Semi-truck accidents are among the deadliest on the road, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Big rigs can weigh in at 80,000 pounds, far more than other vehicles, and they cut imposing figures on our highways and byways. This size differential alone is enough to spell disaster whenever an 18-wheeler is involved in a car accident. It’s always in your best interests to allow semi-trucks the extra space and time they need to maneuver safely on our roads.
If you were injured in a truck accident, the skilled San Antonio truck accident attorneys at The Law Offices of George Salinas are here to help. We will aggressively advocate for your rightful compensation. Contact or call us at (210) 225-0909 to schedule an appointment today.
Federal and State Trucking Regulations
Because of the potential for extremely serious accidents, both Texas and the federal government heavily regulate the trucking industry to help mitigate the danger. These regulations cover:
- Commercial drivers’ licensing standards
- Commercial drivers’ use of controlled substances and alcohol—and testing for this use
- Safety and health standards for both commercial drivers and trucking companies
- Transportation of hazardous materials
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, you know how harrowing that is—and you need skilled legal counsel. The experienced semi-truck accident attorneys at The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio have the knowledge and dedication to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
Semi-Truck Accident Statistics
More and more trucks are employed to help keep up with the exploding demand for consumer goods. With the proliferation of semi-trucks, however, comes some alarming statistics related to truck accidents:
In a semi-truck accident, the driver and passengers in the other vehicle are far more likely to die than the truck driver—in 2015, 97 percent of fatalities in large truck accidents were people in the other vehicles).
- Nationwide, nearly 4,000 people died in big-rig accidents in 2015.
- The number of fatalities in 2015 truck accidents was up 22 percent from 2009 (when fatalities were at their lowest).
- Eleven percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015 involved a large truck.
These sobering statistics are a good reminder that drivers need to execute extreme caution when they share the road with big rigs.
Reported Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes; Bexar County San Antonio, TX
The three crucial elements to safety—truckers, truck maintenance, and trucking companies—are so integral to keeping our highways and byways safe that they’re worth examining further.
Truckers man their giant beasts of the road. Healthy, well-rested, experienced, alert, and engaged commercial truck drivers are the first line of defense when it comes to safety. Truckers are responsible for maneuvering giant cargo containers down our roads at great speeds and for extended periods of time. In fact, truckers often encounter unreasonable deadlines that can hurt their abilities to make their livings. Furthermore, the trucking occupation is, by definition, highly sedentary, which means that it’s not conducive to healthy lifestyles or to healthy truckers. Couple truckers’ high-stress schedules with their unhealthy lifestyles, and the risk factors related to accidents escalate.
Well-maintained trucks in safe operating condition via regular and rigorous checking systems (as mandated by law) are the second necessity. Semi-trucks consist of many moving parts, and therefore have plenty of opportunities to break down, malfunction, or otherwise cause dangerous driving conditions. Several tractor-trailer components are commonly associated with accidents:
• Tires – Tires are the point of connection with the road for every vehicle, and are obviously critical to safe driving. A defective tire can make controlling a semi-truck difficult and lead to serious safety hazards.
• Brakes – Good, strong working brakes are obviously crucial to safe driving. Semi-trucks have extremely complicated braking systems that require a strict maintenance regimen.
• Coupling devices – Coupling devices connect trailers to their cabs. Any malfunction or defect in these elemental devices can lead to deadly accidents. Thorough and regular inspections are a necessity.
Well-managed trucking companies that make safety their top priority are the final safety element. The trucking company is responsible for the safe working condition of its trucks. This includes the responsibility for incorporating a comprehensive system of safety checks regarding the maintenance of those trucks.
Trucking companies and truckers ultimately share responsibility for maintaining safe, roadworthy semi-trucks with:
- Semi manufacturers
- Semi parts manufacturers
- Semi mechanics
Semi-truck accidents are extremely dangerous, and a host of factors can contribute to them:
Center of gravity. In truck accidents, center-of-gravity issues can play a decisive role. Whether a semi-truck was improperly loaded (often because of a timesaving shortcut) or its very design is flawed, center-of-gravity issues can lead to rollovers and exacerbate the potential for unchecked damage in big-rig accidents.
Blind spots. Enormous commercial trucks have considerably larger and more numerous blind spots, or no zones, than cars. No zones limit the trucker’s ability to clearly view the road around the truck, and they often play roles in accidents. All big rigs have blind spots, but the design of some trucks worsens the problem.
Truck design. The design of a truck and its trailer height can prove deadly for much smaller vehicles that come into physical contact with it. Dangerously high trailer designs can intensify the risk of deadly underride accidents.
Truck Accident FAQ
Accidents with commercial trucks can have devastating consequences. The size and weight of commercial trucks, the fact that they sometimes carry hazardous materials, and the special skill and attention required to maneuver these large vehicles are all factors that make them potential hazards on the road.
If you have been injured in an accident with a truck, you likely have questions. Read on for answers to commonly asked questions after a truck accident.
Q: What is a commercial truck?
A: The common definition of a commercial truck is any large vehicle that transports goods. There is a more technical definition of “commercial motor vehicle” in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. A vehicle is considered a commercial motor vehicle if it is used on the highway to transport passengers or property in interstate commerce and:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more;
- Is used to transport more than 8 passengers for compensation or more than 15 passengers without compensation; or
- Is used to transport hazardous material.
Commercial vehicles are subject to a variety of state and federal regulations and licensing requirements.
Q: What types of regulations must a commercial truck driver follow?
A: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations provide many rules that truck drivers must follow. Some of the most important include:
- An obligation to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL);
- Limitations on the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel to avoid fatigue;
- Strict requirements around when and how much alcohol a driver can consume before driving a commercial vehicle; and
- Routine vehicle maintenance obligations.
Many states supplement federal regulations with additional requirements. If a driver fails to comply with state or federal regulations, the driver can lose their CDL.
Q: How common are fatalities in accidents with commercial trucks?
A: In 2017, there were approximately 450,000 reported crashes involving large trucks. Of these accidents, 4,237 were fatal and 344,000 involved injuries. Based on these numbers, about 1 percent of truck accidents involved a fatality. 1 percent may sound like a low number, but it is much higher than in other types of accidents. Of the 325,719,178 car accidents in 2017, only 34,247, or .0001 percent, resulted in a fatality. These statistics show that while truck accidents may be less common, they are more deadly when they occur.
Q: What makes commercial truck accidents so dangerous?
A: Commercial trucks are big. When fully loaded, these big rigs can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Compared to a passenger vehicle, which weighs about 3,000 pounds, a commercial truck is a formidable opponent in a collision. For this reason, most deaths in large truck accidents are of passenger vehicle occupants. Because of a commercial truck’s size, an accident can involve multiple passenger vehicles, increasing the risk for all cars on the road at the time of an accident.
Q: What are the most common factors that contribute to large truck accidents?
A: Commercial trucks require special skill and attention to drive. The driver must have quick reaction time and coordination, as an over-adjustment while driving or a slow response can result in catastrophic consequences. An over-adjustment can cause the truck to jackknife, but a slow response is even more likely to cause a collision given that loaded trucks can take 20-40 percent farther to stop than cars. Truck drivers also frequently travel along unfamiliar roads. Because they are traversing the country, they don’t always know what the stretch of road in front of them is like. Add to all this the large blind spots in semi-trucks and the likelihood that a truck driver is fatigued or distracted, and the risks become obvious.
Q: I was injured in an accident with a commercial truck. Who is responsible for my injuries?
A: To determine if another party owes you for your injuries or property damage, it is important to understand if another party was negligent. If the truck driver failed to comply with any regulations or traffic laws, this is good evidence of negligence. If the trucking company hired an unqualified driver or failed to keep up with routine maintenance on the vehicle, they may be at fault. To recover from the trucking company, you must be able to show that the driver was acting in the course of their employment and was not an independent contractor. If the truck was assembled improperly or a part was faulty, the manufacturer may be responsible. Understanding fault can be a complicated analysis but is important to figure out who was legally responsible for the accident for you to secure a full recovery.
Q: What kind of compensation can I expect after a truck accident?
A: The damages you recover will depend on the type and extent of your injuries. Common damages recovered after a truck accident include:
- Medical expenses like doctor’s bills, the cost of a hospital stay, and any long-term rehabilitation or care;
- Loss of income for any time you missed at work due to your injuries as well as any work you might miss in the future;
- If your injuries limit your ability to perform your job or to advance in your career, you may be able to recover lost future earning potential;
- If your vehicle or any other property was damaged, you may be compensated for repair or replacement of the damaged property;
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the accident and injuries; and
- Compensation for your inability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed.
Proving damages can be a complicated process, and the party at fault may not want to pay their fair share. Establishing a strong argument for damages may require consultation with a medical expert or an actuary.
Q: I was injured in an accident with a commercial truck. What should I do now?
A: Most importantly, take care of your injuries. Even if you don’t feel like you were hurt, make sure you seek medical attention. Some injuries are not immediately noticeable and others may be masked by the adrenaline from the accident. After you have taken care of your health, consider contacting a licensed attorney who can help you develop a comprehensive strategy for proving fault and securing recovery.
If You Were Injured in a Truck Accident, Contact a Skilled San Antonio Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a semi accident, you are no doubt traumatized. The skilled personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of George Salinas know you are going through a difficult time, and we’re here to help. We have the experience, dedication, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your rightful compensation. Please contact or call us at (210) 225-0909 to schedule an appointment today.
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