The trucking industry is an essential part of the U.S. economy, and commercial trucks remain the country’s largest transporter of goods. Though trucks are indispensable to interstate commerce, they’re also involved in thousands of accidents each year. Truck accidents can occur on interstate highways, in rural and urban areas, and within work zones.
Truck driving accidents pose a significant risk to both vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Large trucks can weigh as much as 80 thousand pounds, which is about 20 to 30 times more than average cars — so a collision with a truck can cause catastrophic and even fatal injuries. You may need help from experienced truck accident lawyers, who will fight to get you justice and compensation.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety statistics, truck accidents caused 4,119 deaths in 2019, and just 16% accounted for truck occupants. In contrast, 67% of deaths were occupants and passengers of cars, and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
Truck accidents have long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences. They significantly impact victims and leave their family members devastated by pain, loss, and helplessness. Being involved in a truck accident is a frightening and shocking experience.
Distracted Truck Driving Can Cause 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 3,142 deaths in 2019. Driving demands full attention, and 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 includes:
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. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued restrictions on texting and phone calls for commercial drivers and 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, the FMCSA enacted rules banning truck drivers from the following cellphone activities while driving:
- Reading texts
- Reaching for a cellphone
- Holding a cellphone when making or receiving a call
- Dialing a cellphone that involves using more than one button
- Requesting access to a webpage
- Using any messaging service, including emails and instant messaging.
President Obama issued Executive Order 13513 banning texting while driving for all federal employees using 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 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. But when truck drivers check maps to determine routes, their attention is temporarily diverted from the task of driving, and they might not respond appropriately to changes on the road.
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 surroundings when conditions change, such as a traffic light turning green.
Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking while driving is dangerous because drivers use their hands to reach for and hold food and drinks. When they do this, instead of holding onto the steering wheel or performing other necessary driving acts, they’re 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. This can happen when 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
- Inability to control bowels or bladder
- Difficulty breathing.
A truck accident victim’s bones can break when the body absorbs the 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 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 area of damage, and reduced body temperature control. Many spinal cord injury victims cannot carry out 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.
Expert truck accident lawyers — or specialist 18 wheeler accident attorneys, if that was the truck type involved in the crash — can try to get victims compensation for lost and future earnings as part of an overall settlement for injuries received in a truck accident.
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.
Truck accidents can leave scars and other permanent marks on a person’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. Losing a loved one to a truck accident is a devastating event leading to a long recovery process, both emotionally and financially.
What Can Truck Accident Lawyers Help Recover after an Accident?
When a truck driver’s distracted driving causes you to suffer injuries and other damages, you, along with your expert truck accident lawyers, 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 love, 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. Experienced truck accident lawyers can help calculate allowable and projected expenses, including costs already incurred for emergency treatment and ongoing costs related to the accident, such as alterations to your home to accommodate your injuries or resulting disability.
- Lost wages: If you can’t work in the short term after a distracted truck driving accident, you may be entitled to lost wages, including for follow-up procedures or therapy appointments that disrupt your work schedule.
- Lost earning potential: 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 a 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.
- Loss of enjoyment: It’s difficult for truck accident victims to adjust to their new life after suffering traumatic injuries. You might not do your usual hobbies and recreational activities, travel, and avoid social gatherings, leading to decreased life enjoyment.
How Much Can I Recover from a Distracted Truck Driving Accident?
Since every truck accident case is different, it’s difficult to estimate an average settlement amount or court-awarded damages. Employers that hire truck drivers often have insurance plans to protect accident victims. However, consult an experienced truck accident lawyer to determine whether a particular insurance policy covers injuries from your accident. Insurers may use a variety of factors to determine the amount of compensation that you can potentially receive. These include:
- The severity of your injuries
- Past and future medical treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages, 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.
If you have questions about truck accidents and resulting injuries, and if you might be entitled to file a compensation claim, you can have a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced truck accident lawyers. Schedule yours now.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501