When you hear about truck accidents, vehicles larger than a pickup truck or SUV are generally thought of first—like tractor-trailers, box trucks, cement mixers, and more. Trucks typically haul goods and services long distances; however, there are a number of different kinds of truck and it’s important to know the difference—especially if you’re involved in a crash.
One of the most common you likely see on the highways near you is 18-wheelers. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options so you can recover as quickly and as smoothly as possible. A Cincinnati 18-wheeler accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help.
18-Wheeler Accidents in Cincinnati
The term 18-wheeler refers to the combination of a tractor unit and one or more semi-trailers used to carry freight. The number 18 comes from the total number of wheels the entire tractor-trailer unit has. In Ohio, most 18-wheelers require a Class A CDL license. A Class A license is for vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating greater or equal to 26,001 pounds and a trailer or trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds.
While not all commercial trucks are 18-wheelers, the majority are. When an accident happens involving a large truck and a smaller vehicle, it’s more likely for the passengers in the smaller vehicle to sustain injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. 18-wheeler accidents may be the result of fatigue, distracted driving, or impaired driving.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 153 people were killed in crashes involving commercial vehicles. In Cincinnati specifically, a deadly crash happened on December 4, 2019, when an 18-wheeler drifted off the right side of the road on Interstate 275, struck a ditch, and entered a wooded area. The driver died at the scene.
If you’ve been involved in a crash involving a semi-truck in Cincinnati, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations surroundings these large vehicles. In the event the driver or trucking company broke a law that resulted in your crash, you can hold them accountable.
Law and Regulations for 18-Wheelers in Ohio
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates 18-wheelers and those that drive them in an attempt to keep drivers and others safe on the road. Because these vehicles are large and can feature complex controls, operating them safely requires specific skills. In addition to having a Class A CDL license, a truck driver has to be screened properly prior to being hired. The employer has to keep records of their employment application, driving record, road test, doctor’s exam, and annual reviews.
Once a trucker is behind the wheel, they are limited to how long they can drive. This is done to ensure truckers are alert and awake at all times. There is an 11-hour time limit that says drivers cannot drive for longer than that amount of time after they have been off duty for 10 straight hours. There is also a 14-hour rule that states drivers cannot drive for longer than 14 straight hours after they come on duty. Overall, truckers cannot drive after 60 of 70 hours in seven out of eight days.
18-wheelers are among the heaviest vehicles on the road. As such, there are also regulations in place regarding weight, cargo, repairs and maintenance, and parts and accessories. 18-wheelers have to operate under certain weight limits, the vehicles should be well maintained, and all cargo has to be properly stored and secure.
If you believe a trucking company or trucker broke one of the federal laws mentioned above, you may have grounds to take legal action.
Taking Legal Action After an 18-Wheeler Wreck
If you’re involved in an 18-wheeler collision, it’s important to understand what steps to take to protect yourself and your future. Firstly, make sure you seek medical attention. You’ll also want to file a police report and collect contact information from the trucker.
Once you’ve received medical care and have an idea of what your recovery will look like, it’s time to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. When you work with Thomas Law Offices, we’ll guide you through the claims process and ensure that we have the evidence we need to prove you were wronged and are owed compensation for your losses.
Some of the evidence we collect could include photographs or video from the scene, medical records, black box information from the 18-wheeler, information from the trucking company including the trucker’s employment file, and more. Once we’ve proved the crash wasn’t your fault, we can work on getting you the economic and noneconomic compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The steps discussed above apply to other types of truck accidents as well. To learn more, a Cincinnati 18-wheeler attorney can help.
Seek Help From Thomas Law Offices
If you’ve been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, it’s important to have strong legal representation. Proving fault for a truck accident isn’t always easy, which is why it’s important to present a strong claim that proves you were wronged and are deserving of compensation.
Building a case takes time, so the sooner you get in touch with a Cincinnati 18-wheeler accident lawyer, the better your chances are of maximizing your recovery. To get started with your claim or to learn more about your legal options, schedule a case evaluation with Thomas Law Offices today. We’ll review your situation and plan a course of action that gets you on the fastest path to recovery. Contact us today for more information.