Whether commuting, going to the grocery store, or taking a leisure trip, you will likely see commercial trucks when out on the road. You’ll see them on the highway and secondary roads, and you most likely never give them a second thought. However, if a commercial truck hits you, it could cause catastrophic injuries or even death. A driver, someone else, or something else could cause a truck accident.
Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Several factors could cause a commercial truck accident, including factors outside of the driver’s control, including:
A driver could lose control of a truck because of:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Fatigue and/or tiredness.
- Distracted driving.
- An illness.
- Speeding or excessive speeding.
- Aggressive driving.
- The driver did not secure his or her load properly or ensure that a loader secured the load properly.
- Lack of training. New drivers with little or no experience have a higher risk of getting into an accident.
- When a driver fails to keep his or her truck properly maintained.
In some cases, other drivers could cause the accident with their actions or inactions. For instance, if a driver merges in front of a truck too closely and causes the driver to slam on his or her brakes, the driver could lose control of the truck because of the swaying or jackknifing trailer.
Drivers could also hang in the truck driver’s blind spot or pull up on the right side of the driver making a wide right turn. Other drivers could also swerve into a truck or approach a truck head-on in the truck’s lane.
Environmental and Other Factors
A truck driver, no matter how much care he or she exercises, could get into an accident because of road conditions and weather conditions. If the municipality responsible for the road does not maintain the road, it could cause an accident. For example, if the Department of Transportation does not fill a large pothole and the truck driver cannot avoid it because of the proximity of others, hitting the pothole hard enough could cause the driver to lose control.
The weather could also cause a truck accident. An unexpected strong wind could flip the truck over. As the driver comes around a corner, the sun could suddenly blind the driver for a few seconds, causing the driver to lose control.
Additionally, the truck maintenance person could install defective parts (unknown to the maintenance person) or mistake replacing parts. Maintenance personnel, parts manufacturers, and even the truck or trailer manufacturer could share in the responsibility for an accident.
In some cases, although the truck driver’s environment caused the accident, the truck driver could share in the responsibility for the accident if the driver did not take action to minimize the danger. For example, if a passenger vehicle pulls in front of a truck driver without warning, but the truck driver does not slow down as soon as he or she notices the passenger car infringing on his or her lane, the driver could share partial liability in the accident. Of course, if the driver makes a sudden move, one cannot expect a driver to react in time.
Truck Accident Injuries
Because of the size of a commercial vehicle, including its weight, especially a tractor-trailer, you face a higher chance of sustaining severe or catastrophic injuries in a truck accident. A fully loaded tractor-trailer could weigh up to 80,000 pounds if not overloaded. With an oversize load, the truck could weigh over 100,000 pounds.
While you could sustain minor injuries, such as scratches, cuts, and scrapes, you also have a higher risk of sustaining:
- Road rash.
- Strains and sprains.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Fatal injuries.
If a truck driver or another driver caused the accident that caused your injuries, you could recover damages, including compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include those that make you whole again. A court could order punitive damages if it finds that the at-fault driver engaged in grossly negligent or intentional actions.
The court could order a defendant to pay two types of compensatory damages: economic damages, which have a monetary value, and non-economic damages, which do not have an easily determinable monetary value.
Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged property, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, and funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
Medical expenses include:
- Doctor’s appointments and surgeries.
- Ambulatory aids.
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs as ordered by a medical professional.
- Upgrades to a vehicle, such as hand controls.
- Upgrades to your home, such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and labor and materials to widen doorways.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make permanent life changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time, activities, and events with family and friends.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as an arm or foot.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, such as grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, house cleaning, and home repair and maintenance.
- Compensation for excessive scarring, disfigurement, and/or amputation.
As for punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant engaged in grossly negligent or intentional actions before the court will order the defendant to pay punitive damages. The court uses punitive damages to punish the defendant’s egregious behavior rather than making the plaintiff whole again.
If you sustained injuries in a commercial truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer for a free case evaluation and to determine your eligibility to pursue compensation for the full cost of your injuries.