Truck accidents certainly aren’t in the news as much as car accidents are, but they are nearly always more severe and result in more serious injuries than do car crashes. Any vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds is considered a truck, and some of them weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That is a lot of momentum coming at you when you’re in a car that weighs around 3000 pounds on average. It is a truck’s immense size and weight that result in the serious injuries and fatalities when a truck is involved in an accident, not to mention the weight, mass, and potential hazards of the cargo these trucks carry down our roads.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that there were over 500,000 trucks involved in accidents across the United States in 2010. Due to those accidents, over 5000 people were killed, and around 100,000 people were seriously injured. The year before, only 3200 fatalities were reportedly due to truck accidents. These numbers will only rise as experts predict there will be at least 20% more trucks on the road by 2012.
From a legal perspective, a truck accident is a series of incidents involving a vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds that result in bodily injury/death and/or property damage. Many of the accidents involving a truck are due to negligence on the truck driver’s part.
If you have been involved in an accident with a negligent truck driver, you can recover damages for your injuries and property damage. These damages can include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and the cost of having your vehicle repaired. If a member of your family was killed by a truck driver’s negligence, you are entitled to damages relating to their death including burial expenses and loss of consortium.
To receive compensation, the accident that the truck’s driver caused must meet three criteria:
Evidence such as police reports, photographs, and eyewitness testimony are how you prove negligence. Signs of lack of sleep, drug abuse, or alcohol use are also considered evidence. All evidence that is collected should be well-preserved and protected so that it can be utilized in your case. Your attorney will be able to help you with this task.
As you’d expect, there are a wide variety of circumstances that can contribute to a truck accident. Laws are put in place to protect drivers and when they are broken, accidents occur. Traffic violations such as speeding, improper lane changes, unsafe merging, or driving too closely may result in accidents ranging from minor to severe. When a truck violates a law intended to increase safety on the road, the risk of accidents is greater, and the results more devastating, because of the sheer mass of a truck. A truck also requires more time and effort to correct their actions when driving, especially if they’re driving at a high rate of speed. If the driver of the truck is tired or under the influence, their reaction time is lessened, and accidents will occur.
A common cause of truck accidents is simple driver error. Driver error can be due to any of the following conditions, or a combination of them:
Fatigue and sleepiness are the number one cause of driver error resulting in truck accidents. Because of this, there are several rules in place to help truck drivers guard against insufficient sleep.
Equipment failure is an additional frequent cause of truck accidents. Both truck owners and commercial trucking companies must perform regular, scheduled maintenance on their trucks. This includes truck components such as wheels and tires, hitches, lighting, engine, fuel line, brakes, and chassis.
Road conditions, poorly maintained roads, or faulty design of roads may also be the cause of accidents that trucks are involved in. When this is the case, you must point the finger at the government body responsible for the design and maintenance of the road when determining who the negligent party is.
Many of the injuries that result from truck accidents are so severe they are life-changing, or even fatal. Many result in permanent disabilities such as paralysis or brain damage that lead to the victim no longer having the ability to live life normally, work at the job they had before the accident (or at all), or enjoy relationships the way they had done before their accident happened.
Truck accidents commonly result in serious injuries such as:
Traumatic Brain Injury – TBI results from a violent trauma to the head causing the brain to bounce around inside the skull. Loss of motor skills and permanent mental impairment are just two of the many symptoms that can result from a TBI. Brain injuries have the ability to lead to a permanent change in personality, visual disturbances, and loss of balance and proprioception.
Spinal Injury – Spinal injuries of the neck or back are incredibly serious injuries that can result in partial or complete paralysis.
Back Injury – Bulging, herniated, or ruptured discs are common after truck accidents. The pain from these back injuries is excruciating and may not be treatable. It often takes years to heal these injuries, if they can be healed at all.
Fractures, lacerations, and contusions – Broken bones, cuts, and bruises are some of the widely suffered injuries in truck accidents. While these types of injuries are treatable quickly and easily, they often go along with other, more severe injuries that are harder to treat.
It pays to be extra attentive when you’re driving around a lot of big trucks. While the truck drivers and trucking companies have the responsibility to drive safely, ensure the correct maintenance for their trucks, and obey traffic laws, drivers of other vehicles around them have similar responsibilities and should drive defensively at all times.
Here are a few tips to remember the next time you’re sharing the road with large trucks: