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Trucking Accidents: Information You Need To Know

According to the American Trucking Association, 38.9 million registered trucks were on the road in 2020, accounting for approximately 300 billion miles driven. This, of course, does not include unregistered vehicles or agricultural trucks. According to the latest available numbers given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were a total of 42,915 deaths in 2021 alone, up from 38,824 in 2020. Of the 42,915 deaths in 2021, 5,601 were caused by heavy trucks, which the NHTSA defines as any truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: In a trucking accident, who is at fault?

A: When you yourself are not at fault in a trucking accident, numerous others might be held accountable for the damages, including the truck driver, loaders, carriers, trucking companies, parts manufacturers, and contractors. 

Q: What is the main difference between a car accident and a trucking accident?

A: The size of the vehicles involved in the accident is the most noticeable difference. Most heavy trucks may weigh up to 70,000 pounds more than a typical passenger car, causing devastating damage. 

Q: What is an underride accident?

A: Underride accidents occur when one vehicle collides with another during an accident and goes underneath. Large trucks have underride bars installed so that a car cannot go underneath the truck in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, there are still instances in which a car can still fit underneath a truck.

Q: Do I need a trucking accident lawyer to assist me with my case?

A: Unless the accident caused minor injury, you should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney. Truck accident attorneys are well-versed in all of the state and federal rules and regulations that trucking businesses must abide by in order to drive a truck safely on the roadway. Furthermore, trucking accidents are extremely complicated, especially when many parties are involved. An expert attorney will have all of the necessary information to gather the necessary papers in order to construct a winning case for you or a loved one. 

Common Reasons For Trucking Accidents

There is a wide range of factors that might contribute to a trucking accident, ranging from a lack of training to falling asleep behind the wheel. The following are some of the most prevalent contributing factors to trucking accidents.

Inadequate Training - In your personal experience, you might have received some type of training regardless of your profession. Sometimes the training is excellent, and other times it is horrible. The same is true in the trucking industry. The trucking industry transports more than 70% of all freight in the United States. According to a survey provided by the American Trucking Association, there was a 78,000 driver shortage in 2022. As you can expect, having such a big scarcity of drivers necessitates increased demand and the turnover of new drivers. As a result, some companies may be able to compress the training of new drivers in order to get them on the road sooner in order to help reduce the driver shortage.

Defective Products - Even though semi-trucks are meant to spend hours on end on the road, there are instances when parts just do not hold up to the wear and tear. The brakes are one of the most frequent truck components to fail. Brakes on a semi-truck, like brakes on a car, are responsible for stopping the vehicle's motion. However, unlike your average commuter, the brakes of a semi-truck must stop over 70,000 pounds. Routine maintenance is one of the most important ways a truck driver and their business may avoid brake issues. Maintenance can not always ensure that a part will not fail, but it can greatly aid in the detection of problems.  

Exhaustion - Driver fatigue is a major problem in the trucking business, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is continually on the lookout for news way to combat it. The FMCSA has established many rules for truck drivers to follow in terms of how many hours they are legally allowed to drive in a day. 

Improper Loading - Improper loading is one of the leading causes of semi-truck accidents. Improper loading occurs when the truck is unevenly loaded, overloaded, or the load is not secured. Unsecured loads pose a significant risk to the truck driver and any motorists in close proximity to the truck. You may have observed a log truck toppled in an intersection at some point. This is typically caused by the driver turning suddenly, but it is also caused by their load being poorly loaded. Loads that are poorly loaded are typically the result of the loader's carelessness and the driver's negligence. Most companies, particularly log companies, are paid based on the number of loads they can transport in a day; this may often lead to a cloudy judgment on how the load is secured in order to transport the maximum amount of logs in a day. A heavier load can also cause brakes to malfunction since a heavier weight takes more braking power, resulting in the vehicle not being able to stop in a timely fashion.

Lack of safety lights - Most truck drivers prefer to drive at night since there is less traffic, and they may bypass pop-up weigh stations. Even if there is less traffic at night, it does not eliminate the risks that drivers may encounter. According to FMCSA, in 2020 alone, 37% of all deadly crashes, 24% of all injury crashes, and 20% of all property damage-only crashes involving heavy trucks were at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am). When semi-trucks operate with poor lighting, it may be difficult to determine the distance the truck is in front of you, and they may appear to vanish out of sight. The driver and truck owner are responsible for the lighting on a semi-truck. Unfortunately, because of the tight schedules of these trucks, most drivers head out into the roads with inadequate lighting since there is no time to check to ensure that every light is working correctly.

These are just a few instances of actions that might result in truck accidents. Being aware of these possible hazards might help you as a motorist learn more about the risks connected with driving alongside these large trucks on the highways. 

If you or a loved one was involved in a trucking accident, you should contact an experienced trucking attorney as soon as possible. Trucking accidents can lead to long and complex cases, especially if there are multiple vehicles involved. When suffering from a trucking accident, you deserve to have an attorney who is going to fight for you. 

Common Injuries Related To Trucking Accidents

Truck accidents may be even more deadly than car accidents due to the sheer size of trucks. Because of its immense size and weight, a small car has little chance of surviving an accident with a large truck. The following are some of the most prevalent truck accident injuries:

Along with the magnitude of the injuries associated with trucking accidents, they are also more complex than auto accident cases, and it is recommended that if you or a loved one is injured or killed in a truck accident, you consult an experienced trucking accident attorney who has both the knowledge and resources necessary to fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.

Steps You Should Take After A Trucking Accident

We understand that every circumstance is unique when it comes to trucking accidents, but we have highlighted five of the most common measures you should follow if you are involved in an accident. This guide should give you an idea of what measures to follow, depending on the severity of any injuries received, to establish that an accident was not your fault and to guarantee that your personal injury attorneys have enough evidence to file a claim on your behalf.

1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe

Even if the trucking accident was not your fault, you should never leave the site. If you are involved in a trucking accident, the first goal should be to ensure everyone's safety. Once you've confirmed that no one is injured and can be moved, make your way to safety. Do not stand on the road or highway since this may obstruct traffic and result in more accidents.

2. Notify Emergency Personnel 

By contacting 911 and reporting an accident, you can potentially save lives and avoid any unnecessary acts after the fact, such as the other driver attempting to cause an issue. Furthermore, having a police officer on the scene will expedite the exchange of information among all persons involved, regardless of who is at blame. A police officer can not only help speed up the transfer of information, but they can also produce a complete accident report. If the case proceeds to court, the accident report will act as a deterrent to individuals involved in the accident from making fraudulent claims, and it may help you obtain the compensation you deserve.  

3. Contact Your Insurance Provider

It is usually preferable to be the first to contact their insurance provider following an accident rather than the opposing party filing a claim first. Also, be detailed with your insurance provider since they are there to assist you. Even if you do not intend to submit a claim, it is always a good idea to contact your insurance provider because there is a possibility you will breach your policy. Also, keep in mind that insurance companies might be deceitful and attempt to take advantage of you. One thing to remember is that an insurance agency is a company that wants to generate money while also protecting its assets. Finally, if the other driver's insurance company contacts you, don't give out any information freely; let them know you plan to speak with your attorney first. If you don't feel comfortable communicating with them alone, call an auto and trucking accident attorney as soon as possible. 

4. Document 

Documentation is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself after an accident. Once you've gotten out of harm's way, make thorough notes on the accident. Photographs are an excellent tool for recording an accident. Some of the images you should take to verify that everything is properly documented are listed below.  

  • Multiple angles of the outside and inside of all cars involved 
  • Skid marks
  • Bodily injuries
  • Licenses plates
  • Road signs

Even though the aftermath of an accident is hectic or upsetting, this is the perfect moment to capture the essential images since all of the evidence is still fresh. Clear and precise documentation of the accident might help you file a better claim against the other driver.

5. Contact An Attorney

Financial losses are unavoidable for victims of trucking accidents who sustain any form of injury. A victim will benefit greatly from contacting an expert accident attorney. The complexities of dealing with a trucking accident can be frightening on their own, but with the assistance of an attorney and the tools they have, navigating the legal procedure can become less stressful. 

An expert auto and truck accident attorney will go to great lengths to verify that the settlement offer accurately represents the true cost of one's injuries. An attorney may be able to seek compensation for lost wages, reduced future earnings, present and prospective medical expenses, impaired quality of life, and pain and suffering, depending on the circumstances.

Trucking Laws and Regulations 

There are three major government agencies in charge of establishing laws that the trucking industry must follow in order to operate safely and lawfully on the roadway. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by Congress in 1966 and now oversees the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which was specifically designed to regulate the trucking industry by focusing on reducing accidents and injuries related to large trucks, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which began as part of the Highway Safety Act of 1970 and covers a broad range of transportation issues. Each of these organizations partners together to supply the trucking industry with laws that they must follow in order to operate lawfully on the roadway. Some of the most typical restrictions are provided below.  

DOT registration - According to the DOT, any vehicles that weigh more than a specific amount, carry a specific number of passengers, or traverse state borders must be registered. The USDOT Number serves as a unique identifier while gathering and monitoring a company's safety information gathered through audits, compliance assessments, crash investigations, and inspections.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) - The federal government mandated the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system to replace the Single State Registration System (SSRS). Individuals or businesses that travel the interstate must pay an annual registration fee depending on the total number of vehicles in their fleet, according to the UCR Act. The UCR fines are a key source of financing for USDOT safety projects, training, and education.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse - The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) was created by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) in 2020. The Clearinghouse monitors and controls CDL holders who have failed or refused to submit to a drug test. The Clearinghouse has effectively prevented many drivers who have been convicted of drug and alcohol offenses from pursuing another truck driving job by lying to acquire it.  

Hours of service - The number of hours of service refers to the number of hours a driver is authorized to drive while on duty and specifies the amount of rest time they must complete before driving again. According to the most recent NHTSA research, there were 1,240 fatal incidents caused by fatigued drivers in 2019. To assist the trucking industry in reducing the number of accidents, the FMCSA implemented numerous important hours of service requirements that truck drivers must observe in order to lawfully operate a truck on the highway. All commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must follow the HOS standards outlined in 49 CFR 395.  

DOT physicals - All commercial motor vehicle drivers must undergo a DOT physical. A qualified doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), or a doctor of chiropractic (DC) must administer this physical examination. DOT physicals are required and strictly enforced for drivers' safety. They are meant to uncover physical, mental, and emotional disorders that may impair a driver's ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely.

All of these guidelines are in place to safeguard the safety of the driver and everyone else who will be going on the road. The U.S. Department of Transportation website has more detailed information on all of the rules and regulations members of the trucking industry must follow. 

Why You Need An Trucking Accident Attorney

Having a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney fighting for you in a trucking accident case is absolutely crucial if you are looking to gain the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Trucking accidents are very daunting and complex, especially when it comes to many parties involved. By having the right attorney, they will take on the burden of obtaining all of the necessary documents and evidence needed to successfully argue your case while you get the maximum amount of desired rest that is needed to recover from this accident. Trucking attorneys are also familiar with the ever-changing rules and regulations set forward to ensure the safety of truck drivers and fellow motorists on the road.

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