Auto Accidents Caused by Trucks or Tractor Trailers
In 1966, Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, which was an investigation of the American auto industry. The book detailed how the manufacturers of American cars resisted the implementation of even the simplest of safety measures. The centerpiece of the book was a study of the Chevrolet Corvair, which was a car that was extremely dangerous even by the antiquated safety standards of the 1960’s.
In the four decades since Nader’s book came into print, cars have become much safer, and safety standards have improved dramatically. Most cars come equipped with multiple airbags, anti-lock brakes, and shatter-proof glass. Some cars even have satellite technology, complete with immediate connection to an emergency operator when an airbag is deployed. As a result, accidents that were almost certain to result in death are now survivable, and many injuries suffered in car accidents have lessened in severity.
As amazing and comforting as new safety technology has become, an accident involving a commercial truck or tractor trailer might as well render it useless. Airbags and seat belts are important innovations that have saved countless lives, but they can only do so much. A truck weighing as much as 90,000 pounds and moving at over fifty miles an hour can do incalculable damage to even the toughest and safest of automobiles.
In March of 2006, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a study on the causes and effects of large truck crashes. In a sampling of 967 crashes involving trucks, the study found that 23.1% of these accidents resulted in at least one fatality, while 28.7% resulted in an incapacitating injury for at least one of the victims. This means that out of a sampling of just under 1,000 truck accidents, over 50% of them left someone either dead or suffering from injuries that resulted in extensive hospitalization.
It is important to realize that these numbers are only a sampling. The study also shows that there were over 140,000 truck accidents in the two year and nine month window in which statistics were collected. Out of these 140,000 accidents, 67,000 of them can be traced back to the driver of the truck, and 8,000 of them can be traced back to mechanical problems with the truck itself.
This study simply reinforces what most of us already know. Trucks are significantly more dangerous than cars, and when the truck driver fails to operate it safely or the mechanic fails to perform proper maintenance, lives can be lost. What the study does not tell us is what happens after the accident. What happened to the people that were permanently injured? What happened to the families of those that were killed? As tragic as truck accidents normally are, the treatment that the victims and their families sometimes receive can be even worse.
When one of their drivers is involved in an accident, trucking companies do not make determining liability easy. Motor carriers will often send their own investigators to the scene of an accident almost immediately. They will interview witnesses, gather evidence and make sure that the operator says nothing. It is important to remember that an accident with a truck is not the same thing as an accident with another car. In dealing with a trucking company, you are dealing with a profit-minded business that wants to minimize any loss of revenue.
Sorting out insurance information when two cars are involved in a collision is normally a straightforward affair. Truck accidents are much more complicated, because a tractor trailer on the road normally has any number of liability insurance policies. The driver, the trailer, and the company that owns the truck may all have separate policies. Trying to sort all of them out can be a difficult task, and doing it while caring for a critically injured loved one can seem impossible.
When someone is facing the aftermath of an accident with a truck, obtaining legal counsel that has a thorough and complete understanding of state and federal trucking regulations is crucial. Tractor trailers can be considered moving, portable businesses, and as such, there are commercial regulations that demand that they be operated responsibly and safely. Car accident attorneys with experience in trucking accidents can determine whether or not these regulations were being followed. They can also offer assistance in locating all responsible parties and relevant insurance that may be available to the victims or their family members.