In seconds, a car crash can happen and cause serious injury. Crashes can be dangerous, regardless of outside circumstances. But not all traffic collisions are created equally, and one type of crash is often deadly. Large truck accidents cause catastrophic injuries, and the occupants of passenger vehicles often bear the brunt of the damage. Commercial trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, which can make a collision much more likely to be deadly. While truckers often survive these crashes, it’s still a risky job. Truck drivers are ten times more likely to die while working than the average American.
After a large truck accident, you may be left wondering whether the accident was preventable. A trucking accident attorney can investigate the details of the crash and help determine whether you can file a lawsuit to recover damages. Multiple parties may be held liable after a collision — the driver, trucking company, and truck manufacturer are all potentially to blame. An attorney can handle the complex legal factors while you recover from your injuries.
Truck Accident Statistics
- According to federal data, 71% of people killed in large-truck crashes in 2020 were in other vehicles, and 13% were pedestrians or cyclists. Truck drivers account for only 17% of fatalities.
- Large trucks only account for 4% of all registered vehicles, but they represent 9% of vehicles involved in fatal crashes nationwide.
- These numbers differ by region. In the Washington metropolitan area, large trucks account for 7% of vehicles involved in fatal crashes in Maryland, 4% in D.C., and 9.3% in Virginia.
- Fatal large truck crashes are more likely to happen on non-interstate roads, and these crashes are more prevalent in rural areas.
- Large trucks transport hazardous materials like fuel, oil, and gasoline. After an accident, these substances can contaminate the roads if a truck trailer is impacted.
Truck Accident Causes
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) keeps track of large truck accident causes and the relative risk of each factor. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than the average driver and must obtain commercial driver’s licenses before they can drive large trucks. Despite the extra training, they don’t always avoid risky behavior.
One of the most common factors in a large truck crash is problems with the vehicle. Worn-down tires, brake malfunctions, and cargo shifting are all frequent causes of truck accidents. The FMCSA requires truck companies to inspect and maintain their vehicles regularly, but they don’t always adhere to those standards.
Truck drivers face pressure to not fall behind on work. Some companies set unrealistically tight schedules for their drivers, which leads to truckers feeling that they have no choice but to speed. A truck driver going 65 miles per hour needs 525 feet to come to a complete stop, which is almost the length of two football fields. A speeding driver will have a more difficult time stopping abruptly.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Truck drivers are less likely to drive intoxicated than the general population — only 3% of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. When truckers are under the influence, it’s more dangerous than when passenger vehicle drivers make the same choice.
Even if someone isn’t behaving impulsively, they can still cause a truck collision. Some common truck driver errors include being unfamiliar with the roadway, losing control of the big rig and jackknifing, and following other vehicles too closely. Distractions can also cause a driver to pay less attention to the road, leading to an accident.
Truck companies must follow strict “hours of service regulations” that dictate how much time they can work before taking a mandatory break. Even with these rules in place, truck driver fatigue still contributes to traffic accidents. Drivers may struggle to get enough sleep between shifts, and being on the road at night can increase the risk of drowsiness.
Hiring A Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries than passenger vehicle crashes. You may suffer from irreversible injuries if you’re injured in a large truck accident. Determining liability after a truck crash is more complicated because of how many parties are involved, so hiring a truck accident attorney is essential. A trucking company might be liable if a truck crashes because of improper maintenance. If a truck part was faulty and it contributed to a crash, then a manufacturer may be partially at fault.
Our attorneys at Paulson & Nace know how to represent victims who have been injured or lost loved ones in large truck crashes. You can focus on your recovery while we hold the truck driver and other responsible parties accountable for their negligence. We help clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and West Virginia to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, future medical costs, pain and suffering, and more. Call 202-463-1999 or contact us online for a no-obligation consultation.
With the law firm of Paulson & Nace, Mathew Nace's practice areas include medical malpractice, trucking litigation, auto collision, premises liability, wrongful death and other catestrophic negligence and personal injury matters. He is licensed to practice in Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.