What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

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By Ed Rebenack, Esq.

These Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Unfortunately, these days, truck accidents are far more common than you think. According to information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, 4,119 people were killed in truck accidents in 2019, with tens of thousands more injured. Of those killed, the vast majority were occupants another vehicle and not the truck driver.

Thankfully, in the event that you have been hurt in a big rig accident, you have legal options to protect yourself. The lawyers at Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo are leading trucking accident attorneys who have years of experience in this type of personal injury law.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents – Driver Error

Truck accidents are all too common, and while their numbers are trending the right way, they impact thousands of lives every year. The truck accidents that occur often have many commonalities.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, the critical event – or cause of a trucking accident – was typically one of these three things:

  • 32% of trucks left their lane or the road, causing the accident.
  • 29% of trucks traveled too fast. This was a cause or result of shifting cargo in their trucks, a mechanical error in their truck, or driving too fast for road conditions.
  • 22% of trucks rear-ended the car in front of them.

The number one reason for all of these accidents was driver error. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, a whopping 87% of all truck accidents resulted from driver error. However, it is important to realize that not all cases of driver error are the same.

The causes of accidents listed include:

  • 12% for non-performance, meaning a driver was rendered incapable of properly operating their truck. This could have been due to an illness – such as a heart attack or seizure – or due to falling asleep. The sleep issue is a particularly important one, as truck drivers are required to rest if they drive for long enough periods of time. Failure to do so may mean that they are violating any number of driving laws and regulations.
  • 28% for recognition, meaning that a driver was inattentive to the road conditions or distracted by something, such as a cell phone or another passenger. Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents have risen sharply across all fields.
  • 38% for decision, meaning a driver made an inappropriate decision for the road. This could mean that they sped or ignored other drivers’ behavior on the road.
  • 9% for performance, meaning that the driver made a decision – such as switching a lane without appropriately checking who was in the lane they were turning into – that resulted in an accident.
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Many of these reasons overlap, but all have one commonality: human error. In some cases, this is a result of the driver simply making a bad decision while behind the wheel. However, for reasons that are both related to personal safety and public policy, it is vitally important that the injured parties fully understand what led to the accident. Was it a one-time error? Or were there underlying, systemic circumstances that led to the crash?

For example, did the driver have a history of bad driving? Did they have adequate training? Had they been following all mandated rest periods? Were they receiving pressure from their company to cut corners and drive as quickly as possible, even if that meant potentially inuring other drivers and placing their own safety at risk? Was their truck as up-to-date as possible? Had it been inspected recently or outfitted with the latest safety equipment?

It is also worth noting that driver error causes are among the most legally indefensible. If you have been hurt in a truck accident involving a driver error, you should seriously consider reaching out to trucking accident attorneys in order to determine your legal and financial options.

However, there are other common causes of trucking accidents, and these causes may result in legal liability, depending on the circumstances behind them.

Other Causes of Truck Accidents – Mechanical Failure and Environmental Concerns

While driver error is unquestionably the most common cause of trucking accidents, it is by no means the only one.

Ten percent of all trucking accidents have some mechanical failure component to them. This means that something went wrong on the truck – such as a braking failure or other equipment failures – that was a primary contributor to the accident. Trucks, of course, are extremely large vehicles, and when they get into an accident, they are more likely than cars to cause a serious injury or death.

Unfortunately, sometimes these mechanical accidents just happen as a result of wear and tear or product defects. However, all trucking firms have certain inspection requirements and must periodically have their trucks inspected and weighed. Furthermore, cargo must be appropriately secured, and a failure to do so is a common cause of accidents. If you are hurt in a trucking accident that is caused by a mechanical issue, you may be entitled to see the evidence that the truck was regularly inspected in order to ensure that all local, state, and federal laws were followed.

The environment is also a cause of around 3% of crashes. This means that snow, rain, ice, or other weather conditions played a role in an accident. Again, in many cases, these crashes are simply unavoidable. However, drivers are expected to proceed appropriately and with a great deal of caution in these types of instances. Failure to do so may result in serious liability issues.

What to Do If You Are Hurt in a Trucking Accident?

You should know that you do have legal options if you are injured in a trucking accident. Fortunately, there are a series of steps you can take to protect yourself and get the treatment – and compensation – that you deserve. These include:

  • Report the crash. Make sure you document as much of the crash as you are able, taking pictures and getting the names and contact information of any witnesses and the driver.
  • Make sure to note the details of the crash, including time, date, weather conditions, road conditions, and the circumstances that led to the crash.
  • Seek medical treatment, and save all of your documentation, including any paperwork and correspondence with your insurance company.
  • Make sure to be truthful and honest with the police, but limit your outside conversations with others, as you wouldn’t want to accidentally say anything that could potentially limit your compensation or come back to haunt you in court. Do not post pictures about what happened on social media, and do not take to social media to discuss your injuries or expenses.

If you are in the New Jersey area and are hurt in a trucking accident, make sure to contact Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo by visiting our website or by calling us at 732-394-1549 for a no-obligation review of your case. At RAM Law, we have years of experience in helping people recover from trucking accidents, helping to make sure they get the financial compensation that they deserve.

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To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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