Types of Truck Accidents

Trucks stand out among the many vehicles that fill U.S. roads due to their size and power. Trucks crash with devastating consequences, causing severe injuries, extensive property damage, and even fatalities.

Here’s an overview of the most common types of truck accidents, their causes, and how an experienced truck accident lawyer can protect your rights and recover compensation for losses.

Truck Accidents That Truck Drivers Cause

Types of Truck AccidentsMany truck accidents occur because of a truck driver’s careless or reckless conduct. Here’re some common ways drivers endanger the public and risk causing crashes:

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents in the United States. Truckers work long hours in a boring, physically stressful, and cognitively demanding job. Drivers often face immense pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines and drive late at night or during early morning hours.

Many suffer from poor health, and few get sufficient hours of quality sleep to stay alert and focused throughout their shifts. Stimulant use (both legal and illegal) is rampant.

These factors combine to cause an epidemic of fatigue in the U.S. truck-driving population. This situation is extremely dangerous. Fatigue has the same effects on driving ability as consuming alcohol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a trucker who has gone 17 hours without restful sleep suffers from impaired judgment, attention, and motor control, equal to someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent—well above the legal limit for commercial drivers.

Going 24 hours without adequate sleep pushes a trucker’s impairment to the level of a person with a BAC of 0.08 percent—the legal limit for any driver.

To combat truck driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted hours of service regulations that dictate how many hours a commercial truck driver can spend on the road daily and per week. These rules ensure that truck drivers get sufficient rest between shifts to maintain focus and alertness while driving. Despite these regulations, truckers continue to drive while fatigued and cause accidents.

An experienced attorney can investigate whether truck driver fatigue caused a crash that injured you or your loved one.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is another leading cause of truck accidents. Distractions can come in many forms, including texting or talking on a phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or even daydreaming. Any activity that takes a truck driver’s attention away from the road is a distraction.

Truck drivers commonly fall victim to distractions, including using devices to send texts or listen to podcasts, talking on the phone, or programming a GPS. Those distractions are dangerous for any driver but especially risky for truckers.

Driving a large truck requires constant, focused attention on the road and other vehicles. A moment’s inattention can cause a trucker to not notice a vehicle in their big rig’s large blind spot, leading to a deadly sideswipe, override, or underride accident.

Truck drivers who engage in distracted driving and cause accidents may face liability for crash victims’ damages. If you were in a truck accident, an attorney can investigate the cause and collect evidence, such as vehicle and phone data, to support the claim that distraction was a contributing factor.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Speeding and reckless driving increase the likelihood of a truck accident and exacerbate the crash’s severity. Traveling too fast is extremely dangerous in a large truck because big rigs take more distance than passenger cars to come to a safe, controlled stop, which means excessive speed can increase the likelihood of a truck driver rear-ending a smaller vehicle or jackknifing.

Speeding can also increase the instability of a truck when it turns or navigates a sharp curve, leading to a catastrophic rollover accident.

Truck drivers, unfortunately, often speed despite the dangers, particularly when catching up on a tight delivery schedule. But a trucker who causes an accident because of speeding or reckless driving can be liable for injuries and damages. An experienced truck accident attorney knows how to collect and use evidence to establish a truck’s excessive speed, such as by analyzing tire marks and gathering onboard vehicle data.

Truck Accidents That Trucking Businesses Cause

Truckers sometimes don’t deserve all, or even any, of the blame for a crash. Instead, the liability falls on other trucking industry participants whose dangerous decisions and actions led to a truck accident. Here are some examples of common scenarios:

Improper Loading and Cargo Securement

A truck can get out of the driver’s control or roll over if its load is unstable. Cargo falling from a truck can also trigger accidents between other vehicles, even if the truck doesn’t collide with another vehicle.

The FMCSA issues and enforces regulations governing the proper loading and securement of cargo in commercial trucks. These rules are crucial in preventing accidents resulting from shifting cargo, unbalanced weight, or falling debris from poorly secured loads.

Trucking, shipping, and cargo businesses still only sometimes follow these regulations, putting themselves at risk of liability for resulting crashes. For example, legal responsibility for an accident that improperly loaded cargo has caused may fall on the company that operates a loading dock or truck depot.

An experienced truck accident attorney can investigate the causes of an accident to determine whether improper cargo loading or securement played a role.

Trucks in Unsafe Conditions

Trucking companies are responsible for keeping their vehicles in roadworthy condition, which takes constant work. Trucks of all types take a beating when performing their functions. Long-haul trucks routinely make trips covering thousands of miles, and dump trucks and other large construction vehicles carry tons of material on rough terrain.

If a trucking company fails to invest in regular, diligent maintenance, the trucks in their fleet will suffer potentially catastrophic mechanical breakdowns in transit, which can lead to deadly accidents. An experienced truck accident lawyer can seek the disclosure of a truck’s driving and maintenance history to determine whether its owner or operator should bear some of the blame for a crash.

Defective Truck Equipment Failure

A truck in an otherwise well-maintained condition can still experience a catastrophic failure because of a defective part. The law may hold the truck or truck part manufacturer liable for accident victims’ damages. An experienced truck accident attorney can examine the circumstances and may work with a forensic expert to determine if a vehicle defect contributed to causing the crash.

Other Truck Accidents

Other truck accidents can happen through no fault of anyone who drives or maintains the truck but because of the dangerous actions of third parties. Here are some common examples.

Another Motorist’s Dangerous Driving

The driver of a passenger vehicle can cause a truck accident in several ways. For example, reckless or aggressive driving around a truck can startle a truck driver and lead to a loss of control and a crash. Similarly, driver distraction and inattentiveness can lead to failure to notice a truck’s movements or misjudgment of its speed and distance, resulting in dangerous situations.

Drivers of passenger vehicles must exercise caution, respect trucks on the road, and adhere to safe driving practices to help prevent truck accidents. An experienced truck accident lawyer can identify at-fault motorists and seek to hold them accountable for a crash that their misconduct has triggered.

Unsafe Road Conditions

Poor road design or maintenance by a government entity can play a significant role in triggering a truck accident. Unnecessarily sharp curves, narrow lanes, poorly placed signage, or insufficient traffic controls can pose considerable challenges for large trucks.

Likewise, inadequate road maintenance can lead to conditions like potholes or uneven surfaces that cause truck instability, leading to loss of control or sudden maneuvers that increase the risk of accidents.

Proper road design and maintenance are crucial to ensure the safe passage of all vehicles, including trucks, and minimize the potential for accidents. A skilled truck accident lawyer knows how to hold a government entity accountable for endangering the public by failing to address unreasonably dangerous road conditions.

Potential Compensation for Truck Accidents

Victims of truck accidents can seek compensation for their losses from any party whose dangerous conduct contributed to the cause of the crash. Every truck accident case differs, but a skilled lawyer can often secure payment for the following categories of damages:

Medical Expenses

Victims of truck accidents can seek compensation for past and future medical expenses related to injuries they’ve sustained. Recoverable costs may include hospital bills, surgery, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.

Other Expenses

Truck crash victims can also seek compensation for other expenses incurred due to the crash. For example, they may seek payment for repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle, hiring help at home while they heal, or modifying their living space to accommodate a disability.

Lost Income and Job Benefits

If a truck accident victim cannot work because of injuries, they can seek compensation for lost income and job benefits. They can demand payment for past lost income and benefits (from the time of the accident until the case resolution) and loss of future earnings (if their injuries prevent them from returning to their job or earning the same income as before).

Non-Economic Damages (Pain and Suffering)

In addition to economic damages like medical expenses and lost income, truck accident victims can seek compensation for the non-economic impact of their injuries, such as their physical pain, emotional suffering, loss of independence, diminished quality of life, and challenges of living with scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.

Punitive Damages

Sometimes, the misconduct leading to a truck accident is so outrageous or malicious that a court will award punitive damages to the injured victim. These damages punish the at-fault party and deter others from similar misbehavior.

Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents are far more complex than the average auto accident. The involvement of trucking companies and federal regulators can make the claims process especially challenging.

An experienced truck accident lawyer knows the law and the techniques for analyzing truck crashes and holding at-fault parties liable for victims’ losses.

Depending on the needs of your case, a lawyer can:

  • Investigate the cause of a truck accident to identify liable parties.
  • Evaluate the damages you suffered.
  • Collect evidence to prove your claim.
  • Analyze insurance policies that may cover your losses.
  • Handle all interactions with insurers on your behalf.
  • Answer your questions and explain your legal options.
  • Hire and work with forensic and other subject experts who can help build your case.
  • Initiate legal action and seek compensation for your damages.
  • Negotiate settlements of your claims when possible.
  • Advise you on whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
  • Go to court to present your case to a judge and jury.
  • Ensure you receive the money the trucker owes you after a settlement or court decision.

You can afford to hire a truck accident lawyer. Attorneys for truck crash victims like you work on contingency. They don’t charge upfront or hourly fees. Instead, they get paid a percentage of the money they secure on your behalf. You owe them nothing until they get you positive results.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Truck accidents can differ in severity, liability, and legal implications. Familiarizing yourself with their causes and the parties who may owe you compensation helps to demystify the steps a lawyer can take to get you paid. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

Don’t wait to seek skilled legal representation if you or a loved one suffered an injury in a truck accident. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today for a free consultation about your rights and options.