Tractor-trailer, Semi-truck, 18-wheel Truck Accidents in Charlotte North Carolina
Reeves Aiken Hightower & Burns LLC
Charlotte North Carolina truck accident attorney Robert J. Reeves handles ALL truck accident cases. No matter what the circumstances. No matter what the injury. We are experienced serious trucking accident personal injury trial attorneys who are committed to making our roads safer. How do we do that? By holding trucking companies and drivers responsible when their negligence or violations of trucking regulations and laws cause serious, catastrophic injury or death. We are a Charlotte based firm but handle trucking cases wherever we are needed. Our truck accident attorneys are litigation professionals with diverse backgrounds. Our partners include former insurance defense lawyers, a former Registered Nurse (RN), and a former prosecutor. Together, we can comprehensively investigate serious semi-truck accidents and hold to account all parties responsible. We are licensed to practice in both North Carolina and South Carolina. We are aggressive towards wrongdoers but compassionate with our clients and their families. We know the suffering you are enduring and pledge to do our best to help get you through this terrible ordeal in life. We are available when you need us. After hours. Evenings. Weekends. 704.351.7979
What To Do If Involved in a Semi-Truck Accident
If you or someone you love is injured in a Charlotte NC truck accident, you should start your search for an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as you can. Time is of the essence in these cases. Although many Charlotte NC law firms advertise for truck accident cases, it is critically important that you choose the firm that you feel is best for your family. Do your own research and carefully compare credentials and experience. Large truck accident cases are inherently complex. It is in your best interests to hire a seasoned, serious accident attorney. This is not the time to hire a TV or billboard lawyer. We encourage you to personally meet and interview several attorneys. You will know when you have met the right lawyer and firm. Go with the attorney that gives you the most confidence and puts you at ease. This is going to be a long journey to justice, and you need to feel comfortable with the truck accident lawyer you choose. We hope that you will consider our firm and credentials. Our lawyer team have over 100 years combined legal experience and have varied backgrounds, including a former ICU Registered Nurse (RN), who can level the legal playing field when going up against a trucking company. Our attorneys have been recognized by their peers and inducted into organizations, including the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and SuperLawyers. We invite you to call us and schedule a time to meet and personally review the circumstances of your case. Every case is truly unique, and every circumstance is important. Little facts can often make the difference in outcome. Call us today for answers and options. 704.351.7979
What Causes Tractor Trailer Semi-Truck Accidents
Large commercial “big rigs” or “18-wheelers” are the biggest, heaviest vehicles permitted on Charlotte interstates and roadways. Because of their sheer size and weight, they can quickly become unstable at highway speeds. When drivers lose control, their tractor trailer can collide with other vehicles and cause serious injury or even death. State and federal agencies have tried to reduce the risks posed by these large semi-trucks by enacting more and more extensive regulations for the trucking industry. Despite their best efforts, however, we are still seeing increases in serious truck accidents both here in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina as a whole.
Aggressive Driving by Truckers
No matter what excuses are offered by semi-truck drivers or the trucking industry itself, almost all car drivers on the road report dangerous, aggressive driving by tractor-trailers. We have all been there. We are in our lane, and suddenly, a large truck crosses over into our path forcing us to take evasive action. Sometimes, the change seems inadvertent or harmless. Other times, you realize the sudden action was intentional while trying not to miss an exit. And in some cases, the bad action seems outright retaliatory for perceived close driving by the car operator. Whatever the reason ultimately does not really matter. When a large truck impacts a smaller vehicle, the laws of physics come into play and seals the fate of the smaller and lighter car. What happens to the people inside just depends on how serious the impact is. We read about these consequences and wonder how these Charlotte NC truck accident cases continue to occur.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Studies have shown time and again that driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of Charlotte NC truck accidents. As we get older, our bodies tire more easily and more quickly. We all remember how we could run hard and stay up all night when we were young. Now, at age 53, I start heading towards the bed around 9:30 to watch TV before going to sleep. By 10:00, I am usually out while the TV is still on. It is the same concept with long haul truck drivers. They are on the road for countless hours day after day. Coffee and other stimulants can only work for so long. And, their bodies actually adjust to having a certain level of caffeine, and consequently, it takes more to accomplish its intended purpose. Cabs have gotten more comfortable and spacious to facilitate long hours of driving. Nevertheless, there is a physical toll on the human physiology that makes semi-truck drivers more chronically tired. The natural consequence of chronic fatigue is that tractor-trailer drivers become a serious danger on the road and cause catastrophic crashes on the highways and interstates. By the way, the earlier reference to my age of 53 is to highlight that this is now the average age of long-distance truck drivers today.
Inadequate Truck Driver Training
In the 1970s, there was great respect for truck drivers. There were songs and movies (Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit) that celebrated and glorified truckers. Semi-truck drivers often traveled in groups as they proceeded on their various routes to deliver their loads. Most driving occurred at night when other vehicle traffic was at a minimum. It was a good time to be a trucker. Today, there is a significant truck driver shortage across the country. All of us realize and appreciate virtually everything we need and buy is moved by tractor-trailer trucks. We see them everywhere on the roads from the interstates to small towns. Nevertheless, there is no longer the desire to be a truck driver. Truck driving is very hard work. Long hours on the road and days or even weeks away from family and friends has taken its toll on recruitment. Younger individuals seem to have a different work ethic and sense of priorities these days. After all, you cannot hang out with friends and play video games in a truck. Even the lure of great pay and benefits has not been enough to correct this problem.
For those individuals who do decide to become a truck driver, there are plenty of truck driving schools available, and trucking companies will often give a signing bonus that will cover the costs of training. What is quite surprising and a little frightening is just how quickly a novice car driver can get behind the wheel of a big rig. In as little as three (3) weeks, you can be on the road delivering freight. That’s right. Three short weeks. I contacted a local truck driving school here in the Charlotte NC area. They confirmed that the initial classroom training is approximately one (1) week and then two (2) weeks of actual driver training on the road. That training involves only one (1) night of driving despite this is when most truckers prefer to be the road due to decreased traffic issues. At the end of the course, many freshly minted drivers work for small trucking companies and receiver no other formal or assisted training. Rather, they are on the road with the rest of us. And we wonder why we are still experiencing an increase in Charlotte NC truck accidents? For those new graduates who are hired on by large national trucking companies, they will undergo some additional training and even a ride along with more experienced drivers. However, the person I spoke with at the training school privately admitted that new drivers pose a real risk to others on the road.
Overloading and Improper Loading
Given the economy, price of diesel fuel, and shortage of available drivers, trucking companies are trying to squeeze every dime out of every load. Consequently, we are seeing more dangerous situations like the photos on this website page. The photos above of the clearly overloaded trailer in the mysteriously shrouded wooden box and trailer with stacked trailers clearly document how safety cannot be the first concern. The trailer is only inches above the road surface. Any attempt to negotiate a hill or other common situation (like railroad tracks) is going to affect whatever is under the box. And in the case of the multiple stacked trailers, any sudden stopping or other aggressive evasive action can easily cause that load to shift and result in loss of control of the entire rig. This is exactly how Charlotte NC truck accidents occur. You can just imagine what happens when these heavy loads break free at highway speeds. The only thing that brings them to a stop are other vehicles in their way. This is how families are seriously injured and killed on the interstate. Surely, there are better and safer ways to move such items on the road. In the old days, trucking companies hired “follow vehicles” to warn other drivers and give them a chance to get out of the way. But with the still struggling economy, that extra expense has been eliminated, and other drivers on the interstate are on their own. Charlotte interstate lanes and city streets can be narrow increasing the risk. A Charlotte trucking accident attorney should be able to determine if a trucking company followed all state and federal law, as well as industry best practices, to determine whether the the carrier was negligent.
As with almost anything associated with semi-trucks, maintenance is a huge expense. New trucks are very expensive, often in excess of $100k for a long haul truck. These trucks can be driven for many years if properly serviced. However, in addition to the significant costs of even routine maintenance, time off from the road is another substantial loss of income and needed revenue. Tractor trailer owners will tell you the only way to make the math work is to keep those wheels turning. Even if only stopped for traffic lights or going slow in heavy traffic, truckers are losing money. Large national companies now equip their trucks with GPS and other real-time devices to navigate the most efficient route to their destination. Every dollar counts in both fuel and wear on the vehicle and tires. Tires have an expected mileage life, and trucking companies and owners wait until they absolutely feel they have gotten their money’s worth. Brake jobs and overhauls are one of the most costly and time consuming repairs. As a result, this critical item is also delayed until deemed unsafe to continue. Sometimes, however, the demands of the load or attempts to avoid a crash exceed what is left on the tires and brakes and serious injury or death results. In Charlotte truck accident cases, it is necessary to hire an attorney who will be willing to make the effort to obtain and review all records of maintenance as such records can be of critical importance.
Who to Call If Involved in a Charlotte NC Truck Accident
After you secure your family and can think about what has happened, you need to get an experienced Charlotte NC semi-truck accident attorney involved as quickly as you can. Although many firms will aggressively advertise for tractor-trailer accidents, there are only a small number of firms that actually have any history of handling these type of serious accident cases. Many lawyers mistakenly treat truck accident cases like car accident files. They are not the same. While the general principles of negligence apply, it is important to learn as much as possible about the truck, the driver, and the trucking company before proceeding with settlement discussions or a lawsuit. Our lawyers at Reeves Aiken Hightower & Burns LLC have the experience and ability to help you and your family. We would welcome an opportunity to review your situation and see what we can do to help. Call or email us today. 704.351.7979 or Robert@RJRlaw.com
Be Safe. Get Home.