Truck accidents are one of the most dangerous types of motor vehicle accidents that can occur. When we refer to truck accidents it is usually related to large commercial trucks that transport goods across interstate highways throughout the United States, however, this article can apply to heavy duty passenger trucks and standard box trucks as they also tend to be hefty, and extremely dangerous motor vehicles.
Semi-trucks, or better known as 18-wheeler trucks are the large trucks we commonly associate with trucking accidents. These trucks are often owned by corporations or smaller business owners who oversee transporting goods, equipment, and hazardous wastes safely with an extreme amount of caution with which most motorists are not always privy to. Because of the special care truck drivers are expected to exercise on public roadways, they must undergo education and training to become licensed to drive these specially designed trucks. Upon successful completion of their training, they receive a special driver’s license, which is a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. A truck driver is legally required to possess a CDL in good standing if they drive any of the following trucks:
- double or triple trailers
- a truck with a tank
- a truck carrying hazardous materials
Trucks are classified by their weight. Heavy duty trucks, which is a general term for any truck weighing more than 26,001 pounds, can include 18-wheelers but it also encompasses passenger vehicles and drivable construction vehicles/tools. Drivers of these types of trucks/vehicles are also required to obtain CDLs. Some we are all familiar with are:
- City transit buses
- Cement mixers
- Garbage trucks
- Tractors designed to pull heavy machinery and equipment
Medium-duty trucks weigh between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds. This includes:
- school buses
- box trucks
- full-sized delivery trucks
Light duty trucks are everyday pick-up trucks weighing between 4000 and 7000 pounds such as a Ford 150. There are heavy-duty everyday trucks that can weight up to 12,000 (without trailers attached) such as a Ford 350 or Nissan Titan and can usually haul additional weight up to 21,000 additional pounds with a trailer attached. This is a significant difference in weight when we consider the average SUV weighs around 6,000 pounds and the average sedan weighs in at 4000-5000 pounds.
Considering the weights and sheer sizes of all the trucks on the road with us, it is easy to see why lots of these vehicles require care to navigate on the roads safely with the rest of us.
Importance of Hiring a Heavy Truck Accidents Lawyer
A heavy truck or commercial vehicle accident lawyer can help you understand your options and walk you through the process of making a claim. Accidents with any of the above-referenced vehicles can result in utter devastation at any speed due to the size and weight of the vehicle. For this reason, it is not uncommon that fatal truck accidents occur.
Owners of these trucks understand they have a duty to keep all the smaller vehicles on the road out of harm’s way and do their part to ensure their trucks and the equipment on and inside of them are secure. Unfortunately, we know this isn’t always the case. Yet, the duty is clear in the law based on the extensive training they must undergo for their jobs and licensure.
If you or a loved one is dealing with the aftermath of an accident with a truck, it is very important that you get a good truck accident lawyer involved as soon as possible. Trucks owned by corporations and their insurance brokers understand the risks of having hundreds of drivers on the road carrying hazardous, oversized, and heavy materials across the country. They also know their drivers can be sleep-deprived and not as attentive as they should be. For this reason, they must possess insurance policies to cover any accidents their trucks, drivers, property, and any injured party involved in an accident with their trucks may endure. Being injured by one of these trucks means you can be compensated sufficiently for your damages, but insurance companies often will not make it easy to collect damages rightfully owed to you and your family. Therefore, it’s important a lawyer gets involved who can advocate for you and deal with the insurance companies in a way that puts your best interest first.
Cause Of Truck Accidents
The most common cause of truck accidents is not much different than the cause of any other type of accident. However, there is a particular risk associated with truck drivers that are not as common in the rest of us. Long-haul truck drivers usually work long and irregular hours. Their schedules usually only allow them about 5 hours of sleep each day. For this reason, sleep deprivation can be attributed to 30 to 40 percent of all heavy truck crashes.
Other factors include:
- Distracted driving, is often considered to be the number one cause.
- Driving while intoxicated
- Reckless driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Inclement weather
How to avoid truck accidents
Now that we have identified the factors that contribute to truck accidents, it’s important to know what you and your family can do to avoid or at least decrease the chances of being the victim of an accident involving one of these dangerous vehicles. Truck accident attorneys and experts offer these tips:
- One of the easiest ways to mitigate the chances of being involved in a serious accident with a truck is to allow more than enough space between you and the truck on the road. That means not getting too close in traffic and anticipating the truck’s next moves such as speeding up, slowing down, and changing lanes based on traffic flow.
- When passing, allow at least 500 feet between your vehicle and the truck and do so at a safe speed. Especially on the interstate, truck accident lawyer, Thomas Moore says “It’s important to understand the larger and heavier the truck, the more difficult it is for it to slow down if a car suddenly cuts in front of it. This can cause the truck to drag forward if it is going at a fast speed and suddenly must brake to avoid an accident”. Additionally, the truck could attempt to change lanes to avoid hitting a passing vehicle which could cause serious injuries to multiple motorists on the road depending on the speed and weight of the truck.
- Stay out of their blind spot. Most large trucks have stickers and signs on their trucks that indicate their blind spots. Be aware of these areas and avoid them as it means the truck cannot see you or your vehicle at this position and the risk of hitting you is much greater.
- Pay attention to a turning truck. Large trucks often must make wider turns than a typical vehicle and this sometimes means they must occupy two or more lanes to complete a turn. Be aware of a turning truck so as not to be in their way
Truck Accidents Statistics
According to the National Safety Council, fatal crashes involving large trucks the percentage of truck accidents that are fatal has decreased slightly since 2019. In 2020, there were 4,842 fatal truck accidents, a 4 percent decrease.
The involvement rate of truck accidents per 100 million large-truck miles traveled is down 5% from 2019, but up 18% since 2011. Large trucks are defined as any medium or heavy truck, not including buses and motor homes, with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. Both commercial and non-commercial vehicles are included.
Large trucks accounted for:
- 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
- 4% of all registered vehicles
- 10% of total vehicle miles traveled
Source: National Safety Council, 2022
Injuries From Truck Accidents
Common injuries sustained from truck accidents include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Arm/shoulder dislocation and muscle injuries
- Internal injuries not clearly noticeable
All of these injuries can range from moderate to severe depending on the impact.
How to seek medical treatment for truck accident injuries
No matter how moderate an injury may seem, it’s important to seek medical attention right away if you have been involved in an accident of any kind as some injuries are not as apparent as others.
Finding The Right Truck Accidents Attorney In New York City
What to look for in a truck accident lawyer in New York?
If you need a freight truck accident attorney, a big rig accident lawyer, a dump truck accident attorney, a tractor-trailer accident attorney, or a tanker truck accident attorney, no matter your needs KDLM can help.
Who are the best truck accident lawyers in New York?
You don’t have to ask which is the top law firm for truck accidents because the answer is clear.