Truck and Semi Accidents

Semi, Tractor Trailer & Big-Rig Accidents

Semis and other tractor trailers or big-rigs are far and away the largest and heaviest vehicles on the roadways. Whether it is a fully loaded semi, grain truck or hazardous material hauler, these vehicles cause significantly more damage when involved in an accident, primarily due to their sheer mass. It is an elementary concept of physics that a larger object traveling even at a slightly slower speed will create more force upon impact with a smaller object. A semi truck driven improperly or without the required safety equipment becomes nothing less than a rolling run-away bomb. For this reason, it is a rare occasion that a passenger vehicle collision with a semi truck or other such vehicle will not result in serious injury or death.

As a result of the inherent dangers surrounding the operation of large commercial vehicles on public roadways, strict licensing and driving regulations are mandated by both state and federal laws. Before one can even be licensed to drive such a vehicle, they must undergo rigorous training, proficiency testing and ultimately a closely scrutinized written and driving test. Once licensed, the operators of a motor vehicle are held to a much higher standard and stricter regulation than an ordinary driver. For example, both state and federal laws restrict the amount of time that an operator can be driving the vehicle and each driver must maintain a log book documenting that they have complied with the mandatory resting periods. Load weight restrictions are also in place and are checked on a regular basis at weigh stations.

Equipment checks are probably one of the biggest concerns for over-the-road truckers. Federal law is very specific in stating that a commercial vehicle may not be operated on a public roadway if any of the required equipment is not present or is not in working order. The federal equipment regulations for semi trucks are nothing short of exhausting but it is needed to ensure the safety of the general traveling public. For example: trailer underguards (bumpers to trailers) have very specific height and placement requirements to prevent smaller vehicles from getting pushed or pulled under the trailer; clearance lights and reflective equipment are required an all sides of trailers being pulled by semis to ensure that they can be seen at night by other vehicles; mud-flaps have very specific location and composition requirements to minimize dirt and debris being kicked up into and onto other travelers on the roads.

Unfortunately, not every trucker, semi driver, trucking company or carrier complies with these rules and regulations. While enforcement is ordinarily aggressive, much like ordinary traffic enforcement, it does not result in complete compliance with the law. Failure of trucking companies and drivers to comply with these laws can have unfortunate and tragic consequences. Every day innocent lives are lost and serious injuries are suffered as a result of trucking companies and truck driver’s negligence by failing to comply with the commercial vehicle regulations. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed as a result of a collision with a semi truck or other commercial vehicle, contact the attorneys at Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm. We know the restrictions and regulations associated with commercial motor vehicles and can make the law work for you and your family. Sometimes the most effective enforcement of the laws comes at the hands of ordinary citizens fighting back by and through compassionate and zealous lawyers.

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