Commercial trucks have been a major part of America’s economic engine for decades, but they can also be very dangerous on the road to other drivers, especially when the truck driver doesn’t follow the rules of the road. Despite federal and state laws that have been implemented to make highways and roadways safer, commercial trucking accidents still happen far too often. In many cases, driver error is to blame for an accident involving a commercial truck.
If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at Lem Garcia Law today to learn how we can help you hold the trucker driver and the other parties responsible, liable for the harm they have caused.
The attorneys at Lem Garcia Law know that the level of due care is great for a commercial truck driver. In fact, there are many federal and state safety rules that only apply to truckers. We will hold the trucker and trucking company accountable when these rules are broken, resulting in catastrophic injuries or the death of a loved one.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
A commercial truck accident with a passenger vehicle usually results in serious injuries or fatalities due to the massive size of commercial vehicles. Below are some of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents with commercial trucks, along with some helpful tips on what you can do if you find yourself involved in an accident with a commercial truck.
1. Brake Failure
The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, created a multi-year causation study that investigated the cause of motor vehicle crashes involving commercial trucks. This study was called the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. According to the FMCSA report, brake failure or brake issues was the top contributing factor to trucking accidents.
Because of their massive weight and size, a semi-truck takes much longer to brake than a passenger vehicle. A standard passenger vehicle that is traveling at 65 miles per hour needs 316 feet to come to a complete stop. A fully loaded commercial truck that is traveling at 65 miles per hour will need 525 feet to come to a complete stop.
23% of motor vehicle crashes involving semi-trucks are caused by speeding. Many commercial truck drivers speed to deliver their load on time or ahead of schedule. Considering the size and weight of these vehicles, and their need for more braking time, a speeding commercial truck puts everyone on the road’s life at risk.
3. Driver Fatigue
According to the FMCSA study, 13% of trucking accidents were due to trucker fatigue. Truckers often have to travel long distances several hours a day, leading to truck drivers getting tired when they’re behind the wheel. The FMCSA implemented an hours of service rule that regulates mandatory consecutive hours of driving limits and mandatory breaks. Truckers carrying property are limited to eleven hours of consecutive driving after they have been off duty for a total of ten hours. Truckers can also drive after sixty to seventy hours of being on duty for seven to eight consecutive days. Unfortunately, due to tight deadlines, a lack of available drivers, or pressure from their employer, many truckers ignore the hours of service rule. An experienced trucking accident lawyer can request the truck driver’s logs from their employer to determine if the hours of service law was violated and if fatigue contributed to the accident.
4. Impaired Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is another common cause of trucking accidents. A trucking company is required to follow the FMCSA policies regarding alcohol and drug testing. These rules require the company to test their drivers for drugs or alcohol before the driver is hired and to have them tested after an accident occurs.
5. Distracted Driving
27% of trucking accidents are due to distracted driving. A trucker usually travels long distances and may get bored on the road, turning to music, talking on the phone, or other distractions that can help keep them entertained while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is considered one of the riskiest behaviors for truck drivers and it can lead to a catastrophic accident that includes life-threatening injuries or fatalities.
6. Trucker Error
Truckers can take advantage of their larger size, forcing their way through traffic. A trucker can follow other vehicles too closely, turn in front of other vehicles, make an illegal driving maneuver, or fail to look out for a passenger vehicle on the road, resulting in an accident caused by driver negligence.
Other Causes of Trucking Accidents
Aside from the reasons mentioned above, there are other factors that can contribute to a trucking accident, including:
- Traffic flow interruption
- Inexperienced truckers
- Aggressive driving
- Unfamiliarity with roadways
- Roadway problems
- Inclement weather
- Vehicle malfunctions
- Improper cargo loading
- Poor vehicle maintenance
Truckers need to be vigilant to avoid accidents. In some cases, an accident may not be the trucker’s fault but may be due to a trailer that wasn’t loaded properly, defective truck or trailer parts, or just bad weather.
What to Do After an Accident with a Commercial Truck
If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, there are some steps you can take to protect your potential claim:
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you must contact 911 for immediate medical treatment. Drivers rarely walk away from a commercial trucking accident unscathed. Check on the passengers in your vehicle. If you’re able to walk, get out of your vehicle and check on the trucker and anyone else involved in the accident. Contact 911 and report your injuries and those of the other parties involved.
Document the Accident
If you’re able to, write down as many details about the accident as possible. A trucking accident will be cleaned up quickly and valuable evidence will be lost. Write down details including your speed, the truck’s speed, note any debris in the road, traffic conditions, weather conditions, road conditions, mention if there were any faulty traffic lights or missing traffic signs.
Take photos of the scene of the accident from a variety of angles. Take photos of the damage done to all vehicles involved. The photos and information you provide will be used as evidence in your claim.
Speak with the Police
If there was significant property damage involved or injuries, police officers will be sent to the scene of the accident. Speak with the responding law enforcement officer and provide only the facts of the accident. Do not admit fault. If the police officer asks if you’re injured and you do not have any obvious injuries at that time, say you do not know. There are many types of injuries that do not present symptoms until several hours after an accident.
If you are not taken to the emergency room by ambulance, have a friend or family member take you to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you feel fine. In many cases, a trucking accident results in a catastrophic injury, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Bone fractures
- Burn injuries
- Internal injuries
A trained medical professional will examine you and run the necessary tests to determine the extent of your injuries. Make sure you keep a copy of your medical records and medical bills since both will be used as evidence in your claim.
Contact a Trucking Accident Attorney
After a truck accident, it’s always best to speak with a personal injury attorney as early in the process as possible. An attorney can take immediate steps to preserve valuable evidence. They can also take over communication with insurance companies and the truck driver or trucking company’s defense attorney. To protect your claim, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers at Lem Garcia Law as soon as possible.
Schedule a Case Strategy Session at Lem Garcia Law Today
A trucking accident can be devastating and the injuries sustained can change a person’s life forever. If you were involved in a truck accident, contact Lem Garcia Law today to schedule a free case strategy session. At our law firm, we can discuss the details of your case and educate you on your rights. This case strategy session does not obligate you to work with us. Whether you decide to work with one of our attorneys or not, you will leave our office knowing what your legal rights and options are. If you do decide to work with us, we will aggressively fight to help you get the settlement you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a no-obligation case strategy session.