Truck accidents are more likely to cause serious injury or death for many reasons, including the size and weight of tractor trailers as compared to smaller passenger cars. If you have been injured in a truck accident or your loved one lost his or her life, you should consult with an attorney to understand your legal rights.
Commercial truck accident claims are significantly different than standard car accident cases. Trucks are likely to be owned by a company that employs the truck driver, which makes the trucking company liable for the accident. Because of the nature of the trucking industry, there may be multiple parties liable for your losses in an accident.
Our truck accident attorneys will:
- Investigate the accident and identify all parties potentially liable
- Fight to hold the trucking company accountable for the harm caused
- Pursue the full compensation needed to recover from a devastating 18-wheeler accident.
A truck accident lawyer at Becker Law Office can evaluate your case free of charge and discuss your rights to seek monetary compensation from the truck driver, trucking company and/or others responsible for your crash. We understand the devastation a truck accident can cause and our attorneys are committed to helping you seek justice.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Kentucky had 162,940 commercial trucks registered in the state as of 2015. Professional truck drivers are held to higher standards when it comes to road safety laws because of the potential harm a big rig can cause.
For example, drivers of commercial trucks, tractor-trailers and buses are required to have commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs). And while most drivers can be charged with drunk driving if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, truck drivers are considered to be breaking the law if their BAC is just .04% or greater.
Despite the fact that commercial truck drivers are expected to be skilled at piloting their large vehicles, truck accidents happen every day. Tractor trailer crashes have many different causes, including errors made by truck drivers, disregard for safety by a trucking company and defective truck components such as faulty brakes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truck drivers and trucking companies and has analyzed the causes of truck accidents. According to the latest data from the FMCSA, approximately 60 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads and 25 percent on rural or urban Interstate highways.
The FMCSA indicates that certain types of dangerous driver behavior are among the top causes of accidents. These include:
- Speeding, the most often cited driver-related factor
- Driver inattention, the second most common contributing factor in truck collisions.
Kentucky keeps data on how truck crashes occur in the state. According to the state’s most recent Traffic Collision Facts, for the year counted:
- Driver distraction was a contributing factor in 333 truck accidents, including four fatal crashes. Cell phone use was a factor in 41 truck accidents. Driver distraction can significantly increase the risk of an accident. Using a handheld cell phone — which is prohibited under FMCSA rules — increases a truck driver’s risk of a crash by four times. A person texting on a cell phone is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than someone paying full attention to the task of driving.
- Speeding was a leading cause of truck accidents. Drivers going too fast for road conditions (regardless of speed limit) were involved in 297 accidents, including nine fatal crashes. In 39 accidents, including five fatal collisions, drivers were exceeding the posted speed limit.
- Failure to yield the right of way was a contributing factor in 855 truck accidents, including 13 fatal collisions.
- Following too closely or tailgating was listed as a contributing cause of 416 accidents, including four fatalities.
- Disregarding traffic signals was a driver-contributing factor in a total of 215 truck accidents, including seven fatal wrecks.
- Alcohol was involved in 100 truck collisions, five of which involved fatalities. Drug use, also illegal under Kentucky’s impaired driving laws, played a role in 51 truck collisions. “Medication” was blamed for six additional accidents. Truck drivers often overlook the effects certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can have on alertness.
- Driver fatigue played a role in 60 accidents and one fatal wreck. Truck drivers fell asleep at the wheel in 112 accidents, including two fatal crashes. The FMCSA limits the number of hours that truckers can drive to try to prevent collisions involving fatigue and drowsy drivers. But studies show that truckers routinely violate these Hours of Service (HOS) limits and drive while dangerously fatigued.
- Improper backing caused 140 collisions.
- Passing improperly was a contributing factor in 139 crashes, including one fatal accident.
- Improper turning was a contributing factor in 164 accidents, including three fatal collisions.
- Other driver errors — inattention, misjudging clearance and “not under proper control” combined for 6,472 truck accidents, including 73 fatalities.
These are the top driver-contributed factors in truck crashes in Kentucky. The state’s Traffic Collision Facts also identify other driver-related accident causes, which include loss of consciousness or fainting, oversteering, the driver becoming ill, physical disability, “emotional,” and the driver weaving in traffic.
Driver behavior is not the only reason for truck accidents. Sometimes a defect in the vehicle occurs such as a tire blowout or brake failure that leads to a wreck. In fact, in a total of 314 truck accidents in Kentucky, a vehicle problem was a contributing factor to the crash.
Vehicle factors responsible for accidents included problems with securing the load, a load that was too large, tire or brake failure, a defect in the tow hitch that caused the units to separate, a headlight or other lighting defect or steering failure.
Uncovering the cause of the truck accident is very important since the person or company responsible for causing an accident is responsible for the losses suffered in the accident.
Who May Be Liable in a Truck Accident?
It is not unusual for multiple parties to be partly responsible for a truck accident. This may result in multiple claims. It can lead to the insurers for the various parties pointing fingers at each other to avoid paying a claim.
Our truck accident attorneys have the experience and resources to investigate and identify all the parties potentially liable in a truck accident and pursue claims on your behalf. This may include the:
Local government and/or contractors
Any party whose negligence or recklessness contributed to the truck accident you were involved in should be held accountable for your costs and losses. Our investigation into your truck accident may indicate that one or more parties contributed to the crash that injured you, and should, therefore, compensate you.
Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents can cause serious injury or result in death. Truck accidents are more likely to be fatal because:
Trucks are much larger than passenger cars.
Trucks are regularly involved in accidents that differ from car wrecks in important ways.
Truck crashes often occur at high speeds.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious truck accident injury, it is proper for you to be concerned about how your medical costs will be covered. What will happen if you can no longer work and support your family? The law says you have a right to be made whole if someone else was to blame for a truck accident that injured you or your loved one.