18-wheelers are among the most dangerous vehicles on today’s highways. In 2012, the American Trucking Associations reported that commercial trucks transported more than 9 billion tons of freight—that is just over two-thirds of all freight that was transported domestically. Trucks’ fast speed and heavyweight causes nearly every truck accident to be catastrophic or even fatal. In the same year, there were 3,702 fatal accidents involving trucks and buses. Those were responsible for 4,183 fatalities.
Why Are Truck Accidents Dangerous?
Truck accidents are different from typical car accidents. Trucks are large vehicles that have a significant impact on any crash. A truck colliding with a pedestrian or a car will leave them severely injured. Unfortunately, many people involved in truck accidents are left with catastrophic injuries—affecting the survivor’s quality of life. Although truck accidents can significantly affect those involved, there are many other factors that increase the danger of truck accidents.
Common Types of Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents often leave survivors with serious or catastrophic injuries. These injuries often leave truck accident survivors with extensive medical bills, lost wages, along with emotional and physical distress.
Some of the most common injuries sustained in truck accidents include:
- Blunt Force Trauma
- Burn Injuries
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
What Is Causing These Truck Accidents?
Over 2,834 truck accidents involve other vehicles and large 18-wheelers. Unlike motor vehicle accidents, it is more challenging to identify the cause of a truck accident. There are many different factors that can contribute to a truck accident, and in many cases, there is more than one thing that causes an accident.
Common causes of truck accidents include the following:
- Driver fatigue
- Drug and alcohol use
- Defective truck equipment
- Unsafe lane change
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Inexperienced driver
- Failure to maintain a proper distance
Driver fatigue is one of the common causes of truck accidents. According to the FMCSA, 13 percent of truck accidents are caused at least in part, by driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is so common because trucking companies do not pay their drivers by the hour, but rather by the mile. As a result, it forces drivers to stay awake long hours to meet rigorous deadlines. However, driving fatigued is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. When truck drivers get behind the wheel drowsy, they become a serious hazard on the road.
The FMCSA has implemented regulations to prevent truck drivers from falling asleep on the wheel. For example, the average workweek for a truck driver cannot exceed 70 hours. Once a drive has reached the limit, they cannot drive for 34 consecutive hours. They must also take 30-minute breaks within the first eight hours of a shift.
Improper Truck Maintenance
Another common cause of truck accidents is improper maintenance. Due to truck drivers’ tight schedules, many fail to perform routine maintenance on their vehicles. This can quickly become a hazard to the truck driver and to other vehicles on the road. In many cases, faulty breaks or engine issues can cause a truck driver to lose control and cause an accident.
When trucking companies disregard standard hours of service requirements and require drivers to complete more driving hours, they are putting their truck drivers and others on the road at risk. Often times, employers make drivers stay on the road for more time than what is considered safe.
In other cases, trucking companies fail to hire drivers who are experienced, or they fail to train drivers. Inexperienced truck drivers can also become a serious hazard on the road. It is trucking companies’ responsibility to ensure that their drivers are not fatigued due to a demanding driving schedule. Truck companies must also keep their vehicles in good condition and ensure that drivers are properly trained to operate safely.
Who Is At Fault in a Truck Accident?
After being involved in a truck accident, it is vital to determine the fault of the accident. Negligence is partially determined through eyewitness accounts and the citations given at the scene of the accident. In most cases, the truck driver and trucking company are at fault for accidents. It is also possible for the truck manufacture to be at fault if the accident was caused due to faulty equipment. If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is best to have an experienced attorney investigate your case to determine who is at fault for your particular accident.
Experienced Washington, DC Truck Accident Attorneys
If you or your loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Truck accident cases are complex and require extensive investigations. You need a legal team that specializes in trucking cases and who will know exactly what evidence to gather and how to develop a strong case on your behalf. The Washington, DC truck accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. have over 45 years of experience helping those injured in a truck accident. We have recovered over 50 million dollars on behalf of our clients, and we continue to help our clients get the best possible results for their case.
Have you been injured in a truck accident? Call our Washington, DC truck accident attorneys today at (202) 659-8600 to schedule a free consultation!