A truck accident is one of the most devastating events you can experience. Due to their size and weight, trucks often cause catastrophic damage to other vehicles (and the people inside them) in the event of a crash.
Truck accident victims not only experience devastating physical pain, but they can face significant emotional and financial suffering as well.
You should not have to pay such a steep price out of your own pocket when another person was responsible for the accident. Learn how you can protect your future if you get injured in a truck accident.
Truck Accident Statistics
Truck accidents are startlingly common. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck drivers, 67% were occupants of other passenger vehicles, and 15% were pedestrians or bikers.
The high ratio of passenger vehicle occupant deaths to truck driver deaths exists because most passenger vehicles are no match for a tractor-trailer, particularly one that is traveling on the freeway at high speeds. Most large trucks weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles and, as such, often total smaller vehicles in an accident.
While passenger vehicle occupant deaths steadily declined from 1975-2010, that number has been increasing over recent years. 2,453 passenger vehicle occupants died in truck accidents in 2010, while that number rose to 2,786 in 2018.
But what, exactly, causes the high number of truck accidents and subsequent injuries and fatalities?
What Causes Truck Accidents?
The very nature of trucks’ design makes them more prone to accidents. The first major factor is the trucks’ weight.
Most tractor-trailers weigh up to 80,000 lbs. This often makes them difficult to maneuver in sudden traffic changes. Loaded tractor-trailers require 20-40% more distance than cars to stop, and this distance is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Another major factor is truck driver fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented strict hours-of-service regulations that mandate truck drivers may not operate their trucks for more than 11 hours without a break. These measures were put in place in an effort to reduce the number of drowsy truckers on the road. Unfortunately, however, some truck drivers decide to ignore the hours-of-service regulations, sometimes due to pressure from their employer to make a delivery deadline.
Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need for goods and services by essential workers across the country, the United States government suspended the hours-of-service regulation temporarily.
Given the long hours and large distances that trucks operate and travel, they must be inspected and maintained regularly in order to function safely on the road. It is a trucking companies’ responsibility to ensure all the trucks in their fleet are inspected and serviced frequently.
The failure to schedule regular truck maintenance increases the likelihood of malfunctioning brakes, bursting tires, or something else causing a truck accident.
Hazardous Road Conditions
As mentioned previously, trucks can be very difficult to control in sudden traffic changes. These traffic changes can be brought about by several factors, including weather and hazardous road conditions.
Truck drivers have an obligation to be aware of weather changes and adjust their driving accordingly, driving even more cautiously than on roads with clear weather. Truck drivers also have a responsibility to scan the road for hazardous road conditions and avoid them so as to not cause a collision.
In addition, local governments and municipalities are responsible for maintaining freeways and other roads to ensure they are in a safe condition for all types of vehicles in all types of weather. The failure to maintain roads properly or to clearly designate a hazardous area in a road may make the local government liable for any resulting accidents.
Common Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Truck accidents often have devastating consequences for those involved, including catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are permanent in nature and can affect the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord.
There are, however, many different types of catastrophic injuries that often result from a truck accident, including:
- Paralysis (quadriplegia and paraplegia)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Coma and vegetative states
- Severe burn injuries
- Injuries requiring amputations
- Wrongful death
Since catastrophic injuries often prevent a victim from ever returning to their pre-injury state of life, many catastrophic injury victims often face life-long costs for medical treatment and lost wages. Sudden and monumental expenses such as these can throw a truck accident victim into financial ruin.
Filing a lawsuit is one way to recover compensation to pay for these expenses and get the assistance you need to live a happy and fulfilling life.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
There are several steps you may want to consider after a truck accident in order to protect your rights. These steps include:
- Move to the side of the road, if possible. Moving out of the roadway may reduce the chances of a second impact.
- Check to see if anyone requires medical attention. If so, call emergency services and provide assistance as required until they arrive.
- Seek medical attention. Get appropriate medical attention. Many injuries do not present symptoms until later on, and failing to get appropriate medical attention as soon as is practicable may later be used against you to deny your claim.
- Exchange information with the truck driver. Make sure to get the trucker’s contact and insurance information, as well as their employer’s name, contact information, and business contacts.
- Contact the police. The responding officer’s police report can support your injury claim down the line.
- Look around you. There may be nearby traffic or security cameras that contain footage that can support your claim.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Truck accidents are more complicated than traditional car accidents since there are multiple parties involved in the trucks’ operation and maintenance. As such, working with a qualified attorney greatly increases your chances of recovering the maximum possible compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Many personal injury attorneys, including ours here at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, operate on a contingency fee basis and offer free initial consultations. This means, if you have been injured in a truck accident, there is no downside to giving us a call and exploring your legal options.
Injured in a Truck Accident? We’re Here to Help
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, our Los Angeles trial attorneys are here to protect your rights against large trucking companies and their insurers. We have extensive experience protecting plaintiffs’ rights against large corporations and recovering significant compensation for our clients.
We’re here to help you through this difficult time. Contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP today at (866) 634-4525 to schedule a free consultation.