How Common Are Semi-Truck Accidents and Injuries?

Did you know there are nearly two million semi-trucks in operation that are distributing products throughout the country?  It is a common sight to see trucks and large commercial vehicles driving up and down our highways and through our communities. 

While the operation of these vehicles is important to the support of our economy, we are also seeing an increase in the number of semi-truck accidents that involve injuries and fatalities.  Statistics show that in 2017 there was an 8% increase in large truck accident fatalities compared to 2016.  The statistics also show that 13% of all U.S. traffic fatalities in 2017 involved a large bus or truck. 

How Many Semi-Truck and Commercial Truck Accidents Happen in the United States? 

The Department of Transportation established what is called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2000.  The purpose of the FMCSA is to collect statistical data regarding accidents related to commercial truck injuries and fatalities.  They also have a separate category for large truck accident statistics.  Here are a few important statistics you should know:

  • 2018 shows an increase in fatalities from truck accidents of 3% compared to 2017.
  • Large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multiple-vehicle crashes in 2018 as opposed to fatal single-vehicle crashes than were passenger vehicles.
  • 82% of fatal crashes involving large trucks are multiple-vehicle crashes, compared to 62% of fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles
  • 62% of fatal crashes occurred in rural areas
  • 27% of fatal crashes occurred on Interstate highways
  • 15% of fatal crashes occurred on rural Interstate highways

There was at least one driver-related factor cited for 32% of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017.  The FMCSA did a crash causation study and here are some common factors related to truck accidents:

  • 27% of trucks were found to have brake problems
  • 19% of drivers were unfamiliar with the route
  • 10% of truck drivers felt under pressure
  • 7% were overly tired
  • 5% were driving in an aggressive manner
  • 3% experienced tire problems
  • 1% were ill
  • 0.4% were under the influence of illegal substances
  • 0.3% had been consuming alcohol

Injuries that are Common Following a Truck Accident

Serious injuries are often suffered in truck accident crashes.  It is important to be seen by a medial professional immediately following a truck accident.  You will want a doctor to treat and report any injuries you sustained in an accident.  This will be imperative when dealing with the insurance companies.  Some of the more serious injuries suffered by those who have been in a truck accident are:

  • Spinal cord injuries.  If the spinal cord is injured, there could be permanent damage and could even leave you paralyzed.  Expenses like medical care, personal care, lost income, and other expenses can be high and may be needed for the rest of your life.
  • Brain injuries.  The impact from a truck accident is much harder than a car.  The impact from the accident can cause the brain to collide with the skull, or the head to hit the steering wheel or another object.  Brain injuries can range in severity and end up being temporary or permanent.  A lot of this depends on what part of the brain sustained injuries and to what extent. 
  • Amputations.  Learning to live without the use of one of your limbs can have a huge impact on your ability to earn a living or take care of yourself.  It can also have a big impact on your emotional well-being. 
  • Broken bones.  It is important to speak with your doctor about any problems you may face from broken bones and if future treatment(s) will be needed. 
  • Respiratory injuries.  A collapsed lung injury or breathing in toxic materials at the scene of an accident can cause you to suffer from respiratory injuries, which can have a critical impact to your health.
  • Burn injuries.  Vehicles can catch on fire in an accident, especially if the truck was carrying combustible cargo.  If this happens, you could suffer from a burn injury.  Burns can be a dangerous injury.  Often times they are painful and require extensive medical treatment.  A burn can also cause permanent disfigurements and scarring.

These types of serious injuries often result in extensive hospital stays and long periods of rehabilitation.  The cost for the type of medical care needed to treat these injuries can lead to extensive medical debt.  Financial loss from being unable to work for an extended period of time (or permanently) can compound financial challenges.  It is important to get compensation that will satisfy this kind of debt. 

Fatalities from a Truck Accident

Any combination of the injuries listed above can results in death.  You may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one has died in a truck accident.  This will allow you to recover damages for the irreversible harm that has been done to you and your family.

The death of a parent, spouse, child, or sibling is unexpected and tragic.  You may be feeling all kinds of emotions and be overwhelmed with what you should do.  You should always do what is best for you and your family in this situation but know that your time to take action is limited.

Here are some things for you and your family to think about as you are dealing with the loss of a family member due to a truck accident:

  • Plan and make arrangements for a service to honor your loved one.
  • Take care of yourself and make sure to give yourself time to grieve.  This may mean taking time off from school, work or other activities after suffering your loss.
  • Talk with a counselor, friends, relatives, or a religious leader to get the emotional support you need.
  • Your loved one may have a will, life insurance, or other financial matters that will need to be addressed.  Take time to plan accordingly for your family’s financial future. 
  • You may want to honor your loved one by starting a charitable endeavor like a scholarship or funding an organization that was near and dear to your loved one.
  • Protect your legal rights by speaking with a truck accident attorney.  You may be able to file a wrongful death claim. 

How Do I Know if I have a Wrongful Death Claim?

In order to file a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove the following:

  • The truck driver owed your loved one a duty of care.  Each driver on the road owes every other driver a duty of care.
  • The truck driver breached the duty of care by failing to act like a reasonable truck driver would in similar circumstances.  For example, if the truck driver was distracted, driving too fast, or otherwise failed to act like a reasonable truck driver, then the trucker may have breached the duty of care.
  • The breach of duty of care caused your loved one’s death.  This is saying that your loved one died because of the injuries sustained in the accident. 
  • You have standing to sue.  The state law determines whether you can bring a wrongful death case.

In order to determine the cause of the accident and the person(s) or company that is legally responsible for your loved one’s death, an investigation will occur.  This is how the cause of the accident and who is responsible for the accident will be determined.  During the investigation, the following will be looked at:

  • A truck maintenance error
  • A truck manufacturing error
  • Truck company policy
  • Driver error

Why the Insurance Company is Pushing You to Settle

It is important that you speak with a truck accident attorney before accepting any settlement offers from the insurance company.  While the settlement offer may seem like a good deal right now, insurance offers on truck accident claims are usually unfair and less than what should be accepted.  Insurance companies are notorious for settling quickly so they can maximize their profits.  They are hoping you will settle your case for less than what it is worth, and once you agree to the settlement offer, it is final and you cannot seek any additional compensation for future costs related to your injuries.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

A lawyer will review any settlement offers to make sure you are fairly compensated for your truck accident injuries.  If the settlement offer is fair, your lawyer will advise that you settle.  If the settlement does not include fair compensation for all of your injuries, then your lawyer will discuss your options with you.  Your lawyer may keep negotiating and make sure your case is filed before the statute of limitations has expired.  This is so you can pursue your accident case if a fair settlement cannot be reached. 

When a semi-truck or large commercial truck is involved in a serious injury accident the truck company and their insurance company often have quick response legal teams sent to the crash scene. They started trying to cover their butts immediately and try to minimize how much they have to pay by finding reasons to blame anyone but themselves for causing the accident. You should hire a truck accident lawyer ASAP.

We don’t normally say this but in commercial truck cases we do, getting legal help as fast as possible is imperative. You need your own legal team investigating the accident and making sure evidence that may be needed is preserved, like the crash data from the truck’s onboard computer.

If someone else’s negligent and/or deliberate actions caused the death of your loved one, then you may be able to recover damages for medical costs prior to death, funeral expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other out-of-pocket expenses.  An experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand your legal rights, advise you of who may be legally liable, and investigate the accident.  If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident contact us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.