According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of fatal crashes involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks and buses increased by 40% between 2009 and 2017. Injury accidents involving these types of vehicles nearly doubled across the same time period. These collisions cause thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.
Although 18-wheelers and other large trucks are less likely to be involved in traffic crashes than passenger vehicles such as cars, vans, pick-up trucks and SUVs, those accidents are often more serious. Large truck accidents are twice as likely to be fatal as those involving only passenger vehicles. And, most of those killed are not occupants of the large truck.
Large truck accidents can be more serious than other motor vehicle accidents for several reasons. The first and most obvious is the size and weight of an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle. A loaded 18-wheeler may weigh 80,000 pounds—or more with special permitting—compared with about 5,000 pounds for a passenger vehicle. It’s no surprise that the smaller vehicle typically sustains more damage, and its occupants are more likely to be seriously hurt or killed.
In addition, the weight of a large commercial vehicle creates greater momentum, meaning that it is harder to slow or stop the vehicle. This, combined with the fact that a significant percentage of truck accidents occur on rural roads and interstate highways, means that collisions are likely to take place at a higher rate of speed.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But, pursuing damages in a commercial motor vehicle accident case can be trickier than the typical car accident case. One reason 18-wheeler accident cases can be complicated is that there are often multiple possible responsible parties, and it can be difficult to determine who is liable. An 18-wheeler may be owned and maintained by one entity, operated by another, and perhaps loaded by still another. Some commercial truck drivers are employees, while others are independent contractors, and the evidence required to establish liability may differ depending on that relationship. To further complicate matters, one or more of the responsible parties may be headquartered across the country.
A traffic crash involving a large truck may be cause by driver negligence, by faulty maintenance, by a poorly designed product, by improper loading, or some combination of these and other factors. In addition, in some cases a driver will be directly liable for errors, whereas in other cases an employer or other party may bear or share legal responsibility.
Commercial motor vehicle accidents also often involve intersecting state and federal laws. Successfully litigating a large truck accident case may require knowledge of regulations such as the Department of Transportation’s hours-in-service restrictions for commercial drivers, legal weight limitations, and maintenance standards.
In short, not every personal injury attorney has the experience necessary to successfully represent the victim of an 18-wheeler accident. You will want to ensure that the attorney you choose has not only the necessary knowledge, but also the time, resources, and access to experts to take charge of a commercial truck accident case.
Attorney Kevin J. Broderick has obtained favorable settlements for many victims of motor vehicle accidents. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about his experience and how he can help if you have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident.
Attorney Kevin J. Broderick has devoted his career to helping people who have been injured through someone else’s fault. He understands how difficult and stressful the aftermath of a serious injury can be, and wants to make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you need.
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