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Truck Accidents

A collision with a commercial truck often results in catastrophic injuries for the driver of a passenger vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1 in 10 highway fatalities is caused by a truck accident. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a car; a fact which can cause devastating results in a crash. Strict federal and state regulations govern the trucking industry including the hours of service regulations which stipulate how long a driver can spend behind the wheel before taking a rest. Unfortunately, many companies in the trucking industry pay drivers by the load, rather than by their distance covered, thus creating pressure for drivers to get to their destination as fast as possible, often encouraging violation of these important safety regulations.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents. In fact, driver error is 10 times more likely to be the cause of a truck accident than any other factor. Some examples of truck driver behavior that can lead to an accident include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigue/sleep deprivation
  • Substance abuse, prescription or recreational drugs/alcohol
  • Judgement errors, frequently caused or compounded by the above examples

The second most common cause of truck accidents is equipment failure, generally due to improper or incomplete maintenance. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can require 20 -40 times more stopping distance than a car.  This differential is even greater with poorly maintained brakes or tires.

Injuries Suffered in Truck Accidents

When a truck crashes into a passenger vehicle, such as a car, the occupants of the car often suffer devastating injuries. The force transferred onto the smaller car is far greater than that of an accident between vehicles of equal size. Trucks often set off a chain reaction or multi-vehicle collision, which results in a greater number of injuries. Common injuries suffered in truck accidents include head and neck injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and lacerations.

Liability in a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are different. They are more complex than passenger vehicle accidents, and require experienced counsel to achieve justice.  If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer who understands how to explore the liability of the following parties:

  • The truck owner
  • The truck driver
  • The company/person who leased the truck from the owner
  • The loader/shipper of the cargo if the truck was improperly loaded and this was a factor in the accident
  • Manufacturers of any defective parts that may have caused the accident, such as tires, brakes, or the truck itself

Every accident is different and determining liability is complicated. Some of the evidence needed to pursue a personal injury claim in a truck accident includes:

  • Data from the “black box” or onboard communications system that will show how fast the truck was traveling, speed patterns, whether the driver used the brakes, and other vital evidence
  • Onboard video recordings
  • Inspection reports of the condition of the truck at the scene of the accident
  • Post-accident drug and alcohol screening of the driver
  • Driver’s logs which show if any federal rules mandating breaks have been violated
  • Driver’s professional and personal driving records
  • Driver’s training record
  • Bills of lading and trip tickets
  • Vehicle inspection and maintenance records

Truck companies have teams of investigators who will quickly arrive at the accident scene to gather evidence and start a report that will help them avoid liability. When you try to recover compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, you may be up against these experienced investigators, not just the driver of the truck. If you are injured and trying to get back on your feet, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately.