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As you drive along one of Utah’s many highways, you’ll probably be sharing the road with a number of large trucks. These large trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than a regular passenger vehicle, and vehicles that are involved in an accident with these trucks or semis are going to sustain greater damage due to the truck’s massive size combined with the weight of its load. Trucks are also usually much taller than passenger vehicles with increased ground clearance, which can lead to smaller vehicles ending up under trucks in accidents. The injuries incurred by the victims in these accidents are often severe.
In an effort to protect everyone on the road from truck accident injuries, truck drivers are regulated by state and federal laws that do not apply to regular passenger vehicles. When a truck driver does not follow these laws and an accident occurs causing injury to another person, the victim is entitled to compensation for their medical bills and other losses. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck driving accident, the experienced lawyers at Fielding Law are here to help. Call us today or fill out a free online consultation form.
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The following shocking statistics of accidents involving trucks are based on a recent analysis of data from the U.S Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System:
The statistics clearly show it is not usually the truck drivers that are seriously injured; it is the innocent victims in passenger vehicles.
There are numerous factors that can lead to a truck accident. It is important to identify what caused the accident, as this helps determine who is at fault and who receives compensation.
Fatigue. Truck drivers often work long hours without sleep. Owners of truck driving companies will often demand a load be delivered to a destination in an unreasonably short amount of time. This forces employees of these companies to drive through the night to deliver their load by the set deadline. This lack of sleep may cause drivers to have a lack of concentration, or even fall asleep at the wheel. Truck driver fatigue can lead to deadly consequences for them and their victims.
Lack of driver training: Potential truck drivers have training sessions, tests, and requirements that need to be met before they are allowed to drive large trucks on the road. Unfortunately, there are some people that don’t obey these guidelines. This leads to inexperienced, poorly trained truck drivers behind the wheel that are more likely to make a mistake and cause an accident.
Poor truck maintenance. Truck owners are legally required to ensure their trucks are mechanically sound before hitting the road. Tires should be inspected to see if the tread is low or if they need to be rotated. Brakes, axles, and hitches should be routinely checked to make sure they are working correctly. Maintenance logs should be properly filled out according to state and federal regulations.
Maintenances often gets pushed to the side because it takes time that could be used to make deliveries and make more money for the company. Lack of maintenance causes the trucks to malfunction and all too often leads to devastating accidents.
Cargo spills. Large trucks can haul many tons of cargo. A driver may lose control of the truck due to overcorrection, poor weather conditions, or other reasons causing those many tons of cargo to spill onto the roadway. Oncoming traffic may swerve and collide with the truck, other cars, or the cargo itself. Moreover, if the truck was hauling hazardous materials the damages incurred could be even greater.
Alcohol and drug use. It is against Utah law for truck drivers to drive under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Sadly, many drivers have been found guilty of having these substances in their systems while behind the wheel. Some drivers might rationalize that they’re taking them to stay awake due to the long hours they work. This is no excuse! Drugs and alcohol often causes driver impairment that can lead to deadly accidents.
Prescription drugs may also cause drivers to have fatigue, blurry vision, or delayed reaction times. It is essential for drivers to know the side effects of these drugs before taking them and driving.
Speeding. The companies that truck drivers work for usually require them to be at their destination within a certain amount of time. There are many things that could happen on a driver’s route to cause them to be delayed such as traffic jams or poor weather conditions. In an attempt to make up for lost time a driver may speed. Speeding leads to decreased reaction time, a driver may not have time to brake for a vehicle, person or other object in the road.
Speeding doesn’t just mean driving over the legal speed limit, it also includes driving too fast for weather conditions. Rain, snow, heavy winds and fog require drivers to slow down and increase their following distance of the vehicles in front of them. High speeds and poor weather conditions, combined with the mass and weight of a large truck results in major accidents.
Distracted Driving. The long hours that drivers spend on the road can easily lead to them becoming bored. In an effort to escape boredom they might use their smartphones to send texts, check emails, or check social media. It is illegal to text and drive in Utah. The fraction of a second that a driver takes his eyes off the road to look at their phone can mean the difference between life and death.
Truck accidents can happen in several ways. The type you experience will play a significant role in how your case is presented. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the types of truck accidents common on U.S. roadways.
Tractor trailers have a point of articulation between the cab and the trailer. In certain situations, such as improper braking or making a sudden turn, the truck can fold in on this axis. This usually results in the truck sliding uncontrollably along or across a roadway.
Jackknife accidents are unpredictable because knowing which way the truck will slide is challenging. That makes them especially dangerous for other drivers on the road who cannot find a clear path away from the danger.
When a large truck rolls over on the roadway, usually the result of the driver losing control, surrounding drivers have little time to react and get out of the way. That makes them dangerous for everyone in the immediate area. In addition to a large, heavy tractor and trailer rolling on the road, there is also the risk of spilled cargo.
Rear-end collisions commonly occur when a truck fails to maintain a safe following distance. Insufficient space can make it impossible for them to react and stop in time to avoid an accident. Sadly, this type of accident is the direct result of negligence on the part of a truck driver; it is also completely avoidable.
Turns are particularly troublesome for truck drivers. With a large turning radius and a substantial blind spot on the right side, it is easy for a smaller vehicle to get caught in the space.
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Association recommends trucks move to the outermost lane before attempting a right turn. This gives them the space needed to maneuver safely. However, some truck drivers will instead try to swing wide from the right lane as they enter the turn.
When truck drivers ignore safety guidance and do this, they can cause accidents. For that reason, if you experience a blind spot or wide-turn crash, you must establish the sequence of events leading up to it.
If a truck changes lanes alongside another vehicle, it could easily cause a sideswipe accident. These accidents occur when the truck and another vehicle travel next to each other, going in the same direction. They are particularly dangerous because a vehicle that has been sideswiped could be forced into another traffic lane or a road barrier.
Sideswipe accidents are commonly caused by distracted or tired driving or if a vehicle is traveling in a truck’s blind spot. However, there could be another cause. For example, a truck might have a blowout and lose control, or the driver might swerve to avoid something on the other side of the road.
A distracted driver is always dangerous, but one behind the wheel of a semi creates an increased risk to surrounding vehicles. Truck drivers have strict rules about what they are allowed to do when driving. For example, they cannot text or use a handheld device for phone calls while driving. Failure to follow those rules can result in fines or the loss of a commercial license.
One reason why truck accident cases are more complicated than others is because of the many parties and insurance companies that could be involved. Some attorneys might not want to take on these cases because they don’t have a budget large enough to handle the case, or they take the case and end up settling for a low amount because they didn’t have the resources needed to prove necessary facts. The attorney’s at Fielding Law have the experience and resources needed to handle your case successfully.
With car accidents there is typically only one defendant involved, with a truck accident there may be multiple defendants. For example, a truck and trailer may be covered by two different insurance parties. We can investigate and potentially hold both parties accountable for their role in your injuries.
When choosing an attorney to handle your case make sure to choose one who has the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Fielding Law have what is needed to win your case.
At Fielding Law we will investigate your truck accident case thoroughly and work hard to get you the compensation you are due. We will take steps to find out whether the trucking company is guilty of taking any shortcuts that were in violation of the law. We will look at the employment history of the driver and examine whether they were correctly trained and experienced to handle a large truck or commercial vehicle. There are federal and Utah state guidelines that must be met in examining a truck drivers driving history and criminal record. If these regulations are not properly adhered to, trucking companies can face serious liability.
As a victim of a large truck accident, it is important that you are aware of your rights. The attorneys at Fielding Law specialize in personal injury and have vast experience with automobile accident claims. We diligently work for our clients, seeking the maximum compensation that is due to them. If you’re interested in having us fight for your rights in a large truck accident, call today for a free consultation.
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