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In 2019, over 4,000 people died in crashes involving large commercial trucks. Approximately 82% of those who died were bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or occupants of other vehicles. An estimated 90,000 large truck accidents cause injuries every year throughout the United States, including Louisiana.
As if those statistics were not disturbing enough, there has been a 52% increase in 18 wheeler accidents throughout the United States since 2009. Whether you have been injured in a collision with a large truck yourself or lost a loved one in such a crash, one of our injury attorneys can help you hold those responsible to account.
To become a lawyer representing victims of 18 wheeler accidents in Louisiana, each of us had to conduct extensive research into what causes them.
The risks of 18 wheeler accidents involving driver fatigue have been known for some time. Under hours-of-service regulations imposed by the federal government, drivers of large trucks are only supposed to drive for 11 consecutive hours at most. Nevertheless, during surveys of drivers, many have admitted to working longer than permitted by law in violation of the regulations. As a result, the drivers may become fatigued and even fall asleep at the wheel.
Distractions negatively affect driving ability and reaction time. Common examples of distracted driving include using a cell phone, eating, or grooming. Another kind of distraction is highway hypnosis, which can occur when a person is driving along a monotonous stretch of road, and their brain starts relying on its predictive capabilities rather than feedback from the retinas. Highway hypnosis is more likely in drivers who are fatigued but also occurs in those who are not.
The distance required for a fully loaded tractor-trailer to stop completely can be 20% to 40% longer than that required by a small passenger vehicle. If there is a smaller vehicle in this path, it can result in a collision. Poorly maintained brakes and wet or slippery conditions can further increase the braking distance required to stop a truck and increase the chances of a collision.
While truck drivers are trained in road safety, they may also be expected to meet unreasonable deadlines imposed by shipping companies. These requirements and monetary incentives may motivate them to take unreasonable risks behind the wheel. Some drivers may use drugs and alcohol either recreationally or to help them stay alert behind the wheel, while others do not receive sufficient training in the first place.
A problem with the truck itself, especially the brakes, tires, and wheels, can result in a collision. The vehicle driver has a responsibility to inspect this equipment and report any problems that they find, but some may fall short of this requirement.
A fully loaded 18 wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because a truck is so much bigger and heavier than a small passenger vehicle and the occupants inside it, the force with which it can strike in a collision is massive. Therefore, injuries that result are often devastating. Bones can be crushed in 18 wheeler accidents, requiring extensive orthopedic treatment. While a seat belt keeps you restrained in your vehicle and helps prevent life-threatening injuries, it can contribute to rib fractures and internal bleeding from damage to the organs in the chest and abdomen.
As serious as fractures from truck accidents can be, you can also sustain serious injuries to your neck, spinal cord, and brain. Even if you survive, these can have life-changing effects because damage to the nervous system often doesn't heal completely.
Damage to an 18 wheeler in an accident can cause large amounts of fuel to spill. If something ignites the spilled fuel, it could start a fire. If you become trapped in the flames, you could end up with third-degree burns requiring skin grafts to treat.
The law surrounding truck accidents can be complex. It is hard for laypeople to understand during the best of circumstances, and more difficult yet as you are trying to recover from injuries or mourning the loss of a loved one. An attorney understands the legal issues involved in truck accidents and can assist you with important matters such as the following.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible to hold more than one party liable for causing your injuries in the accident. Possible defendants include:
Additionally, a third party with no connection to the trucking company, manufacturer, or driver may have done something to instigate the accident. For example, the driver of a third vehicle may instigate an accident by engaging in dangerous behaviors such as cutting the truck driver off or driving in their blind spot. The actions of the third party may be the result of recklessness or inexperience.
Trucking companies rarely admit to fault for the accident and employ teams of lawyers to limit the amount they have to pay in compensation. When you engage your attorney, they can uncover the necessary evidence to prove your claim.