Semi-truck operators take on a considerable amount of road safety responsibility. While other motor vehicle operators should follow the rules of the road and exercise critical safety tactics, semi-truck drivers must follow a specific set of regulations to prevent vehicle and road hazards that can trigger dangerous accidents.
Semi-trucks are treated differently than passenger vehicles because they require greater stopping distances, carry an enormous amount of cargo weight, and have expansive blind spots or “no-zones.” These factors make it difficult for operators to see all areas of the road, including cars, smaller trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians.
In recent years, equipment failures related to truck lighting, brakes, and tires were some of the most common factors in large truck crashes. Other common causes of semi-truck accidents include:
- Driver error and distractions
- Weather and road conditions
- Poor vehicle maintenance, including improper cargo loading
Semi-truck drivers are also at risk for drowsy driving due to the long hours they are on the road. Each duty period for a commercial truck driver can last up to 14 hours - this is known as the 14-hour rule. However, only 11 of the 14 hours can be spent driving, and a driver must take at least a 30-minute break after eight hours. The remaining three hours can be spent loading/unloading cargo and doing other duties that do not require being behind the wheel.
Similar to motor vehicle accident trends across the U.S., the number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 5-percent in 2017, and fatal crashes increased by 10-percent. For the thousands involved in these truck accidents, the recovery process looks much different than the everyday fender bender or parking lot crash. Truck accident injuries tend to be much more extensive, crash liability can be difficult to prove, and big insurance companies are unwavering when compared to an injured party submitting a claim against smaller, everyday driver policies.
Truck Accident Injuries Are More Serious
Road accidents can involve all types of motorists, but when a passenger car or motorcycle is involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer, the outcome is nearly always devastating.
Trucks, such as 18-wheelers, are long, tall, and almost 20 times heavier than cars. The size and weight naturally put them at a higher risk for causing accidents that create severe injuries and disability to other road users such as:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Head and neck injuries
- Bone fractures
- Burn injuries
- Life-long damage to the bones, muscles or nerves in the spinal cord
Fatalities are also more common in big truck accidents as well. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the total number of fatal accidents involving large trucks was 4,657 in 2017. In Wisconsin, the average number of truck crashes is 6,751 per year, 71 of which include fatalities.
Truck Drivers Must Follow the “Rules of the Road”
Semi-truck operators must carry a commercial driver license (CDL) and be equipped to follow specific “rules of the road” and regulations governed by the transportation industry and enacted by both the state and the federal government.
Some of the commercial truck driver “rules of the road” include:
- Limits on driving time
- Specifications on what is necessary for driver’s qualifications, including their training, and their physical ability to drive
- Mandated rest periods
- Required inspections and vehicle maintenance
- Strict documentation rules
- Minimum equipment requirements for operation on public roads
These “rules of the road” are spelled out in Chapter 346 of the Wisconsin Statutes, and our team of Milwaukee truck accident attorneys are well versed in these outlined rights and laws. Once crash evidence has been collected to prove a truck operator violated these regulations, we can help strengthen and win your case.
It’s Tough To Fight Big Rig Insurance Companies Alone
Insurance policies provided to commercial truck drivers can be worth millions of dollars. These amounts are unfathomably more than what is typically provided to passenger vehicles. Claims are overseen by experienced adjusters who can easily navigate their way out of liability and know exactly how to position blame for the incident on the injured party. This makes claim denial a situation that occurs too often. If the claim is not denied, a quick offer or low settlement may follow to avoid the payout deserved.
You are never required to settle. You may even be able to prove the truck manufacturer, and others involved in providing the driver training or truck maintenance, are responsible for the accident in addition to the driver’s negligence. All of these parties could be held liable for covering the hefty damages a substantial truck accident has caused you and your family.
Don’t rush for a settlement. Instead, contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer at Murphy & Prachthauser to help guide you. It is vital to find a capable truck accident lawyer who isn’t fearful of big insurance companies and is willing and able to take your case to court and win.
For a comprehensive guide to truck accidents and what to do if you’ve been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, take a look at our truck accident resources.
Information You Need to Make a Truck Accident Claim
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you may be seriously hurt or not aware of any injuries immediately after the occurrence. It is important to call the police and seek medical help immediately to be evaluated for any injuries.
If you are able, gather information and take these steps to support your accident injury claim.
- Name of driver and insurance information.
- Witness names and contact information.
- Take photos of the scene and all vehicles involved in the accident but don’t post anything to social media.
- Notify your insurance company of the crash
- Take Photos of your injuries.
- Make note of any DOT cameras or surveillance cameras.
- Follow-up with all healthcare provider instructions to manage injury pain or any recovery needs.
Even if you don’t think you need legal representation, it is essential to call a truck accident lawyer right away. An attorney at Murphy & Prachthauser can help you obtain police reports, secure traffic cam footage (which is often deleted every 72 hours), black box data, and help you manage medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Submit a FREE Semi-Truck Accident Case Evaluation Now
If you have an injury caused by a truck accident and you’re looking for the right legal team to support you, consider filling out a free case evaluation and talking with an attorney today. At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you.
You’ll see the difference when you have the opportunity to talk directly with a tractor-trailer accident expert. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
Please contact us to get a free case evaluation and consultation and get an experienced team working on your behalf.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2017.