Every year in the United States, there are approximately 450,000 accidents involving commercial vehicles like semi-trucks. These accidents can happen anywhere — on an interstate, a residential street, a freeway, or even a rural road in a sparsely populated area. Truck accidents are often complicated, and the first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit in a truck accident case is to determine who is at fault. There are several common reasons why truck drivers act negligently or recklessly, resulting in accidents that cause severe injuries or even death.
One of the most common causes of serious 18-wheeler accidents is driver fatigue. Many commercial truck drives are independent contractors. They do not get paid on an hourly basis. Instead, they only get paid when they complete a job. This gives truck drivers an incentive to pack as many jobs as possible into a short amount of time. Even though there are state and federal requirements for how often truckers need to stop and sleep, truck drivers often ignore those requirements and keep driving for excessively long distances.
Tragic accidents can happen when drivers are extremely fatigued. Fatigue can even be as dangerous as drunk driving in terms of how impaired it makes a driver. In some devastating situations, a tired driver will cross into another driver’s lane causing a serious truck accident. The truck can then slide out perpendicular to oncoming traffic, or jackknife, causing multiple collisions and dangerous fires.
A recent study shows that commercial truck drivers are far more likely to engage in unsafe and reckless driving at the beginning and end of their shifts. Among U.S. commercial drivers, there were a reported 2 million instances of reckless and unsafe driving among commercial drivers since January 2020. Typically, truck drivers drive for 12 or more hours at a time. Keep in mind, however, that truck drivers often drive past the legal limit, causing them to be even more reckless. Types of reckless driving that were observed include the following:
Harsh acceleration happens 77% more often during a truck driver’s last 1.10th of a shift than in the middle of a shift. This percentage is nearly double the frequency at the shift’s beginning. Harsh braking is 54% more common at the end of a truck driver’s shift. Distracted driving is more likely during a truck driver’s beginning of a shift. During the beginning and end of the shift, truck drivers often experienced increased traffic as they drove through cities. Or, they might start and stop more frequently during the last miles. Finally, grogginess is more likely at the end of a shift.
Commercial trucks are extremely dangerous when in the wrong hands. An 18-wheeler truck weighs over 40 tons and is often 70 feet long. These trucks take up a significant amount of space on the road. Truck drivers are often skilled, but unfortunately, some truck drivers lack the experience to prevent serious injuries from happening due to deadly accidents caused by negligent drivers.
Commercial trucking companies know how dangerous these large trucks can be, and they have a duty to hire truck drivers who have the qualifications and experience to operate their trucks safely. Truck companies have a legal responsibility for the actions of their truck drivers. When truck drivers negligently cause an accident while they are working for their employer, the victim can hold the driver responsible. In many cases, the victim can also hold the truck company liable for the accidents. There are several different legal theories someone can use to recover compensation against a truck driver’s employer, including the following:
Trucks are heavier and larger than other passenger vehicles. When they make unsafe lane changes, they can cause a multi-vehicle collision. When a truck driver is distracted or does not check blind spots before making a lane change, the results can be deadly. Common types of unsafe lane changes among truck drivers include the following:
If you are the victim in an accident with a negligent truck driver, you may have a chance to recover damages. Under Connecticut law, successful plaintiffs can recover all of the following types of damages:
Successful plaintiffs can also recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering caused by the commercial truck accident. Keep in mind that you will need to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.
If you have suffered a serious injury after experiencing a commercial truck accident in Connecticut, it is important that you speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will help guide you through the personal injury process.
At the Law Office of Michael E. Skiber, we have helped clients throughout the Connecticut area obtain compensation for their injuries so they can support themselves and their families. Contact us as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. We provide our clients with free consultations and we are available at 24/7.