Commercial trucks—also known as semi-trucks, semi-trailers, or tractor trailers—are a familiar site on America’s roadways. 761,000 tractor trailer drivers operate 3 million big rigs a distance of 93.5 billion miles in the U.S. on an annual basis.
Large trucks are responsible for delivering around 70 percent of all goods in the United States. The trucking industry brings in $650 billion in annual revenue, or 5% of America’s total GDP.
Our reliance on commercial trucking, however, doesn’t come without a cost. These trucks, which weigh 10,000 to 80,000 pounds, were involved in 3,341 fatal crashes and 60,000 injury crashes nationwide in 2011.
California has the third-most tractor trailer registrations in the country and the second-most fatal large truck crashes (281 deaths in 2011). Additionally, in 2010, California had 5,065 injury truck accidents.
The sheer size of California and volume of vehicles on its roads account, in part, for the high number of large truck accident deaths and injuries in the state. California also has some of the nation’s busiest seaports where many trucks begin and end their journey.
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That doesn’t mean, however, that large truck accidents are simply the cost of doing business. Sometimes, business decisions are made by truck companies that place profits over public safety. In other cases, drivers themselves may act recklessly behind the wheel. When that wheel is guiding a multi-ton vehicle, the consequences are often catastrophic.
has extensive experience representing the victims of commercial truck accidents and their families. We understand the complex regulations that govern the trucking industry and explore every possible violation of laws or regulations that may have contributed to the crash.
To receive a free no-obligation consultation from Avrek Law Firm, contact us today. We will provide you with a free, no-obligation initial consultation and answer any questions you might have.
Truck Accidents in California
Accidents between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles are extremely dangerous for passengers and occupants. This should come as no surprise. Anyone who has ever ridden alongside a big rig in a car, truck or SUV understands the size and weight differences between these vehicles.
A passenger vehicle that weighs 5,000 pounds is simply no match for an 80,000-pound behemoth. So, despite their representing less than 5 percent of vehicles registered in the United States, large trucks do a disproportionate amount of damage, to both people and property, on America’s roadways. Key statistics include:
- Approximately 1 out of 8 traffic fatalities involves a collision with a commercial truck.
- 88,000 people were injured in large truck crashes in 2011.
- In multi-vehicle crashes involving large trucks, 54.9% of fatalities occur to the drivers of other vehicles and 16.8% of fatalities occur to passengers of other vehicles. In injury crashes, drivers of motor vehicles suffered harm in 53.3% of crashes, while passengers were injured in 19.1% of incidents.
- Commercial motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $87 billion in 2011.
- Statistically, tractors pulling a trailer account for around 60% of commercial truck fatal crashes and 50% of injury crashes.
- The most dangerous semi-truck accidents are rollovers. These typically occur when truck tires go onto a loose surface and the driver loses control.
- Nearly two-thirds of fatal truck crashes occur on rural roads. About 25% occur on Interstate highways.
- Most crashes occur on weekdays.
Truck Accident Injuries
Given the size mismatch between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, the resulting injuries are often severe and may include:
- Brain injury
- Neck and back injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
- Paralysis/permanent disability
Truck Accident Types
Truck Accident Liability
Commercial truck drivers are, by and large, responsible. They drive for a living, and losing their commercial driver’s license means in all likelihood losing their job.
According to data compiled by the Commercial Carriers Journal, rear-end collisions involving a tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle were the fault of car and truck drivers more than 75 percent of the time. In head on collisions, motor vehicle drivers were responsible 87 percent of the time. Truck drivers, of course, aren’t blameless.
They do cause accidents, and these accidents are often devastating to the drivers and passengers of other vehicles. The Department of Transportation cites the following truck driver-related factors in fatal crashes:
- Distraction/inattention (including cell phone use, eating, and being lost in thought)
- Impairment (alcohol, fatigue, illness, etc.)
- Failure to yield right of way
- Obscured vision
Vehicle-related factors also play a role, albeit small, in severe truck accidents. Tires, the brake system, power train, lights, and other parts of a truck sometimes malfunction or stop working altogether.
At least one large truck vehicle-related factor played a role in 4.3% of fatal large truck crashes in 2011.
When investigating your truck accident case, Avrek Law Firm will explore every detail in order to ensure that the driver was in compliance with state traffic laws, including things like speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and distracted driving.
Our lawyers will also look into whether any of the many federal and state trucking statutes—overseen by bodies that include the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—were violated. Common violations that can lead to accidents include:
- Drivers with insufficient training;
- Overloaded trucks;
- Unsecured loads or improperly balanced loads;
- Skipping mandated sleep breaks and driving too many hours;
- Improperly maintained vehicles
It is not only the truck driver that can be found liable in a truck accident case. Among the players potentially responsible for a truck accident are:
- The truck driver’s employer;
- The truck owner or trailer owner;
- The company leasing the truck or trailer;
- The leasing company owner;
- The manufacturer of a faulty truck part (i.e. product liability)
- The party responsible for shipping or loading a truck’s cargo (in improper loading cases)
Each of the entities listed above have insurance to protect them in the aftermath of a trucking accident, and it’s not uncommon for these entities to fight among themselves over liability.
Whoever is responsible, Avrek Law Firm will get to the bottom of it and secure maximum compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses for our clients.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are very different than typical motor vehicle accidents in terms of both the injuries they cause and the liabilities they trigger. Avrek Law Firm attorneys have dealt with many truck accident cases.
We know how to investigate truck accidents and how to protect the rights of those injured by a big rig crash. To receive a free case review, call us toll-free or send a secure online message.
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- The California Highway Patrol: 2013 Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions
- The Department of Transportation: Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2011
- Business Insider: The Staggering Statistics Behind America’s Trucking Industry [Infographic]
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts—March 2013