Truck accidents stand out from other types of automobile accidents because of the increased likelihood of fatality. Truck accidents are generally more harmful to the parties involved than standard car accidents because of the size disparity between the vehicles and the potentially dangerous cargo commonly carried by trucks. Currently in the U.S., one person dies every 16 minutes as the result of a truck accident. Though truck accidents constitute just 3% of all injury accidents and 5% of all property-damage-only accidents, 8% of the vehicles in fatal accidents are large trucks. In 2008 alone, there were 4,006 fatalities directly attributed to accidents involving large trucks. Of these fatalities, 98% of the people killed in truck accidents are occupants of the non-truck vehicle.
A number of factors exist that are potential causes of truck accidents. Chief among these factors are the demanding schedules and deadlines that are imposed on many truck operators. High demand schedules can cause the truck operator to speed or drive aggressively, to drive tired or be fatigued due to extended work shifts, or even to consume narcotics that impair the operator’s ability to drive. The amount of hours that a truck driver has operated their truck is often a relevant fact in truck accident cases, as federal law specifically restricts how many hours a truck driver may log over a fixed period of time.
Another potential cause of a truck accident is poor maintenance or a failure to install safety equipment. Often times, a large truck involved in a truck accident may exhibit poorly maintained or overused brakes, missing blind spot mirrors or defective safety equipment like signals, lights and warning devices.
The overloading or failure to secure truck cargo is also a common cause of truck accidents. Earlier this year, a Prince George’s County jury awarded a substantial verdict for injuries sustained as a result of unsafe cargo loading in Diaz v. Earth Hauler Trucking. In Diaz, a family was traveling in a minivan on I-495 behind a dump truck owned by Earth Hauler Trucking. The rear gate of the dump truck suddenly detached from the truck, causing the gate and debris held within to fall onto I-495. Although there was no actual contact between the minivan and the dump truck, the detached gate and debris struck the minivan, causing two of its tires to go flat. During impact, the Plaintiff struck his head on the roof of the vehicle and his knee on the dashboard. The jury in this case rendered a particularly favorable verdict in the amount of $105,755.00, despite the fact that the Plaintiff was able to replace his tires and complete his drive, and that the Plaintiff waited for over a month until seeking medical treatment for his injuries.
Truck accidents are widely considered to be the most likely type of automobile accident to inflict serious injuries on the individuals involved. Serious injuries call for serious legal representation. The attorneys of Portner & Shure have countless years of experience representing the victims of truck accidents. The firm is represents truck accident victims in Maryland, Virginia and Texas. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, please contact Portner & Shure.