The Main Causes of Semi Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are among the most dangerous and deadly accidents on our roads and highways. They can cause devastating physical, emotional, and financial trauma to victims and their families. This is why it’s vital for those involved in a truck accident—whether they were driving a large truck or other vehicles—to understand what causes these crashes so that they can seek justice if needed.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our truck accident lawyers have years of experience representing accident victims. We know what to do in truck accident cases to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
The 11 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks—semis, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, gas tankers, and other large trucks- differ significantly from passenger vehicles. The size difference alone creates various safety challenges on the roads. But many potential causes of truck accidents also require special attention when investigating crashes.
The common causes of truck accidents include:
Truck drivers are often under pressure to make tight deadlines, leading them to drive for hours on end without proper rest. Federal regulations limit how many hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel. Still, some push themselves too hard, fall asleep at the wheel, or become so exhausted they cannot react in time to avoid a crash. Driver error plays a significant role in large truck crashes.
Another leading cause of truck crashes is speeding. Truckers may feel pressure to drive faster than posted speed limits to make up time, but this can be dangerous. When large trucks are involved in accidents, they often cause severe damage to passenger cars and severe injuries because of their size and weight.
Cellphones, radio dials, and other distractions can take a driver’s attention off the road even for just a few seconds, which can be enough time to cause an accident. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is a leading cause of truck accidents. In fact, in 2018 alone, over 10% of all recorded fatal crashes involving large trucks were attributed to distracted driving. The numbers are even higher for non-fatal crashes; in some cases almost 20% of such crashes are due to distraction.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Negligent truck drivers and trucking companies can also put trucks on the road that haven’t been properly inspected, maintained, or repaired. This can lead to tire blowouts, brakes malfunctioning, and other critical equipment failures.
Rain, sleet, snow, and other weather-related issues can reduce visibility and make roads slick and slippery, making it harder to stop quickly or maneuver out of the way. If a trucker is not careful, they may lose control of their truck and cause an accident.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the most dangerous things a trucker can do. It is illegal and can impair judgment and reflexes, increasing the risk of an accident. Commercial truck drivers who drive under a substance’s influence impair their ability to drive safely.
Another cause of truck accidents is inadequate training. Some truck drivers may not have received proper training on operating their trucks, which can lead to trucking accidents. Truckers must receive adequate training before they get behind the wheel of a semi-truck.
Inexperienced Truck Drivers
Inexperience is another cause of truck accidents. Some commercially licensed drivers may be new to the industry and need more experience driving tractor-trailers. This can lead to mistakes on the road and, sometimes, a catastrophic accident. According to an NHTSA study, inexperienced drivers are involved in twice as many truck-involved crashes as those with more experience.
Poor Cargo Loading
If a commercial truck is improperly loaded or unloaded, it will likely tip over. Companies may overload their trucks with cargo, affecting the truck’s performance and handling. The extra weight can also make it harder to stop in an emergency.
Aggressive behavior, lane changing without signaling, speeding, and other reckless acts can put everyone on the road at risk of an accident. Most truck accidents can be avoided by truck drivers and car drivers simply following the rules of the road.
To prevent accidents, passenger car drivers can maintain a safer distance and provide greater space in front of and behind trucks while driving on highways and urban roads.
Poor Road Conditions
Roads that are not properly maintained can create hazards of their own, such as potholes and uneven pavement.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries like broken bones and internal bleeding. Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
- Neck injuries such as whiplash
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Herniated discs
According to an NHTSA study, out of 159 reported truck accidents, 20 percent resulted in at least one fatality, and 50 percent of all truck crashes resulted in death or serious injury.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident in D.C.?
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, seek medical care immediately. Even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, getting checked out by a doctor as soon as possible is best. Once your health is taken care of, contact a qualified truck accident attorney who can help you understand your legal options and protect your rights. Your lawyer can also help you pursue compensation if you’ve suffered financial losses from the accident.
Contact an experienced truck accident attorney today to discuss your case and learn more about what steps you should take next. With their help, you can obtain the compensation you deserve.
Liability in Truck Accidents
After an accident involving a truck, it’s essential to determine who is at fault. The truck driver may be solely responsible for the accident in some cases. But in other cases, multiple parties may be liable, including the trucking company or the person who loaded the cargo.
An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine who is liable in your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.
Truck companies may be liable for truck accidents caused by their drivers. Truck companies are responsible for hiring and training their drivers and following federal and state regulations. Suppose a trucking company employs an inexperienced or unqualified driver or fails to follow regulations. In that case, they may be held liable if that driver causes an accident.
The Truck Driver
The truck driver may be held liable for an accident in some cases. This will most likely happen if the driver is intoxicated, speeding, or distracted. But even if the truck driver was not at fault, the trucking company may still be held liable under vicarious liability laws.
The Truck Manufacturer
Sometimes, the truck manufacturer may be held liable for an accident. This can happen if the truck has a defect that causes the accident. For example, if the brakes fail, the manufacturer may be held liable.
A Third Party
Sometimes, a third party may be held liable for a truck accident. For example, this can happen if the cargo is improperly loaded or secured. In these cases, the person who loaded the cargo may be held liable.
What Damages Are Available to Truck Accident Victims in Washington, DC?
You may be entitled to compensation for your damages if you’ve been involved in a truck accident. These damages include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. In rare cases, punitive damages may also be available. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you understand what damages you may be entitled to and how to get the compensation you deserve in a truck accident claim.
Contact a Washington DC Truck Accident Lawyer Today
For the most advanced level of representation available for your truck accident claim, look no further than Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our firm boasts a track record of assisting clients in receiving over $500 million in compensation, and our team has a collective experience of over 100 years. Each of our partners has been recognized as Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®, and our firm comprises three former presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
We aim to secure just settlement offers for our clients to compensate them for their injuries. Still, our lawyers are also highly capable of going to trial should the situation require it. Contact us online or call (202) 659-8600 to receive the established legal representation you are entitled to.