The trucking industry is an essential element of the U.S. economy, and commercial trucks remain the country’s largest transporter of goods. Though trucks are indispensable to interstate commerce, they are also involved in thousands of accidents each year. Truck accidents can occur on interstate highways, in rural areas, urban areas, and within work zones.
Truck driving accidents pose a significant risk to both passenger vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Large trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, which is about 20 to 30 times more weight than average passenger cars. Thereby, a collision with a truck can cause catastrophic and even fatal injuries.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) statistics show that truck accidents caused a total of 4,136 deaths in 2018. Out of those deaths, only 16 percent accounted for truck occupants. In contrast, 67 percent of deaths affected occupants and passengers of cars. The remaining 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists that lost their lives due to truck accidents.
Truck accidents have long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences. These accidents significantly impact victims and leave their family members devastated by pain, loss, and helplessness. Being involved in a truck accident is a scary and shocking experience. If you or your loved one suffered a truck accident contact an attorney to help you every step of the way and get you the compensation you deserve to assist in your recovery.
Distracted Truck Driving Can Cause Truck Accidents
Causes for truck accidents can vary, but distracted driving practices are among the major factors that contribute to deadly outcomes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving caused 2,841 deaths in one year alone. Driving is an activity that demands the driver’s full attention. Losing concentration for even a second can lead to devastating consequences.
Distractions can be anything that takes drivers’ attention away from the road in front of them and conditions around them or turns drivers’ attention away from driving. Even slight distractions can have grave consequences due to the complicated nature of operating a large truck.
Distracted truck driving practices include:
Texting is one of the deadliest distractions. Studies show that drivers who text while driving are about 23 times more likely to have an accident. In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued restrictions specifically for commercial drivers related to texting and phone calls. The FMCSA declared that phones contributed to near-crashes and lane departures. It emphasized that texting causes the driver to take their eyes off the road, even for a split second, which can be deadly.
As a result, FMCSA enacted rules banning truck drivers from the following cellphone activities while driving:
- Reading texts
- Reaching for their cellphone
- Holding a cellphone when making or receiving a call
- Dialing a cell phone that involves more than using one button
- Requesting access to a webpage
- Using any messaging service, including emails and instant messaging
In 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13513 banning texting while driving for all federal employees operating their vehicles for government business. Any violation of these rules can result in steep penalties, such as fines imposed against the trucker and the trucking company or revoking the trucker’s commercial license. Despite restrictions, negligent truck drivers still carry on these irresponsible distracted driving practices at the expense of others’ safety.
Retrieving a Dropped Object
It’s common for truck drivers to accidentally drop their personal belongings or other objects in the truck while driving. Attempting to retrieve dropped items can result in the temporary loss of vehicle control and unintended speed changes, thereby increasing the likelihood of a truck accident.
Looking at a Map
Nearly all truck drivers use navigation systems to help them get to where they need to go. However, when truck drivers check maps to determine routes, their attention is temporarily diverted from the task of driving, and they might not respond to changes in the driving scene appropriately.
Some truck drivers multitask by incorporating personal grooming into their driving routine when stopping at intersections. It’s possible to become too focused on grooming and fail to observe their surroundings when conditions change, such as the traffic light turning green.
Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking while driving is dangerous since drivers use their hands to reach for and hold food and beverage items. When drivers use their hands to eat or drink instead of holding onto the steering wheel or performing other necessary driving actions, they are more likely to cause truck accidents.
Truck drivers can get distracted by their thoughts while driving. If they start thinking about anything other than driving safely, they potentially jeopardize other drivers’ and pedestrians’ safety if their thoughts become so intrusive they cannot effectively operate their truck or respond to surrounding circumstances.
Types Of Injuries Caused by Distracted Truck Driving
Distracted truck driving can lead to catastrophic and even fatal injuries, including:
Impacts from truck accidents can lead to blunt trauma, resulting in internal bleeding affecting the liver, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and other major organs. These injuries can be challenging to treat and require immediate emergency medical care.
Head Injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries refer to damage or destruction of brain tissue resulting from a blow to the head. This type of injury is common in truck accidents due to the powerful impact imposed. A traumatic brain injury can be debilitating or life-threatening and often require extensive and urgent medical care.
Back and Neck Injuries
A collision with a truck can tear, sprain, or strain the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck and back.
Immediate symptoms of back and neck injuries include:
- Feelings of intense pain in the neck, back, or head
- Inability to move fingers or toes
- Inability to walk or loss of balance
- Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in body parts
- Unable to control bowels or bladder
- Difficulty in breathing
A truck accident victim’s bones can break when the body absorbs the significant collision impact. Broken bones sometimes require surgery and can take weeks or even months to recover.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The chance of suffering a severe spinal injury in a truck accident is high. The spinal cord is an essential part of the body, and spinal cord injuries can have debilitating effects, such as partial or total paralysis, which causes the victims to lose strength, function, and sensation below the injured area.
People who suffer spinal cord injuries can also experience bowel and bladder dysfunction, low blood pressure, chronic pain, inability to sweat below the level of damage, and reduced body temperature control. Many spinal cord injury victims cannot complete former job duties and daily responsibilities and activities after an accident. An inability to work following a spinal cord injury is especially common among construction and factory workers.
Even after receiving proper medical treatment for an extended period, a truck accident victim can still experience chronic pain resulting from serious injuries. Chronic pain requires prolonged medical attention and rehabilitation and can cause significant lifestyle impairments and emotional distress due to limitations.
Truck accidents can leave scars and other permanent marks on one’s face, limbs, or body. Facial injuries, burns, deep cuts or lacerations, and loss of limbs can all cause disfigurement.
Truck accidents can cause trauma-related amputations. The collision’s impact can break a victim’s hands, feet, legs, toes, fingers, or arms. Amputation might become necessary when the damaged limbs or body parts are beyond repair.
Due to the large size of trucks, collisions involving one can be fatal to its crash victims. A family member can bring a wrongful death suit on the deceased’s behalf for negligence or recklessness leading to their loved one’s death. Losing a loved one untimely to a truck accident is a devastating event leading to a long recovery process both emotionally and financially.
What Can You Recover After Suffering a Truck Driving Accident?
When a truck driver’s distracted driving practices cause you to suffer injuries and other damages, you may recover the following from the at-fault driver:
- Pain and suffering: If you experience physical or emotional distress, such as depression, feelings of isolation, disfigurement, or no longer enjoying activities you used to enjoy, the law recognizes your anguish as pain and suffering for which you can potentially receive compensation.
- Medical expenses: You may receive compensation for past, current, and future medical expenses related to your injuries after a trucking accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help calculate allowable and projected expenses, including costs already incurred for emergency treatment and ongoing costs related to the accident. Additionally, if you have to change your home to accommodate your injuries or resulting disability (for example, adding a ramp to your house, widening doorways, installing modifications in your shower, or adapting your home for wheelchair use), you can include these costs in your compensation demand.
- Lost wages: If you can’t work in the short-term after a distracted truck driving accident, you may be entitled to lost wages. If follow-up procedures or therapy appointments disrupt your work schedule, you might be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages.
- Lost earning potential: The loss of earning potential is an element of a loss of income claim. You can seek reimbursement for the amount of compensation you would have procured in the future if it were not for your injury caused by the truck driver’s distracted driving. Health experts may need to testify on your behalf to prove how the injuries affected your ability to work in the future. A forensic economist may also provide an analysis of how much income you might have expected to earn, given the salary trends in your industry and career field.
- Loss of enjoyment: It’s difficult for truck accident victims to adjust to their new life after suffering traumatic injuries. You might not perform usual hobbies, travel, recreational activities, and social activities, leading to decreased life enjoyment.
How Much Can I Recover from the Accident?
The short answer is, it depends. Since every truck accident case is different, it’s difficult to estimate an average settlement amount or court-awarded damages. Often, employers that hire truck drivers have insurance plans to protect accident victims. However, consult an experienced attorney to determine whether a particular insurance policy covers injuries from your accident. Insurers often use a variety of factors to determine the amount of compensation you can potentially receive.
These factors include:
- The severity of your injury
- Past and future medical treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages, determined based on whether the injured party can return to work and how long the injured party will be out of work
- Lost earning potential, if the injured party has sustained permanent injuries and can’t perform job duties
Should you need more information about your truck accident case, contact a truck accident lawyer who can answer your questions and help you decide if you have a case worth pursuing.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501