including:
- Trucking regulations – The trucking industry is subject to numerous regulations designed to keep the public safety. As we’ve discussed in many of our blogs, these regulations apply to everything from cargo securement, vehicle weight, and standards for regular vehicle maintenance to creating guidelines for licensing commercial drivers, limiting the amount of time they can be behind the wheel, testing them for substance abuse or various medical conditions that would make them hazards on the road, and establishing the protocol by which trucking companies hire, train, and retain employees. Lawyers who focus on these regulations and how trucking companies violate them are able to make compelling arguments that help juries understand the steps companies should have taken to avoid accidents.
- A focus on systemic issues – The facts involved in trucking accident cases are generally the same today as they were decades ago. Now, the focus has shifted from simply highlighting those facts to discussing how they are part of systemic and chronic problems within the trucking industry. By illustrating how trucking companies often put profits over people and continually engage in the same conduct or make the same mistakes, juries better understand that at-fault parties commonly know what they should be doing, and may feel compelled to award more damages as a means to punish wrongdoers. A focus on systemic issues puts the industry itself on trial, allows juries to identify with victims for the reason that they face the same risks on public roads and may become victims themselves, and can help secure verdicts that not only compensate victims fairly, but also send a message that things need to change in terms of safety.
- Exposing shortcuts – Similar to focusing on systemic issues, lawyers have also shifted the focus in trucking accident cases to expose how trucking companies and other corporate entities involved in trucking often take shortcuts to improve their bottom line, even if it comes at the expense of public safety. This focus on profits over people can take many forms, from dangerously overloading trucks in order to ship more cargo to hiring less-than-qualified drivers and employees to increase profitability.
- Persuasive presentation – Trials are difficult matters, for both plaintiffs’ lawyers and the defense. Today, successful trial lawyers have refined their ability to make persuasive presentations. This requires a great deal of preparation, and may sometimes involve collaboration with relatively new supporting services that help trial lawyers grasp all the facts of a case and make a compelling presentation during litigation, including accident reconstruction experts and industry or medical experts. It can also involve the use of advanced technology, including tools for visualizing accidents, crash scenes, and other relevant issues for juries to more easily grasp.
Our Washington, DC truck accident lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. have helped many clients protect their rights following all types of truck and commercial vehicle accidents throughout DC, Virginia, and Maryland. As a firm that has been fighting for victims for over 45 years, we have seen the evolution of truck accident cases first hand, and have honed our approach for holding at-fault parties accountable. This experience has earned us the trust of residents throughout the region, and has allowed us to secure millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
If you would like to discuss a potential truck accident case with a member of our team, or learn more about our personal injury services and how we may be able to help you, call (202) 659-8600 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.