Trucking accidents differ from two-car collisions in many ways, in particular because of the severity of the injuries received, as well as the fact that there may be more than one defendant. The truck driver may have been at fault, whether through negligence, distraction or reckless driving. The trucking company may be liable for hiring an inexperienced driver or allowing the driver to exceed the legal number of driving hours. If the truck is independently owned, then the owner could be at fault, as well as the leasing company and even the owner of the trailer. The truck may have been poorly maintained, resulting in an accident, or the truck—or specific parts of the truck—could have a defect in design.
Those who survive a collision with an 18-wheeler are likely to be left with extreme injuries which could take months, year, or even a lifetime to heal—if they heal at all. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, limb amputation, burns, disfigurement, internal injuries and broken bones are “typical” injuries sustained by those in a trucking accident. Those involved in a truck accident likely wonder whether their life will ever return to anything which even remotely resembles “normal.” These victims of trucking accidents may be unable to work, therefore unable to provide for their family and pay even the most basic living expenses.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
There are many factors associated with trucking accidents, however some of the more common factors include:
- Driver fatigue is considered a major reason for trucking accidents, while distracted driving is fast moving up as a rival to driver fatigue. Visual distractions occur when the driver takes his eyes from the road, whether to look at a cell phone, look at the radio while changing stations, search for an item in the truck, or look at something happening on the side of the road. Manual distraction occurs when the hands are taken from the wheel. Truck drivers often eat while driving, meaning their hands are engaged in a task other than driving. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver is thinking of something other than the road and the drivers ahead, behind and on either side. Daydreaming, listening to music with headphones on, talking on a cell phone or concentrating on a conversation with a passenger are forms of cognitive distraction.
- Swinging turns are responsible for many trucking accidents; large 18-wheeler trucks require a much wider area to turn right or left. Because trucks have definite blind spots directly to the side or behind the truck, the drivers of passenger vehicles must be aware of this and take particular precautions to avoid a serious accident. Drivers should never attempt to pass a truck making a turn, as they could end up sideswiped or crushed.
- Bad brakes are another cause of trucking accidents. Because large commercial trucks are so much heavier than passenger vehicles, they require much more force to slow or come to a complete stop. Trucks also spend considerable time on the roadways, meaning the brakes wear more quickly, and are more prone to failure. Although regular brake maintenance is federally mandated, trucking accidents resulting from bad brakes continue to occur.
- Poorly secured cargo is more common than you would think, as a cause for truck accidents. Large commercial trucks may carry live cargo such as livestock, steel pipes, cardboard boxes, logs, bulk liquids, hazardous liquids or any number of other cargo items. Any top-heavy load has the potential to flip over when the driver rounds a moderate to sharp curve on the road, resulting in cargo spilled across the roadway and drivers attempting to avoid a serious accident. The news reported on a commercial truck which dumped an entire load of telephone books in a downtown, heavily congested city area. As you can imagine, many collisions followed. Straps may be worn out or can loosen as the truck travels down the road; cargo-shifting can lead to a truck jackknife or rollover. The loading company and the driver are responsible for ensuring the load is secure and not a hazard to other drivers.
- Commercial truck under-ride accidents kill as many as 350 people yearly. When a passenger vehicle collides with the rear of a large commercial truck, it can slide underneath, shearing away the top of the vehicle in the process, and killing or maiming the passengers inside. While under-ride bars are now required on most commercial trucks in the U.S., there are weaknesses in the standards regarding how those bars perform.
- Inexperienced drivers are responsible for many trucking accidents. Truck drivers must meet age requirements, be able to speak and understand the English language, have a valid Commercial Driver’s license and be physically able to handle the long hours behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. Driver must also undergo training, however some trucking companies cut corners when hiring drivers—both in training and in background checks. When companies exhibit negligent hiring practices, serious or fatal accidents can occur; drivers must have the necessary commercial driving skills and must also consistently put the safety of those they share the roadways with above the demands to deliver their load quickly.
The highly skilled Martinson & Beason attorneys will sift through the evidence, determining which parties were at fault for your accident. We understand the necessity of obtaining the evidence crucial to your case as quickly as possible after your accident. Trucking companies are famous for “circling the wagons” immediately after a trucking accident, in order to minimize their liability. We understand how to combat this, and will do so with our own experts and investigators. We will build a solid case on your behalf, and will ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries and your future. Call Martinson & Beason today and let us put our experience, skill, professionalism and compassion for your situation to work for you immediately.