While commercial truck accidents do not receive as much attention as passenger vehicle accidents, they are often more serious. By law, vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds are considered trucks, but many trucks are much larger and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In comparison, the average passenger vehicle weighs only 3,000 pounds. The larger size and weight of trucks makes it more likely that serious injuries or death will result when they are involved in an accident. Trucks may also be hauling bulky or hazardous cargo that increases the risk of injuries and fatalities in an accident.
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), over 500,000 trucks were involved in accidents on U.S. roads in 2010. Those accidents resulted in approximately 100,000 victims with serious injuries and over 5,000 deaths. In the previous year, only 3,200 truck accident fatalities were reported. Experts predict these statistics will rise in the next few years as the number of trucks on the roads is expected to increase more than 20 percent by 2012.
Many truck accidents are someone else’s fault. If someone else’s actions or inactions cause an accident, the victims may be able to recover financial damages for injuries or the death of loved ones. These damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and other accident-related expenses.
Legally, a truck accident is defined as an incident or a series of incidents involving a vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds that results in property damage, bodily injury and/or death. The majority of these accidents are found to have been caused by or exacerbated by the fault of another.
For accident victims to receive compensation, the truck accident must meet the following three criteria:
- The truck accident occurred due to the fault or recklessness of another.
- The victim’s injury or death was caused by the accident.
- The injuries resulted in compensable damages.
Negligence is proven through several forms of evidence like police reports, photographs and testimony from experts and witnesses. In many cases, other evidence may also prove helpful in determining negligence. This other evidence includes signs of driver impairment such as lack of sleep and drug or alcohol use.
If you or a loved one have been injured, contact an Arizona truck accident lawyer today!
Truck accidents may result from a variety of circumstances or a combination of multiple contributing factors. In many instances, accidents occur after laws have been violated. Traffic violations that may lead to an accident include speeding, failing to yield, improper turning or lane changing and driving too closely to another vehicle. The risk of accidents from these law violations is greater with trucks than with passenger vehicles because trucks have more mass and corrective actions require more time and effort.
Driver error is one of the more common causes of truck accidents. Driver error is often due to one or more of the following conditions:
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Reckless driving
- Improper loading
- Lack of training
Of these causes, fatigue is the leading cause of driver error. Several measures are in place to help guard against driving without sufficient sleep. Truck drivers are required to go off duty after 14 consecutive hours of driving, and they may not log more than 60 hours of driving in a seven-day period. In addition, drivers are required to go off duty for 34 consecutive hours after a seven or eight day duty cycle.
Another common cause of truck accidents in Arizona is equipment failure. Commercial trucking companies or truck owners are required to perform regular maintenance according to a strict schedule. This maintenance includes all of the following truck components:
- Fuel line
- Wheels and tires
Negligence in truck accidents is not limited to the truck drivers and trucking companies. Accidents may also occur because of road conditions or faulty road design. When roads are not maintained properly or are poorly designed, a government body may be found to be the negligent party in a truck accident.
Injuries resulting from truck accidents can be very serious or fatal. Medical treatment for many truck accident injuries is also very limited. Some injuries can cause permanent disabilities that include brain damage and paralysis. Some of the common injuries suffered by the victims of truck accidents are as follows:
- Brain injury – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from objects making direct contact with the head or from violent movement of the head that causes the brain to bounce against the skull. Brain injuries can cause permanent mental impairment and loss of motor skills.
- Spinal injury – Spinal injuries are very serious because they can result in partial or total paralysis. Spinal injuries may occur in the lower spine or in the neck.
- Back injury – Herniated discs and other back injuries may result from truck accidents. Some of these injuries take years of physical therapy and pain management to treat.
- Burns – Fires may occur during truck accidents, especially when the truck involved is carrying flammable cargo. Burns are extremely painful and can be disfiguring.
- Fractures, lacerations and contusions – Broken bones, cuts and bruises are the most common injuries in truck accidents. Many of these injuries are highly treatable, but they are often accompanied by more serious injuries.
Many victims of truck accidents decide to let their case be handled by insurance companies, but this is often a mistake. Insurance companies increase their profits by paying out the least possible amount and neglecting to pay for some legitimate damages. In addition, insurance companies in no-fault insurance states often do not properly investigate the circumstances causing or exacerbating the accident.
An experienced Arizona truck accident attorney can protect your rights and make sure you receive the full financial compensation you deserve.