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Rhode Island Truck Accident Lawyer | Slepkow Law (Tradition 1932)

Truck accidents in Rhode Island

Rhode Island truck accident lawyer

Even in seemingly simple cases, proving negligence in a truck accident personal injury cause of action in Rhode Island can often be difficult to determine. There are often numerous parties involved such as the owner of the tractor trailer truck, the driver of the truck, and possibly other motor vehicles or cars. Correctly analyzing the situation and presenting a compelling case is crucial to receiving a favorable verdict to compensate for injuries and obtaining some semblance of justice. A RI personal injury lawyer who only settles rear end car accidents in Rhode Island wont have the  the ability to go to the mat with big insurance.

Rhode Island truck accident lawyer

In the event of a fatal / deadly truck crash, the trucking company is known to send teams of investigators to the scene immediately after the fatal crash to obtain witness reports and analyze the damaged vehicles.

There are a number of state and federal laws and regulations as well as industry standards that trucking companies must adhere to. These standards must be followed by the 18 wheeler driver and the truck owner. These laws play a key role in determining the cause of a semi-truck crash in Rhode Island and nationally. These laws are an important factor in determining who is responsible to pay damages as a result of a trucking accident.

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Under Rhode Island law, it is not only the driver or the owner of the big rig who can be held responsible for the truck collision. Even manufacturers or technicians who repair the semi can be held liable for a truck and car wreck. As a result, truck accident lawsuits in Providence Superior Court often become a game of cat and mouse with each party looking to place responsibility on the next. Most notably and traditionally, companies look to avoid blame by instead laying focus on the other car or motorcycle driver. It is important that your Rhode Island Truck Accident Attorney have a comprehensive understanding of law and facts to apportion responsibilities to the parties involved.

Generally, information concerning the wreck is derived from eyewitness accounts, repair logs, police reports and other documents. Increasingly, however, more accurate sources of information are being derived via technology. These sources of information include high-technology surveillance cameras.

Wrongful death in RI

Sadly, many truck accidents with cars, bicycles or pedestrians are fatal. A deadly trucking crash requires the experience of a RI Wrongful Death Attorney. A wrongful death cause of action must be filed by the executor of the estate of the person killed in the accident for the beneficiaries of the estate of the deceased.

Distracted Driving and texting and Driving in Rhode Island

Texting and driving, utilizing a gps while driving, operating a mobile phone or electronic device is a major cause of truck related accidents in RI. Federal regulators have instituted a myriad of new rules pertaining to distracted driving truck accidents.

The department of transportation made the following findings of fact:

“The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are three times greater when the driver is reaching for an object than when the driver is not reaching for an object. The odds of being involved in a safety- critical event are six times greater while the driver is dialing a cell phone than when the driver is not dialing a cell phone. These increases in risk are primarily attributable to the driver’s eyes being off the forward roadway” –

“FMCSA and PHMSA are amending the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to restrict the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). This rulemaking will improve safety on the Nation’s highways by reducing the prevalence of distracted driving-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving drivers of CMVs.”

Truck accidents are often caused by either negligence on part of the driver, mechanical failure or difficult driving conditions such as rain, ice, snow or sleet. Occasionally, it can be a combination of reasons which makes determining cause and responsibility all the more difficult. Difficult road conditions (black ice), unfamiliar terrain, or faulty parts are all causes of truck accidents. Worn out tires, faulty braking systems etc. are all examples of causes of accidents. Most frequently, however, it is negligence or miscalculation on part of the driver that caused the mishap.

Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents

One of the most common causes of rear end, jackknife or other types of trucking collisions in Rhode Island is drowsy, tired, fatigued or sleepy driving. As a result of  the increased prevalence of drowsy and fatigued trucking related accidents, the United States Department of Transportation issued rules:

These trucking rules limit the number of hours per week to 70 hours a week and the number of hours driving per day to 11 hours a day.

Truck accidents are far more common than one would expect. They are also considerably more complicated than regular auto accidents or car crashes in RI. Because of the multiple parties involved, from drivers to leasing companies, truck accident cases can get messy and complicated to sort out.

There are often competing interests in a RI tractor trailer crashes. Truck Crash cases are rarely simple enough to decide on a first glance. It is advisable that an injured victim involved in a Rhode Island trucking collision retains a RI Personal Injury lawyer. an injured victim should look for a lawyer from the Providence area (such as East Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston) in order to best determine the advisable course of action.

A top Rhode Island Truck Accident Lawyer or MA semi-truck collision lawyer needs to have expertise and substantial experience in the intricacies of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations. You do not want to trust your trucking accident / collision personal injury cause of action or truck death claim on a local RI or MA car crash lawyer who is also moonlighting as a traffic ticket or real estate lawyer.

Experienced truck accident lawyers in RI

An inexperience RI truck crash lawyer or Boston truck wreck solicitor will not have a working knowledge of these crucial and complicated regulations and laws. You can be sure that highly compensated insurance defense attorneys representing the trucking company or trucker will be well versed in these federal regulations and truck safety law. A truck wreck attorney usually also has experience in other motor vehicle accidents involving cars, motorcycles, vans, suv and automobiles (autos).

A top trucking accident plaintiff’s lawyer will carefully interview the victim to determine pertinent facts related to the truck and car accident. The RI truck accident lawyer or Boston attorney will request critical documents as part of the discovery litigation process and consult with top trucking safety consultants and experts. It may be necessary for the lawyers to retain an accident reconstruction expert to help prevail in the tractor trailer litigation. The Massachusetts semi-truck accident attorney will have access to the top trucking big rig litigation experts in the country and the resources to bring in the best accident reconstruction experts.

The motor carrier industry is replete with trucking companies, both for hire carriers and private carriers, who regularly put profit over safety and attempt to evade federal regulations and state laws. In 2012, there were over 10,000,000 large truck registered in the United States. Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistic Private carriers transport goods, freight and shipments that are for the benefit of their own business. Other carriers move freight for other commercial entities or businesses.

There are dozens of different types or trucking accidents in Massachusetts (MA) and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

This type of trucking accident ranges from rear end accidents, malfunctioning brakes or braking systems, defective tires and tire blowouts,  jackknife accidents, broadside ( T-bone accidents) and rollover accidents. Your RI or Mass truck accident attorney needs to have the resources and financial muscle to be able to take on big insurance and deep pocket trucking companies. Indemnity, insurance and liability companies are committing bad faith on a regular basis denying legitimate injury claims. If the indemnity corporation admits to some liability for the crash, they will try to offer pennies on the dollar to try to get rid of you. A big name experienced Massachusetts wrongful death lawyer or a Providence fatal truck accident lawyer will level the playing field and help the victim or the deceased family members get the compensation they deserve.

The injured victim should be asking their potential truck accident attorney if they have obtained any million dollar verdicts or multi-million dollar settlements in bus, truck, bicycle, cement truck, motorcycle or motor vehicle cases.

 What Caused the Trucking Accident?

Trucking collisions could be caused by numerous, perhaps hundreds of factors, including negligent and unsafe driving when a trucker drives carelessly. Carelessness could manifest itself in speeding, failure to change lanes appropriately or trucker inattention. Other causes of semi accidents or auto transport truck mishaps include distracted driving, texting while driving, weather conditions, road conditions, drunk driving, impaired driving, sleepy or tired driving, mechanical defects or mechanical issues, brake issues, shifting cargo, reckless driving speeding and worn down tires.

Many truck mishaps result from car motorists, van operators, bus drivers or motorcyclists driving negligently without due care or as a result of distracted driving.

“Every motor carrier, its officers, agents, representatives, and employees responsible for the management, maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles, or the hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers, shall be instructed in and comply with the rules in this part.” Sadly, many motor carrier and trucking businesses fail to comply with these important safety rules which are intended to protect the public from, injury and death.

Investigating and litigating a semi truck crash

A top Rhode island truck accident lawyer or Massachusetts trucking collision attorney will ensure that there is no commercial driver’s license violations, that the trucker was qualified to drive such big rig, tractor trailer or 18 wheeler. The investigation may also look into the level of insurance provided by the carrier and whether the trucking company and or driver had adequate insurance to cover the loss.

Other important issues include: was the driver properly qualified, was the driver fatigued at the time of the truck crash, was the truck safe to be operated on highways, roads and streets of the United States. Is the management of the trucking company instituting proper controls are in place or adequate to insure adequate compliance with safety laws. The experience of the driver, and the condition of the highway or road could also play an important role in the collision.

The federal regulations take substantial measures to prevent sleepy, tired, drowsy and fatigued driving in the United States.  The federal motor carrier safety administration also has also established “COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE STANDARDS; REQUIREMENTS AND PENALTIES”  CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND ALCOHOL USE AND TESTING INSPECTION, REPAIR, AND MAINTENANCE

Some 18 wheeler litigation goes to mediation, arbitration or alternative dispute resloution. This is a way for the insurance company and injured victims to resolve the cause of action without a big rig trucking crash tjury trial on the merits. “In 2012, among the 253,639,386 total registered vehicles in the United States, 8,190,286 were single-unit trucks (straight trucks), 2,469,094 were combination trucks (tractor trailers), and 764,509 were buses. FMCSA regulates all registered commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that operate interstate or that carry hazardous materials (HM).” Id.

THE NTSB and truck collisions and trucking accident

The NTSB reported on a truck and car crash: “The truck driver was negotiating a left curve in the right lane on the connection ramp, which consisted of two southbound lanes, when the combination unit began to encroach upon the left lane, occupied by a 2007 Volvo S40 passenger car. The truck driver responded to the Volvo’s presence in the left lane by oversteering clockwise, causing the combination unit to veer to the right and travel onto the paved right shoulder. Moments later, the truck driver steered counterclockwise to redirect and return the combination unit from the right shoulder to the right lane.

“The truck driver’s excessive, rapid, evasive steering maneuver triggered a sequence of events that caused the cargo tank semitrailer to roll over, decouple from the truck-tractor, penetrate a steel W-beam guardrail, and collide with a bridge footing and concrete pier column supporting the southbound I-465 overpass. The collision entirely displaced the outside bridge pier column from its footing and resulted in a breach at the front of the cargo tank that allowed the liquefied petroleum gas to escape, form a vapor cloud, and ignite. The truck-tractor came to rest on its right side south of the I-465 overpasses, and the decoupled cargo tank semitrailer came to rest on its left side, near the bridge footing supporting the southbound I-465 overpass.”

“The truck driver and the Volvo driver sustained serious injuries in the accident and postaccident fire, and three occupants of passenger vehicles traveling on I-465 received minor injuries from the postaccident fire. At the time of the accident, the sky was overcast, winds were calm, pavement was dry, and the temperature was about 58° F.” NTSB 

The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Providence Superior court that a truck driver was negligent for driving a vehicle too fast, considering the slippery street surface. Driving too fast for the  road conditions caused his Truck to Crash into his home and resulted in his house being demolished, eventually. The decision also pertains to Rhode Island Insurance Law and Subrogation but those issues are outside the scope of this negligence post.

Top Court affirms negligence verdict despite “paucity of evidence”

The RI Top Court sitting in Providence gave a lukewarm endorsement to the trial justice’s finding of negligence noting the “paucity of evidence” establishing negligence and the RI accident Laws that a motor vehicle sliding or skidding in itself does not prove negligence. However, the Highest Court reasoned that it was “reasonable to infer” that the trucker was speeding based on the massive structural damage to the house. Id.

Truck slides into house

In February 2009, in the midst of a snow storm Dean Pepper was repairing one of his trucks at a garage owned by one of his friends. He travelled home to his house in Johnston RI. It is unclear whether he was driving home in his personal car or a truck.  When he got home he realized that a road near his house was covered with snow. Mr. Pepper removed snow from his premises and then set out to clear the adjoining street. Later, he took a company owned Mack Truck to a local fast food restaurant, Dunkin Doughnuts. On his way home, his truck “slid downhill” on the “slippery” road and collided with his house. (Facts from RI Supreme Court Decision NATIONWIDE PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY as subrogee of Dean F. Pepper v. D.F. PEPPER CONSTRUCTION, INC. -‘

House condemned

“The house sustained structural damage to the extent that it later was condemned and demolished.” Immediately after the truck crash he was a victim of a slip and fall when he fell on the icy surface getting out of his motor vehicle. He “realizing that it was ‘much slipperier than he thought it was,’” The decision does not set forth whether pepper was injured in the slip and fall exiting his truck. The issue of premises liability and falling on ice in RI is beyond the scope of this post. Legal News Line

Lower Court ruling:

The Superior Court determined that the truck driver was operating his motor vehicle slowly.  However, the Trial Justice found that “even slowly this was at a speed greater than is reasonably prudent under the conditions * * *. Specifically, his speed was not so controlled as to avoid leaving the roadway and hitting the house.” The court held that Pepper was negligent in failing to keep his vehicle under control and because “he did not observe and take into consideration the surrounding circumstances, including the conditions of the roadway that he had plowed.” Id.

RI Supreme Court affirms that Dean Pepper was negligent.

“…his failure to drive slowly enough to avoid colliding with the house is the apparent basis for the finding of the breach of a duty. We note that there was a paucity of evidence introduced at trial tending to show negligence. Dean Pepper was the sole witness testifying to the events surrounding the accident. The trial justice found his testimony about his slow rate of speed to be credible. There was no evidence that Pepper had been drinking or was otherwise impaired. The trial justice did state that “[t]he [c]ourt gives great weight to the police report that indicates that the road conditions were extremely poor and very icy;” however, it is a long-standing principle of this Court that “[t]he fact that a motor vehicle skids on a highway which is slippery is not evidence in and of itself that the vehicle was negligently handled * * *.” Peters v. United Electric Railways Co., 53 R.I. 251, 255–56, 165 A. 773, 774 (1933). Nevertheless, it is our opinion that, in the case under review, it is reasonable to infer from the extent of the damage to the house that Pepper was driving in excess of the speed that was appropriate to the conditions.” Id

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If you were injured in a car, motor vehicle, auto or truck accident, Please contact Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney  and RI truck accident lawyer David Slepkow 401-437-1100