Recent statistics by LSU reveal New Orleans Parish records more than 6,000 traffic accidents yearly. These accidents result in at least 40 fatalities, more than 10,000 injuries, and massive property damage. Generally, accidents involving trucks often lead to more severe injuries, including a higher risk for fatalities than regular car accidents. A truck accident lawyer can help.
If you have injuries from a New Orleans truck accident, Dudley DeBosier can fight for you or a loved one. Whatever the reason for the truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation if you have injuries or lost a loved one. To discuss the particulars of your case, you can speak with an attorney during a FREE consultation.
Understanding Truck Accidents in New Orleans
Large commercial trucks are integral to the smooth running of the economy. They transport necessary goods from and to various manufacturing and retail outlets in the country. Although big rigs keep commerce running, they are also likely to cause big accidents when drivers don’t follow standard safety procedures. In Louisiana, data reveals there were 655 fatal crashes in 2019, and 103 of these wrecks involved large trucks or buses. The majority of injuries and deaths in accidents involving trucks are passenger vehicle occupants. This is because traveling in a smaller vehicle generally makes you more vulnerable to an accident with 18-wheelers.
What Are the Main Causes of Truck Accidents in New Orleans?
The following are some of the common causes of truck accidents in New Orleans:
Speeding: Although some trucking companies leverage speed trackers and speed limiters on company trucks, not all trucks have this technology. Generally, trucks are larger than passenger vehicles, and when they speed, they react slowly to quick changes in speed and direction owing to the momentum it builds. This makes it harder for drivers to gain control and stop the vehicle in time, resulting in a crash. A truck driver who speeds is a reckless and negligent driver who should be held accountable in case of an accident.
Distracted driving: The law expects drivers to be keen and attentive when on the road. Distracted driving is not only illegal, but it is also dangerous, especially for truckers owing to the size of their vehicles. Unfortunately, truck drivers may engage in distracting behaviors such as texting, calling, or eating, thereby endangering other road users. Taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds could result in multiple fatalities, severe injuries, and thousands of dollars in property damage.
Aggressive driving: Truck drivers traveling long distances are often under a lot of pressure to make their deliveries on time. These drivers spend a lot of time on the road, which makes them more prone to road rage. Some of the aggressive driving behaviors involving truckers include failure to yield the right of way, cutting another driver off, tailgating, or following another driver too closely. All these behaviors could cause serious accidents.
Fatigue: A new study from Virginia Tech Transportation reveals that fatigue causes 20 percent of car crashes. Louisiana has regulations that specify the maximum number of hours a driver may drive before taking a break. These regulations are to keep tired truckers off the road and help them remain alert for the entire journey. Generally, a commercial driver must take a break after 11 hours of driving at a time. Additionally, there should be a 10-hour break in between, and one should not drive for more than 60 hours in a week. Truckers sometimes violate these rules due to individual motivations, company scheduling practices, or company culture. Truckers who violate the recommended hours of service are more prone to fatigue.
Bad weather: There is no doubt bad weather significantly increases the chance of a road crash. Conditions such as ice, rain, snow, and sleet may reduce truck driver visibility while making it hard for drivers to have full control of their vehicles. When this happens, the result could be a severe accident with life-threatening consequences. Truck drivers who drive their vehicles through inclement weather must exercise extra care.
Overloading cargo: Trucks that carry large loads beyond the recommended weight are more likely to experience tire blowouts. Overloaded trucks can also tip over after a lane change due to excess weight. If the truck is carrying external loads, the load could slip after a turn, putting other drivers in danger. Flying debris can also cause road obstructions for truckers and other vehicles.
Vehicle failure: Not all truck accidents in New Orleans are because of driver error. There are times a truck experiences failure due to a lack of proper maintenance and poor inspection by the trucking company or vehicle manufacturer. The company may be negligent if its trucks cause an accident due to brake failure.
Driving under the influence: One of the biggest causes of truck accidents is driving under the influence. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercially licensed drivers to maintain a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold of .04 percent or below when on the road. This is typically half of the 0.08 BAC thresholds for the other drivers. Additionally, the FMCSA prohibits truck drivers from drinking alcohol four hours before driving a commercial vehicle. Driving under the influence can result in severe consequences for everyone on the road.
Common Injuries New Orleans Truck Accidents Cause
In most cases, trucking accidents are catastrophic. If the wreck doesn’t result in fatalities, it often leaves the victim with life-long injuries. Some of the common truck accident injuries in New Orleans include:
- Back and neck injury: This can range from neck pain to dislocated discs in your spine. Back and neck tissues are critical to your daily activities, and an injury in this area could impact your return to work and daily activities.
- Broken bones: Truck crashes cause massive impact, meaning bones can more easily break in accidents involving trucks than other cars.
- Burn injuries: Where flammable cargo is involved, burn injuries are likely from a truck crash. This is common with trucks carrying hazardous loads such as gasoline or petroleum products.
- Head injuries: Head trauma from an accident could cause life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, these injuries may not immediately be apparent, and delayed diagnosis and treatments are often the case for most accident victims. Symptoms to watch out for include cognitive challenges, confusion, vision problems, and nausea.
- Internal injuries: Potent blunt trauma from a wreck can cause internal bleeding to organs such as the spleen, pancreas, kidney or liver. Such injuries are difficult and costly to treat.
- Spinal injuries: Truck accidents could cause injuries to the spinal cord leading to devastating paralysis. Unfortunately, the damage is not always apparent soon after a crash, which is why it is vital to get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Wrongful death: Trucking accidents are several times more likely to kill the victims than crashes with other cars. If a truck accident killed a loved one, the survivors or other affected people can hold the company liable through a wrongful death claim. At Dudley DeBosier Law Offices, we understand no one will ever replace that kind of loss. We will do our best to hold responsible parties liable and seek maximum compensation for you to get closure and move on.
Important Louisiana Trucking Accident Laws to Know
If you have injuries from a truck accident in Louisiana, it is imperative to be aware of the state trucking accident laws. Most of the laws pertaining to the trucks and their drivers are federal regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The following is a brief summary of some of the laws:
Commercial driver’s license requirements
Commercial trucks are massive vehicles that pose myriads of risks to other roadway users. For this reason, FMCSA requires truck drivers to obtain a special license known as a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Some of the minimum requirements to obtain a CDL include:
- A driver should pass a screening for drugs and alcohol.
- A driver should possess a clean driver’s record.
- A driver should obtain a physical exam that guarantees they are physically fit to handle all rigors of the job.
- Additionally, drivers must undergo annual drug and alcohol screenings as well as physical exams to maintain their CDLs.
Additional training is necessary to haul hazardous materials in Louisiana. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mandates that all drivers with a CDL apply for a hazardous materials endorsement.
The trucking company should provide on-the-job training to ensure the truck drivers have the skills and ability to perform their job diligently and effectively. Unfortunately, many companies don’t offer such training. Should an improperly trained driver cause a crash that results in injuries or fatalities, the company can be held liable.
- It is the trucking company’s responsibility to offer OJT.
- In Louisiana, trucking companies must fulfill additional responsibilities for their drivers, including:
- Ensuring a driver has the appropriate licenses and meets all requirements to maintain CDL.
- Obtaining the right insurance for the truck.
- Undertaking regular maintenance to guarantee the truck is always in top shape.
Hours of service requirements
Truck drivers must log their hours electronically and adhere to the Hours of Service guidelines. These requirements are to prevent accidents caused by truck driver fatigue. These guidelines include:
- Driving for a maximum of 11 hours and taking consecutive 10-hour breaks.
- Not driving beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Taking a 30-minute break after eight hours of continuous driving.
- Not driving after 60 or 70 hours during a seven- or eight-day period.
The law requires Louisiana truck drivers to visually inspect the vehicle before each trip. Such inspections lay bare any issues that could render the truck unsafe to operate.
Vehicle maximum weight
Commercial truck drivers should not exceed 80,000 pounds of cargo in a single trailer when fully loaded. The state posts weight stations across all roads to ensure trucks are not overloaded.
Liability for truck accidents
Although truck drivers and trucking companies are mostly liable for truck accidents, there are other liability sources based on a case’s specific circumstances. These may include:
- Drivers of other vehicles.
- The entity that serviced the truck.
- Shipper responsible for loading the truck.
- Manufacturer of parts used on the truck.
Contact an experienced New Orleans truck accident lawyer for a more in-depth discussion of how these laws affect a case and the process of pursuing compensation for injuries.
What to Do If You Have a Truck Accident in New Orleans?
The first thing to do after a truck accident is to assess your condition and those of other passengers. If you are in sound condition, take the following steps afterward:
- Call the police: If the accident is on the highway, the 911 dispatcher routes the call to the nearest law enforcement agency and emergency responders. Even when an accident seems minor, get a police report that documents the accident.
- Seek medical attention: Get an immediate medical evaluation even when no one seems hurt. Internal injuries don’t reveal immediate symptoms. A medical evaluation is also necessary to prove the claim.
- Document the evidence at the scene: If the driver is uninjured, he can document the scene of the accident using photos and videos. He can also take down the contact information for witnesses and everyone else involved in the crash, including the other drivers’ names, addresses, and contact details. Additionally, he can note down the truck license plate and other identifying information.
- Don’t admit fault: Don’t admit fault for the accident even when fault is evident. Don’t lie but simply refuse to divulge the details of the accident to the other driver’s insurance agents. Save such conversation for the attorney.
- Get your vehicle appraised: Even if the car appears undamaged, sometimes the damage is internal and not visible to the untrained eye. Before repairing the car, have it appraised.
- Call a truck accident lawyer: Getting an experienced truck accident lawyer in New Orleans involved as soon as possible is integral to the success of a legal case. A truck accident attorney will help in several ways, including proving the other driver was at fault. They will also fight for their clients’ rights and ensure they receive maximum compensation for damages.
How Is Accident Liability Determined in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, fault and liability for car accidents are on a pure comparative negligence standard. This implies that each of the drivers in a crash is responsible for their relative liability or percentage of fault in an accident. If the driver or passengers sustained injuries or received property damage after a crash in New Orleans and were partly at fault for the accident, damages are still possible. However, the amount of compensation reduces by a percentage of fault.
How to Build a Truck Accident Injury Case
Proving a claim after an accident can be challenging. It’s possible the driver or passengers may not have the time, energy, or legal knowledge to build a solid injury case. This is where a truck accident lawyer in New Orleans may prove beneficial. In the meantime, there are specific actions to do that can help build personal injury claims. These include:
- Report the accident to the police: Consider calling the police officers immediately after the crash. The police officers will write a detailed report about the accident. The police report can strengthen a case.
- Seek medical treatment: The medical documentation and testimony from a doctor will go a long way in proving the damages in the lawsuit.
- Gather evidence: Don’t wait too long to gather evidence supporting your legal claim. Although the attorney may help with this, strive to be involved in documenting the accident scene. The attorney can obtain trucking logs and maintenance records that might reveal the cause of the accident and liability.
- File your insurance claim: The legal case starts with filing an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Compensation for Truck Accidents
The following are some of the damages a victim could collect from a truck accident:
- Economic damages: These are the measurable monetary losses people suffered following an accident. They cover medical bills, the cost of medication, additional health care expenses, lost wages, loss of future earnings, ambulance transportation, and funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-economic damages: These damages are compensation for losses the court cannot quantify. They involve physical and emotional harm such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and disfigurement.
- Punitive damages: The court could also impose punitive damages if it determines the at-fault driver’s actions were particularly heinous.
How Are Truck Accident Claims and Car Accident Claims Different?
Truck accident claims are generally more complex than those of car accident cases. Claims involving 18-wheelers could be multilayered and may involve several parties. Bringing multiple claims is a complex procedure that requires the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. Additionally, trucking companies usually have liability policies with much higher limits than regular insurance policies. This implies victims could get larger settlements than if they were involved in car accidents.
FAQ: Truck Accidents in New Orleans
Will the victims need to go to court for their New Orleans truck accident lawsuit?
There is no specific answer about whether the client must go to court after a truck accident. You may have to go to court if you decide to sue the other party for damages. You will also go to court if you receive a court summons.
What happens If there is shared liability?
If there is a shared liability, each party is responsible for their portion of the damages. However, compensation is still possible from the other party or their insurance carrier.
Can I take legal action if the truck came from out of state?
Yes, you can take legal action even if the driver is from out of state. If the truck accident happened in New Orleans, Louisiana, the law applies regardless of where the driver was coming from.
How long do I have to file my New Orleans truck accident claim?
The state of Louisiana has a time limit of one year for personal injury claims. This means that a party must file the lawsuit within one year from the date of the truck accident to obtain a settlement.
How can Dudley DeBosier help with my New Orleans truck accident case?
After working with our truck accident lawyer New Orleans residents will have all aspects of their truck accident case managed. Any affected parties should have an easy time recovering from their injuries and losses. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will investigate the circumstances of the accident, seek an appropriate out-of-court settlement, prepare and file a lawsuit, and represent the victims at trial, if necessary. Contact Dudley DeBosier Law Offices today to discuss the case with our highly experienced attorneys.