While most vehicles are regular passenger cars on private business, millions of large trucks and semi trucks are on the road at any time transporting goods. Just like any other vehicle, large trucks can be involved in accidents, including multi-vehicle accidents, that lead to serious injuries for drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Any vehicle accident may result in vehicle damage, expensive medical bills, and lost wages.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2014, there were almost 11 million registered single-unit trucks and tractor trailers. Trucks account for over 9% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. each year and approximately 6 million registered commercial motor vehicle drivers.
In 2014, there were approximately 411,000 police-reported crashes that involved at least one large truck. Almost 90,000 large trucks were involved in injury accidents, and almost 4,000 large trucks were involved in fatal car crashes. The majority of fatal truck crashes involved 2 vehicles, while 20 percent of these crashes involved a bicyclist or pedestrian.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Driver Error: With so many trucks on the road traveling so many miles, it is not surprising that trucks are regularly involved in accidents. Like other vehicle accidents, trucking accidents can be caused by operator error, reckless driving, texting while driving, negligence of another driver, vehicle defects or malfunctions, road hazards, or weather.
Dangerous truck operation can involve reckless driving, speeding, driving too fast for the road conditions, and driving through neighborhoods where semis are prohibited. Some of the most common driver violations include speeding, failure to obey traffic control devices, driving beyond the 14-hour duty periods, and lane restriction violations.
Some drivers may be operating on very little sleep and driving while drowsy. This has been shown to be nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. When a semi is traveling down the highway at 60 miles per hour, dozing off for just a couple of seconds is enough to result in a serious car accident. Other drivers may be operating just as dangerously while under the influence of stimulant drugs to keep them awake. Driving while impaired is not only illegal, it may increase the likelihood of the driver getting involved in an accident.
Equipment & Maintenance Error: Also, many trucking accidents are caused by problems with the truck, including how the vehicle was maintained, the load distribution, or manufacturing defects. This can cause a truck to blow a tire, lose their brakes, tip over when making a sharp turn, or drop unsecured cargo on the road. In many cases, the truck driver may not be aware of problems with the vehicle or the trailer. Logistics company owners or managers may have tried to maximize profit by overloading a trailer, skipping required inspections, or using the wrong parts to repair the truck.
Even though commercial truck drivers are generally required to undergo more training than regular drivers, truck drivers can make mistakes just like anyone else. Truckers and trucking companies may be trying to get their goods to their destination as fast as possible without full regards to safety.
Trucking Accident Injuries
Injuries in a trucking accident can range from minor to fatal injuries. Like any other accident, the type of injuries may depend on the specifics of the accident. However, even minor fender benders can result in serious injuries. After some low-speed accidents, the driver may not feel any pain or sense any injury. The pain and injuries may only surface a day or two later when the driver suffers headaches, neck pain, dizziness, or is unable to get out of bed.
Trucking accidents may involve more serious injuries than most car accidents because of the size, shape, and mass of semi tractor trailers. Large trucks weigh much more than standard vehicles, and an accident can severely damage vehicles and the occupants inside.
Many truck accidents leave individuals trapped inside their vehicles. This may leave the occupants injured and unable to escape the vehicle. The longer it takes an injury victim to get medical attention can lead to greater injury and an increased risk of death. Trapped victims may also be more likely to suffer burn injuries or chemical injuries from fire or explosions.
If there is any chance of an injury, any drivers and passengers involved should seek medical attention. Some injuries, including head trauma and spinal injuries can be difficult to diagnose and may require medical observation. Early detection and treatment may provide the best chance of recovery for injuries suffered in a trucking accident.
Liability in a Trucking Accident
After an accident involving a truck, drivers may encounter problems in trying to get the truck driver to take responsibility for the accident or get the trucking company to pay for the damages. Many truck drivers attempt to place blame on the other driver because they are afraid the accident could affect their job. If the driver was doing something illegal or reckless at the time of the accident, they may lose their commercial driver's license.
You may be required to report an accident to the police or nearest Florida Highway Patrol location. The other driver may try and avoid calling the police, instead trying to settle the accident without contacting the police or insurance company. However, contacting the police may not only be required, it may help protect you if the other driver later tries to deny responsibility for the accident.
Damages Available in a Trucking Accident
After an accident with a truck or tractor trailer, the victim may have a totaled car, suffer serious injury, and be unable to work for weeks. This leaves victims and their families trying to recover from their injuries, without a mode of transportation, and without a paycheck to pay for expensive medical bills. Whoever was responsible for causing the accident should be responsible for paying the damages.
Injured victims can seek recovery of their medical costs, lost wages, and property damage repair from their own insurance company or the trucking company's insurance company after an accident. However, if the insurance company or trucking company disputes the cause or costs of the accident, the victim may need to turn to a lawyer for help.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to deal with the insurance company so the victims can focus on recovery. The attorney will fight for the victims to make sure they get the full compensation they deserve. If the insurance company or trucking company does not want to pay the victim what they should, the attorney can file a lawsuit to compel them to pay damages.
Damages after a trucking accident can be significant. This may include the costs of vehicle repair, emergency medical bills, continuing medical treatment, and lost wages. The victim and their families may also seek damages for pain and suffering endured as a result of the accident.
Florida Trucking Accident Attorney
Your Florida personal injury attorney will fight for you. They will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation. Koberlein Law Offices regularly appears before trial courts and represents accident victims in Columbia County, Alachua County, Suwannee County, Hamilton County, Lafayette County, Madison County, and Gilchrist County. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact KLO online or call 386-269-9802 for Lake City or 352-519-4357 for Gainesville.