According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 500,000 trucking accidents happen in the United States every year, with approximately 5,000 per year resulting in death. 

Large trucks are defined as trucks weighing an excess of 10,000 lbs and are regulated by the FMCSA, which was established in 2000. The FMSCA was created to oversee compliance with the commercial driver’s license standards for drivers and carriers, including but not limited to, the Hours of Service Regulations (HOS), which limits the number of hours a truck driver can operate this dangerous equipment.

Truck drivers, owners, and manufacturers are required to follow an extensive variety of state and federal regulations. Along with the HOS, the FMSCA’s regulations include how much weight a rig is allowed to haul and quality control in manufacturing and repair. In an instance where the plaintiff is not at fault, the chances that the defendant violated a statute or ordinance are very likely. This is important when it comes to the settlement because proof that a violation of a statute or other ordinance has occurred, increases the odds of the victim winning their case at trial.  

In order to understand what to expect following a trucking accident, it is important to establish the cause of the accident, the type of accident that occurred, injuries sustained from the accident, and who the responsible party for the accident is. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes, types, injuries, and responsible parties.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents are especially frightening because the chance that the outcome of the accident is death or serious injury is more likely than a crash between two automobiles. Many accidents are preventable, but oftentimes are a result of driver error. Some common causes of trucking accidents include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Alcohol 
  • Drugs
  • Speeding and overtaking
  • Poor training and maintenance
  • Improper cargo loading

A common theme between all of the accidents listed above is that the number one cause in all truck accidents is human error. Even though each accident has a different designation or name, the never-changing variable is the person who is operating the truck. Negligence to follow rules of the road, negligence to inspect the vehicle before it is driven, and negligence to listen to one’s body are all directly related to human error. 

Common Types of Truck Accidents

It is crucial to keep in mind that the makeup of a truck is not the sole determining factor of what a “big truck” is. Just because it may not look like a typical 18-wheeler most civilians are used to seeing, does not mean that it is not categorized as a big truck. The FMSCA categorizes large trucks as trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs. When a vehicle that weighs an excess amount becomes out of control, it is expected to cause serious damages. By understanding the types of truck accidents and how they occur, drivers can make predictions of what might occur and potentially escape a disastrous accident. Here are some of the most common types of big truck accidents and how they occur:

  • Jackknife Accidents– one of the most common types of truck accidents, which occur when a truck tries to make a sudden and vicious stop
  • Rollover– just like the name, this occurs when a driver tries to overcorrect—either when making an immediate stop or attempting to recover after a tire falls off
  • Tire Blowouts– these are the most preventable accidents (and are solely dependant on the negligence of the driver and truck inspectors) and occur due to the sudden and explosive rupturing of a tire wall from extreme heat and wear
  • Underride Accidents– typically occur due to a motorist following too closely to a big truck or poor visibility
  • Override Accidents– occur when a truck driver is following a vehicle too closely and has to make a sudden stop, there is poor visibility from rain or fog, the truck driver failed to yield a right of way, a driver changes lanes negligently, brake failure, and a tire blowout
  • Fatigue– this is the most common cause of driver error and often occurs because trucking companies encourage their drivers to abandon safety regulations and sleep to finish deliveries faster

There are a plethora of types of truck accidents, and knowing the signs of an accident that is about to occur can be the difference between life and death in most cases.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

Because of the enormous size of trucks, truck accidents can be much more devastating than normal automobile accidents. Next-to-nothing stands a chance of being unharmed when colliding with a large truck, because of its massive size and weight. Some common truck accident injuries include:

Who is Responsible for the Injuries Sustained?

Trucking accidents become much more complex than a typical auto accident case because they have different laws, rules, and regulations that apply to safely operating a truck, 18-wheeler, and commercial vehicle. They also become more complex because the typical primary responsible party is the trucking company that employs the driver. Determining who is at fault is a vital part of any lawsuit involving a large truck. In order to do that, the accident must be fully determined. Oftentimes, trucking accidents involve multiple responsible parties, without limitation to:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Cargo companies
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Other negligent drivers
  • Government entities
  • Defective or dangerous roadways

What Should I Do If I’ve Suffered From a Trucking Accident?

When you have been involved in a trucking accident, the next actions that follow are crucial. What happens in the following minutes, hours, or days after an accident can drastically affect the outcome of a plaintiff’s truck accident claim. It is very important that no matter how minor the accident may have been, do not leave the scene of the accident. There are many things that need to happen before anyone involved in a trucking accident can depart from the scene. Here are some steps that are crucial to follow after a truck accident:

Assess Injuries

The first and most important thing to do after a truck accident is to determine whether or not anyone is injured. If someone has been injured, they need to seek immediate medical attention, so 9-1-1 needs to be dialed as quickly as possible. Whoever is injured should not move or be moved unless there is a trained first responder or the injured person is in impending danger if they are not moved. It is important, if possible, to leave everything as is until a first responder arrives at the scene.

Move to Safety

After the extent of injuries is determined, it is important to get everyone to move to safety. Again, it is important to not move anyone that is injured unless trained to do so. However, in many states, it is required by law to move any drivable vehicles from traffic. Find an area, like the shoulder of the road, to safely move any vehicle involved in the accident out of the way of harm, if possible. 

Contact the Police

Once everyone is moved to safety, it is pertinent to contact the police. When the police arrive at the scene, the victim should give them a full, factual statement of the accident. It is extremely important that nothing is hidden when giving a statement; however, the victim does not have to reveal their emotions, opinions, and explanations of what other drivers were doing at the time of the accident—as this likely leads to problems.

Exchange Information

Every driver involved in the trucking accident needs to exchange information with others involved in the accident. It is crucial that insurance information and driver’s license information are also exchanged. Automobile drivers in the incident should always get information from the operator of the truck on the tractor, trailer, and cargo. The owner of the truck may have aided in the cause of the accident, so it is important to find out if the individual items listed above are insured. 

Document the Accident Scene

Before leaving the scene, it is essential to get photographs of all cars and trucks involved in the accident. Damage to all vehicles, guardrails, embankments, and other objects that may have been hit needs to be documented. Any applicable sightlines, skid marks, and state of tires on the truck itself also need to be photographed. These photographs will be used as evidence in a truck accident case. The more evidence a victim maintains, the easier it will be to prove a victim’s claims. 

Refrain from Speaking with Insurance Companies/Trucking Company Representatives

Insurance companies and trucking company representatives are oftentimes more concerned with their profits than helping a victim of an injury. They usually have self-serving tactics and move quickly to the victim and propose a settlement, to save money by avoiding paying the full amount that is due. It is not unusual for a representative to be on the scene relatively quickly because it is their job to try to get to the victim first. However, after the victim has given an official statement to the police, they are not required to share information with anyone else at the scene. 

Seek Medical Attention

Even if a victim believes they have not been injured in a trucking accident, it is still important to make an appointment with a medical professional. A truck accident can put someone’s body at risk of tremendous forces that can cause many different types of injuries. More times than not, injuries sustained in a trucking accident are obvious; however, it is possible that other injuries may take a long time to reveal themselves. Seeking medical attention may help identify injuries at an early stage, which can help treatment and the severity of injuries later down the road. It is very important to attend all appointments and follow any treatment that a doctor puts in place. If a victim fails to do so, it can result in a trucking company showing that there were missed appointments and treatments, leading to a reduced settlement.

Contact an Accident Attorney 

When suffering from any type of injury from a trucking accident, the financial losses a victim will face are inevitable. Contacting an experienced accident attorney will help a victim in many ways. The complexity of handling a trucking accident can be scary by oneself, but with the help of an attorney, and the resources they possess, navigating the legal process can become less stressful. 

An experienced auto and truck accident attorney will do everything it takes to ensure the settlement offer reflects the actual cost of one’s injuries. Depending on the injuries at hand, an attorney may be able to recover compensation for lost wages, reduced future earnings, current and expected medical bills, decreased quality of life, and pain and suffering.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

The Cochran Firm has been recognized nationally as the Truck Accident Law Firm of The Year 2020-2021 by the Trial Lawyer Magazine and The National Trial Lawyers, having obtained over $100 million of verdicts and settlements in truck cases that year alone. Our results in trucking accident cases are among the best of any firm in the country.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a trucking accident, you need a dedicated attorney by your side. The experienced auto and truck accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm have a proven record of helping victims of injury get maximum repayment. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our attorneys are prepared to help victims of trucking accidents who are at the mercy of self-serving insurance companies. Our lawyers work with a network of accident reconstruction experts to thoroughly investigate trucking accidents and identify all contributing factors. We use this information to build solid, evidence-based cases that greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.

When suffering from a trucking accident, you deserve to have an attorney who is going to fight for you. With our legal team by your side, you will be protected against the self-serving tactics of insurance companies and are much more likely to receive the full compensation you deserve. 

To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation please contact our experienced auto and trucking accident attorneys with offices nationwide.