Being involved in any traffic accident in Arizona can be devastating, but if that accident is a truck accident, suddenly it is time to take things to a whole new level. It isn’t just that large rigs are big, and that other vehicles dwarf by comparison. There are various laws that distribute responsibility for a truck accident differently than accidents that involve only standard-sized vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) definition of a large truck is a truck that weighs over 10,000 pounds but is not a bus or motor home. In 2016, eighty percent of fatal crashes involving trucks were the very heavy types, weighing in at 26,000 pounds or more. A total of 4,317 people were killed in truck crashes nationwide that year. All but 722 involved were either occupants of other vehicles or people who were walking or on bicycles. Arizona played a significant role in those crashes, accounting for 83 fatalities, or 1.9% of the total.
Why Do Large Trucks Crash?
Large trucks crash for many of the same reasons that any other vehicle crashes. Drivers get distracted or fatigued and sometimes they are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Since drivers are on the road several hours a day, making a driver’s working day longer than it is for most other jobs.
Truckers are supposed to abide by the Hours of Service Rule that says they can drive no more than eleven hours in a fourteen-hour workday before taking ten hours off from driving. If a driver is on duty for 60 hours over 7 days or if they drive 70 hours in eight days, they are supposed to be off duty for 34 hours.
These rules still put high demands on truck drivers, which are made even more difficult. Policies often make it tempting for the driver to work even harder by offering incentives or paying by the mile. In some cases, log books become inaccurate, and fault becomes harder to pin down.
Who’s Responsible When These Crashes Happen?
Since truck drivers are at work when crashes happen, and it is usually the other vehicle or person involved that gets hurt, in most cases the fault is a mix between their company the driver works for and the driver themselves. There are also many cases where drivers are themselves contracted workers. Working for themselves increases the likelihood of the driver is at fault.
In some cases, the load that the driver is carrying may be owned by someone else entirely, which can throw yet another wrinkle into the question of fault. At Petersen Johnson, we have dealt with many complex truck accident cases, and have the knowledge and tools available to get to the bottom of who is responsible in order to get you the compensation you need and deserve after suffering from truck accident injuries.
Reacting to a Truck Accident
If you are fortunate to sustain less severe injuries during a truck accident, it is most important to help see that anyone who needs immediate medical attention gets it. After that priority is taken care of, you’ll need to document as much about the accident as you can. Take notes, turn on your dash camera, and take photos with your cell phone. In many cases, there will be a black box inside the truck that will also be tracking information. Filing a police report can also help by creating an official record of the accident. All these tools are valuable to your attorney as they go up against the legal teams of the trucking company, the insurance company, and anyone who may be representing the truck driver. Obtaining a strong foundation, early in the process can help build a strong case.
What if You’re Hurt?
Because these trucks are so big, injuries from truck accidents are more likely to be severe or even fatal leaving long term physical pain and economic devastation. Injuries from a truck accident often mean missed work, and sometimes leave injuries that permanently disable a person and cause chronic pain, not to mention psychological injuries such as anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is important to fully examine the range of injuries sustained as soon as possible after an accident because it helps to create a stronger link between the event of the accident and injuries sustained.
Wrongful death injuries are connected to truck accidents as well. The person’s family faces hardship in many cases, not only because they may have many medical bills, especially if their loved one fought for their lives in a hospital before passing. They also lose that person’s income and endure pain and suffering from not having them in their lives anymore.
After a truck accident, life often becomes an uphill battle, but it is battle that becomes much more bearable with a competent attorney on your side. At Petersen Johnson, we investigate your case thoroughly in order to determine the cost of your injury, or your loss and who is responsible for providing you with compensation to move forward. To learn more, or to schedule a free consultation, contact Petersen Johnson at 612-910-4952.