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Truck & Tractor Trailer Accidents

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The Tennessee truck accident attorneys at Sexton & Wykoff understand that the most serious and often fatal types of accidents that occur in the United States are accidents involving large trucks. Unfortunately, drivers of all types of vehicles share the highways and byways of our Tennessee communities with large trucks so anyone is at risk for being involved in a serious truck accident.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a trucking accident involving a large truck, the success of your case depends not only on the merits of your case, but your personal injury attorney’s  understanding of both federal and Tennessee law pertaining to trucking accidents.

You need Us on your side from the start

  • to protect your rights and interests
  • to investigate the accident scene
  • to obtain and preserve critical evidence
  • to help you obtain appropriate medical treatment
  • to manage subrogation issues that may impact your case
  • to listen to your concerns and answer your questions

How the Truck Accident Lawyers at Sexton and Wykoff Can Help

Dealing with the severe results of a truck accident alone is overwhelming. You can depend on Sexton and Wykoff for advice about the many practical, medical, and legal issues you will deal with?  Large trucking companies have power, money, and entire teams of lawyers but we can help level the playing field for you.

Together with our expert staff, experts, and consultants, we will do all that is necessary to prepare your case for a successful settlement or trial verdict. Along the way, we will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and explain legal options and procedures.

Make no mistake, our goal is to obtain the best result for you under the law. In trucking accident cases, we don’t get paid until you get paid, so don’t worry about how to afford an experienced attorney to represent you.

Truck and Tractor Trailer Accident Investigation

Complex truck accident litigation requires a complete investigation, the assistance of expert witnesses, knowledgeable and experienced support staff and consultants. Prompt investigation of the accident scene is critical. The trucking company quickly sends its own team of investigators to the scene. You need someone to look for you and document favorable evidence.

Sexton & Wykoff can provide this service.   We can search for and interview eyewitnesses, document skid marks, yaw marks, accident debris, and gouge marks, as well as oil, gas, and radiator fluid stains, which can disappear quickly after an accident. The sooner you ask us to help you, the sooner we can act to preserve the key evidence.

Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses can be a key to winning your case. The truck accident attorneys at Sexton and Wykoff, have the ability to obtain help from experts with extensive knowledge of the trucking industry. These experts can review your case and work with us to plan an effective trial strategy. Additional experts in fields like accident reconstruction, life care planning, and medicine may also play an important role in building and presenting your case.

Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Trucking companies and their drivers must comply with numerous federal and state laws and regulations that do not apply to the average citizen. These laws and regulations include, but are not limited to, (1) controlled substance and alcohol use, (2) loading and tie-down requirements, (3) maintenance and inspection of vehicles, (4) licensing and driver qualifications, and (5) hours of service.

The attorneys at Sexton and Wykoff are familiar with these laws and regulations and are prepared to determine whether the violation of these laws and regulations caused or contributed to your accident.

Causes of Truck & Tractor Trailer Accidents

A 2006 – 2007 compilation by the Tennessee state government revealed that many trucking accidents involved equipment failure. The leading vehicle defects involved in these accidents were those involving:

  • Wheels/tires
  • Truck body
  • Truck doors or hood
  • Safety belts
  • Signal lights
  • Brake systems
  • Trailer hitch

Other common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • High winds
  • Icy roadways
  • Improperly balanced loads
  • Road rage
  • Speeding
  • Wet roads

Truck Accident Statistics

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) report that in 2006 across the nation, there were 4,732 large trucks involved in fatal crashes. In that same year, 135,741 large trucks were involved in nonfatal accidents. In Tennessee alone, there were 128 fatal truck accidents in 2005.  More information can be found at the Analysis and Information Division website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A common misconception about accidents involving large trucks is that they are merely accidents involving a larger vehicle. In fact, truck accidents are far more damaging than car accidents because a large commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, while a typical passenger car weighs around 3,000 pounds.

What Causes Trucking Accidents?

There are several factors contributing to large truck accidents:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Improperly trained or inexperienced driver
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions
  • Oversized or overloaded vehicle
  • Unsafe reflectors, lights or other safety equipment
  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Instant messaging and texting while driving

According to the 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study, released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (www.fmcsa.dot.gov), drivers of large trucks and other vehicles involved in truck crashes are ten times more likely to be the cause of the crash than external factors, such as weather, road conditions or vehicle performance. The conduct or lack of conduct by truck drivers and drivers of other cars involved were cited as being the reason for 88% of the crashes. You can find more information about this study at the FMCSA.

Federal Law

There are specific laws and regulations governing the safety of commercial motor vehicles and specific issues which are unique to personal injury cases involving commercial vehicles. You can learn more about these regulations at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations site (Title 49, Parts 350-399).

Under federal law, drivers and their employers must keep logbooks, fuel receipts and other trip documentation for 6 months and vehicle maintenance records for one year. Additionally, if they are unfortunately involved in an accident they must save all relevant documents.

Truckers driving interstate must keep a written or digital record of the amount of time they spend resting and driving. An interstate driver must rest for ten continuous hours before returning to the road. Various factors, such as adverse driving conditions and the type of cargo that is being carried can affect the number of hours a truck driver spends on the road. Employers must also verify a driver’s previous three years’ driving experience. You can find additional information at the Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Tennessee State Law

Commercial trucks, which include 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, delivery vehicles and semi trucks that travel interstate must abide by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Title 49, Parts 350-399. However, when these trucks, such as local delivery trucks, travel intrastate within the State of Tennessee, they must abide by Title 49, Parts 382-384 and 390-399 of the Federal Regulations. You can learn more at the Tennessee Department of Transportation website.

Intrastate drivers traveling in less than a 150 mile radius are not required to maintain logs. Their employers, however, must keep records for six months reflecting that their drivers have not exceeded the 12 hour driving limit.

The Knoxville personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Sexton & Wykoff are sure you’ll agree the statistics on truck accidents are alarming.

A personal injury attorney well versed in the complexities of truck accidents, federal and Tennessee laws surrounding truck accidents is essential if you are planning to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Additional Truck Accident Information from Sexton & Wykoff

18 Wheeler Accidents

Tractor Trailer Accidents & Driver Fatigue

Semi Truck Driver & Logs

Experienced TN Truck Accident Law Firm

Rollover Truck Accidents

TN 18 Wheeler Inspection

TN CDL Requirements & Standards

Truck Accident Causes

For a confidential consultation with one of the trucking accident attorneys practicing at Sexton & Wykoff, please call us toll free at (865) 691-7900, or contact us via our quick web form.


by David Sexton