Earlier this year, in February, a driver of a Mercedes sedan was killed in Massachusetts after being involved in a crash with a tractor trailer truck in Springfield, Massachusetts. According to 22 News, the tractor trailer truck was pulling out of a parking lot when the Mercedes hit him and slid under the trailer. As a result of the accident, the Mercedes driver died at the scene of the crash and the truck driver was not hurt.
While this news report is an extreme example of a commercial truck crash, they do not always result in death. However, many victims involved in a commercial truck crash suffer extreme and permanent injuries. This is because commercial trucks are massive vehicles and significantly heavier than a general passenger vehicle, such as a sedan. A fully-loaded commercial truck typically weighs about 80,000 pounds or more, which is approximately 26 times the amount a passenger vehicle weighs. The size and weight difference between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle is the likely the reason these type of accidents result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Examples of injuries people suffer in tractor trailer accidents include broken bones, debilitating back injuries, and severe scarring. Recently, our office has been handling a case where a woman suffered a massive laceration to her face, among other injuries, that resulted in nearly 50 sutures. The laceration has left a severe scar. The laceration was a result of the broken glass after a tractor trailer carlessly changed lanes on the highway and nearly crushed our client's car.
Types of Accidents Caused by Commercial Truck Drivers
Drivers of commercial trucks are said to be skilled and professional drivers. However, the size and weight of a commercial truck increase the risk of an accident. There are a number of reasons a truck driver may contribute to truck accidents:
- Inadequate driving technique. A truck driver often drives for hours at a time, consequently causing exhaustion to the driver. An exhausted truck driver may not be as alert to use defensive driving techniques and aware of safety concerns. An 18-wheeler tractor trailer truck, for example, has several large blind spots that may be overlooked when the driver is too tired.
- Systems of compensation. A commercial truck driver is often encouraged to drive at a faster speed to complete more shipments in a decreased amount of time.
- Unrealistic schedules. Trucking companies often expect their drivers to hurry, or speed, in order to deliver packages in time. Speeding automatically decreases safety and increases the of risks of an accident when driving.
Preventing Truck Accidents
In 2016, there was a 7% to 8% increase of fatalities in car accidents involving a truck or bus. Knowing and understanding safety measures can help decrease your chances of being a victim of a truck accident. A safety measure you have full control over, is regularly scheduling and attending maintenance checks for your vehicle. Keeping your vehicle up to date can help ensure your safety. A maintenance check can determine brake damage and other safety related components. A car that is not properly maintained is a hazard to the driver and others on the road.
Another key element to increase your safety is to always wear your seat belt. A seat belt is your number one defense mechanism against negligent drivers. Properly wearing and buckling your seat belt can decrease your risk of a serious injury by 50%. Your seat belt should be worn across both your chest and your lap and securely buckled in the correct fastener.
Lastly, try not to drive for periods of time in a truck drivers blind spot. A large truck, such as an 18-wheeler has several blind spots where they cannot see. A commercial tractor trailer truck has 4 blind spots you should be aware of. These blind spots are right behind the trailer, both sides of the truck, and in the front of the truck. A general rule when driving close to a large truck is: if you cannot see the truck driver, he cannot see you. For example, if you are driving on the driver’s side of an 18-wheeler truck and you cannot see the drivers face in his mirror, he probably cannot see your car, either.
Getting Legal Help
A personal injury case involving a commercial truck presents unusual issues. There are a number of federal and state regulations to be examined and investigated in order to successfully pursue a claim for bodily injury. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
As with any personal injury claim, there are three factors when evaluating a car accident: negligence, liability, and damages. Negligence is defined as the failure to execute reasonable care. For example, in a personal injury truck accident case, negligence can be determined if a driver was speeding or failed to follow road signs and symbols. Negligence determines liability. Liability is the legal responsibility for an act. Therefore, if negligence is proven, it can be determined that the negligent driver is liable for the accident and injuries caused to the accident victim. Damages are the injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering the accident victim incurs. A claim for bodily injury seeks monetary compensation for the damages the injured party suffers.
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP is a law office dedicated to representing accident victims. Our goal is to get clients the maximum financial compensation that they deserve for the injuries and damages they suffered. If you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident, please contact us online or call (508) 879-3500 for a free meeting to discuss your claim. We would be happy to speak with you.