By Ursula Nizalowski
When driving next to an 18-wheeler truck, one instantly feels intimidated by them. Because
delivery trucks are not only bigger than the average car, but their lack of maneuverability can
create dangerous situations. And if neither the truck or car drivers are careful, they could find
themselves in a severe accident. Though how bad is a trucking accident, and what can be done
to prevent it? Hopefully, this article will provide an answer or two.
How Bad is a Truck-Related Accident Compared to a Regular
In terms of size, “Trucks can weigh as much as 76,000 pounds more than the average
automobile” says the Pius Joseph law firm. So when a truck hits something, the impact is greater
than a typical car crash leading to more destruction on the road. Additionally, a simple lawsuit
following an accident becomes complicated when trucks are involved. Because “the lawsuit
involves the trucking company” and the individual driver according to Dwyer Williams Cherkoss
Attorneys , meaning the victim might have a harder time getting compensation for their injuries
and damage to their car.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
Fatigue – Since truck drivers have to travel thousands of miles to deliver their goods on
tight deadlines, they often work long hours and don’t get much sleep. This in turn can “impair their judgment, reaction time, and ability to safely operate their vehicles” says Fuicelli and Lee.
As a result, there’s a higher chance of driver error which is a leading cause of trucking accidents.
Equipment Failure – While it’s easy to blame the truck driver for an accident, they
aren’t always at fault. In fact, in “55 percent of truck accidents involving injury, the truck had at
least one mechanical failure” according to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety (IIHS) as quoted by EMC Insurance. So if the truck itself isn’t properly maintained by
either the driver or the company, that could be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Reckless Car Drivers – Now in some cases, fatal trucking accidents aren’t caused by
the trucks but by the cars they crash into. To elaborate, about “80% of these accidents are due to
car drivers not following traffic procedures” for driving around trucks according to a FARS
Encyclopedia statistic quoted by the Boyle Law Firm. Although why these car drivers didn’t
follow traffic procedures is often due to recklessness and inebriation among other reasons.
High Medical Expenses – Due to the heavy amount of damage a crashed truck
causes, one can imagine the resulting injuries are greater. According to Berman and Russo,
“Those injured in a truck accident are often rushed to the hospital via ambulance” and “Many
truck accident victims require ongoing care”. This means the victim has to not only worry about
initial ER expenses like tests and surgery, but also the expense of rehabilitation for a long-term
injury that doesn’t heal right away.
Lost Earnings – Because the injuries of a trucking accident often linger, the victim has
to take a lot of time off work to heal. This impacts their livelihood since they might have to work under reduced hours, which leads to a loss of income. And if the injury is bad enough, it may force the victim to resign from their job entirely.
Company Liability – To get financial compensation for the injuries and property
damage from a trucking accident, one has to hold a number of parties responsible. Because as
stated earlier, not only would the individual truck driver be sued but also the company they work
for. On top of that, truck manufacturers, maintenance personnel, and federal/state regulators
might be held liable if multiple vehicles are involved in the accident.
Ways to Prevent Trucking Accidents
For the Truck Driver – In the state of Colorado, truck drivers are required to have a
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and allow their vehicle to undergo regular inspections in
case of any mechanical issues. Plus, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ( FMCSA )
insists truck drivers should get 30 minute breaks for every 8 hours they drive. But these legal
measures can only be enforced so much. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration ( OSHA ) suggests regular training for truck drivers and that management should
be more involved to ensure safety for their employees and the public.
For the Car Driver – Because driving around a truck is not easy for the average car,
the FMCSA has some helpful tips such as staying out of blind spots and anticipating wide turns.
After all, the truck’s large size means it’s hard for the driver to see smaller vehicles let alone turn
sharply. So the car driver should arguably be more cautious than usual when driving around
trucks including not being impaired in some form. Then if there is an accident with a truck, one
ought to get the best possible attorney to handle the legal difficulty of obtaining a settlement
from those deemed responsible.
For any questions on how to handle trucking accidents, be sure to contact attorney Rick Wagner.