Commercial freight trucks, what are usually referred to as semi-tractor and trailer combinations, or “big-rigs,” tend to weigh 80,000 pounds or more when loaded. That’s 20 times the weight of a typical passenger vehicle.
In 2020 alone there were a total of 147,000 truck crashes resulting in injuries, primarily to occupants in other vehicles. There are also thousands of fatalities each year. Between 1975 and 2019 there were an average of 5,305 fatal truck crashes per year. Of the crashes, 75 percent were caused by driver error as opposed to other factors.
Common causes of truck crashes include:
- Distracted driving by truck drivers, including operating handheld devices, texting, messaging, etc.
- Truck drivers speeding
- Truck drivers driving too fast for road, weather, and traffic conditions
- Truck drivers violating their hours of service
- Truck drivers failing to keep enough distance behind vehicles ahead
- Truck drivers failing to allow enough distance when making turns or crossing a roadway
- Truck safety equipment failures (i.e. brake failures, lighting failures, etc.)
- Intoxication from alcohol or drugs
Truck crashes often arise when drivers are overworked and under unrealistic expectations. Under those conditions, drivers may be forced into driving more hours than they are legally allowed. They may be operating while fatigued. Or they may be under unrealistic pickup and delivery schedules where they can face docked pay or losing their job if they are late.
In addition to unsafe conduct by a driver, these problems can be caused or contributed to by the trucking company, the broker, or shipper who put the cargo in the hands of an unsafe trucking company or driver. From the shipper and receiver, to the broker, to the trucking company, to the driver, the actions or inactions of any player in the cycle may have contributed to the collision, and that party may share liability for the harms they cause.
What Should I Do After A Truck Accident?
There can be lots of confusion right after a truck crash. If you are able to do so, call 911 to get police and medical assistance right away. Law enforcement will investigate and take extensive notes, take photographs, interview witnesses, and obtain statements from the parties involved in the collision.
You will also want to document as much as you can, including getting other witnesses’ information, taking photographs of the vehicle damage, and noting injuries to you and any passengers. Those steps can make sure that if anything is missed by law enforcement, it is still documented.
It is vitally important to speak with an experienced trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible to help you understand and protect your rights and decisions.
How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
Unfortunately, due to their size and weight, trucks and big-rigs are more difficult to maneuver, slow, and stop. When they crash into other cars and trucks the damage and injuries are often much more severe. Injuries that are common in car accidents are also far more severe in truck crashes and can include intensive medical care and extensive medical expenses.
Damage resulting from truck crashes ranges from serious whiplash and broken bones, to traumatic brain injury, severe lacerations, burn injuries, and death.
Medical bills are often much larger and are enough to bankrupt most people without adequate insurance coverage. Victims of truck crashes often spend a lot more time in hospitals and out of work after a truck crash.
Unlike most passenger car collision, trucking companies and their insurers also aggressively and immediately investigate crashes. Their experts show up immediately after the crash, looking for information to help excuse any fault they have for bringing about the crash.
This resource imbalance is important to consider. If you or a loved one is involved in a collision with a truck, you should strongly consider reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and preserve evidence. The lawyer you choose should also have experiencing fighting for victims of trucking crashes, and the resources necessary to match the big money and power interests you will be up against on the side of the trucking industry.
Contact a Minnesota Truck Accident Lawyer
Johnson Becker, PLLC regularly represents plaintiffs in injury and wrongful death cases involving truck accidents against big corporations and insurance companies. We help those victims to uncover the unsafe and illegal behavior, including poor decisions by the driver, or when a corporate office puts profit ahead of the rights and safety of the public.
Johnson Becker, PLLC has the knowledge, resources, and experience to take on the largest trucking and insurance companies, and to fight for for the victims of semi truck and commercial truck accidents and their families.
We offer a Free Case Evaluation. Whatever your injury, we are here to help. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386. We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.