According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large commercial trucks were involved in 333,000 collisions nationwide in 2012, marking a four percent increase from the previous year. Those collisions resulted in the deaths of 3,921 people and injuries to another 104,000. In the State of Washington alone, 43 people lost their lives and another 83 suffered seriously injuries that same year in collisions involving large trucks.
Although all serious motor vehicle collisions share certain common features, several elements distinguish large, commercial truck cases. Having a skilled Washington State truck crash attorney on your side can help you successfully navigate the legal system to ensure that you receive a just and fair settlement or award for your injuries.
Why Do Trucking Accidents Tend to Cause Serious Injuries?
The sheer size and weight of a semi-truck dramatically increases the odds of being seriously injured if you are involved in an accident with one. The average tractor-trailer weighs around 80,000 pounds, compared to the average passenger vehicle, which weighs in at around 4,000 pounds. Likewise, the average tractor-trailer is around 53 feet long, while the average passenger vehicle is just 14 feet.
The size and weight of a semi-truck make it virtually impossible to stop quickly, even when emergency conditions arise. It takes the average tractor-trailer about 400 feet – longer than the length of a football field – to come to a complete stop when traveling at highway speeds. It should come as no surprise that four out of five fatalities in a truck accident involve occupants of a vehicle other than the tractor-trailer.
Trucking Company Errors
Size, weight, and maneuverability differentials, however, are not always to blame for injuries sustained in a trucking accident. Often, the trucking companies contribute to accidents by employing negligent business practices, including, but not limited to:
- Failing to provide proper training
- Failing to conduct thorough background checks
- Failing to monitor drivers’ logbooks
- Knowingly violating federal safety rules
- Not conducting required inspections
- Failing to maintain the trucks
- Encouraging drivers to drive when fatigued
Sadly, most of these risky business practices are the product of a focus on the profit margins of the company instead of on the safety of the drivers and others on the roadways.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries in a Trucking Accident?
One thing that makes trucking accidents more complicated to litigate than the average passenger vehicle collision is that there are typically multiple potential defendants involved in the case. Ultimately, having multiple defendants involved in a case increases the odds that a victim will be fully compensated; however, it makes it more difficult to litigate in the meantime. Possible negligent parties in a trucking accident may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Owner of the cargo
- Third party maintenance provider
- Manufacturer of the truck
- Insurance company that represents any of these defendants
To handle a potential complex case, call our experienced Washington State trucking accident attorneys today at 509-685-2261 to schedule an appointment about your rights and options.