Truck accidents in Boston often result in serious injury or death.
When a passenger car is struck by a commercial truck such as a semi-tractor trailer (also commonly called an 18-wheeler), we tend to see a greater severity of injuries based largely on the extreme size and weight of a large truck. A semi tractor-trailer can be 52 feet long and weigh as much as 80,000 pounds per U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations unless it has permits to run overweight, and then it can easily push 100,000 pounds. This weight translates into a tremendous amount of force in a Boston truck collision, as routinely handled by attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC.Typical Reasons for Boston Truck Accidents
There are many reasons for the car-truck accidents we see in Boston on regular occasions. Some of the more common reasons we tend to see a truck driver causing serious personal injury or even death to another driver or pedestrian are as follows:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Weight limit violations
- Violation of DOT regulations
Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of serious or fatal truck accidents involving passenger cars or even other trucks. The reality is that truckers often drive much more than they should or are even legally allowed to do. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, drivers adhere to strict rules governing the hour of service. This means that commercial drivers may not drive more than 11 hours, and prior to driving this long, they must have just come off a break of at least 10 consecutive hours. In some cases, there is a 14-hour driving limit, but that has even more conditions. Drivers must record their breaks in a log that must be kept in their truck at all times.
The reason we have so many problems with truckers violating these strict federal requirements and often causing serious truck accidents, as a result, is because of how the trucking industry works. These drivers are getting paid by the mile and not by the hour. When that truck is not in motion, the driver is not making any money. If the driver is an owner-operator, he or she likely must pay for diesel fuel personally, so the driver is losing money while the truck is idling in a truck stop. Many drivers will run their trucks all the time not only to provide power for heat and air conditioning, but because in cold weather a truck that has been shut down may not restart unless the diesel is heated first, and this may require an electrical outlet and a block heater.
Not only do the drivers want to get their runs done quicker, but also the companies have millions of dollars of freight in transit and will enforce rigid deadlines to get the cargo to its location on time. Essentially a lot of people are more concerned with making money than they are about the safety of drivers and other motorists and passengers sharing the roads.Driving While Tired is Negligent
If you get behind the wheel of any motor vehicle when you are too tired to safely operate that motor vehicle, you are engaging in negligent conduct. This does not mean you will be sued for negligence if you do not cause an accident, because the tort of negligence requires a civil wrong to occur, but there is no good excuse for the negligent conduct. This is true whether you are driving a Honda Civic of Kenworth semi tractor-trailer.
In the case of a truck driver, if he or she is driving without following the service hours requirements, that can be used as to establish a breach of a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. The reason for this is because, when a person violates a law in the process of committing an act of negligence, the breaking of the law can be used to establish what is known as negligence per se.
In the Commonwealth, the elements in any negligence case are duty, breach, causation, and damages. This means that a plaintiff must first establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant owed a duty of due care to the plaintiff to act as a reasonable and prudent person to prevent foreseeable injuries to foreseeable persons and property. In the Commonwealth, this duty is imposed as a matter of law whenever a person chooses to operate a motor vehicle on our roads.
The second element that must be established is that the defendant breached that duty of care. This duty incorporates the various traffic laws and regulations including those that apply to commercial drivers, such as the service hours regulations. As discussed above, when a defendant has been proven to have violated one of these regulations, this can be used to prove the breach. This is called negligence per se. However, as discussed in the civil jury instructions used by judges in Boston truck accident lawsuits, this violation alone is not enough to establish a breach of the duty of care in all cases. The jury instructions require the plaintiff to establish it using the totality of the circumstances. This does not mean that it will not be enough to establish a law violation, but other proof may be required in some cases.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when we are in the city, we tend to see many more truck accidents involving trucks that are smaller than an 18-wheeler. However, these accidents can be just as dangerous, and the trucks can weigh just much as a semi tractor-trailer. Some of the most common types of trucks found in the city of Boston are dump trucks hauling removable dumpsters to and from construction sites. A dump truck hauling gravel to a construction site to be used for mixing cement or building a foundation can easily weigh 80 tons. These trucks often have poor visibility for drivers, as there are many blind spots.
Garbage trucks are often involved in accidents involving other cars and pedestrians and can result in serious personal injury or death, as they drive down small streets, often in the dark hours of the early morning. When have seen various cases where pedestrians have been injured in Boston by the negligent operation of a garbage truck.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
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