If you drive on any roadway, you know how frightening it is when you are stuck between two 18-wheelers, or when a tractor trailer is driving too closely behind you, especially if the weather conditions are poor. Circumstances like these have led to frightening statistics on fatal crashes involving large trucks (weight over 10,000 pounds).
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) clearly demonstrates how vulnerable travelers in passenger vehicles are when involved in crashes involving large trucks.
- In 2018, large trucks accounted for 11% of all motor vehicle crashes in which someone died
- Tractor trailers were involved in 74% of all large-truck crashes in which someone died
- Pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists accounted for 15% of all deaths that occurred in large-truck crashes
- Of all the vehicle occupants who died in two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 96% of those killed were occupants in the passenger vehicles
Why Are Trucks So Dangerous?
Although the statistics referenced here are startling, they shed light on a variety of reasons why large trucks are so dangerous on the road and why large trucks are so much more strictly regulated.
- Weight. A standard large truck (10,000 lbs.) weighs 20-30 times as much as a standard passenger vehicle. This makes large trucks much more difficult to control and maneuver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 79% of the large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were “heavy large trucks” (over 26,000 lbs.).
- Braking capacity. A tractor trailer loaded with cargo requires 40% more distance to stop than a car requires.
- Ground clearance. Trucks are taller than cars and have much greater ground clearance, which makes it easy for small cars to ride under the truck in a collision.
- Truck driver fatigue. Although federal “hours-of-service” regulations limit truck drivers to 11 hours of driving in one stretch, surveyed truck drivers admit that many drivers commonly ignore the regulations and drive to the point of fatigue. This is known within the industry to be a significant crash risk.
Because trucks are so dangerous and involve so many fatalities and injuries, they are closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as the respective Departments of Transportation for each state. One of the primary regulations of the trucking industry that is relevant to all these staggering fatality statistics is that trucking companies and truck drivers carry liability insurance to cover the fatalities, injuries, and other damages that result when you are involved in a collision with a truck.
The personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace work tirelessly to know the trucking industry and all of its regulations, negotiate with insurance companies, and obtain for you the maximum recovery for your injuries in a trucking accident.
What Are the Damages for Which I Might Recover after Being Involved in a Truck Accident?
If you are injured in a truck crash that was not your fault, there are a variety of possible damages for which you can recover and a variety of possible defendants from which you can recover them. The most common damages for which injured parties are compensated after a truck crash are:
- Medical expenses. These can include everything from a hospital stay to rehabilitative resources or necessary in-home care services.
- Property damage. This can include your car that was damaged in your accident and any other property of value that is lost or damaged.
- Lost wages or future earning capacity. You can be compensated for any income you may have to forego because of your injuries or rehabilitation, as well as the value of your future earning capacity that is diminished as a result of any disability you might suffer because of your injuries.
- Pain and Suffering. Often the most difficult injury to recover from is the pain, trauma, and stress that so many accident victims experience, long after their accident. You may be compensated for these damages as well.
Who Will Be Responsible for Damages?
As you might expect, the truck driver is a natural candidate for liability for damages, since the truck driver was driving the truck that struck you. We at Foster Wallace know how to investigate truck accidents and how to determine who is at fault. If the truck driver was negligent in causing your accident, we will see that the driver is held responsible. However, our experienced personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace work not only to find a party that is responsible; we investigate your accident to find all responsible parties.
Missouri law provides that in a multi-party collision, all of the negligent actions that caused the accident will be compared, and each party—including the injured plaintiff—will be held responsible for any amount of damages that resulted from that individual party’s negligence. This is called “comparative fault.” In any truck accident, there could be a host of responsible parties, such as:
- The truck driver. The driver could have been negligent in operating the vehicle, exceeding federal restrictions on “hours-of-service,” overloading cargo, or carelessly transporting hazardous material.
- The trucking company. Even if the truck driver was negligent somehow, the company who employs the truck driver also could be negligent in failing to properly train the driver, failing to follow licensing requirements, or failing to conduct background checks and confirming driving records before hiring. Even if the trucking company was not, itself, negligent, if the driver was negligent in performing his job, the employer could be “vicariously liable” for its employee’s negligent actions.
- The truck manufacturer. Even if the driver was careless and the trucking company also recklessly loaded the cargo on the truck, such that both parties contributed to the cause of the accident, faulty parts or equipment installed on the truck by the manufacturer also could have been a cause for the accident. If so, the manufacturer also may be liable for any damages resulting from its negligence.
When Should I File a Claim for Damages?
Missouri requires that you assert your claim for damages within five years of when you sustained your injuries. This five-year limit is called the “Statute of Limitations” and it is very strictly applied. If you do not bring your claim within five years, you may be prevented from recovering any damages.
Our Truck Accident Attorneys Are Ready to Serve You
The five-year Statute of Limitations is just one of the reasons why it is so important to contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Foster Wallace immediately after your accident. We will not hesitate to investigate every aspect of your case to identify all of the parties responsible for your injuries and recover all of the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case. We are here to serve you and will assist you through the entire process.