Causes of Trucking Accidents
Everyone has a responsibility to drive safely. Whether they are driving the family sedan, a beefy SUV, or a passenger bus, every driver must be cautious on the highway—not just for their own sake, but for the sake of all other drivers. With so many vehicles on the road moving around each other at high speeds, even the smallest mistakes can have huge consequences.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility, but some vehicles simply pose more of a threat than others. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that, in accidents involving a commercial truck and another vehicle, the driver or occupants of the smaller vehicle are over four times more likely to be killed than the truck driver (7.4 percent chance of a small vehicle driver being killed vs. 1.6 percent chance of the truck driver being killed). With long-haul trucking forming the backbone of US industry, shipping products back and forth across the country every day, semi trucks are a constant sight on the highway. Several times larger than most cars, carrying tons and tons of cargo on top of their already heavy frame, long-haul trucks can utterly demolish a smaller vehicle in the event of a collision.
Truck drivers are trained professionals, and they often take extra care to maintain good driving practices. But deadlines can be unforgiving, and deliveries can be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Many truck drivers sacrifice sleep to shave time off of their shipments, and others may make traffic laws secondary to getting there on time. Anyone can make a mistake, a lapse in judgment or attention, but when it happens behind the wheel of something as massive as a semi, the consequences can be devastating. When a professional makes a mistake, he and his employer must be held responsible.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, you probably have plenty of questions to be answered. Trucking accidents are often more complicated than regular motor vehicle accidents because of the players involved; the driver of the truck and the owner of the trucking company or individual truck both play a part in operating the truck in a safe and responsible manner. If the truck was leased from another company or the accident involved defective parts, even more parties could become involved.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have handled numerous trucking accident cases, and we will investigate thoroughly to determine who and what caused the accident. We will protect your legal rights for compensation and fully assess the damages to make sure you receive full compensation for your injuries. Contact us at (201) 585-9111 or fill out an contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.
Common Causes of Semi Truck Accidents
Driver negligence: This is by far the broadest category of truck accident causes. Examples of driver negligence include fatigue, distractions, speeding, and careless or reckless driving. Drivers are required to follow hours of service regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Truck drivers are limited to 11 hours driving per day and 14-hour workdays. Drivers are not allowed to work more than 70 hours per week without resting for 34 consecutive hours, and drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Driver error is ten times more likely to be the cause of a trucking accident than other factors, including weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance, according to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Substance abuse: This most commonly involves drugs to stay awake. The use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter energy pills, or illicit drugs affect a driver’s judgment and can contribute to deadly accidents.
Truck defects: Defective semi truck parts or improperly designed parts of the truck can be extremely dangerous. This could include insufficient lighting, worn brakes, overweight trailers, or lack of reflective surfaces. Equipment failure as a result of manufacturing or design defects opens up the truck manufacturer to liability for crash-related injuries.
Company negligence: This may include improper training of the truck driver or lack of maintenance of the commercial truck. Failure to service brakes, change tires, secure cargo, properly attach the trailer, or attend to other maintenance needs creates a dangerous situation for the truck driver, other motorists on the road, and the trucking company or lessor.
Defective or unsafe roadways: Examples of unsafe roadways include roads with shoulders that are too steep, curves that are too sharp, excessive potholes, or construction-related roadway hazards. A truck crash that stems from a defective roadway often takes significant investigation to uncover the road problem.
Rear-end collisions: Trucks require a much greater braking distance to stop than cars, and the heavier the truck, the greater the distance needed to stop. When truck operators or other drivers fail to realize the distance needed to stop, rear-end collisions can occur. Truck drivers and other vehicles must understand the distance discrepancy between cars and trucks and drive accordingly.
Overloaded trucks with falling debris: Falling debris is a huge hazard for other cars on the road. Truck drivers must ensure that their load is properly secured at all times. This can be an example of either company negligence or driver negligence, depending on who was responsible for securing the load.
Blind spots: Commercial trucks have huge blind spots, also referred to as “no zone” areas. Typically, the larger the truck, the larger the blind spot. It is important for other drivers to be aware of the blind spots located in both the rear and the front of the truck and work to avoid them as much as possible. If the truck driver does not see a motorist in the next lane over, it could result in a disastrous accident.
Brake failure/runaway trailers: Brake failure occurs because of improper installation, age, or maintenance. A truck’s brakes can dramatically heat up from overuse (e.g. by riding the brakes on a long downgrade) or from sudden stopping, particularly at high speeds. The heavier the truck, generally, the more heat generated, and improper loading can make the brakes heat up more during use.
Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a tractor-trailer accident, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are proud to represent the injured throughout New Jersey and New York, both in and out of court. Since opening our doors in 1974, we have been committed to the highest standards of excellence in personal injury litigation. We have successfully collected more than $300 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including successful trucking accident claims:
- $7 million for a commercial truck driver who suffered a disabling brain injury when another truck driver struck him
- $1.067 million for a truck driver who suffered fibromyalgia after a multi-vehicle accident
- $1.06 million for a truck operator who suffered multiple injuries after being struck by a tow truck.
With more than 80 years’ worth of combined trial experience, our attorneys have the skills and resources to fight for you. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to speak with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys today.