Trucks are necessary as they help transport items, but they are also prone to collisions. Learn the number one cause of truck accidents in Boston and possible liable parties.
Trucks refer to large vehicles weighing between 26001 to over 33000 lb. These vehicles travel to and from Boston, carrying food items and other necessaries. The size of these trucks makes them dangerous, especially in a motor vehicle accident.
In 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash, a 2% increase from 2018 and a 43% increase since 2010. These vehicles accounted for 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. So, what exactly causes truck accidents? Are they preventable? and what legal rights do trucking accident victims have?
This article discusses the number one cause of commercial truck accidents in Boston. Contact a Boston truck accident attorney immediately if you or a loved one gets involved in this type of road collision.
What Is the Leading Cause of Truck Accidents in Boston?
Commercial trucking accidents are complex events. Usually, they involve two or more vehicles. Several elements contribute to these crashes, but one factor is a constant: driver error.
Truck driver error is the leading cause of truck crashes. It is defined generally as a driver exhibiting poor driving behavior. While the definition is vague, it covers several situations like:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Driving on the hard shoulder
- Running red lights
- Disobeying yield and stop signs
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Overloaded truck
While driver error might be the foremost contributor to 18-wheeler accidents, it is not the only cause. Sometimes, motor vehicle crashes happen due to external factors.
This refers to elements beyond the driver’s control. They include:
- Road conditions
- Weather conditions
- Defective truck
- Mechanical failure
Beyond the above, another factor contributing to this type of accident is driver fatigue.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
Aside from truck driver error, fatigue or drowsy driving causes truck crashes. It is common among commercial truck drivers due to the long hours spent on the roadway. Generally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stipulates the hours truckers must be on the road.
Drivers must not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. Unfortunately, drivers fail to obey this guideline, spending more time on the road than necessary. Lack of sleep makes drivers less alert and affects their coordination, judgment, and reaction time while driving.
This is why fatigued driving has been compared to drunk driving. However, lack of sleep is not the only cause of drowsy driving. Other elements can increase the odds of fatigue:
- Illness: The body naturally craves rest after an illness. Sicknesses like cold or flu or serious infections can leave a driver craving for sleep. But the schedule set by their trucking company may not allow them to get the rest they need, leading to increased fatigue.
- Medication Use: Medications, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, induce sleep. If drivers take any sleep-inducing drugs, they may fall asleep behind the wheel and cause an accident.
Are Truck Accidents Avoidable?
Trucking collisions are otherwise avoidable incidents. Drivers can avoid crashes by following the best safety practices when on the road. In addition, trucking companies must ensure only well-trained drivers get behind the wheel and monitor their driving hours. It would also help if trucks were routinely maintained and not overloaded with cargo.
Common Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents in Boston
Trucking accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or fatal injuries. The crash impact determines the severity of a person’s wounds. Below are some of the injuries suffered by a truck accident victim:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: A brain wound is caused by an outside force, usually a blow to the head. It is quite common in different traffic accidents, including rear-end collisions.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: It is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal cord. This wound occurs because of a sudden blow or cuts to the spine. It might lead to paralysis below the injury site.
- Internal Injuries: It refers to a wound or bleeding within the body’s organs. Internal injuries are often fatal because they are not immediately visible.
- Broken Bones: Bones break when the body receives more pressure than it can withstand. This wound may result in loss of limb if the bone gets infected or cannot be fixed.
- Burns: A truck accident could be fiery, especially in head-on collisions where the vehicle carried flammable substances. Burns are of various degrees, and the victim may need a skin graft and cosmetic surgery to regain their pre-accident look.
- Cuts and Lacerations: Flying debris like glass and metals may cut the skin. Cuts and lacerations may be considered minor or severe injuries depending on the depth. In either case, it is best to avoid infections.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
After an auto collision with a truck, victims must take the following steps to improve their chances at fair compensation.
- Stay at the accident scene and call 911. The call will alert the authorities and get EMS personnel to the scene.
- Look around the crash scene and gather pieces of evidence. Take photos of the damaged vehicle injuries, speak to witnesses, and secure video footage.
- Get medical treatment. Allow the EMS personnel to treat your wound and transport you to the hospital if need be. Even if you think you are uninjured, ensure you get a full medical check-up.
- Contact your insurance company. Massachusetts is one of the states that mandate personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of the auto insurnace policy. It covers medical bills and lost wages from the accident.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer.
Can You Recover Compensation After a Truck Collision?
The sheer size of trucks compared to other vehicles on the road is the one reason truckers must drive carefully. However, if they fail to do this and a crash happens, the law allows victims of truck accidents in Boston to recover financial compensation. As a result, you can get economic and non-economic damages from the negligent driver.
These are financial losses suffered or incurred due to the collision. It covers:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Cost of physical therapy
- Property damage
- Burial and funeral expenses in the event of a wrongful death
These refer to losses that are not financial, making them harder to calculate. It covers the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
It punishes the at-fault party for their grossly negligent conduct and serves to deter them and others from similar actions. Insurance companies do not pay punitive damages; only courts award it.
Who Can You Sue After a Trucking Accident?
The nature of truck collisions is one in which several parties can share the responsibility. It means that the truck driver may not be the only person you can sue for maximum compensation. Below are other possible at-fault parties.
The Trucking Company
The commercial driver’s employer will be liable if the company hired the motorist knowing of their reckless driving history. This is also the case if the trucker has a history of driving under the influence. However, it’s not in every situation that the truck company will be liable.
The driver must have caused the accident while performing their work duty for their employer to be liable. As such, if the crash happened at a time the trucker is supposed to be off duty, the employer will not compensate you. Instead, your claim will be against the careless driver only.
The Manufacturing Company
If a defective part or design defect caused the accident, the vehicle manufacturer would be the liable party. Proving product liability after a crash is difficult. The manufacturer will deny liability and do all they can to avoid paying compensation.
This is why you should hire truck accident attorneys. Your legal team will consult experts to prove how the defective part caused the accident.
The Cargo Loader
Overloaded cargo is a common cause of most truck spillover and rollover accidents. Here, the at-fault party is the cargo loader or loading company. If the truck driver knew of the overload and failed to warn the cargo loader, they will share liability for the accident.
Third-Party or Phantom Driver
A third-party or phantom driver is a motorist that caused an accident but was not directly involved in the crash. Suppose a passenger vehicle driven by a distracted driver runs a red light at an intersection where a truck has the right of way. While trying to avoid the smaller car, the trucker swerves and hits your stopped vehicle.
The third-party motorist may not have struck you, but they will be liable for the accident. The reasoning behind this conclusion is that the collision would not have happened if not for the phantom driver’s act.
It’s noteworthy that where your actions contributed to the collision, comparative negligence rules apply. While you will still receive a settlement, it will be limited by your fault percentage. But if you have 50% fault or 51%, you’ll not get compensation.
Book a Free Consultation With Us Today
At Michael Kelly, our Boston personal injury attorneys understand the importance of getting your life back after a traumatic experience. So our experienced team works tirelessly to get you the maximum settlement. Contact our law office today for a free case review.