If you or a loved one has been the victim of a trucking accident, the questions of who is liable and what actually caused the accident are often much more complex than in a car accident case. There may be many parties involved, from the driver to the owner of the truck, and getting information about what went wrong often requires trucking industry expertise.

Understanding the common causes for trucking accidents, and the relationships among the persons and entities connected to the truck, the trailer, and the load, will help you determine whether you have a valid claim and how you will present your case.

Trucking Accident Statistics

To inform the public about traffic safety and to alert motorists about the dangers of truck collisions, several agencies throughout the U.S.—including the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—have compiled the following statistics regarding truck accidents in the U.S.

Over the past 25 years, the number of truck accidents has increased by 20%. According to the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2002, more than 4,000 people died and 130,000 people were injured in crashes that involved a large truck. And even though large trucks are only responsible for 3% of injury-causing motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents typically cause much greater harm than ordinary traffic accidents due to their massive sizes and heavy weights.

Semi and Heavy Truck Accidents: Semi trucks, big rigs, tractor trailers and 18 wheelers comply more than 13% of 16 million trucks in the United States. About 98% of all semi accidents cause at least one fatality. Fatal tractor trailer accidents cost Americans more than $20 billion each year, $13.1 billion of which is the cost associated with loss of quality of life. For every 100 million miles driven on U.S. roads, there are 2.3 deaths and 60.5 injuries caused by big rigs.

Truck accident injury statistics: about 130,000 people are injured annually in truck crashes. About 22% of all truck accidents result in injuries. In about 70% of all truck accidents, there are no injuries or deaths—only property damage.

Commercial Truck Accident Statistics: The average cost of a truck crash is more than $60,000. More than 90%of commercial truck accidents are caused by some sort of human error—either on behalf of a truck driver, other drivers, other vehicle passengers, cyclists or pedestrians. About 75% of commercial truck accidents are caused by other drivers. Driver fatigue causes about 30% of all commercial truck accidents.

Fire Truck Accident Statistics: Every year, more than 2,500 fire truck accidents happen in the U.S. Approximately 1,000 people get injured or killed in fire truck accidents annually. In more than 50% of all fire truck accidents, there is only property damage.

Truck Crash Laws

Federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry. These laws establish certain standards that trucking companies, owners, and drivers must meet, and often determine who is responsible for a trucking accident. The federal regulations dealing with the trucking industry can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulate truck driving. Every state also has a department of transportation with its own set of trucking regulations.

Truck Accident Liability

When it comes to truck accidents, there is often a number of players who may be responsible for a victim's injuries, including:

  • the truck's driver
  • the owner of the truck or trailer
  • the company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
  • the manufacturer of the vehicle, tires, or other parts that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident, and the shipper or loader of the truck's cargo (in cases involving improper loading

Often in a truck accident case there are questions about whose insurance will compensate the victim: trucking, hauling, or leasing companies’ insurance. For example, the truck company might claim that the accident was caused by defective brakes, while the brake company might argue that the leasing company is at fault because it had failed to maintain the brakes in good working order. To protect your rights, you need an experienced truck accident attorney on your side. Call attorney Jeffrey Hark at Hark & Hark, experienced truck accidents lawyers who are dedicated to providing you with the highly experienced, representation you need to get the full compensation you deserve. We will evaluate your specific case and fight aggressively on your behalf.