Although commercial truck accidents are not as talked about as traditional passenger vehicle collisions, they often cause more serious damage. The law states that any vehicle carrying over 10,000 pounds is considered a truck, but often times these trucks carry much more. Sometimes trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Compared to a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle, a commercial truck’s large size and weight can do much more damage, cause more serious injuries, and frequently even death when involved in an auto accident. If the truck is carrying hazardous or bulky items, the risk of fatalities and injuries in the event of an accident increases drastically.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, or IIHS, reports that over half a million trucks were involved in accidents in the U.S. in 2010 alone, resulting in about 100,000 serious injuries and over 5,000 deaths. In 2009, only 3,200 deaths were caused by commercial truck accidents. As the number of trucks on the roads increases, the number of fatalities due to truck accidents will also increase.
With many truck accidents, there is someone at fault. If the accident was caused by the actions of another individual and death or serious injury resulted, the victim or victim’s surviving family members may be able to receive financial damages for everything from medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, or other opportunities that were taken away as a result of the accident.
Semi-Truck Accidents and Negligence
In the legal world, a truck accident includes an incident or series of events involving a vehicle with a weight greater than 10,000 pounds that resulted in property damage, bodily injury, and/or death. Although these accidents are usually caused by one party or another, in order for the victim to receive compensation from the truck driver, the truck accident must meet the following criteria:
- The truck accident was a result of fault and/or recklessness of another driver
- The injury or death of the victim was a result of the truck accident
- The injuries resulted in compensable damages
There are several ways to prove that negligence was at fault and will be crucial for proving the fault of the driver and receiving damages. Acceptable forms of evidence include police reports, photographs, and expert or witness testimonies. Additional forms of evidence that may be accepted include proof that the driver was operating his truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or showed signs of additional impairment, like driving with a lack of sleep.
A truck accident lawyer can help you determine if negligence is present in your case.
Common Causes of Arizona Truck Accidents
The causes behind accidents vary and it is difficult to explain how things happen. Usually, each accident comes from a variety of circumstances and a combination of contributing factors, all resulting in the truck collision.
But, we can say that most accidents occur because a driver was not following safe driving habits and violating the law. One of the most common causes of truck accidents includes speeding, but other accidents may be caused by truck drivers failing to yield, making unsafe turns, and changing lanes or driving too closely to another vehicle.
Because commercial trucks are bigger and heavier than standard passenger cars, the risk associated with reckless driving is much greater. These commercial trucks carry a lot of weight, which requires faster reactions and more time and effort to make corrective changes.
According to studies, many Arizona truck accidents are caused by driver error. When a truck driver makes a mistake, his reaction time is delayed due to the mass of the vehicle. Driver error is also contributed to fatigue or sleepiness, intoxication, reckless driving, improper loading, or lack of training.
The most frequent cause of driver error is fatigue. Because truck drivers spend most of their day behind a wheel, it is easy for them to start to doze off. To ensure only safe drivers are on the road, truck drivers are required to stop driving after 14 hours of consecutive driving and cannot log more than 60 driving hours in a seven-day period. Additionally, they must take a 34-hour break after spending seven or eight days on the road.
Some truck accidents are the result of equipment failure. To reduce the amount of these kinds of accidents, commercial truck companies or truck owners must perform regular maintenance of their trucks in accordance to a strict schedule, including inspection of the brakes, fuel line, wheels and tires, engine, lightening, chassis, and hitches.
Negligence is not the only cause of truck accidents. Collisions can also be the result of poor road conditions or faulty road design. If a road is not properly maintained or is designed strangely, the government may be to blame for the accident and not the driver.
Truck Accident Injuries
The injuries that result in truck accidents are usually very serious or fatal. Those that do survive a crash might face a lifetime of permanent disabilities like brain injury or paralysis.
Here are some of the most common injuries associated with truck accidents:
Traumatic brain injury often results when objects make direct contact with the head, or if the head makes a dramatic movement that causes the brain to bounce against the walls of the skull.
A spinal injury can happen in the lower spine or neck and often result in permanent total or partial paralysis.
A herniated disc injury will require years of physical therapy to restore.
Burns can cause permanent disfiguring and pain.
Fractures, lacerations and contusions
While more minor than many other injuries, broken bones, cuts, and bruises are the most common and usually come with more serious injuries.
Getting Legal Help from an Arizona Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer at Hutzler Law for assistance. Our Phoenix personal injury lawyers will review your case from top to bottom and come up with the best course of action to make sure you receive the best possible outcome.