Strong Representation for Truck Injuries
Truck accidents are a significant concern on American highways. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2014, there were 411,000 large truck crashes reported to police. At least one fatality resulted in approximately 1 percent (3,424) of the crashes at least one nonfatal injury resulted in 20 percent (82,000). Most of the crashes, around 63 percent, involved two vehicles, one of which was a truck. Nights and weekdays are when the majority of fatal crashes occur with 37 percent of all fatal crashed that involve commercial trucks happen between 6 pm and 6 am, and 84 percent of fatal crashes occur on weekdays.
Definition of Commercial Truck
The United States Department of Transportation defines a commercial truck as a motor vehicle that:
- Has a gross combination weight or gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, or
- Is designed to transport 15 passengers or more, driver included, or
- Is used to transport materials labeled as hazardous in a quantity that requires a placard per the Secretary of Transportation regulations according to the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. App. 1801-1813).
This means that tractor-trailers are, by definition, commercial motor vehicles. Their sheer size, power, and structure make them potential hazards, but not just due to truck drivers, but distracted or negligent drivers of cars can be just as dangerous when they collide with a truck.
The Hazards of Tractor Trailers
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI) reports that passenger vehicle occupants make up the majority of fatalities in large truck crashes. Simply put, passenger vehicles are no match for the much larger trucks. This leaves cars, and the people inside them, very vulnerable on the road.
There are several factors that increase the potential for truck accidents or for trucks to be dangerous:
- Trucks can weigh 20 and even 30 times more than a passenger car, creating a substantial probability for devastating damage upon impact,
- Tractor-trailers have a much higher ground clearance so smaller cars can underride a truck or trailer when there is a crash,
- When a truck is loaded it can take 20 to 40 percent farther to stop than cars,
- The size and weight of trucks makes them more of a hazard on slippery, wet roads.
Many drivers of passenger vehicles do not take this information into account and fail to respect the size and power of trucks. Instead of giving them a wide berth, they zip in front of them, cutting them off and ride in their blind spot. Often they are simply not vigilant and hit trucks. The problem is, a loaded tractor trailer cannot stop on a dime. If a car cuts in front of an 18-wheeler they could cause a serious crash.
Driver fatigue is a great concern and is a well-documented crash risk. The Federal has strict laws governing drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Currently, drivers are allowed to be on duty, or driving, for 11 hours and then they must take a break for 8 hours. Over a 7-day period, drivers can log up to 77 hours of service. Research shows that many drivers work longer than they are supposed to and they do not adhere to these regulations.
Investigation Is the Key
Because we have represented many individuals injured in truck accidents, we are well aware of the potential causes of a trucking crash. Our personal injury attorney will personally investigate the circumstances, and work with experts as necessary, to reveal the cause of the accident. The five typical causes are:
- The driver’s condition — Being tired or fatigued is common. Less common is impairment due to drugs or alcohol.
- The truck’s condition — An 18 wheeler or other big rig may have faulty or poorly maintained equipment. A tire can blow out, or the trucking company can overload the truck causing unsafe handling.
- Driving conditions — A wind storm, ice storm, snow storm or excessive rain can cause unsafe conditions for which the driver should compensate. Visibility and braking distances can change drastically if the weather is bad.
- The driver’s behavior — A driver’s tendency to speed or drive aggressively can be the primary cause of an accident.
- Road conditions — Improper road grades, misplaced signage, sequencing of lights, road maintenance obstacles, lack of necessary maintenance or other adverse road conditions can all contribute to a serious crash involving a tractor trailer.
Personal injury litigation is one of our law firms’ primary areas of practice. We will conduct a thorough investigation to reveal which condition, or combination of conditions, may have caused your accident. We understand the federal regulations involved in the trucking industry, and we can identify violations. We have experience working with accident reconstructionist, investigators, engineers, technicians, physicians, radiologists, pathologists, toxicologists and other experts who may be needed to assess the accident and your injuries and help us build your case.
Tractor-Trailer Safety in the Media
A post in the New York Times Opinion Page on August 21, 2015 discusses some very unsettling facts regarding tractor trailer regulations. In recent months, the federal government has taken steps to allow truck drivers to work more and rest less. What’s more, Congress discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from proactively investing in monitoring technology that would be more effective in monitoring the vehicles and their drivers. There have also been indications that heavier, longer trucks on the road would not only be accepted by Congress, but supported. There is also a push by Congress to lower the age for drivers of over the road commercial vehicles (trucks that travel across state lines) from 21 years old, down to 18 years old.
Truck Accident Injury Attorneys Ready to Discuss Your Claim
At Forbes & Forbes, we represent individuals who have suffered a serious injury as a result of a tractor trailer crash. We represent injured parties in New Mexico and Texas, as well as the families of individuals who have died as a result of a head-on crash, under-ride accident or other wreck involving a commercial truck.
If you have been injured in an accident that involved a tractor trailer, we can help. Call Forbes & Forbes and schedule an appointment to talk to one of our qualified, knowledgeable attorneys. You may be eligible for compensation and we want to make sure that you get all that you deserve. We’re here for you.