Missoula Montana Truck Accident Lawyer

When a fully loaded semi-trailer that’s 70 feet long and weights 80,000 pounds impacts with a passenger vehicle, that passenger vehicle is likely to be severely damaged. The semi and trailer weigh 20 to 30 times as much as the passenger vehicle, and on dry roads, the big rig will take between 20 percent and 40 percent more roadway to come to a complete stop. Stopping distance increases substantially when the road is wet, snowy or icy.

Montana’s Deadliest Highway

Interstate Highway 90 connects the United States from Seattle to Boston. It goes through 14 Montana counties, and it crosses more than 554 miles of Big Sky Country. That interstate highway is where most Montana large truck accidents with severe injuries and fatalities occur.

Common Causes of Semi-Trailer and Large Truck Accidents

One or more factors can figure into a semi-trailer or other large truck accident. Here are just a few examples of some of the circumstances that we’ve seen when investigating an 18-wheeler crash.

  • Prescription and Illegal Drugs: One study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) attributes 26 percent of all big rig crashes to prescription and illegal drug use. Drug use is believed to slow the reaction time of drivers.
  • Fatigued or Drowsy Driving: Federal law places limitations on how much time a semi-truck driver can spend behind the wheel. The purpose of these regulations is to give drivers sufficient rest in order to avoid fatigued or drowsy driving.
  • Distracted Driving: Using a smartphone, texting or inputting information into an infotainment center are all forms of distracted driving. As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, if a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road for five seconds at 55 mph, that’s the same as driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
  • Speeding: Given the massive size and weight of a semi-trailer, they require drastically more roadway to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles. Strict schedules encourage speeding. Speeding trucks translate into increased stopping distances that contribute to disastrous rear-end collisions.
  • Maintenance Issues: Every time that a large truck goes out on the road, it must meet federal maintenance standards. Documentation of maintenance is required. Poorly maintained brakes and tires commonly contribute to truck crashes.
  • Blind Spots: Semi-trailers have large blind spots in front of them, on their sides and behind them. These are often referred to as “no zones.” Stay out of a large truck’s blind spots. Don’t assume that a trucker can continually see you when you’re passing it or being passed by it. As per the FMCSA, if you can’t see the truck driver from the truck’s side mirrors, that truck driver can’t see you.
  • Overloading: We know that the truck’s load weight affects stopping distance, but it can also affect maneuverability. Overloading can cause a truck’s center of gravity to be too high and cause the truck and trailer to flip over. Load shifts also cause trucks to jackknife.

How Weather Conditions Contribute

One or more of the above causes of semi-trailer crashes coupled with bad weather can lead to a crash with catastrophic injuries or death, especially in rear-end crashes when the trucker fails to see a vehicle ahead of the truck that’s moving slowly or even stopped. FMCSA regulation 392.14 states as follows: “Extreme caution in the operation of a motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust or smoke adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.” If a truck driver tries to blame a crash on bad weather conditions, a strong inference arises that the driver failed to comply with FMCSA regulation 392.14.

Mistakes Can Be Incredibly Expensive

Given the devastating damage that semi-trailers can do, the FMCSA requires a minimum of $750,000 of liability coverage for semi-trailers that haul goods from state to state. Once an insurance company becomes involved in a crash, it’s that insurance company’s money that’s in play. The adjuster who is assigned to your claim might seem friendly and concerned, but always remember that it’s that adjuster’s job to save the insurance company money. That’s done by attempting to devalue or even deny your claim. Without an experienced and effective large truck accident attorney representing you, that opposing truck insurance company has you right where it wants you. It will lull you into making mistakes that will only be used against you in the future. In that context, the law is unforgiving, and a judge is likely to rule that you must live with your mistakes. Those could be six figures worth of mistakes. You need us at your side from the beginning.

Contact a Missoula Montana Truck Accident Lawyer

You’re under no duty to communicate with the opposing insurance company in any way. The law doesn’t require you to do that, and that insurer is only going to try to take advantage of you anyway. Rather than hurting your case, you can contact us right away to arrange for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation. You might be eligible for compensation to help you with your medical bills, lost earnings, permanent disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering and diminished quality of life. We’re going to listen to you carefully and answer your questions, Then, we’ll advise you of your full range of legal options. You don’t even need to bring a single penny with you to retain us either. That’s because we take these types of cases on a contingency fee basis. No legal fees are even due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Fully protect any right that you have to compensation for your injuries and losses by contacting us right away after any large truck accident.

Moriarity & Badaruddin PLLC
736 South 3rd Street West
Missoula, MT 59802-4222
Toll-Free: (877) 728-6868
Tel: (406) 728-6868
Fax: (406) 728-7722