Many of the most serious, life-altering accidents happening on America’s highways involve collisions between large commercial trucks and passenger cars. Despite improved safety features and campaigns urging drivers to exercise more caution, both the frequency of truck-car accidents and their lethality have been on the rise for the past decade.
In any collision involving a large truck or tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the car are usually going to get the worst of the encounter. It’s a simple matter of physics. Big rigs are 20-30 times heavier than passenger cars, with much greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller cars getting the brunt of the impact and being dragged under the truck. According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, 4,316 people died in large truck crashes across the U.S. in 2018, a 30 percent increase over 2009. In two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger car, more than ninety percent of the fatalities were occupants of the car.
WHY SO MANY ACCIDENTS?
Trucks are involved in approximately eleven percent of all traffic accidents. For many years, increased regulation and tougher requirements in the trucking industry were credited with playing a significant role in reducing the number and severity of truck accidents; by 2009, the mortality figures were less than half of what they’d been 30 years earlier. But several factors appear to have played a part in the subsequent increase in fatal crashes, including more trucks on the road, driving millions of more miles each year.
The driving habits of those operating passenger cars also play a role in many truck-car accidents. Trucks of all kinds should be approached with care in any traffic situation, whether it’s a delivery van in your neighborhood or an 18-wheeler on the highway. Too often, motorists don’t make allowances for the fundamental differences in the way trucks operate, from braking capability (a loaded tractor-trailer can take up to 40 percent longer than a car to stop) to general maneuverability. They lurk in the “no-see zone,” the areas beside or behind a truck where the driver has little or no visibility, or they change lanes abruptly in front of the truck, or misjudge an oncoming truck’s speed when turning left at an intersection, and so on.
And, of course, the commercial truck driver or the company that owns the truck may also be factors. Driver fatigue, irresponsible driving in an effort to cover as much distance in as little time as possible, or unsafe equipment can turn an 18-wheeler into an accident waiting to happen.
ISSUES OF LIABILITY IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWSUIT
A host of federal regulations spell out the requirements for operating large trucks safely and protecting the public. For example, there are hours-of-service regulations that establish how many hours a single driver can operate a large truck in a day. But driver fatigue, substance abuse, and claims that some companies encourage drivers to ignore hour-of-service limits remain common problems.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may also be allegations of carelessness on the part of the trucking company — questions about its training and hiring procedures, the way it maintains and services its equipment, or its compliance with other regulations.
If you have suffered injuries in a car-truck accident, you will need an experienced truck accident law firm that knows how to manage and litigate such cases. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the trucking company and their insurers will treat you fairly if you don’t have a strong advocate on your side. An attorney that focuses on truck accidents will know how to analyze the facts and identify the issues that should be pursued in court if a lawsuit becomes necessary.
THE TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or other commercial vehicle, Franklin D. Azar & Associates can help. Our track record over thirty years of representing injured people has helped us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. We have experienced truck accident lawyers ready to review your case with you, and we have the dedication to represent your interests and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and evaluation of your case.