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Truck Accidents 101

Due to trucks’ size and weight, any accident involving them usually leaves passenger vehicle occupants or pedestrians with catastrophic injuries. Trucks have poor maneuverability and large blind spots, which makes them dangerous hazards on the road in sudden traffic changes.

Learn what else makes truck accidents so dangerous and what to do if you have been injured in one.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

In a recent study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), researchers analyzed serious crashes involving large trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds.

From the 963 truck accidents that occurred between April 2001 and December 2003, 249 people were killed. This constitutes a fatality rate of 26%.

While each motor vehicle accident has unique causation factors that may have occurred hours, days, weeks, or months before the actual crash, most accidents have several factors in common, including fatigue, alcohol consumption, and speeding. In their study, the FMCSA and the NHTSA defined three key variables in the causes of truck accidents:

  • Critical event: The event that put the vehicle on a course that made the collision unavoidable.

  • Critical reason: The immediate reason for the critical event.

In the study, three major types of critical events were assigned to large trucks involved in accidents:

  • Running out of travel lane, either into another lane or off the road

  • Vehicle loss of control due to traveling too fast for conditions, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions, or something else

  • Colliding with the rear end of another vehicle in the truck’s travel lane

Once the aforementioned critical events occurred, the accidents became inevitable. The critical reasons that led to the critical events included the following:

  • 87% of critical reasons were driver error including the truck driver falling asleep, being disabled by a medical event, being inattentive to the road, driving too fast for conditions, exhibiting poor directional control, and more.

  • 10% of critical reasons were vehicle malfunctions including faulty brakes, tires, and more.

  • 3% of critical reasons were environmental conditions, including road maintenance, weather, and more.

Who’s Liable in a Truck Accident?

Due to the number of factors that may cause a truck accident, including the truck driver’s performance, the truck’s maintenance, the road conditions, and more, it can be difficult to identify all liable parties in a truck accident.

Additionally, most trucks are commercial vehicles, which means that a business is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the vehicle. Commercial vehicle drivers have a heightened responsibility when driving, whether they are transporting hazardous materials or carrying children to school.

As such, commercial vehicle drivers are held to a higher standard when driving, including having a stricter legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.04% compared to traditional motorists’ legal limit of 0.08%. Additionally, truck drivers are held to federal hours-of-service regulations that limit the amount of time they may drive without a break.

Due to all of these complexities surrounding commercial vehicles and trucks in particular, it can be difficult to determine all parties responsible for an accident. However, it can typically be narrowed down to the following parties.

The Truck Driver

If it’s discovered that a truck driver deliberately ignored the regulations they are held to, including the legal limit for commercial drivers’ BAC and hours-of-service regulations, and that this negligence directly led to an accident, then the truck driver may be held liable for any damages resulting from the accident.

The Trucking Company

If a trucking company hired a driver who should not have been on the road or failed to schedule regular maintenance checks on their fleet, and this negligence contributed or led to an accident, the trucking company may be held liable for the accident.

The Cargo Loaders

Due to trucks’ size and weight, their cargo must be loaded evenly and securely in order to prevent an accident. If cargo loaders do not uphold this responsibility and a subsequent cargo shift leads to an accident, the truck’s cargo loaders may be held responsible.

Common Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents

Unfortunately, passenger vehicle occupants are often the ones who are harmed the most in a truck accident. The truth of the matter is that passenger cars stand no chance against an 80,000 truck barrelling down the freeway at 55 miles per hour.

Common injuries sustained by passenger vehicle occupants include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Whiplash

  • Broken bones

  • Amputation

  • Burns

  • Lacerations

If you have been injured in a truck accident, you’re likely facing expensive medical bills and long-term rehabilitative care. It’s in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can take on the large trucking companies and fight to recover the compensation you need and deserve to pay for your sudden expenses.

At Bandas Law Firm, our Corpus Christi attorneys know how to prove negligence and hold the responsible parties accountable. We can protect your rights against insurance companies, stop the blame game, and get you the best shot at compensation.

Contact us today at (361) 238-2789 to learn how we can assist you.