The United States has an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers across the United States, logging nearly 4.5 billion miles annually. One in nine of those drivers are independent owner-operators, while the remainder work for a specific trucking company. (Compare this to Canada, who has only about 250,000 truck drivers.) The United States economy depends on the trucking industry to deliver about 70 percent of all freight transported; if the trucking industry were to shut down, there would be less than two days’ worth of groceries for the public, plus the medical, fuel, and retail industries would be similarly impacted. As you can see, America’s trucking industry truly is the lifeblood of our nation.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration there were 411,000 crashes in 2014 which involved a large commercial truck. Of those, 3,424 resulted in at least one fatality. More than a third (37 percent) of all fatal crashes involve a large commercial truck and occurs at night. Both non-fatal and fatal truck collisions overwhelmingly occur during the week, rather than on a Saturday or Sunday. In 2014, about 30 percent of fatal crashes which occurred in a construction zone, involved a large commercial truck. Overall, there were 10.7 fatal large commercial truck crashes per million people in 2014—a one percent increase from 2010. Although there are more female truck drivers now than in the past, in 2014, only 2 percent of truck drivers involved in a collision were female. The FMCSA ranks speeding as the primary cause of accidents, followed by distraction and impairment.
Because of the disparity in size between a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle and an 80,000 pound large commercial truck, those in the passenger vehicle are likely to be killed or seriously injured. Those who survive are often left with very grave injuries which can result in completely altered futures. Traumatic brain injuries can leave victims struggling to perform their normal day-to-day tasks and can leave victims’ families struggling to deal with the personality changes in their loved one. Truck accidents can cause spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis, limb amputations, broken bones, burns, internal organ damage and even disfigurement. All of these injuries require significant medical expenses, therefore it is very important that those injured in a truck accident contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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Following a truck accident it can be particularly difficult to establish liability, since several parties could potentially be responsible for the accident. The driver of the truck may be clearly at fault, although in some cases the trucking company who hired the driver may share in that fault. The trucking company may have been aware the truck driver was exceeding his or her hours or that the truck driver was not sufficiently experienced to be driving. The loading company could be responsible if cargo shift was the reason for the accident. The maintenance company could be responsible for the accident if poor maintenance was the cause of the accident. Even the manufacturer of the truck or the truck parts could be held liable for the accident if there was a defect in the design or manufacture of the truck or truck part.
If you were injured in a trucking accident that you believe was caused by an inexperienced, fatigued, reckless, impaired or distracted truck driver it is important that you get legal help as soon after the accident as possible. Trucking accident claims are much more complex than a typical car accident because of the number of potential defendants. Whatever the cause, you deserve an advocate in your corner who will fight aggressively for your rights, ensuring you are compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and the damages to your vehicle. Don’t wait until it’s too late—evidence can be lost or destroyed and you will need a strong advocate in your corner to help you get what you deserve.