In today’s consumer-driven market, there is increased pressure to reduce delivery times, and that can spell disaster on the roads. The large tractor trailers used to haul these goods can quickly turn into weapons of mass destruction when a driver is fatigued or careless, brakes are faulty, or weight shifts after products are improperly loaded onto the rig.
Unfortunately, these accidents happen all the time—in fact, an estimated 130,000 people are injured and another 4,000 die each year due to truck accidents.
Here are some truck accident statistics you should know about, along with the causes of most truck accidents, and what to do immediately following this type of accident.
Tractor Trailer Accident Statistics
The trucking industry in the United States is continually growing with truck transport considered one of the best ways to transport goods across the country. In fact, nearly 70% of all products reach their destination via some type of commercial truck.
With the sheer volume of truck drivers on the road coupled with how large and massive tractor trailers are, it should come as no surprise that truck accidents are common and that they can be devastating. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
Large commercial trucks are around 25 times larger than the average car and can weigh between 12,000 and 80,000 pounds. Because of the size of large commercial trucks, when an accident occurs, the consequences can be severe.
If you were involved in an injury accident with a large truck, you may be faced with expensive medical bills, lost time at work, and months of recovery time. A personal injury claim can help alleviate the financial burden of your injury. Before talking with the insurance company, consult with a personal injury attorney.
What Causes Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are often caused when a driver violates one – or many – of the state and federal regulations that govern the trucking industry. Most truck drivers in Pennsylvania are required to follow the regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations help protect not only truck drivers but also the drivers and occupants of vehicles that share the road with big rigs.
The most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Speeding: A fully loaded commercial vehicle needs twice as much distance to stop as a passenger vehicle. When a driver is speeding, they may not have enough time to avoid a collision. Speeding is reckless and negligent and can result in a severe accident.
- Distracted Driving: When a truck driver takes their eyes off the road even for a second, whether to respond to a text, check a route, or respond to dispatch, they can cause an accident that results in property damages, injuries, and fatalities.
- Aggressive Driving: Truck drivers are often on a tight time schedule and need to get their cargo to a destination within a short window. Because of this pressure, some truck drivers may drive aggressively and weave in and out of lanes to make up time. Aggressive driving is a common cause of a large truck crash.
- Fatigue: Although the FMCSA requires drivers to take a break after 11 hours on the road, they can still become fatigued and become careless. Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving and causes the driver to lose focus, become distracted, and even fall asleep at the wheel.
- Severe Weather: Bad weather can cause limited visibility, slick roads, and can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Severe weather increases the chance of a large truck accident.
- Construction: Pennsylvania is no stranger to road construction – most major highways and throughways are under construction at some point during the spring and summer months. Truck drivers who attempt to maneuver around construction signs or cones may flip their vehicle or crash into a nearby car.
- Brake or another vehicle failure: Some truck accidents are not caused by driver error but are rather caused by a brake or vehicle failure. In this case, the trucking company may be liable for the crash, especially if the company did not inspect or maintain the truck as required by law.
- Driving under the influence: Although driving under the influence accounts for a small percentage of truck accidents, it does happen. Alcohol and illegal substances can slow down reaction time and cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.
What to Do After an Accident with a Big Rig
Any type of car accident can be scary, but an accident with a commercial truck can be downright terrifying. Most accidents with big rigs are very serious and can result in serious and catastrophic injuries.
If you are in a truck crash, your first concern should be to get the medical help you need, and then make sure your rights are protected in the aftermath. Here are steps to take immediately following an accident with a tractor trailer:
Report the Crash
After any kind of vehicle accident, call 911 and stay on the scene. Tell the 911 operator as much information as you can including the location of the accident and if there are any injuries so they can send the police and an ambulance to the scene.
if you are able, move your vehicle to a safe place, or if your vehicle is immobile, move yourself to a safe place. Turn on your hazard lights so you are visible to other drivers – this is especially important in inclement weather where visibility is low. When the police arrive and prepare a report, ask for a copy of it for your records.
Seek Medical Attention
The EMTs on the scene will provide immediate medical attention and may recommend you go to the hospital. Even if you feel you are not seriously injured, follow the EMT’s recommendations. Some injuries such as internal bleeding may not be immediately apparent after a crash and it’s important to have a medical professional do a thorough physical exam. Further, in a personal injury case, documentation is key in helping determine the compensation amount of the claim.
Document the Scene
If you are able, collect as much information as possible after the accident. Ask for the name, contact information, company information, and insurance information of the truck driver and any other drivers involved in the accident. Collect license plate information, talk to witnesses, and collect their contact info, and if it is safe to do so, take photos of your vehicle, the truck, and any other vehicles involved in the accident.
Be Careful What You Say
It’s human nature to apologize after an accident, even one you didn’t cause. Be careful to not say anything that could indicate you were at-fault or could be used against you. Also, refrain from posting anything on social media after the accident. The insurance company for the driver or the driver’s employer or insurance company may use this information to their advantage in a personal injury case.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
After a serious truck accident, insurance companies will try to settle the case quickly and inexpensively. They may offer you a settlement that does not cover your financial losses after an accident. Do not talk to the insurance company at all without consulting with a personal injury attorney first. An experienced truck accident injury attorney can help you determine your next steps after an accident.
Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorneys in Lancaster, Pa.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck driver and it’s due to their carelessness or negligence, contact our truck accident personal injury attorneys at Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation. Our team of attorneys and paralegals can help you recover maximum compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
We’ve won more than 99% of our cases and have helped countless truck accident victims in central Pennsylvania get the compensation they deserve. Truck accident cases are complex, stressful, and time-consuming. We know how to investigate truck accidents and get the evidence needed to win a case. We are available 24/7 and can come to you – your home, the hospital, or even do a video call.
Call us today at 1-800-HURT-NOW or start a conversation with us online. We never charge a fee unless we get money for you.