Truck accidents have increased over the last several years, as have serious and sometimes fatal accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There were 4,761 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2017, reflecting a 12 percent increase over a 10-year period from 4,245 fatalities in 2008.
Accidents involving commercial trucks are more likely to cause debilitating injury and damage to other vehicles because of their size and weight. An 18-wheeler can’t maneuver as quickly as a car or SUV to avoid a crash nor can it stop as effectively. The NHTSA reported that 82 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2017 were multiple-vehicle crashes, compared with 62 percent for fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles. In addition, the limited view from a large truck increases the danger to pedestrians and cyclists, as the driver may not be able to see someone crossing the street.
If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident and are seeking compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering or other losses, getting to the bottom of what went wrong is critical to determining liability. Although police and insurance companies will undertake investigations that will produce helpful findings and useful evidence, accident victims should always have an advocate in their corner to conduct an investigation of their own.
Trucking accidents can be caused by several factors, alone or in combination. They include these situations:
- Driver error — The driver may have been driving carelessly due to fatigue or distraction, for example by eating dinner or checking text messages behind the wheel.
- Trucker liability — The owner or consignee of the truck may by partially responsible by enforcing unreasonable delivery times that encourage drivers to skip meal and rest breaks. If the company employs the driver, it is legally liable for the driver’s actions.
- Shipper liability — The shipping company may be responsible for overloading the truck with its cargo or not properly securing cargo, allowing it to shift in transport and cause instability.
- Equipment failures — The truck owner or consignee is responsible for malfunctions caused by improper maintenance. If a defective part is at fault, the manufacturer is responsible.
- Other vehicles — In multiple-vehicle crashes with trucks, other drivers often share in the blame.
In a scenario in which multiple factors contribute to an accident — such as a distracted driver hauling an overweight, improperly maintained truck with a part defect — multiple parties may be negligent.
Clearly these cases can be complex, involving multiple angles that experienced accident attorneys can explore using skilled investigators. If you have been seriously injured or have lost a relative in a truck accident, avoid signing anything from an insurance company or any of the companies or individuals involved until you have sought the advice of an experienced attorney.
Swartz & Lynch LLP has successfully represented many clients in truck accident cases. From our office in downtown Boston, we serve injured clients in the city and the surrounding neighborhoods of Suffolk County. Call us at 857-250-0664 or contact us online to arrange your free initial consultation.