Commercial trucking accidents are rarely considered minor accidents, and can often cause serious injuries and damages. If an accident where you are hit by another car is bad, getting hit with a much larger truck will be much worse because of the more significant weight of the vehicle.
The injury attorneys at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you have significant experience in helping clients who have been in a trucking accident. Our offices are conveniently located in nearby Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person at our nearby offices, over the phone, or video call. You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.
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Why Are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue?
Trucking accidents are very serious for a few different reasons.
- Statistics: Accidents that occur between a truck and a passenger vehicle are much more likely to result in a fatality or serious injuries, as opposed to an accident between 2 cars. 74% of all fatal passenger vehicle cases include a large truck, and 68% of the fatalities in these scenarios come from the passenger vehicle, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Weight: It’s likely that your passenger car weighs around 4,000 pounds. Most trucks weigh much more than that- usually upwards of 30,000 pounds. Because the force of impact in a car accident is based off weight as well as speed, if the much heavier truck hits your car, you will have a much greater force of impact.
- Height: In addition to being heavier than a passenger car, a truck is much higher as well. This not only means that the passenger car is likely to collide with the edge of the truck, it means that the driver of the truck is sitting much higher than the driver of the passenger car. While this is a good thing for the truck driver, being lower to the ground means that there is an increased risk of injury for the passenger car driver.
What Causes Trucking Accidents?
The reality is that most trucking accidents are caused by distracted driving of some sort. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Driver Fatigue: Driving a truck is a very high stress job with long hours and not much room for errors. Often, companies will require drivers to deliver goods in a very short period of time, which means that truck drivers drive extremely long distances on very little sleep, with limited breaks for rest. This all means that many truck drivers are exhausted, which reduces reaction time and can lead to accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Because truckers drive such long distances, they might search for entertainment, especially when radio may not be the best. This may tempt many drivers to text, turn on a podcast, or otherwise look away from the road. Additionally, since many drivers don’t take breaks, the simple act of eating may cause them to take their eyes off the road and lose concentration.
- Driving Under the Influence: While you may not think that trucking has a high rate of alcohol and other substance abuse, it does. Drivers may use stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine. A recent study from Reuters showed that 30% of truck drivers admitted to taking amphetamines while on the clock. An additionally 20% used marijuana, and 3% used cocaine. These drugs may help drivers stay awake, but they also reduce reaction time and lead to more risky or aggressive driving.
- Speeding: Sometimes, the unfortunate reality is that truck drivers may not make their deliveries on time. If the driver thinks that they will lose their job, or get a decrease in pay, if their delivery doesn’t make it on time, they will be more likely to speed. This causes problems not only for when the driver may not have enough distance between them and the front car, but also if the front car swerves to move out of the way into another lane.
- Poor Training: Although companies have training programs for truckers, sometimes those programs aren’t followed. In the event of poor weather, such as rain, sleet, snow, or wind, the truck driver must be extra careful to go slower than the posted speed limit to avoid hydroplaning or skidding. If the driver isn’t trained for these weather conditions, they will likely cause an accident.
- Maintenance: It’s routine for trucking companies to require that each truck is inspected before it goes out on the road. However, due to time cuts, expenses, or other reasons, this doesn’t always happen. If a part breaks down in the middle of the drive, it can lead to accidents.
- Cargo: You might be wondering “What does cargo have to do with me?” In an ideal situation, it has nothing to do with you. However, cargo that is too heavy or improperly packed can cause a multitude of accidents. Not only can it spill out the back if the door is not latched correctly, it can also cause an imbalance of weight, which could lead to the truck tipping over or being unable to go up steep inclines. Any way you put it, if something is wrong with the cargo, it can lead to catastrophic accidents.
What Should I Do After Being in A Trucking Accident?
What you should do after being in a trucking accident is very similar to what you would do in any other car accident.
- If you are on a highway and able, move your car to the shoulder of the highway. This will allow you to get to a safer position as well as keep traffic flowing so that first responders can get to you more quickly. If you are not on the highway, pull over to the shoulder of the road or into the nearest parking lot.
- Regardless of whether you are able to move your car, turn your hazard lights on if you are on the side of the road, as opposed to a parking lot. This will help you be more easily spotted and decrease the chances of you being hit again.
- Call 911, even if you are unsure whether you are injured or not. The operator will send police and/ or an ambulance.
- Gather information from the other driver including name, license plate number, company they work for, and other insurance information. Collect the names and contact information of eyewitnesses if possible.
- Give a report to the police. Be as detailed and thorough as possible. Record the police officer’s name and badge number.
- Go to a hospital to make sure you aren’t injured, even if you don’t feel any pain.
- File a claim with your insurance company.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. Because of the nature of trucking accidents, as well as some confusion with which parties are liable, it is important to get a personal injury attorney right away. They will help you prepare next steps.
Who Is Liable in a Trucking Accident?
In many other cases, it is clear who is liable for an accident. In the case of a trucking accident, however, it can be much less straightforward. Of course, the truck driver may be liable, particularly if they were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The trucking company (carrier) may also be held liable if they have not trained the driver correctly, allowed the truck to drive without inspection, or required deliveries in an impossible time frame.
In addition to those two obvious parties, other people/ companies that may be liable are:
- Manufacturer: If a truck gets into an accident because of a malfunctioning part, the manufacturer of that part may be held liable.
- Cargo: If the owner of the cargo is different from the carrier, then the owner of the cargo may be held liable, particularly if the cargo caused or worsened the accident in some way.
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At Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their personal injuries, including those from trucking accidents in the Phoenix area. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office, conveniently located near you.
If you have been in a trucking accident, contact Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in nearby Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in your area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.