Federal rules prohibit long-haul drivers from staying on the road for long stretches, but surveys show that many drivers violate those regulations, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Add to that the fact that large trucks can take up to 40% longer to brake when fully loaded, and it is unsurprising that one in three truck drivers have been in a serious accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When accidents happen, passenger cars are at a disadvantage, as trucks can carry up to 30 times their weight, the IIHS says. In 2018, 4,136 people died in accidents involving large trucks. Only 16% of them were truck drivers. That year, 162 people died in 141 accidents involving commercial vehicles in Ohio, a category that includes large trucks, according to a report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Cuyahoga County had the most commercial-vehicle crashes in the state.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, a Cleveland truck accident lawyer at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can fight to win compensation on your behalf. To schedule your free consultation, call our offices today at (800) 630-9229.
Rules of the Road
In 2020, the FMCSA revised the federal rule governing how long truckers can stay on the road. Truckers carrying goods are permitted to drive 11 hours a day, but only after taking 10 consecutive hours off. They are not allowed to drive after more than 14 consecutive hours on-duty. They cannot drive for more than eight hours without taking a 30-minute break, and they cannot work for more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days, according to the Federal Register.
Ohio has its own regulations. Ohio Revised Code section 4506.01 spells out provisions for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Ohio Revised Code section 4506.15 prohibits commercial drivers from “having a measurable or detectable amount of alcohol or of a controlled substance in the person’s blood, breath, or urine.”
Ohio Revised Code section 5577.04 establishes formulas for the maximum weight a truck can carry, maxing out at 80,000 pounds.
For a free legal consultation with a truck accidents lawyer serving Cleveland, call (800) 630-9229
In Ohio, the motorist at fault for a truck accident is responsible for the other party’s damages. However, with truck accidents, things can get complicated, as multiple parties might bear some responsibility.
Interstate truckers have minimum coverage standards established by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). General freight truckers need at least $750,000, while those who transport oil, hazardous waste, and other hazardous substances are required to carry $1 million. According to an FMCSA report, less than 1% of truck accidents cost more than their financial responsibility minimums.
However, the same report says that the “costs per crash of fatal and catastrophic injury crashes exceed current insurance limits.” As of 2005, the average fatal heavy truck crash cost more than $3.6 million, according to the report.
Because Ohio is an at-fault state, the party responsible for an accident must pay for the victim’s damages. Truck accident cases are based on claims of negligence. But Ohio follows a “comparative negligence” standard, which “allows a person to recover damages as reduced by the person’s own percentage of negligence,” according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. This means that if you are deemed 10% at fault, your award will be reduced by 10%.
The other party’s insurance company has an incentive to claim that you are partially to blame and use comparative negligence to reduce your settlement offer.
If you believe an insurance company has made an insufficient offer or if their insurance policy does not cover all of your damages, you can file a lawsuit. In truck-accident cases, you may wish to file claims against other parties instead of or in addition to the driver—for example, if a truck hitch came loose, leading to the accident, the manufacturing company might be responsible.
Ohio does not limit what you can recover in tangible economic damages such as property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. It does limit noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, to three times the amount of the economic damages or $250,000, whichever is greater, as detailed in Ohio Revised Code section 2315.18. The state waives that cap in cases of permanent physical deformities and other severe injuries. Ohio Revised Code section 2125 also waives damage caps in wrongful death lawsuits.
If you win a judgment against multiple defendants, they will split the amount of the verdict in proportion to their responsibility under Ohio’s joint and several tort liability law, according to Ohio Revised Code section 2307.22.
As noted in Ohio Revised Code section 2305.10, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. In a wrongful death case, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
If you have questions about what damages you might be able to collect, consider hiring a Cleveland car accident lawyer to help you with your case.
Cleveland Truck Accident Lawyer Near Me (800) 630-9229
How We Can Help
A Cleveland car accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC never shy away from tough cases, and we do not back down from a fight. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, you do not pay us anything until we recover an award on your behalf. Then, we will take our cut from the settlement or judgment we win in your favor.
To learn more about how we will seek compensation for you, you can reach a member of our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 630-9229.