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One of the main causes of big rig truck and 18-wheeler crashes is driver fatigue. Unfortunately, Tennessee is no stranger to driver fatigue trucking accidents. In June 2019, a man pumping gas in Rutherford County was killed when a semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel. The trucker crashed into a pickup truck, hit a diesel tank at a convenient store and flipped over, causing it to catch fire before then hitting two more cars and the victim, who was fueling his vehicle. Tragic accidents like this Murfreesboro truck wreck illustrate the dangers of driving while tired or fatigued.

The National Transportation Safety Board is a federal agency charged with the task of investigating accidents, determining their causes, and making recommendation to improve safety within the transportation industry. The NTSB has estimated that driver fatigue plays a role in nearly 30-40% of commercial truck crashes. Science concludes that tired individuals are more prone to making mistakes. A recent AAA study found that drivers who get even 1 hour less sleep than normal have an increased crash risk. Drivers who only get 4-5 hours of sleep exhibit some of the same risks as one driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of intoxication.

What constitutes driver fatigue, you may ask? A number of conditions can lead to driver fatigue. Common examples include the lack of sleep or driving too long of a shift, which could lead to lower reaction times and lapses in judgment. Since commercial trucks can weigh nearly 80,000 pounds and transport dangerous chemicals, getting proper rest should be of utmost importance. However, some trucking carriers put pressure on their drivers to make as many deliveries as quickly as possible, and the only way to comply with such strict deadlines could mean foregoing sleep and rest breaks.

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You’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck or 18-wheeler. Now what?

Each year, there are nearly 450,000 crashes involving big trucks and buses in the United States. They can happen anywhere – highway, interstate, rural road, residential street, etc. Accidents involving big trucks are rarely straight-forward, even if it may seem that way. Special considerations will apply in a commercial truck accident case, which is why it is recommended to seek legal advice as soon after the accident as possible so you can know your rights. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process and take steps at the beginning of your case to ensure things go smoothly later on.

How can the right truck wreck lawyer help you? Consider these examples:

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iStock-921335184On the job injuries are an unfortunate fact of life. This is why most states have laws requiring companies with five or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, sometimes referred to as workman’s comp. If you are a commercial truck driver injured on the job, you may qualify for benefits under your employer’s coverage. Workers’ compensation laws are created and administered at the state level, and it is a specialized area of personal injury law. Below are common questions our firm has been asked by injured 18-wheeler drivers and passengers.

Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Whether you are covered by workers’ compensation or not first can depend on your employment status. Independent contractors may not be covered. If you are an owner/operator, you may have occupational insurance, which differs from workers’ compensation administered at the state level. If you are covered by your employer’s policy, you can be covered for injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment. The most common example is a truck accident, which could be a single car accident or multi-vehicle pileup. You could also assert a claim if you get hurt after a slip and fall, either on the truck or someone else’s property.

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Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) releases its Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts. In March 2019, the FMCSA released its report for accidents in 2017. In compiling its report, FMCSA regulators research accidents involving vehicles such as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, buses (including school buses), passenger transport vans, and other commercial vehicles, with “large truck” being defined as a truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds and a “bus” defined as any vehicle designed to transport 9 or more people, including the driver.

The report analyzes statistics and reports on the total number of accidents, number of vehicles involved in crashes, number of individuals involved, injuries, fatalities, contributing factors, and more. Ultimately, the goal is to identify trends and reduce bad outcomes from taking place in the future.

Key Truck and Bus Wreck Statistics Released in the New Report

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iStock-1000963578-LargeIf you are involved in any type of motor vehicle accident, all bets are off when it comes to injuries. You can walk away unscathed or not make it out alive. If you are fortunate enough to survive the crash, you can have minor cuts and bruises, broken bones, or more traumatic and permanent injuries. Some of the more severe injuries one can suffer in a car accident involve one’s knees.

Each day, knee pain affects millions across the United States. Suffering from a knee injury can cause intense pain and severely affect your quality of life, including limiting your ability to go to work, complete basic household tasks, and participate in hobbies or extracurricular activities.

Those who suffer pain as a result of being involved in an accident have a right to be seen by a doctor. If you experience any of the following symptoms after a car accident, you may need to be checked out by the doctor.

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18-wheeler wrecks are some of the most devastating out there today. While any type of motor vehicle accident can cause someone involved to get hurt, serious injuries are more common to arise when at least one vehicle involved is a big rig truck. Whether it’s the heavy weight, size, or force of impact, it is not uncommon for truck wreck victims to get hurt. If you or a loved one is going through the aftermath of one of these accidents, undoubtedly there is a lot going through your head. When can you get back to work? When will you get better? Who will take care of household responsibilities? Who will pay for medical bills?

While all of this is going through your head, you should first realize time is not always on your side. All states have strict statutes of limitation within which a lawsuit must be filed. Further, big trucking companies often begin investigating the accident almost immediately, which means they can start gathering evidence and building their defense. Why should you get a lawyer after an 18-wheeler accident? Consider the following ways in which an experienced attorney can help you.

Identify All Liable Parties

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Big rig trucks, 18-wheelers, and semi-trucks can be found all over our roads, highways and interstates. With trucks so prevalent in society, most people would be surprised to learn this fact: there is currently a shortage of at least 60,000 commercial truck drivers nationwide. One analyst even pegged the shortage to be at least 100,000. Some experts within the industry think the 60,000 shortage could actually triple by the year 2026.

Why the shortage, you may ask? Some experts cite an aging workforce, high turnover rates, and reduced capacity following certain regulatory changes. Lifestyle and safety concerns are also prompting truckers to leave the industry. For example, USA Today named the trucking industry as the 7th most dangerous occupation in the United States. In 2016, the industry saw 24.7 fatalities per 100 workers, and the most common injuries were overexertion and bodily reaction. This may have to do with the toll it takes on one’s body when working extended shifts and having to sit for long periods of time.

To combat the shortage, some trucking companies are forced to raise wages, sometimes as much as 15%. Others are offering generous signing bonuses to new employees. In the meantime, the American Trucking Association states the driver shortage is leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices. However, there are other ways in which a shortage of qualified commercial truck drivers can affect our well-being.

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You are a commercial truck driver. You worked hard to study to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you underwent training with your job, and you follow all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules whenever possible – including truck maintenance, mandatory rest breaks, driving without distractions, and hours of service. You understand the high stakes of operating a big rig truck, because when big rigs and heavy trucks are involved in accidents, the likelihood for severe injuries goes up.

Despite taking all of the proper precautions, imagine another driver accidentally causes an accident. The wreck causes you to suffer immediate pain, maybe even objective injuries like broken bones. Not only do you have to deal with your physical pain, but you may not be able to immediately get back to work, causing you to suffer financial losses. What happens next? What are your rights?

Truck drivers injured on the job in Tennessee do have rights, but the circumstances will dictate what the injured party may be actually entitled to recover.

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Have you ever driven right next to a big commercial truck, like an 18-wheeler, semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or big rig? Have you seen a big truck crash into another car? Have you worried what would happen if that car was yours and you were driving? If you answered yes, you’re probably not alone. In fact, if you get hit by any type of vehicle, 18-wheeler included, it’s common for lots to be going through your mind. In the event you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck with a truck, here are common questions that may be on your mind.

What should I do first after a truck accident?

Immediately after the accident, police likely came to the scene. In most states, like Tennessee, the law requires police to be called after an accident causing personal injury or property damage. The police should take statements from the parties, photos, and witness statements. However, you should still document everything you can, including witness information, pictures of the vehicles, pictures of your injuries, and any other relevant information. For instance, if you suffered bruising or scarring, make sure to photograph those areas. Further, sometimes witnesses are left off of a police report. If you get their information, your attorney can contact that person to get his or her version of events. It is always beneficial to secure as much evidence as possible after a crash involving a semi-truck.

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If someone else causes you to get hurt or suffer losses, all states, Tennessee included, have laws that allow you to get reimbursed, or “made whole.” These are known as compensatory damages, and they are designed to put you in a place as if the accident never happened in the first place. While most people would prefer to turn back time and never have to be involved in a wreck in the first place, we know that is not possible. That is why financial damages are the recourse, under Tennessee personal injury laws.

In some situations, lawmakers have determined that compensatory damages are not enough. Instead, a plaintiff can obtain a different class of damages that serve a different purpose. These are known as punitive damages, and they are designed to punish the at-fault party for his/her conduct. Punitive damages are important to consider in truck accident cases, especially when injuries are severe and permanent.

Punitive Damages Law in Tennessee


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