Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities. A tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded as compared to a passenger car that typically weighs about 4000 to 5,000 pounds, or less. A pickup truck weighs between 4400 pounds and 6000 pounds. When a truck and a pickup or passenger car collide, there is no question as to which occupants face the most risk of serious injury or death.
A recent accident in Everett highlighted the forces involved when a truck collides with a pickup. In this particular incident, an Everett DPW truck t-boned a pickup truck on North Broadway, effectively severing it. The pickup driver sustained serious injuries but his two passengers were apparently killed instantly. Photos of the aftermath show a catastrophic collision. Although police did not provide the cause of the accident, it is not a stretch to assume that the DPW truck was traveling at a high rate of speed at impact, given the devastation that all but destroyed the pickup. It is also possible that either driver may have been distracted or inattentive, fell asleep, failed to obey a traffic sign, or was making an unsafe turn.
The DPW truck driver was reportedly able to exit his vehicle but suffered a fractured pelvis. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Factors in Truck Accidents
Truck accidents occur for variety of reasons:
- Speed–the is the number one factor in trucking accidents according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Trucks are not permitted to travel faster than 55 miles per hour on freeways and slower if traffic and weather conditions dictate it
- Alcohol and drug impairment–some trucking companies do not administer drug testing or the companies or drivers may falsify results. There are truck drivers who ingest speed, methamphetamine, cocaine or other drugs to keep them awake to meet deadlines
- Distraction and inattention--this is the second most common factor after speeding with cell phone use the primary tool of distraction
- Improper loading–loads that are too heavy or improperly secured are responsible for thousands of accidents each year
- Driver fatigue (drivers allowed only 11 hours driving after 10-hours off)–long hours over endless highways after little sleep the night before is extremely hazardous and is a major factor
- Improper maintenance–if not checked regularly, this can lead to brake and steering failures, blown ties and ripped cargo lines
- Reckless and unsafe driving–unsafe lane changes, failure to check a blind spot, ignoring traffic signals and not yielding are not uncommon practices for bored, fatigued, or simply ill-trained drivers
- Inexperience–new drivers or those driving unfamiliar rigs pose substantial threats; not braking properly, speeding, making unsafe turns and taking risks to meet deadlines are all characteristics of an inexperienced driver
Truck Driver and Trucking Company Liability
Most trucks are commercial carriers involved in interstate commerce. Drivers and companies are strictly regulated by state and federal laws and regulations, notably the FMCSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Drivers are held to high standards of care to the public. In many states, when a driver or truck company violates a law, rule or regulation related to public safety and which is intended to protect a class of people, then it is considered negligence per se, or a rebuttable presumption that the driver was negligent. For example, if your Massachusetts truck accident lawyer can show that a driver’s log or data indicates that the driver violated rest and driving time regulations, then it is negligence if you are alleging driver fatigue as an accident factor since rest and driving hours regulations are in the public interest. In Massachusetts, however, it is simply evidence of negligence.
Your truck accident lawyer still must prove 1) the driver had a duty of care to the injured driver, passenger or pedestrian; 2), the driver breached that duty of care by driving in violation of a regulation such as on rest and driving hours; 3) the driver’s breach was a proximate cause of the accident (fatigue leading to loss of control); and 4) the injured party suffered injuries and other damages as a result.
A truck accident lawyer can prove negligence by obtaining certain evidence of a failure to exercise care in the operation of the truck including:
- Driver logs (written or digital) –records hours driving, all stops, fueling
- Data downloaded from the truck’s on-board safety device or computer
- Maintenance records
- Driver personnel records on training and qualifications, driving record
- Post-accident drug test results
- Inspection of physical damage to truck and other involved vehicle
- Eyewitness testimony
- Videos from on-board truck camera or at scene of accident from intersection or adjoining businesses
- Inspection of the truck’s brakes, steering system, safety systems, brakes, cargo, cargo lines
- Statement from the driver that contradicts the physical evidence and testimony of neutral witnesses
Damages in a Truck Accident
Typical damages in a truck accident include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain the Law Offices of Burns and Jain
Trucking accidents pose different and often more difficult issues regarding liability. Have an experienced and knowledgeable truck accident lawyer from Burns and Jain handle your truck accident injury claim so you can obtain the most compensation for your injury. With decades of experience and millions of dollars gained for injured clients, you are assured of quality representation. Call us today for a free consultation: (617) 227-7423.