Truck and commercial vehicle accidents: what you need to know

Commercial vehicle and truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries.

We've all seen tragic news stories about truck accidents that cause catastrophic injuries and senseless deaths. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that, in 2015 alone - the most recent year for which final data is available - there were nearly 140,000 injuries reported from truck and commercial vehicle crashes. Information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that almost 4,000 people died in similar commercial truck accidents during that same timeframe. Ninety-seven percent of those killed were occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.

Not surprisingly, negligence on the part of the truckers themselves causes many truck accidents. These crashes are often preventable. Dangerous driving behaviors on the part of truck drivers will cause accidents, including:

  • Distracted driving - focusing on technology (texting, cellphone conversations, emails, social media or apps), grooming, eating, reading or changing music selections
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol, street drugs, prescription meds, high doses of stimulants like caffeine, or over-the-counter treatments for colds/allergies/flu symptoms
  • Lack of experience handling an oversized commercial vehicle
  • Fatigue - federal hours of service regulations should prevent truck driver fatigue, but some truckers ignore mandatory breaks (either on their own accord or under the orders of employers)
  • Excessive speed
  • Not accounting for changes in weather conditions, traffic levels, construction or road deviations (steep hills, curves, narrow lanes, bridges, etc.)
  • Failure to maintain the truck rig or trailer - failing to perform important repairs, having improperly inflated tires, not addressing recalled parts, or falsifying maintenance records
  • Improper load handling and securing - not adequately securing a load can result in shifting or a weight imbalance, making the truck much more difficult to handle

The tragic consequences of truck accidents

No matter what the cause of a semi-truck crash, the end result is commonly catastrophic injuries or death. Fully loaded commercial trucks are tens of thousands of pounds, grossly outweighing the four-to-five thousand pound average mass of a passenger vehicle.

Truck accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord damage, which can lead to full or partial paralysis/paraplegia/quadriplegia
  • Compound broken bones (often necessitating in-depth, reconstructive surgery and months of painful physical therapy)
  • Crush injuries, particularly to limbs and digits, which can result in amputation

Did a truck or commercial vehicle driver's negligence cause injury to you, or did a loved one lose his or her life in a crash? There may be legal causes of action against the driver, employer, maintenance provider and others. Call the law offices of Lloyd & Hogan at 205-969-6235 for a free initial consultation to discuss your claim, or send them an email.