Like auto accidents, large truck accidents are usually the result of negligence. However, the causes of semi-truck accidents may not be linked solely to human error, environmental conditions, or vehicle defects. Because of the size of these trucks, the impact of these crashes can also be a lot more harmful and devastating.
In a 2014 report on large truck crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 3,903 people had been killed and approximately 111,000 people were injured in the United States. An estimated 438,000 large trucks had been involved in police-reported traffic crashes.
Of the fatalities in 2014, 73 percent were occupants of other vehicles, 17 percent of people occupied large trucks, and 10 percent were non-occupants (e.g., pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.). A 12-percent decrease of occupants killed occurred from 2013 to 2014.
Of the people injured in 2014, 74 percent of people were in vehicles, 23 percent were in large trucks, and, 3 percent were non-occupants. A 19-percent increase of injured occupants occurred from 2013 to 2014.
In Alabama during 2014, there were over 7,000 truck-involved crashes with more than 2,000 injuries and 89 fatalities, according to Alabama Department of Transportation.
The statistics above are startling and are indicative of the damage that a crash with a large truck can inflict.
Truck Accidents Factors
Driver error is most often to blame for truck accidents and may be attributed to a number of factors including the following:
- Inadequate training
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Other careless behaviors
- Unrealistic delivery schedules
- Unsecured or overloaded cargo
- Vehicle defects
- Insufficient maintenance
There are a number of federal and state laws which are meant to limit large truck accidents and the resulting injuries through the regulation of drivers’ hours of operation, maintenance requirements, and cargo limits. But sometimes, to maximize profits, some trucking companies and their drivers think they can overlook these regulations, risking the lives of innocent people.
Liability in Large Truck Accidents
It’s important to have experienced legal representation that can understand the complexities of trucking laws. The experience truck injury attorneys at Cobb, Boyd, White and Cobb methodically investigates the circumstances of each case to determine the responsible party or parties. Parties that may be held liable in semi-truck accidents include:
- Truck drivers
- Shipping companies
- Semi-truck and tractor-trailer owners or leasing companies
- Cargo loading agents
- Maintenance providers
- Truck manufacturers
- Vehicle parts manufacturers
Large Truck Regulations
Because these trucks are so large, and that they are involved in interstate commerce, the federal government ratified rules and regulations for their safe and lawful operation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the commercial truck driving industry and our law office is well versed with these set of regulations. The regulations which govern commercial truck drivers address and cover a number of areas including:
- The maximum hours a driver can drive in a day
- Vehicle maintenance
- How driver logs must be kept
- Driving duty fitness requirements
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Truck weight standards
- Truck inspections
What You Should Do After a Truck Accident in Alabama
In order to get the maximum compensation for your insurance claim, as well as ensure that you’re not further injured or hurt, you have to make sure to do the following things:
- Get to safety. In order to prevent another accident from occurring due to oncoming traffic, make sure that you and your passengers move to the shoulder. Move your car if you can. Put your hazards on and reflective triangles on the ground.
- Collect and keep information from the accident. This includes any photos, witness accounts, and any other information you may have collected at the crash scene.
- See your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you think you feel fine, injuries may become apparent later. Make sure to get a medical report from your doctor as well. Also, you can see your own physician—you do not have to use the one that an insurance adjuster suggests.
- Make a call to your insurance company immediately. Do this as soon as possible, since any delays can hurt your claim.
- Don’t sign anything. You may get a low offer to settle, or the insurance adjuster may come to the crash scene and try to gather information from you while you’re still in shock. Also, don’t speak to the other parties’ attorneys or investigators. Your lawyer can contact them.
- Keep track of how you’re feeling over time. Remember, you may have injuries appear hours, days, weeks, or even months after a severe accident. Make sure take notes about how you’ve been feeling after the accident. You may have grown accustomed to new aches and body movement limitations that developed over time.
- Hold onto receipts and records of expenses. Medical records, receipts for household services, and other similar documents can help to strengthen your claim.
- Reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb will go to work for you the moment you call us.
Injuries in Large Truck Accidents
Because semi-trucks are both larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, truck accidents have a higher rate of severe injuries and death to car and passenger vehicle occupants. Injuries common in truck accidents include but are not limited to:
- Fractured bones
- Brain injuries/traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Loss-of-limb/amputation injuries
- Internal organ injuries
These injuries can be both life-changing and life-threatening for victims, and can adversely impact their families. Compensation for these injuries in truck accident claims may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Vocational retraining
- Pain and suffering