According to the American Trucking Association, in 2020, there were 38.9 million registered trucks on the highway accounting for over 300 billion miles traveled. This, of course, does not account for unregistered trucks and trucks used for farming. In the most updated statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that in 2021 alone, there were 42,915 fatalities, up from 2020, which had a staggering 38,824. Of the 42,915 fatalities in 2021, 5,601 involved large trucks, which NHTSA considers to be any truck whose gross weight exceeds more than 10,000 pounds. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Who is liable in a trucking accident?

A: When you are involved in a trucking accident and are not at fault, there are many that can be held liable for the damages, such as the truck driver, loader, carrier, trucking company, parts manufacturer, and contractors. 

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

A: The main and possibly the most obvious difference is the size of the vehicles involved in the accident. Most trucks can weigh up to 70,000 pounds more than your average vehicle and can cause catastrophic damage. 

Q: What is an underride accident?

A: Underride accidents happen when one vehicle goes underneath another vehicle during an accident. Large trucks have put underride bars in place so that in the case of an accident, a car can not go underneath the truck. Unfortunately, there are rare situations when a car can still go underneath a truck.

Q: Do I need a trucking accident attorney to help in my case?

A: Unless there is minor damage from the accident, you should always seek help from a licensed attorney. Truck accident attorneys know all of the state and federal laws and regulations that trucking companies should follow in order to safely operate a truck on the highway. Additionally, trucking accidents are very complex, especially when it comes to many parties involved in the accident. An experienced attorney will have all the knowledge needed to obtain the right documents to be able to prepare a winning case for you or a loved one. 

Common Reasons For Trucking Accidents

There are several factors, from lack of training to falling asleep at the wheel, that can result in a trucking accident that can cause extreme harm to all individuals involved. Listed below are a few of the common contributing factors to trucking accidents.

Inadequate Training - No matter what profession you might be in, you received some form of training. Sometimes the training might be great, and sometimes it might be very poor. That is also the case in the trucking industry. The trucking industry is responsible for transporting over 70 percent of freight in the United States. According to a report published by the American Trucking Association, they estimate that in 2022 alone, there was a driver shortage of 78,000 drivers. As you might realize, having such a large shortage of drivers calls for higher demand and the turnaround of new drivers. In doing so, lies the potential for some companies to shorten the training of new drivers in order to get them on the road sooner to help cut a deficit into the shortage of drivers.

Defective Products - Even though semi-trucks are designed to spend hours on hours on the road and constantly running, there are times when parts just don't hold up to the wear and tear. One of the most common products that fail on a truck is the brakes. Brakes on a semi-truck are responsible for, just like any car, stopping the motion of the vehicle. However, unlike your everyday commuter, brakes on a semi-truck are tasked with stopping over 70,000 pounds. One of the main ways a truck driver and their company can avoid brake failures is to have routine maintenance. Maintenance does not always guarantee that a part will not fail, but it can significantly help with noticing defects.  

Exhaustion - Driver fatigue is a huge concern in the trucking industry and is constantly being monitored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are several guidelines FMCSA has set in place for truck drivers to follow in regard to how many hours they are legally able to drive in a day. 

Improper Loading - One of the major factors for a semi-truck getting into an accident is improper loading. Improper loading is when the truck is loaded unevenly, overloaded, or if the load is not secured. An unsecured load is an extreme danger for the truck driver and all motorists in close proximity to the truck. There might have been times when you have noticed a log truck overturned in an intersection. This is usually caused by the driver turning sharply, but more commonly, it is because of their load being improperly loaded. The reason for loads to be improperly loaded is due to the carelessness of the loader and the negligence of the driver. Most companies, especially log companies, are paid by how many loads they can haul in a day; this can sometimes cause a foggy judgment on how the load is secured or trying to get the extra logs on this load. Having a heavier load can also allow for the brakes to malfunction due to the fact that a heavier load requires more braking power, which will result in the truck not being able to stop in a timely manner. 

Lack of safety lights - Most truck drivers prefer to drive at night due to the low amount of traffic and being able to avoid pop-up weigh stations. Even though there is much lighter traffic at night, it does not alleviate the dangers that drivers may face. According to FMCSA, thirty-seven percent of all fatal crashes, 24 percent of all injury crashes, and 20 percent of all property damage-only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am) in 2020. When semi-trucks operate with improper lighting, it might be hard to see the distance the truck is in front of you and may result in them seemingly disappearing out of sight. The lights on a semi-truck are the responsibility of the driver and the truck owner. Unfortunately, due to the tight schedules these trucks are on, most drivers head out onto the roads with improper lighting because there is no time to check to make sure every light is operating properly.

These are just a few examples of actions that can lead to trucking accidents. Being aware of these potential hazards can allow you as a driver to understand more about the risk associated with traveling along the roads with these large vehicles. 

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. With our legal team at The Cochran Firm 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.

Common Injuries Related To Trucking Accidents

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:

Along with the seriousness of the injuries that come with trucking accidents, they also tend to be more complex than automobile accident cases, and it is recommended that if you or a loved one is hurt or killed in a truck accident, you consult an experienced trucking accident attorney who has both the knowledge and resources necessary to fight to get you the compensation and justice you deserve.

Steps You Should Take After A Trucking Accident

We know every situation might be different when you are involved in a trucking accident, but we have listed below five of the most common steps you should take when you are involved in a trucking accident. This guide should give you an idea of what steps to take, depending on the severity of any sustained injuries, to prove that an accident was not your fault and to ensure your personal injury lawyers have sufficient evidence to make a claim on your behalf.

1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe

You should never leave the scene of the accident, even if it is not your fault. Making sure everyone is safe should be the first priority if you are in a trucking accident. Once you have determined that everyone is not injured and can be moved, be sure to move to safety. Do not stand on the road or highway, as this may impede traffic and can potentially cause further accidents.

2. Notify Emergency Personnel 

By calling 911 and reporting an accident, you can save lives and potentially avoid any other unnecessary actions after the fact, such as the other motorist trying to instigate an issue. Additionally, having a police officer on the scene will speed up the sharing of information between all parties involved, regardless of who is at fault. Not only will a police officer help expedite the exchange of information, but they can provide a detailed accident report. If the matter goes to court, the accident report will be a preventative measure to protect against those involved in the accident from making false claims and can potentially aid you in gaining the compensation you deserve.  

3. Contact Your Insurance Provider

If able, it's always best to be the first one to call after an accident rather than the other party reporting a claim first. Also, be sure that you are thorough with your insurance provider, as they are there to help you. Even if you don't plan to file a claim, it is always a great practice to call the insurance provider anyway because there is a chance you might violate your policy. Also, be mindful that insurance agencies can be deceptive and try to take advantage of you. One important aspect to keep in mind is that an insurance agency is a business, and they are looking to make money and protect their assets as well. Lastly, if the other driver's insurance company contacts you, don't freely give out information. If you don't feel comfortable speaking to them alone, contact an auto or trucking accident attorney right away. 

4. Document 

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself after an accident is to document. Once you are out of harm's way, be sure to take meticulous notes of the accident. One of the best tools for documenting an accident is pictures. Listed below are some of the suggested pictures you will need to take to ensure you have everything properly documented.  

  • Photos of the exterior and interior of all vehicles involved from multiple angles 
  • Skid marks
  • Bodily injuries
  • Licenses plates
  • Road signs

Even though it may be chaotic or traumatizing after an accident, this is the best time to take the necessary photos as all the evidence is fresh. Having clear and concise documentation of the accident can help you in filing your claim against the other driver.

5. Contact An 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 a scary experience on its own, 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.

Trucking Laws and Regulations 

There are three main government entities that are tasked with setting in place regulations that the trucking industry must follow to operate safely and legally on the highway. These entities include the Department of Transportation (DOT), which 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 started as a part of the Highway Safety Act of 1970 and covers a broad umbrella of transportation safety with the overall goal of vehicle safety. Each of these entities works together to provide the trucking industry with regulations by which they must abide to operate legally on the highway. We have listed below some of the more common regulations.  

DOT registration - Per the DOT, all vehicles that weigh over a certain amount, carry a designated amount of passengers, or operate across state lines must have a DOT registration. When gathering and monitoring a company's safety information obtained via audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections, the USDOT Number acts as a unique identification.

Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) - The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) program was ordered by the federal government to replace the Single State Registration System (SSRS). According to the UCR Act, individuals or companies that travel the interstate must pay an annual registration fee based on the total number of vehicles in their fleet. The UCR fees are a significant source of funding for safety initiatives and training and education at the USDOT.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse - The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) established the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) in 2020. The Clearinghouse tracks and regulates CDL holders who have failed a drug test or refused to submit to a drug screening. The Clearinghouse has been able to successfully stop many drivers who were subject to drug and alcohol violations from seeking another truck driving opportunity by lying to get the job.  

Hours of service - The hours of service refer to the number of hours a driver is permitted to drive while on duty and lays out the specific amount of rest time drivers must complete before driving again. In the most recent study put out by NHTSA in 2019, there were 1,240 fatal accidents caused by fatigued drivers. To help the trucking industry, FMCSA put in place several essential hours of service rules that truck drivers must follow to legally operate a truck on the highway. All drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must comply with HOS regulations found in 49 CFR 395.  

DOT physicals - All drivers operating commercial motor vehicles must complete a DOT physical. This physical examination must be conducted by a licensed doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), or doctors of chiropractic (DC). DOT physicals are essential and highly regulated for the drivers’ safety and are designed to detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle.

All of these regulations are set in place to ensure the safety of the driver and of each individual who will also be traveling along the roadway. More in-depth information on rules and regulations can be found on the U.S. Department of Transportation website. 

Why Choose The Cochran Firm Attorneys? 

The Cochran Firm was recognized nationally as the Truck Accident Law Firm of The Year in 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 trucking accident attorneys with offices nationwide.