We rely on tractor-trailers and their drivers to transport goods all across the country. According to the American Trucking Associations, big trucks move more than 72% of America’s freight, keeping our stores fully stocked with groceries, toiletries, and other consumer goods. Unfortunately, that does not mean we are safe when we share the road with tractor-trailers. The truck accident lawyers at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm are committed to helping victims who have been harmed in truck accidents.
How Big Is the Trucking Industry?
In 2019 there were more than 2 million people employed as tractor-trailer or heavy truck drivers. Another 1.5 million were employed as delivery drivers, with the transportation industry employing a total of 7.95 million workers. On its own, the trucking industry accounts for nearly 6% of the total workforce in the U.S.
This is a massive industry by employment numbers alone, but there are other ways in which we can see just how big of a role the truck industry plays in the American economy:
- Truck drivers drove a combined 304.9 billion miles in 2018.
- In 2019, truckers transported approximately 11.8 billion tons of freight.
- Truck driving was the seventh deadliest job in 2019.
- Truck accidents killed 5,096 people and injured another 121,000 in 2018.
Causes of Truck Accidents
No two tractor-trailer accidents are alike. However, in our years of working with truck accident victims, we have become familiar with some of the most common causes of these collisions. Identifying the cause of an accident is an essential step for victims who want to pursue compensation for their injuries.
Our truck accident lawyers can help you identify which factors were present in your accident, which will help you hold any negligent parties liable for their actions. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of all possible causes of truck accidents.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Truckers spend much of their time driving, often putting in as much as 11 hours behind the wheel in a single day. Current regulations only require drivers to take a 30-minute break following eight hours of consecutive driving, and workdays can last as long as 14 hours when you consider off-road tasks, including pre-trip inspections.
Many employers actively encourage drivers to violate federal regulations. Pressure from employers and unrealistic delivery schedules can lead to significant driver fatigue, making it a common factor in trucking accidents.
Truck Driver Behavior
Reckless and negligent driving behaviors are prevalent among the professional driving community. Despite going through specialized training and receiving a commercial driver’s license (CDL), some truck drivers continue to engage in dangerous driving habits such as:
- Using their phones behind the wheel
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Speeding above the posted speed limit
- Following too closely to other vehicles
- Failing to consider weather or driving conditions
- Making wide turns
A trucking company can also be held liable for the above actions, especially if they engaged in negligent hiring practices that led to a driver with a history of poor driving behavior being on the road. Your truck accident attorney can request a trucker’s employment records to see whether there was a pattern or history of negligent driving.
When fully loaded, a tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. This is associated with heightened wear and tear compared to the average passenger vehicle. Trucking companies are responsible for performing regular maintenance that evaluates and addresses any issues with the overall structural integrity of its fleet. Any failure to perform regular maintenance may lead to:
- Engine failure or overheating
- U-joint failure
- Brake issues or failure
- Tire blowouts
- Starter failure
When insufficient maintenance leads to a truck accident, the trucking company can be held liable for any resulting damages.
Tractor-Trailer Accident Injuries
Injuries in tractor-trailer accidents are typically much more severe than those associated with accidents that only involve smaller passenger vehicles. The average passenger vehicle only weighs 4,156 pounds, putting occupants at a distinct safety disadvantage compared to truck drivers who are riding commercial trucks that are upwards of 80,000 pounds. Passenger vehicle occupants are also disproportionately injured and killed in collisions between tractor-trailers and smaller vehicles.
If you were involved in a truck accident, you might be suffering from one or more of the following catastrophic injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
Recovering from a truck accident injury can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. A tractor-trailer accident attorney can help you file a claim to secure the compensation that will aid and support your recovery process.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Trucking companies and their insurers operate on a for-profit basis. Paying damages to car accident victims cut into those profits. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try to shift the blame away from themselves and back onto truck accident victims.
It is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. Your attorney can help your truck accident claim by:
- Collecting and examining the facts of your case
- Establishing liability
- Dealing with the insurance company on your behalf
- Valuing your claim
Compensation can be complicated in truck accident cases. When you suffer a catastrophic injury, you’ll need to consider not only your current medical expenses, but also your future health care needs. An experienced attorney can help you properly evaluate your future needs to determine how much compensation you will need over the lifetime of your injury. Additional damages for which you may need compensation include:
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm Is Here for You
Truck accident victims face an uphill battle to secure compensation. The trucking company has the insurance company on their side, and they will try to discredit you and your claim at every turn. You only have a limited time to bring forth a truck accident claim. Don’t let the insurance company run out the clock or bully you into accepting anything less than what you are owed.
Contact the truck accident lawyers at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation. We’ll help you determine what kind of compensation you might be owed.