Commercial trucks that come into contact with passenger vehicles pose a significant risk of serious injury and death to those in standard sized automobiles. In the year 2013 alone, almost 4,000 people were fatally injured in collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. Almost 70% of those killed were traveling in cars, vans and small trucks. Commercial truck companies have a responsibility to ensure that their truck drivers are properly screened, trained and operating their trucks in accordance with the safety regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The leading cause of commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue that results from those who continue to operate their big rigs when they are overtired from long shifts and stressful conditions. Drowsy driving has been a topic of discussion among industry officials with evidence showing this phenomenon can be as lethal as drunk driving. Truck drivers who operate their vehicles outside of the specified limits set forth by the FMCSA put themselves and everyone else on the road in danger.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put limits on the amount of consecutive hours a driver can work, have initiated mandated rest periods, and have even begun using electronic logs for drivers to enforce these safety regulations. Drivers and employers who allow drivers to violate these regulations can be penalized and fined.
Other causes of trucking accidents include poorly maintained vehicles that have worn tires or brakes that do not work effectively. Speeding and distracted driving are also common causes of accidents involving trucks. Drivers trying to meet tight deadlines or those distracted by electronic navigation systems or cell phones pose a significant risk of a collision. Cargo shifting that results from unsecured loads or overloaded trucks can also cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Aggressive driving and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol pose the most serious risks of all.
The sheer mass of a commercial tractor trailer creates the potential for severe and sometimes fatal injuries when an accident occurs. Truck drivers can be injured in collisions, but the occupants of passenger vehicles are more often seriously or fatally injured by these big rigs, which can weigh up to 30 times more than a motor vehicle. Broken bones, internal bleeding and organ damage; lacerations; amputations; decapitations; and severe head trauma are common in truck accidents. Trucks carrying flammable or hazardous wastes pose a risk for injury not only to the vehicles they collide with, but also to surrounding homes and neighborhoods if a spill occurs. Gasoline and fuel spilled out onto the highway can combust and cause life-threatening burns.
Commercial trucking companies can be held accountable for injuries and fatalities suffered, and truck drivers can be held personally responsible for unsafe driving that results from operator error, driving while intoxicated, drowsy or distracted driving, and for non-compliance with federal safety laws and regulations.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it is imperative that you obtain as much information as possible to assist you in any possible litigation. If injuries are not too severe and if the roads are safe to navigate, taking pictures of the accident scene is very helpful for recalling important details. All those involved in the truck accident need to first be evaluated for injuries, even if there are no obvious wounds or bleeding. Those with suspected injuries need to be taken to the nearest hospital or trauma center to be medically evaluated.
The police should always be called to the scene so that an official report can be filed. Each driver’s license and registration should be recorded and contact information obtained. Insurance information needs to be taken down as well. Witness names, contact information and statements are often vital to proving who is at fault in an accident, so time should be taken to record this information.
Now that phones are commonplace among most people, pictures should be taken of any suspected evidence that could prove responsibility for the truck accident. Worn tires on the truck, drivers who appear to be intoxicated, road conditions, injuries and witness videos can all provide pertinent information to reach a successful settlement.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and dedicated team of Monmouth County truck accident lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. can help protect your rights while fighting for the highest level of compensation available to you under the law.
Call us today at 732-493-9400, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Ocean Township, New Jersey serving clients throughout Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, and the townships of Long Branch, Neptune, Asbury Park, Middletown, Ocean Township, Freehold, Wall, Belmar and Sea Girt.