In the United States, there are some 3.5 million truck drivers and 15.5 million trucks —2.2 million of which are tractor-trailers—in operation on American highways, according to TruckInfo.net.
And with more than 70 percent of U.S. freight tonnage transported by trucks, it’s no surprise that the death toll of truck-involved crashes is on the rise.
“Fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row, reaching 3,964 in 2013, the latest data available,” The New York Times reported in 2015, noting that deaths involving trucks jumped 17 percent from 2009 to 2013.
During the same time period, according to the Times, traffic fatalities for all motor vehicles declined by 3 percent, a statistic the newspaper attributed to the automobile industry implementing safety improvements such as airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. The trucking industry has not followed suit.
A February 2015 report by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety reported that “annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major airplane crash every other week of the year.”
Ninety-six percent of fatalities in two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger vehicle were occupants of the passenger vehicle, according to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report.
In addition to large trucks, American roadways are bustling with commercial vans and smaller-size commercial trucks.
Commercial truck accidents are commonplace and it’s important for drivers to know their rights if involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle.
In a commercial truck accident, the automobile driver can sue both the truck driver and the trucker’s employer. If the truck driver was acting in the course of his employment, the employer is liable for the trucker’s negligent actions.
The strength of a commercial truck case relies heavily on the evidence collected and actions taken following the crash.
- File a police report. If the commercial truck crash occurred in a state that mandates notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles, be sure to do so. In some states, if a commercial truck accident resulted in a death, injury or property damage exceeding a certain threshold, the wreck must be reported to the DMV.
- Seek medical help for your injuries.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your vehicle, and the commercial truck. Photographs are evidence and can greatly impact a potential settlement or jury verdict. Make sure to photograph your vehicle before it is repaired or destroyed.
- Gather as much information as possible, such as license plate numbers of the commercial vehicle, its cab and/or trailer as well as other vehicles involved in the crash. Ask witnesses for their contact information. This information can be valuable to your personal injury attorney.
- Notify Your Insurance Company. While this is a critical step in a commercial truck lawsuit, make sure not to answer any questions about how you are feeling. Only provide information required for the accident report.
- Do Not Talk to Other Insurance Companies or the Trucking Company’s Claims Adjuster. Alert the trucker’s insurance company and claims adjuster—both of whom will likely contact you—that you have a lawyer or are in the process of retaining one and that your lawyer will contact them. Do not answer any questions about how you or your passengers are feeling, no matter how innocuous they may seem. Anything you say to an insurance representative can be used against you.
- Don’t Sign Anything. Refer anyone who contacts you about the commercial truck accident to your lawyer.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at McDonald Worley today for a FREE case evaluation by filling out the form on this page.