They usually are a lot more complex and have a lot more issues. For example, you will need an expert witnesses almost all of the time, and usually more than one. You are going to want to evaluate the rig itself. It is very important to examine the vehicle — the 18-wheeler. You want to check the tires to make sure they are not overly worn; you want to make sure that the brakes are at the right settings. Essentially, you want to make sure the vehicle should have been in service, so you look at the maintenance records, for example. You also want to make sure that the load was secured so it wasn’t sliding around, which could be the cause of the accident. None of that is relevant in a typical car accident case, most of the time.
There are also unique federal and state regulations that apply only to big rigs and 18-wheelers and such. So you want to check to make sure the driver that the trucking company complied with the applicable federal regulations. Was the person really qualified to be driving? Was the person sleepy? Did the trucking company put them on an unrealistic driving schedule so they had to drive sleepy?
You also want to check to see if the trucker was distracted because nowadays many of these trucks have actual computers right there by the steering wheel; they have a keyboard and a computer screen. There are supposed to pull over when they want to talk to dispatch or their family, but lots of times they do that while they are driving. And there is a study out that says these truckers are ten times more likely to cause an accident when they are distracted.
You want to evaluate if they were intoxicated or drunk or on drugs. And then, of course, you want to evaluate whether they were speeding. Many of these trucks have black boxes — kind of like airplanes — that record speed and other critical data. But even if they don’t have that, there are very sophisticated ways to calculate the speed of the vehicle and to reconstruct the accident. The formulas and the science behind how you calculate the speed of an 18-wheeler are very different than what happens when you are dealing with a regular passenger car.
Bottom line is this. If you have been hurt by an 18-wheeler, you want a lawyer who has done this enough times to know what the issues are, who the real experts are, what the regulations say, and what to do so that you can be protected and your family can be taken care of. Give us a call if you have one of these cases, and we know what to do.