When there’s an auto accident involving two or more vehicles, the crash can be a traumatic and devastating event for all parties involved. However, when a traffic accident involves a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle, the outcome can be on a much larger scale and result in a catastrophic event. If you were involved in a truck crash in Kentucky, a Paducah truck accident lawyer can help you recover.
It’s a simple fact that truck accidents—that is, any crash involving a large commercial truck such as a semi-truck, big rig, 18-wheeler, or other type of vehicle with a tractor trailer—are inherently more deadly than regular accidents between two smaller passenger vehicles. Large commercial trucks carry exponentially more weight than non-commercial vehicles. Since these trucks are larger, heavier and pack more force, trucking accidents have the capacity to cause serious injuries and/or death.
How deadly are these accidents, exactly? Let’s find out.
Kentucky Truck Accident Statistics and Facts
In 2015, 247,390 vehicles were involved in traffic collisions in Kentucky. Only 4% of those accidents involved large commercial trucks, but almost 9% of the total number of fatalities caused by those accidents occurred in collisions with trucks. It’s a simple fact that truck accidents are deadlier than crashes between smaller vehicles.
Nationwide truck accident fatality statistics confirm this. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 4,000 individuals were killed in large truck accidents in 2014 nationwide. 111,000 more were injured. These numbers are astonishing during an era when motor vehicles are more technologically advanced than they’ve ever been.
Top Causes of Truck Crashes in Kentucky
Why do so many trucking accidents occur? The answer to this question is complicated, but we can begin to discover the answer when we examine the most common causes for truck accidents in our state. Here are the top causes for 2015:
- Inattention – 40% of Kentucky truck crashes were caused by a driver of either a truck or passenger vehicle that was inattentive.
- Loss of Truck Control – 39% of truck accidents were caused when a truck driver lost control of their vehicle. In many cases, loss of control occurs after making a poor decision, driving too fast for conditions, or after a truck’s brakes malfunction, for example. Overloading a truck can also cause loss of control.
- Failure to Yield Proper Right-of-Way – 14% of accidents were caused when a truck driver or passenger vehicle driver failed to adhere to proper right-of-way laws. Large trucks take longer to slow and stop. Failing to properly yield to a commercial truck almost always results in disaster.
- Driving Too Fast for Conditions – 10% of all crashes occurred when either driver drove too fast for conditions.
- Disregarding Traffic Control – 8% of crashes were caused when a truck driver or passenger vehicle driver disregarded a traffic sign and/or other type of traffic control.
- Alcohol Involvement – 6% of accidents were caused by driving while impaired by alcohol. Alcohol continues to be one of the major causes of car accidents in our nation and is preventable.
- Exceeding Stated Speed Limit – 6% of crashes were caused by exceeding a posted speed limit. Speed limits are posted for a reason and help save lives.
- Distracted Driving – 6% of all accidents were caused by drivers who were distracted by something while behind the wheel. This includes drivers who were distracted by their cell phones.
- Following Too Closely – 4% of all truck crashes occurred after a driver followed a truck too closely or a truck followed another vehicle too closely. Trucks require a great deal of extra room to slow or come to a complete stop.
- Overcorrecting/Oversteering – 4% of accidents were caused by a truck driver who misjudged a turn and oversteered or overcorrected the turn, resulting in a crash or overturned vehicle.
- Improper Turning – 3% of crashes resulted when a truck driver performed a turn unsafely. Commercial truck drivers are trained on how to properly make turns, but even an experienced driver may make an occasional mistake. Cargo overloading may also cause issues when turning.
- Fell Asleep/Driver Fatigue – 3% of accidents occurred after a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel or became too sleepy/fatigued to pay attention to the road.
The following additional causes each account for less than 3% of all accidents involving a commercial truck: Misjudging clearances, improper passing, physical disability, weaving in traffic, drug involvement, improper backing, loss of consciousness, medication, and driver sickness/emotional impairment.
By examining the above causes of truck accidents, we can see that certain causes appear more often than others. Inattention in conjunction with distracted driving is a major factor, as is a truck driver’s loss of control over the vehicle.
Most factors above can absolutely be prevented. Getting behind the wheel while distracted or unfocused on the task of driving is no excuse for an accident. Similarly, driving too fast for conditions, driving under the influence of alcohol, and failing to yield to the proper right-of-way can also be avoided.
When an innocent victim is involved in a truck accident that could have been avoided, we often say that negligence is to blame. When truck drivers get behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, they have a legal responsibility to drive safely and follow the laws of traffic. When this responsibility isn’t met, the driver may be found guilty of negligence by a jury or judge. This is a process we call civil litigation.
If you were involved in a wreck, filing a truck accident lawsuit can open many doors for you. The process of filing a claim and going through litigation is complex, but a skilled Kentucky truck accident lawyer will be able to guide you to ensure success. If your case succeeds, you may receive financial compensation that can go towards recovery costs, bills, loss of wage costs, and more. Additionally, the negligent driver learns an importance lesson: Being safe behind the wheel should be every driver’s priority.
The Truth About Truck Accident Litigation
Truck accident litigation is much different than the litigation that takes place after a regular car accident. This is due to the severity of the damage a truck or tractor trailer can cause as well as the fact that the U.S. trucking industry plays a major role during litigation. Both circumstances require special attention.
Most trucks are engaged in interstate commerce and are owned by and therefore the responsibility of companies or businesses rather than individuals. A truck driver’s actions behind the wheel are held to a much higher standard of care than other drivers on the road. Truck drivers are professionals and this must be taken into consideration during all aspects of litigation.
This also means that when a truck accident occurs, trucking corporations are often prepared to do whatever they can to claim that their driver was not at fault for the accident or that negligence did not occur. Trucking corporations are armed with powerful legal departments that can find hidden loopholes to avoid paying accident victims what they are owed. This is the reason a personal injury attorney is often essential for these types of cases.
Truck Accident Claims Are Complicated
The U.S. trucking agency has spent years fighting against technological upgrades like GPS systems, sideguards, and automatic brake sensors that may help dangerous accidents from occurring. Despite the fact that most of the passenger vehicles on the road today feature upgrades that can reduce the possibility of accidents, commercial trucks lag behind significantly. The fact that most trucks on Kentucky roads and highways are older also means that many trucks are prone to malfunctioning.
Because most trucks conduct interstate travel, they are governed by the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). With public dollars, the FMCSA is tasked with defining, enforcing, and fining for violations among drivers and/or owners of trucks, buses, large vans, and other large vehicles. But recently, there have been concerns about the FMCSA’s commitment to its task. In May 2006, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) sent a letter to congress that cast doubt on the data and reporting of the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. The LTCCS is the FMCSA’s annual report to Congress on the state of the nation’s highways.
Other advocacy groups have complained about the malaise and ineffectual efforts of the FMCSA in recent years. But when the federal government has an agenda that is unswervingly pro-business, agencies and departments that protect public safety are nearly always short on funds, as well as the courage to make an effective stand for the safety of Americans.
Getting Help from a Paducah Truck Accident Attorney
When federal government policy fails to protect innocent drivers and passengers from inattentive, intoxicated, reckless, or even unconscious truck drivers, a personal injury lawyer can help an injured victim obtain justice. When the U.S. trucking industry fails to keep improperly loaded or non-upgraded trucks, big rigs, and 18-wheelers off Kentucky roads, Paducah truck accident lawyer Daryl T. Dixon can help those injured as a result seek recovery.
For help with a truck accident injury claim in Kentucky, contact Daryl today. We can help your family move forward and recover from an accident that could have been avoided.