Trucking Accident Lawyer
In 2015, 4,050 large truck accidents resulted in fatalities across the United States. That same year, 87,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that lead to injuries. Truck pose a potentially lethal threat because they are massive objects that travel at a very high rate of speed. A 25,000-pound truck traveling at 75 MPH can cause devastating accidents.
Trucking accidents are common because there are so many trucks on the road. Trucking is the primary mode of transportation used to transport goods from manufacturers to you. In fact, an incredible 80% of all cargo in America is transported by the trucking industry. The trucking industry transports four times as much cargo as air (8%), pipeline (6%), rail (4%), and water (2%) combined. There are 1.3 million trucking companies in the United States and 7.1 million people are employed by the trucking industry (6% of the entire U.S. working population). Finally, truck driver is the most common occupation in 29 states.
Consequences of Trucking Accidents
The devastating nature of the trucking accidents create a myriad of serious outcomes.
- Survivors of accidents with trucks often cope with high medical bills for treatment after the incident.
- Many face long-term medical costs as well as diminished earning capacities due to their injuries.
- Victims may face pain and suffering from their injuries, as well as the prospect of permanent disability and/or scarring.
- When there is a fatality, a family loses the support and companionship of a loved one.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
In 2007, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted its Large Truck Crash Causation Study and analyzed hundreds of associated factors for each vehicle in each trucking crash. In descending order, the top 10 factors coded for large trucks and their drivers were:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Prescription drug use
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Roadway problems
- Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
The vehicle itself can also lead to accidents. Trucking companies can improperly load or inspect the trucks before the driver begins their journey. Mechanical failure or poorly loaded cargo falling off the truck pose serious risks to motorists.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers often get paid by the load, creating an incentive to make as many deliveries as possible. This can only be accomplished by driving more which can lead to dangerous driver fatigue that can set in after long shifts behind the wheel. Driver fatigue, in addition to common types of driver negligence like distracted driving and speeding, is very dangerous and can lead to crashed catastrophic injuries.
Tragically, results in thousands of avoidable and senseless accidents on American roads each year. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that fatigue plays a role in excess of 30% of trucking accidents. Federal trucking laws, known as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, govern:
- The amount of time a driver can be on the road for a single stretch;
- How much time must be taken off between shifts; and
- How many hours they can log during a specific week.
Unfortunately, trucking companies and their drivers have a history of falsifying their driving logs in order to drive more time. The pressure to meet unrealistic scheduling demands commonly results in:
- Irregular schedules with little routine
- Long stretches of night driving
- Unhealthy eating on the go
The unhealthy lifestyle outlined above provides a dangerous environment for the truck driver and other motorists.
Trucking Laws and Regulations
The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates trucking through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure compliance with federal laws. However, many states have laws substantially similar to the federal laws on trucking.
An understanding of the interplay of both federal and state laws in trucking cases is essential. Motor carrier regulations exist, in part, because the vehicles addressed are so potentially dangerous. A good lawyer will work to uncover regulatory non-compliance with these regulations by identifying issues such as:
- Negligent maintenance
- Excess weight
- Improperly placed or secured loads
- Driving times exceeding regulatory limits (truck diver fatigue)
The laws and regulations imposed on motor carriers are strict, with good reason: the sheer size of trucks turn small errors or oversights into major accidents.
Truck Accident Damages
Damages are awards paid to those who can show they suffered harm because of the negligence or wrongful actions of another. It is important to keep in mind that in 2013, in collisions involving a truck and another vehicle, 72 percent of the individuals injured were occupants of the other vehicle.
Those injuries are often quite serious. Broken bones and spinal cord injuries are common. Many suffer lacerations that result in severe scarring and others must deal with burns or internal injuries. Tragically, many people are killed in trucking accidents.
Depending upon the nature of the accident, individuals who are injured in a trucking accident are entitled to damages stemming from injuries sustained in the accident, called economic or special damages:
- Medical bills
- Hospital charges
- Ambulance charges
- Lost wages
- Property repair or replacement costs
General damages, sometimes called non-economic damages, stem from a defendant’s actions. General damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical issues
- Permanent loss of abilities
- Shortened life span
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, loss of reputation (in a libel suit, for example),
- Permanent scarring
Finally, punitive damages, which exist to punish wrongdoers for their actions, may be available.
How Statesman Law Group Can Help Trucking Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact Statesman Law Group immediately. Our lawyers have won courtroom victories worth billions of dollars for clients across the country. Statesman Law Group offers free case reviews and will do everything possible to ensure you get the legal representation you deserve.