Accidents are bound to happen wherever there’s traffic. Often, commercial vehicles cause traffic accidents, which creates a whole additional list of issues to any accident case. Commercial drivers are held to higher safety standards than are other drivers because they operate commercial vehicles—these can include semi-trucks, buses, and the like.
If you were injured in a traffic accident by the negligence of a commercial vehicle, you need an experienced commercial vehicle attorney to identify the many unique elements that will come into play—from the extensive damages to the overwhelming aftereffects. The experienced commercial accident lawyers at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, are committed to aggressively advocating in defense of your claim. With 20 years of experience, our large, dedicated legal team has the skill, knowledge, and determination to fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days at week, at 800-898-4877, or send us an email by .
Commercial Drivers and Accidents
Because commercial drivers are professional drivers who spend much of their time behind the wheels of large vehicles, they are held to strict safety rules and regulations. In fact, both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) enforce strict regulations that govern truckers and other commercial drivers. Furthermore, each state implements additional safety standards.
The government heavily regulates truckers because semi-truck accidents are so exceedingly dangerous. When you get behind the wheel of your car, you take on the immense responsibility of driving safely and helping to keep the roads safer for everyone. Truck drivers shoulder even more exacting safety responsibilities.
Commercial Truck Driver Error
Consumer demand drives the trucking industry, and as this demand continues to skyrocket, so to do the harsh demands on truckers and trucking companies alike. Both truckers and the companies that employ them feel the sting of this ever-growing demand and attendant scheduling constraints. As a result, adherence to safety rules and regulations sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t, however, mitigate the responsibility that both truckers and trucking companies owe to safe trucking.
Fatigue – Truck drivers and other commercial drivers face extreme scheduling challenges—it’s the nature of their work. Nevertheless, they must adequately address this issue to ensure that it’s safe for them to get behind the wheels of their rigs. Fatigue is a common culprit in truck accidents. Federal and state hours of service regulations combat this challenge. These rules place strict parameters on consecutive driving hours, hours driven within a specific period, mandatory rest breaks, the maximum number of driving sessions within specific timeframes, and more. Fatigued commercial drivers are more likely to experience functional impairments that can include decreased alertness, longer reaction times, diminished attention, and increased likelihood of making unsafe decisions. Fatigued truckers are dangerous truckers.
Distraction – Commercial drivers must exclusively pay attention to the task at hand—driving safely—when they get behind the wheels of their rigs. The FMCSA defines distraction as any diversion of driver attention (by competing activities) from activities critical to safe driving. Distracted truckers are dangerous truckers who are far more likely to cause commercial vehicle accidents, as these dire statistics illustrate:
- About 71 percent of large-truck accidents occurred when the trucker was engaged in something besides the sole task of operating a truck
- The inattention of drivers is the primary factor in traffic accidents and near-accidents.
- Texting increases a driver’s risk of a safety-critical driving incident by 23 times.
- Texting for five seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour is tantamount to driving blind for the entire length of a football field.
All told, the FMCSA finds that texting is among the most dangerous distractions in the distraction arsenal—exactly because it engages the trucker’s hands, eyes, and thoughts, which truck drivers should all train on maneuvering safely over the road ahead. In fact, the law prohibits commercial motor vehicle operators from texting while driving.
Unhealthy lifestyles – Truckers often live solitary and sedentary lives that aren’t conducive to healthy lifestyles. Truckers—and many other kinds of commercial drivers—spend long hours on the road with tight scheduling constraints and attendant stress, few healthy food choices, little opportunity for exercise, and plenty of boredom. Furthermore, these combined conditions can lead commercial drivers to develop problems with alcohol and drugs, which exacerbate crash risks. All told, the unhealthy lifestyle inherent to trucking can contribute to increased accident rates.
Other Causes of Trucking Accidents
Many commercial vehicle accidents are caused by driver error, but that’s far from the only consideration.
Commercial vehicle accidents are often more complicated than typical car accidents because they’re far more likely to involve multiple defendants. In a typical car accident, the negligent driver usually faces responsibility, and the claim proceeds from this perspective. A truck accident, on the other hand, may well involve driver negligence, but an experienced truck accident attorney will consider other important variables:
The trucking company – The trucking company is responsible for hiring safe, experienced truck drivers who are healthy enough to fulfill the demands of the position. If a trucker with inadequate experience or skill causes an accident, the trucking company itself may shoulder some of the responsibility. Furthermore, the trucking company is responsible for ensuring that its fleet is safe, well-maintained, and roadworthy. This includes both implementing a regular and thorough maintenance schedule and hiring a highly skilled and experienced maintenance crew to put this schedule into practice. In addition, it’s the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure that its commercial drivers aren’t pushed beyond the boundaries of safe driving schedules and that they adhere to federal and state rules and regulations. Overall, the trucking company bears a significant responsibility when it comes to commercial truck accidents.
The truck manufacturer – The truck manufacturer is responsible for providing the trucking company with a safe vehicle in the first place. Commercial trucks and buses are obviously complicated machines that require exacting manufacturing processes. Sometimes, however, design flaws, faulty construction, or the incorporation of unsafe or faulty parts can contribute to or cause commercial vehicle accidents.
The truck mechanics – The trucking company is responsible for hiring an experienced and well-qualified crew of mechanics, but the mechanics themselves are responsible for the work that they do. If they perform faulty work, the mechanic involved may share liability for any truck accident that ensues as a result.
Injuries Common to Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Truck accidents are often catastrophic, and they can cause any number of serious, debilitating injuries. Several significant injuries are common to these devastating accidents:
Traumatic brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by blunt force to the head or by the whipping back and forth of the head—as often happens in vehicular accidents. In fact, the Mayo Clinic finds that traffic accidents are a major cause of these dangerous injuries. Because TBIs damage your brain’s functioning, they’re both extremely serious and highly unpredictable. Furthermore, these injuries don’t always present symptoms at the time of the accident, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and more serious health consequences. Many TBI victims describe the injuries as altering their very sense of self, which can prove especially demoralizing and difficult to overcome.
Spinal cord injuries – can cause significant alterations in body strength, functioning, and sensation below the injury site. The ability of victims to control the movement in their limbs depends on the severity and location of their injuries. The significance of such injuries is difficult to overstate, with negative physical, emotional, and social consequences.
Broken bones – Broken bones are exceedingly painful and often slow to heal. Furthermore, broken bones sometimes heal poorly, leading to serious complications and even permanent disabilities. Never underestimate the seriousness of a broken bone or the significant consequences of such an injury.
Your Commercial Truck Accident
It bears repeating that truck accidents are among the deadliest on our roads. Semi-trucks are many, many times the size and weight of the cars we drive, and as such, they present immense dangers. If you were injured by a commercial vehicle, seek immediate medical attention, then consult with an experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney. While every truck accident is unique, the damages associated with these accidents often fall into the following categories:
Medical expenses – Truck accidents can wreak nearly incalculable physical injuries and medical expenses, which include emergency transportation and care, surgery and aftercare, treatment and care from doctors and specialists, follow-up care and aftercare, prescription medications, adaptive physical devices, home adaptations, and home healthcare. Furthermore, the serious injuries caused by a commercial vehicle accident can leave long-term consequences that aren’t always apparent in the accident’s immediate aftermath. Your skilled commercial vehicle lawyer will help evaluate the full scope of your injuries in your accident claim.
Lost wages – The serious nature of commercial vehicle accidents nearly guarantees that you will lose both hours and wages on the job. Furthermore, the injuries you incur may leave you with an uncertain career path and lost earning potential. Such eventualities not only devastate your long-term finances—they can ruin your sense of self. Our careers are so closely tied with our places in the world that job upsets such as those wrought by a truck accident can prove especially devastating. You worked hard to set your career path on a specific trajectory, and in the blink of an eye—and due to someone else’s negligence—all of that changed. Victims of such setbacks often experience powerful emotional consequences, including self-isolation, depression, and increased anxiety.
Pain and suffering – Accidents involving large commercial vehicles, like semis, can leave victims terrified. In fact, many victims of these accidents suffer PTSD, or symptoms like that continue to haunt them for months or years. These accidents can lead to severe, extremely difficult to overcome emotional disturbances.
The repercussions associated with commercial truck accidents are difficult to overstate. Allow your experienced commercial vehicle attorney to carefully assess all of your damages and aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled. Although no settlement or verdict can ever give you back what you lost in the accident, just compensation can help you better navigate the difficult path toward recovering your health as fully as possible.
If You Were Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult an Experienced Commercial Vehicle Attorney Today
Semi-trucks and other kinds of commercial vehicles, such as passenger buses and tanker trucks that haul hazardous materials, are all held to strict governmental safety restrictions for very good reasons—because their size, weight, and activities make them among the most dangerous vehicles on our roadways. Commercial vehicles get involved in accidents with often catastrophic results.
The dedicated legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, understands how much difficulty and trauma these accidents can cause, and our experienced commercial vehicle attorneys have the skill, determination, and commitment to tirelessly fight for your just compensation. Our nationally recognized team of personal injury lawyers has protected the rights of injured truck accident victims for more than 20 years. If you or a family member was recently injured in a car accident, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to look out for your best interests.