Truck Accidents: What Alabama Drivers Need to Know

Any accident can cause serious injuries and extensive property damage. But getting hit by a semi-truck is much different than getting hit by a car, truck, or SUV. The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds, but an 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Semis are also much longer than cars. So, if a truck hits a car, the car and those inside of it are likely to be severely injured. 

While no one wants to be in an accident, there are steps you can take after being injured  by a semi truck. Read on to learn more about truck accidents.

Note: Here, the word “truck” includes the terms semi-trucks, “big-rigs,” 18-wheelers, tractor trailers and other similar words.

Truck Accident Statistics

It might surprise you to know that trucks are still a major part of life in America. Today, roughly 70 percent of goods are shipped by trucks. This means that America’s semi-trucks cover over 200 billion miles each year.

With trucks driving so many miles on roads shared by passenger vehicles, even a small mistake behind the wheel of a big rig can be deadly. According to government reports, there were nearly 500,000 reported crashes involving large trucks in 2018. Of these, 22 percent resulted in injury or death.

In Alabama, trucks were involved in slightly more than 10,000 crashes in 2019. Of these, 2,612 resulted in injury and 137 resulted in death. Sadly, while the number of fatalities had started decreasing a few years ago, the numbers have risen steadily since 2017.

Causes of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can have many causes. Here are some of the things that truck drivers and trucking companies do that can lead to accidents.

Fatigue is a major factor in semi-truck accidents. Federal law states that commercial truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours each day. While this is a long time, companies do not always adhere to these guidelines, so some drivers are on the road much longer. Of course, tired drivers are not safe drivers. Government statistics state that fatigue is an issue in 13% of truck accidents.  

Speeding is another issue. Companies often ask commercial vehicle drivers to deliver multiple shipments in short periods of time. Some drivers speed to stay on schedule.

Distracted driving is also a factor. Drivers who are alone all day with little companionship or conversation may use cell phones or other tools to break up the monotony. Even fiddling with the radio dial can take a truck driver’s eyes and mind off the road.

Drug and alcohol use can also lead to crashes. According to a recent international study, roughly 50% of truckers admitted to drinking on the job, 30% confessed to taking amphetamines, and 20% said that they’d used marijuana. These drugs hinder the driver’s ability to see the road, react to hazards, and drive safely.

Like cars, trucks must be properly maintained to operate safely. Big rigs with maintenance issues – especially issues with brakes or tires – present a danger on the road.

Trucks must also be loaded correctly. Trucks that are overloaded or loaded improperly are more likely to tip over during accidents.

These are just a few of the factors that can cause semi accidents.

How Truck Accidents are Different Than Car Accidents

As stated earlier, because trucks are larger and heavier, semi-trucks accidents can cause more serious injuries than accidents with normal vehicles. However, there are also important legal differences.

If you are hit by another car, usually, your claim will be against the other driver and the other driver’s insurance company. However, in a trucking accident, many parties could be responsible. In addition to a claim against the truck driver, you may have a claim against the driver’s employer, the company that loaded the truck, the company responsible for maintaining the truck, and more. The insurance companies for these parties may also be involved.

Another complication is that while many parties can be involved, who you’ll be able to recover from can depend on a variety of factors. For instance, your claim could change based on whether the driver was carrying a fully-loaded truck at the time or was pulling an empty trailer.

The evidence in a semi crash will be different than the evidence in a normal accident. Evidence about the driver – such as licenses, driving record, training, drug tests – will be needed. Information about the truck, the cargo, and the various companies will also be necessary.

 As you can see, trucking accidents can become complicated. An experienced attorney can help you gather this information.

What to do if You Are in a Truck Accident

If you are in a truck accident, you should follow the rules that apply in a normal car accident:

Call 911 immediately.

Move your car to a safe location.

Check for injuries.

Document the scene.

Look for witnesses.

Seek medical attention.

In addition to these steps, in a truck accident, you should try to collect as much information about the driver as you can. Get the driver’s license information if you can. You should also collect information about the driver’s employer. Also, gather as many facts as you can about who owns the truck and what the truck is carrying. (Look for stickers or other items on the truck that can provide this information.) This evidence will be helpful to your case.

More Questions About Truck Accidents?

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Alabama, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our team will fight for your legal rights. Call us at (205) 881-0403 or click here to schedule a free consultation.