Commercial trucks are commonplace on Ohio’s roads, but they pose a danger to passenger cars. The leading agency striving to prevent or reduce truck-related fatalities, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, reported 4,588 fatal crashes in 2020 involving large trucks or commercial vehicles.
Semi-trucks, refrigeration trucks, and other large commercial vehicles are substantially bigger than other cars. Their size and mass pose all kinds of danger to other drivers. But what creates the risk of crashes in the first place?
Leading Causes of Truck Accidents in Ohio
Truck accidents have deadly consequences. Knowing what causes truck crashes is critical when you need to pursue compensation for any injuries or deaths an accident caused. There could be any number of factors leading to a crash. Was there a defective product? Did the driver fall asleep?
Understanding what leads to these crashes, how to recognize the signs, and what to do after a crash is critical.
- Distracted Driving — Just like drivers in passenger cars, truck drivers could be on their phones while driving, or they might try to eat. Even changing radio stations can be dangerous for truck drivers. Any time someone takes 100% of their concentration from the road, they put themselves and other drivers at risk of an accident.
- Driving Under the Influence — Ohio laws state that the legal Blood Alcohol Content is 0.08 for drivers of passenger vehicles. FMCSA has established a limit of 0.04 for anyone holding a commercial driver’s license. Drivers operating a vehicle after drinking alcohol or using drugs will have slower reaction times or make reckless decisions, which could lead to a crash.
- Reckless Driving — Speeding, ignoring road signs, following too close, passing illegally, or failing to yield are all driving patterns that increase the risk of a crash. When a truck’s large size and momentum are factored into these patterns, the dangers intensify.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance — Large commercial vehicles should be inspected and maintained between jobs. Whether the truck belongs to a fleet or a freelance operator, maintenance should be completed to ensure safe use and reduce the risk of a malfunction. If a driver isn’t checking their truck or a technician doesn’t complete an inspection properly, that might increase the likelihood of a crash.
- Driving While Fatigued — Drivers need to be able to focus on the road. Any time a driver gets behind the wheel while drowsy, it could threaten other drivers. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported 633 deaths caused by drowsy-driving-related crashes in 2020. FMCSA has regulations regarding operation hours: truck drivers need to take breaks to rest and be refreshed before they get on the road.
- Poorly-Loaded Cargo — Truck crashes may not just be caused by the driver. Sometimes the trucks aren’t loaded properly, and shifting cargo could make a truck unstable, leading to a crash.
- Incomplete or Poor Training — Large commercial vehicles require Commercial Driver’s Licenses to operate. However, some managers or carriers may neglect to provide complete safety training for their drivers, which can mean inexperienced drivers on the road.
- Defective Part — While regular maintenance and inspections can help catch when a truck needs service, some parts are built incorrectly from the start. Substandard pieces of equipment, like bad brakes or engine parts, could lead to failures on the road, which may result in a crash.
Contributing Factors in Truck Crashes
Some factors outside of a driver’s control can lead to crashes. These could be separate or combined with some of the issues listed already. Semi-truck and other large commercial vehicle drivers should be aware and cautious of anything that might affect their driving.
Issues that can increase the risk of a truck accident include:
- Poor Weather: bad weather conditions could make driving dangerous. Heavy rain or snow are connected to 24% of crashes annually, according to the US Federal Highway Administration. When truckers aren’t careful in bad weather, they could cause serious crashes.
- Bad Road Conditions: if a road isn’t properly maintained, a truck accident is more likely to happen. If a truck driver isn’t careful on a road with potholes, for instance, they could damage their truck or overcorrect into other drivers.
- Delivery Deadlines: commercial trucks are under pressure to deliver their cargo on-time or even ahead of schedule. That pressure could make an operator drive recklessly to keep their job. However, that speed sacrifices safety, which could be dangerous for other drivers.
- Negligent Hiring Practices: trucking companies should properly vet their employees. If companies neglect to ensure their drivers are capable of handling their vehicles, they could put everyone at risk of an accident.
Who Can Be Liable for Truck Accidents?
Truck accident cases are not like most personal injury cases. Trucking companies and their insurers have more resources than most individuals. They’ll be battling the claim against their drivers, or trying to divert blame for the accident to help limit their liability.
These cases can also be challenging because of who might be liable for the crash. While drivers can be held responsible for the crash, you might also be able to bring a claim against the company, maintenance crew, cargo loader, or even parts manufacturers.
Each case is unique, and there may not be a clear answer on who is responsible for the crash. It’s best to work with an attorney with experience dealing with truck accidents.
What Do I Need to Prove The Truck Accident’s Cause?
Proving a negligence caused a truck accident can be difficult, because a company’s legal counsel could be intimidating. However, you have a right to compensation after a reckless or careless truck driver injured you or killed a loved one. You can work with a truck accident lawyer to collect the necessary evidence to help prove your case.
Helpful evidence in your case could include:
- Photos of the accident scene, property damage, and any injuries caused by the crash
- Medical records with details about your injuries and treatment recommendations
- Eyewitness statements
- The truck’s electronic loggind device, which records details about a trip
- Driver logs or company records
- Police reports
- Testimony from expert witnesses
How Can an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
Although it’s possible to file an insurance claim against a trucker or their company alone, you stand a much better chance by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer who has dealt with trucking companies before will understand how challenging your situation is.
An attorney will be able to help you determine the total losses you experienced in the crash. They’ll help you calculate your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, or anything else you suffered because of the truck crash.
A truck accident lawyer can investigate your claim to ensure you have a strong case. They will help you secure the evidence you need to prove your claim.
Call an Ohio Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been hurt by a negligent or irresponsible truck driver, you are entitled to compensation. You should call the truck accident lawyers at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA for help.
We understand how traumatic truck crashes can be, and we’re ready to hear your case so we can start helping you recover. Call (419) 625-7770 or use our form for a free consultation.