In any traffic accident, there is the potential for injury and even death. But the risk increases exponentially when one of those vehicles involved has 18 wheels and is hauling 80,000 pounds of cargo.
Semi-tractors and trailers account for thousands of deaths in the U.S. annually. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported there were about 4,000 killed in large truck accidents in 2013 and another 95,000 injured.Put another way, the number of people who die in truck crashes each year is equivalent to a major airline crash every other week.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers know these cases can have devastating consequences and there are serious challenges to securing just compensation for families.
That’s because not only does the trucking industry fragment its operations in order to reduce liability, firms involved immediately dispatch skilled teams of investigators in the wake of a crash to dig through evidence to glean facts most favorable to them.
Often, this means finding information that might reduce fault on the part of the trucker or increase the degree of comparative fault found on the part of the victim (which can reduce the overall amount of damages awarded). These investigations are costly, but trucking companies know if they lose a truck accident lawsuit at trial, they are likely to incur millions in losses.
Serving victims in the Fort Lauderdale area, our truck accident attorneys work to counter these efforts with our own extensive inquiry. We work closely with expert medical teams and accident reconstructionists to determine the exact cause of the crash and extent and cause of injuries. We refuse to let our clients settle for less than they deserve.Truck Crash Risk Factors
The majority of deaths in large truck accidents were passenger vehicle occupants.
This is largely due to SIZE, and the fact people in smaller vehicles are more vulnerable in collisions with tractor-trailers. These trucks often weigh as much as 30 times that of a smaller vehicle, plus they are taller and have a wider ground clearance. This can increase the risk of a smaller car under-riding the truck in a crash. This is all before you consider possible OVERLOADING, which can also increase the crash risk, as well as contribute to the long-term damage of our roads.
Another factor is BRAKING. Truck drivers need a lot more time to slow down and stop – about 20 to 40 percent, depending on the weight of the rig and the size of the haul. A trucker traveling 60 mph needs about 310 feet (the length of a football field) to stop once applying the brakes. Truckers should have the experience to know how much distance they need to maintain in order to ensure they have enough time to stop safely if necessary. This assumes, however, their vehicle is properly maintained and there are no issues with faulty or damaged brakes. But in 2012, the NHTSA reported violations related to brakes and/or tires were responsible for 6 of the top 10 most common out-of-service violations for large trucks. One-fifth of all vehicles that undergo routine inspection are placed out-of-service for vehicle deficiencies.
TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE is also a common cause of trucking accidents. Although federal regulations bar drivers of large trucks from driving more than 11 hours at a time, many drivers have admitted in anonymous surveys to violating these regulations. Some do so of their own volition to boost their paychecks, while others do so under direct or indirect pressure from employers. Our Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorneys can help you hold a fatigued driver accountable.
HAZARDOUS CARGO may also be a contributing factor to the extent of damage. Contents that are unstable, flammable or slippery may cause an increased risk of additional damage or injury in the event of a crash.
Fortunately, the number of passenger vehicle deaths in truck accidents has declined significantly since 1975. The rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100 million truck miles was 3.39 in 1975, and fell to 0.88 in 2013. That has largely to do with the manufacture of safer trucks and more stringent federal weight limits and hours-of-service regulations for truckers.
However, the truck industry lobby is powerful, and there are continuing efforts to roll back these protections. For example, the provision requiring drivers to include two rest periods from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. , in the 34-hour restart period was suspended in December 2014. Actions like this are going to inevitably increase the risk of serious injury and death involving large trucks.
Based in the Fort Lauderdale area, our truck accident lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of motorists forced to share the road.
Contact Fort Lauderdale Lawyer Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 for a free consultation.