The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
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Negligence and Truck Accidents

A significant number of personal injury lawsuits in the United States are due to motor vehicle accidents. This fact is not surprising given that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every 10 seconds an individual is involved in a car accident.

Contributing Causes of Fatal Truck and Amtrak Train Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board recently concluded that defective brakes on a tractor-trailer were the likely cause of a fatal Nevada accident that took place in 2011. The vehicle collided with an Amtrak train, and the driver, the train conductor and four passengers were killed. The driver of the vehicle had a history of speeding violations, and the train was traveling three hours behind schedule on the day of the accident.

The cause of the accident was manifold. The driver failed to brake in time even though the warning lights were flashing and the safety gate was in place at the train crossing when the truck was 900 feet away. The investigators from the NTSB speculated that the driver was most likely distracted by ankle pain or a cell phone call and that he may have been sleep deprived as well.

In addition, even though the driver should have noticed the train much earlier, when he did brake at 300 feet away from the crossing, the truck should have been able to stop in time if the brakes had been in good repair. Instead, the truck slid for almost the length of a football field before colliding with the train. The NTSB also discovered that the anti-lock braking system had been completely disconnected in the vehicle.

Both the truck driver and the trucking company were named as defendants in a subsequent lawsuit brought by the children of the deceased conductor. There is a chance the driver was unaware of the defective brakes if he had not made any sudden stops in the past.

The trucking company did not conduct a thorough background check on the driver. Although, the driver had 11 speeding violations over the past 10 years, his employer found only half of those since a background check was only conducted in Nevada. The accident prompted a recommendation that commercial carriers investigate driver's histories for the past 10 years.

Negligence in Commercial Truck Accidents

Individuals who are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle may sue for negligence. Drivers of commercial vehicles are required to use reasonable care under the circumstances.

An individual must prove the following to establish negligence:

  • The driver was negligent
  • The driver's negligence was the proximate cause of the accident
  • The accident caused the resulting injuries

The following factors are considered when determining driver negligence:

  • Speeding
  • Failing to use a turn signal
  • Disregarding traffic signals
  • Driving in poor weather conditions
  • Driving while using drugs or alcohol

Police reports and witnesses can help establish negligence to support a plaintiff's case. A driver found negligent must typically pay the injured person and pay for any resulting damage to property.

Accidents involving commercial vehicles often result in devastating injuries and other serious long-term consequences. An individual injured in a car accident with a commercial vehicle can benefit from the knowledge and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.

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The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
123 Saint Ferdinand Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Phone: 225-424-7388
Fax: 225-334-7824
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