The Problem with Accidents Involving 18-wheelers
Imagine driving down the highway, eager to get to your son’s soccer practice. You have a lot on your mind. You need to make preparations for your in-laws that will be staying with you during the week and you need to take the car down to the mechanic to have the car battery replaced. You are just about to exit the highway when you are sideswiped by an 18-wheeler. From this point on, your life has changed forever.
Stories like this are more common than you think. Just recently, critically acclaimed comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious car accident in which the “30 Rock” comedian had to be airlifted after his limo was hit by a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer, which was operated by a Walmart employee, failed to observe the traffic signs on a busy New Jersey highway. The comedian suffered a broken femur, broken nose, several broken ribs and was in critical condition following the accident. Morgan ended up losing his best friend in the catastrophic crash.
It is clear that incidents like Tracy Morgan’s require Congress to strengthen the laws on drivers operating large trucks on our public roads and highways to ensure that citizens are protected from serious harm. Despite the fact that truck, 18-wheeler, and trailer accidents are easily preventable, year after year, accidents occur around the country each day and family members of the victims are left to pick up the pieces.
Researcher William Harris suggests that the cause of most accidents is driver fatigue – working long hours with little to no sleep – as was the case with the Tracy Morgan accident. Despite the fact that the Walmart employee/truck driver had not slept in 24 hours, Walmart claimed that their driver was operating “within the federal hours of service regulations.” In a recent article by the Huffington Post, it was also noted that the new ‘rest rules’ which Congress has implemented will allow truck drivers to stay on the roads for longer periods of time. This means that truck drivers will face little to no repercussion in vehicular accident cases if they simply follow federal bylaws.
With claims like these, it is no wonder that individuals feel that Congress is not doing enough to ensure that truck drivers are taking proper precautions.
Most truck accidents occur due to driver distractions (including inattention), driver error and driver fatigue. Truck drivers often drive for long hours at all times of the day and night and in conditions that expose them to fatigue. In addition, interstate truck accident data provided by the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety of the U.S Department of Transportation indicate that driver fatigue is a major factor in single-vehicle accidents and rear-end accidents.
With the increasing need for trucks to transport goods from one place to another, odds are that many road-users will require representation for personal injury claims at some point in time.
Nationwide, there are 160,000 motor carrier companies that contract truck drivers to haul goods on any given interstate. A survey of interstate truck drivers in 1972 found that one out of every six truck drivers had at least one reportable accident involving personal injury or property damage. Although many truck accidents are caused by mechanical failure and road defects, most accidents are caused by truck driver error.
To provide you with a few numbers, The U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) released a report in 2014 that recorded an astounding 500,000 trucking accidents that occurred because truck drivers and large trailers (10,000+ lbs) collided with other motorists or pedestrians. Out of these 500,000 accidents, 5,000 truck accidents resulted in a fatality. A 2012 Report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 472 vehicles were involved in fatal accidents involving large trucks in New Mexico, 1,109 fatal accidents involving large trucks occurred in Arizona and 4,607 fatal accidents involving large trucks occurred in Texas.
Truck drivers should slow down in work zones, keep a suitable distance between other road users, be aware of their blind spots and drive defensively.
While the trucking industry is vital to Texas’s economy and the overall economy of the United States, more needs to be done to reduce these increasing numbers. Opponents to Congress’ current and lax legislation on truck drivers stress the need for stricter laws on the periods of time that truck drivers can be on the road. Further, there is a need for truck drivers, companies and trucking companies to ensure that their trucks are well maintained for all street conditions.
While all road users should do their part to maintain a safe environment for everyone, the onus is largely on the part of the truck driver to ensure that their large vehicles do not put pedestrians and other road users in harm’s way.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an 18-wheeler accident, it is imperative that you call a personal injury attorney. The trucking companies and their insurers are very sophisticated. In any accident involving serious injuries or death, the insurance company will send a trucking industry defense lawyer to the scene of the crash if possible. How do I know? One of my friends, a defense lawyer at a local firm, is on permanent retainer by several trucking insurance companies. He routinely travels to accident scenes. His one job is to gather as much information and evidence as he can to deny or minimize the claim and protect the insurer and the trucking company. You need the same vigorous team on your side. I will personally travel to any city in Texas to meet with you and to employ a rapid response team to investigate the claim that will preserve favorable evidence for you.
No matter your unique situation, our attorney is here to provide you with the compassionate legal guidance you need and the sound representation you deserve. Our legal team is committed to your case, working toward an optimal outcome that meets your goals and needs.
Don’t wait to get help! Contact us at (915) 584-8777 to learn more about how our firm can help you. We offer free initial consultations.