All vehicles and modes of transportation have regulations that they have to abide by in particular situations or circumstances. 18-Wheelers can be at fault for causing accidents if they are not following safety regulations. The infamous 18-wheeler truck is not immune to regulatory schemes created to ensure overall road safety to innocent travelers and to the drivers of these commercial freight carriers. Governing the incidents of 18-wheelers being stopped on the road is The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act which includes Federal Regulation §392.22. This section is titled: Emergency Signals; Stopped Commercial Vehicles. §392.22 tells truck drivers what they should do immediately upon stopping in an unexpected place; like on the shoulder of a road. It goes into detail as to how and where truck drivers should place flares or reflective triangles to make them visible to passing traffic. This federal statute also provides for specific scenarios like: stopping at night or during the day, parking in business or residential districts, parking on divided or one-way roads, proper warning when parked on a hill or curve or would otherwise be obstructed from view, or proper warning and parking when the truck is leaking flammable materials.
In pertinent part the statute states:
- 392.22 (a) Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices required…
And additionally, the statute provides:
- 392.22 (b) …whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the warning devices required…
The statute provided that these are the intervals that the flares should be placed:
- 392.22 (i) One on the traffic side of and 4 paces (approximately 3 meters or 10 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic…
So, federal law makes it clear what the proper protocol should be when one is dealing with a commercial vehicle is stopped on the side of the road for whatever reason or if they have to stop on the side of the road for hazardous reasons. Any truck in violation of this statute may face federal penalties alongside any tort related liabilities. Further, their employers could face issues too as they may be found to be vicariously liable for a truck’s failure to comply with the requirements laid out in this statute. But the difficulties arise with many police officers not being familiar with these federal regulations and recognizing that the trucks failure to comply with them is at the heart of many accidents involving 18-wheelers.
The best thing that a victim involved in these accidents with stopped 18-wheelers could do is retain a firm that could help secure a private investigator that have familiarity and expertise with these regulations. Otherwise, there could be issues with establishing the fault of the 18-wheeler or commercial motor vehicle.
What to do if you’re involved in an 18-wheeler accident
Every situation is different, but here are a few things you should do if you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler:
- Make sure that you and your family, or other occupants of your vehicle are safe. If you think you’ve suffered any type of injury, you should always get medical attention. That includes taking the ambulance to the emergency room, so that any serious injuries can be treated, or ruled out. Following an accident with an 18-wheeler, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance respond to the scene so you can determine the extent of your injuries (if any)
- Get the driver’s and his employer’s or trucking company’s information.
- Get a copy of the driver’s license, registration, and insurance.
- Talk with witnesses, record them (if they let you), and get their contact information. Take photographs and record videos of your car and the scene. This evidence is crucial—trucking companies and their insurance carriers typically report to the scene of an accident immediately. Strangely, witness memory and evidence has a tendency to disappear.
- If you have a dashcam, save the video—don’t let it get recorded over.
- Do not talk to the insurance company at all before you talk to an attorney and get a consultation on your case.
Morrow & Sheppard LLP’s personal injury attorneys and regularly handle cases involving 18-wheeler crashes. Our attorneys are licensed in Texas and Louisiana and have been admitted on a temporary basis to handle cases all around the country.
If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler crash, contact the team at Morrow & Sheppard LLP to protect and assert your legal rights.