Trucks of all shapes and sizes become a common sight for anyone traveling on I-85 or any of the other roadways in the Durham area. More than 70% of the freight crisscrossing the United States travels in or on a truck. Knowing the important role they play does not ease the anxiety and uncertainty brought on by the sight of a fast-moving tractor trailer bearing down on you in your rearview mirror.
Truck accidents have devastating consequences in terms of lives lost and life-altering injuries. Victims or their families may be entitled to compensation from the party at fault in causing a collision, but the truck driver may not be the only one responsible. The owner of the truck and the shipper whose employees loaded it may also play a role in causing a truck to crash.
Knowing the common causes, frequent injuries and responsible parties in a trucking accident may help you avoid becoming the victim of one. If you live, work or travel in North Carolina, the information that follows may be useful should you or a member of your family become the victim of a truck accident.
According to the most recent data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 96% of fatalities caused by collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles in the U.S. were occupants of the passenger vehicles. This should not come as a surprise given the disparity in size and weight between trucks and other types of vehicles. A fully loaded tractor trailer may have a gross weight of up to 80,000.
The most recently released accident data in North Carolina shows that 151 people lost their lives and another 4,133 suffered injuries in 16,494 truck accidents in the state in 2018. Those statistics do not include accidents involving vans, which the state compiles under their own category. There were 20,675 van accidents in which 6,326 people suffered injuries and another 90 died.
If you are fortunate to survive a truck collision, the catastrophic injuries may require extensive and costly medical care, years of slow and painful recovery, and a drastically impaired quality of life. Some of the common injuries include:
Head and brain injuries: Concussions and traumatic brain injury may be present even without visible signs of an injury. The force of a crash may cause the brain to move within the skull. Brain injuries may cause loss of consciousness, confusion, impaired vision, cognitive impairment, impaired motor function and other life-altering symptoms.
Injuries to internal organs: The forces at work on your body in a crash can propel you into the steering wheel or other hard surface. They may even turn air bags and shoulder harnesses designed to protect you from harm into sources of blunt force trauma causing injuries to internal organs and internal bleeding.
Neck and back injuries: Minor pain and discomfort to herniated disks and paralyzing injuries to the spinal cord be caused by neck and back injuries. Whiplash, a common neck injury caused by rapid acceleration or deceleration in a collision, may not be noticeable days after a crash. Whiplash may be difficult to treat with pain and limited range of motion lasting for months or even years.
Lacerations: Shattering glass and twisting metal common to truck accidents cause lacerations with disfiguring scars.
Fractures: The impact of a truck colliding with a car and efforts by the occupants to brace themselves may cause bone fractures throughout the body.
Victims of Durham truck accidents need immediate evaluation by medical professionals to determine the extent of their injuries and begin treatment.
You may be entitled to make a claim for damages against the party whose negligence caused the accident. Compensation may include:
Cost of medical care, including physicians, hospitals, physical therapy and rehabilitative services.
Anticipated future medical expenses, including surgery and rehabilitative services.
Past wages lost and diminished or lost future earning capacity due to the injury.
Physical and mental pain and suffering endured by the victim of an accident.
If the injuries cause paralysis, such as occurs with injuries to the spinal cord, your damages may include the cost of long-term nursing and in-home health aides.
The last study completed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration into the causes of accidents involving trucks identified the following:
Driver fatigue: A driver may skip mandatory rest breaks to meet tight schedules and fall asleep while driving or be unable to slow to react other vehicles making sudden stops or abrupt lane changes.
Speeding: The pressure to meet deadlines may lead to driving above posted speed limits or not reducing speed when weather or road conditions demand it.
Distracted driving: Cellphones and onboard computers divert attention from the road to cause a collision. A truck traveling at 55 mph covers a distance equivalent to the length of a football field in only five seconds.
Parties in addition to a negligent driver may also be at fault in causing a truck to crash. Owners that don’t perform repairs and routine maintenance may be held responsible when brakes or other systems fail and cause a crash. When the cause of an accident is a defectively manufactured or designed part the manufacturer may be at fault.
Sometimes, parties responsible for an accident may not be readily apparent. For example, an investigation undertaken by a Durham personal injury attorney may reveal that improperly loaded or secured cargo caused an accident. Shifting cargo or items falling from a truck could make the shipper or loader responsible for an accident.
When you suffer an injury in an accident caused by the negligent operation of a truck, you need sound legal advice and aggressive representation. A free consultation and case evaluation from a North Carolina truck accident attorney provides options for obtaining the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today.