According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are over 140,000 truck accidents that occur in the United States resulting in significant physical harm to drivers and property damage. As I mention on my law firm’s website, HSinjurylaw.com, when a sedan or SUV is hit by a commercial truck, the smaller vehicle usually bears the brunt of the damage often causing extensive injuries to the driver and any occupants. Just over half of those big rig wrecks were primarily caused by the negligence of the commercial truck operator.
Causes of Car versus Truck Accidents
Operating a commercial truck or 18-wheeler is a tremendous responsibility. One mistake and you can cause a major wreck that harms multiple people. Many commercial truck operators do a fantastic job and exercise the necessary precautions to prevent potential collisions while operating on major roads and highways like Interstate 95 and Interstate 64. Nevertheless, there are some truck operators who throw caution to the wind and operate their big rig recklessly, or are pushed by the trucking company to ignore federal regulations to “get the job done.” According to the FMCSA, these are some of the most reasons commercial trucks get involved in accidents with other vehicles:
- Prescription Drug Use
- Lack of Familiarity with the Road
- Illegal Maneuvering
- Exterior Distraction
- Inadequate Evasive Action
- Aggressive Driving Behavior
Truck Accidents Have Deadly Consequences
Each year, commercial trucking accidents result in over five thousand deaths. Many of these losses are preventable by practicing safe driving around tractor-trailers and by trucking companies exercising strict control over their drivers to ensure large commercial big rigs are operated safely. Trucking companies need to require their drivers to keep thorough logbooks and properly record the time and distance traveled. Failing to do so creates the basis for pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver and the trucking company.
My firm has extensive experience in the area of commercial truck accident injury and death claims. For example, we represented the family of a man who was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 64 in Norfolk, Virginia. The impact of the collision was so severe that both the car and the truck caught on fire. Our client, only 25 years old at the time, died in the accident.
Our law firm was retained by the victim’s widow to represent the interests of our client’s family, including a young daughter. We filed suit against the truck operator and his company. The truck operator, during a deposition, admitted that he did not see the passenger vehicle until a few seconds before the collision. We also established that the story given by the truck driver to the state troopers at the scene of the crash was inaccurate.
The defense argued that the driver of the sedan carrying our client caused the crash by going 25 mph on the highway at night without hazards on. An independent witness indicated that the car was going extremely slowly and that he was barely able to avoid hitting the car himself. However, the evidence indicated that the tractor trailer operator violated several safety rules from the Virginia CDL Manual and that the operator was not taking the necessary medication to treat a known diabetic condition at the time of the collision. We mediated the case and were able to reach a settlement of $3.5 million for our client’s family.
As you can see, when a large commercial truck collides with a sedan, pickup truck, or SUV, the consequences can be devastating. If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact an experienced attorney in your area to discuss your legal options.
Richard N. Shapiro, Esq. is a partner at the Virginia Beach personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Appleton & Duffan. Rick has practiced personal injury law for over two decades. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and is licensed to practice law in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. He also holds the AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, one of the most respected lawyer rating companies in the country and is recognized as a Virginia “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters.