Accidents involving commercial trucks are some of the most devastating collisions on the road. Because trucks weigh more and are larger than your standard automotive vehicle, they are harder to control and can deal much more damage in an accident.
Research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that in the year 2016, there were 4,440 large trucks involved in fatal crashes. The number of total truck fatality crashes had also increased 39 percent since 2009.
Despite government regulations concerning truck and car safety, more and more people are involved in truck accidents every year. That is why it’s important to understand the major causes of truck crashes and precautions to avoid them. It also is beneficial to become familiar with the steps and measures you can take if you are involved in a truck accident, so you aren’t caught off guard if one occurs.
What Are the Major Causes of Truck Accidents?
Accidents involving trucks tend to be very complicated, because they involve many more factors than regular two-vehicle car accidents. Some common causes of truck accidents include:
Truck Defects – Sometimes a truck accident occurs not because of the negligence of the driver, but because the truck was poorly maintained, or a part was defective. The most common type of truck defect is failing brakes. Other mechanical errors such as engine or transmission problems, defective steering wheels, and problems with tires and wheels have also resulted in truck accidents. If a truck is not up to code or has not been regularly inspected, the truck manufacturer, mechanic, or trucking company may be at fault for an accident.
Driver Fatigue – Truck drivers often work long, grueling hours and must drive for extended periods of time with little to no break. Anyone driving that long would be exhausted and, unfortunately, many truck accidents occur because of truck driver fatigue. There are government regulations about how long drivers can drive before taking a break, but due to truck driver shortages, many drivers and trucking companies violate these laws. If an accident occurs because a driver fell asleep at the wheel, the driver or their employer may be at fault.
Employer Negligence – Trucking companies have a responsibility to hire responsible, capable drivers, train them properly, maintain their fleet of vehicles, load their trucks properly, and comply with any and all government regulations. Many truck accidents can be traced back to employer negligence, if they failed in these responsibilities in any way.
Driver Error – Commercial trucks are difficult to control, so drivers should be very cautious while operating them. If a driver fails to monitor their no-zones (blind spots), drives while drunk or drugged, or drives recklessly, aggressively, or carelessly, they can cause serious accidents.
You may not be able to tell why an accident occurred or who was responsible in the immediate aftermath. For this reason, it’s smart to hire a lawyer to investigate your crash on your behalf. By looking at truck company records and the black box on the truck, they will be able to determine why your crash occurred and who was responsible.
What Should I Do After My Truck Accident?
Immediately following a truck accident, you should immediately call emergency services and check for injuries. After ensuring your safety and the safety of any passengers in the vehicle, you will need to contact the authorities. When they arrive, be sure to take down their names and badge numbers. When speaking to authorities, stick to the facts. Do not speculate about the cause of the accident, apologize in any way, or make any kind of statement about your injuries.
Next, you will want to document the accident as much as possible. Take plenty of pictures, collect eye-witness statements, and note the location and time of the accident. The more proof and documentation you can provide about the specific details of the crash, the better.
Be sure to seek medical attention even if you do not think you were hurt. Some injuries involve delayed symptoms and waiting to seek treatment can damage your ability to recover compensation later.
Finally, be sure to contact a lawyer. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, they will be able to investigate your crash, gather the necessary evidence, and negotiate with the trucking company’s insurance to get you the compensation you deserve.