While we know a crash between two cars has the potential to result in disaster, the same type of crash between a passenger vehicle and a large commercial truck almost always results in catastrophe. The difference in size is startling when you look at the numbers. The average passenger vehicle weighs up to 10,000 pounds; however, a tractor-trailer can weight up to three times as much or more, averaging around 33,000 pounds. Large commercial trucks carry so much weight and force behind them that any accident involving a big rig has the potential to cause major injuries and fatalities.
According to nationwide data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were approximately 475,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2016. Of those police-reported collisions, 104,000 resulted in injury and 3,864 resulted in death. Interestingly, nearly 61 percent of the crashes occurred in rural areas, almost 27 percent occurred on interstate highways, and the remaining 15 percent happened on rural interstate highways.
Unfortunately, we are not always able to avoid events like truck accidents; however, it’s important to know that you are entitled to legal rights that allow you to seek justice as the victim of an accident in an attempt to hold the negligent party responsible for their actions and receive compensation for your burdens related to the wreck. Negotiating a settlement with an insurance company or trying to deal with a trucking company can get messy. That is when it’s time to seek legal guidance. A Milwaukee truck accident lawyer from Urban & Taylor can help you get back on your feet again.
In order to understand what you may be eligible for as a truck accident victim, we’ll be going over Wisconsin’s trucking industry, the reasons these devastating accidents happen, and how our lawyers at Urban & Taylor can aid in your recovery.
Wisconsin’s Trucking Industry
Commercial trucks are an integral part of our nation’s economy and without the U.S. trucking industry , we wouldn’t be able to get the goods and services we depend on.
Especially in Wisconsin, big rig trucks are used to transport crucial foods, products, and goods between and across state and county lines. According to the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, the trucking industry provided jobs for 1 out of every 15 residents in the state in 2015. That’s well over 150,000 employment opportunities. In addition to the employment benefit, trucks in Wisconsin transported 84 percent of the manufactured products in the state in 2012.
While the trucking industry is crucial to our economy and thousands of Wisconsin families, there are issues that need to be addressed. The United States trucking industry—as vital as it is—could be doing more to keep serious trucking accidents from occurring.
Collision avoidance technology and artificial intelligence motion sensors are commonly installed in most new cars and even trucks. Vehicle manufacturers now offer automatic sensor devices, electronic stability controls, airbags, and anti-lock brakes on all trucks—even large tractor trailers. Automotive technology has come an incredibly long way in the short amount of time we’ve actually had access to vehicles. With more safety tools and devices at their disposal, truck drivers would have an easier time avoiding accidents.
Trucking agencies are hesitant to upgrade their commercial trucks with these safety features for one reason—the expense. In other locations like the European Union, trucking corporations are required by law to outfit their trucks with certain safety devices regardless of how much those upgrades cost. The United States has some regulations in place set by the FMCSA; however, they’re nowhere near as strict or beneficial when it comes to preventing accidents.
Common Commercial Trucks and Their Dangers
There are a variety of commercial trucks that are designed for specific purposes. While these trucks aid in important and necessary tasks, they also come with their own unique dangers. Below you’ll find a list of the most common commercial vehicles you’ll come in contact with on the road, and what dangers may be present.
Dump/Garbage Trucks. These vehicles are particularly dangerous because they frequently operate in residential areas. Pedestrians and bicyclists, along with other drivers, need to be aware of these vehicles. These trucks often face the risk of losing debris, like construction materials and trash.
Flatbed Trucks. Flatbed truck accidents are often caused by improperly loaded or secured cargo.
Tanker Trucks. Tanker trucks carry liquids, gases, and hazardous materials. In the event of a rollover, the situation can become deadly because of the risk of fires, explosions, and toxic fumes.
Tractor-Trailers. Tractor-trailers, also referred to as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or big-rigs, are designed specifically to haul cargo. These vehicles have large blind spots, a high center of gravity, and require a long distance to come to a complete stop.
Other large trucks you may see on the road include box trucks, cement trucks, delivery trucks, and tow trucks.
Causes and Consequences of Truck Accidents in Wisconsin
In addition to the negligent actions of trucking companies, there are many other reasons truck accidents happen in Wisconsin and all over the country. The following are among the most common:
- Inadequate truck driver training
- Speeding as a result of unrealistic schedules and deadlines
- Compensation systems that encourage driving for longer than is safe
- Incorrect use of logbooks that document travel time and speeds
- Faulty equipment
- Improper maintenance
- Inadequate understanding of blind spots
- Unsafe passing procedures
- Traveling through inclement weather
- Passenger vehicles driving too close to a commercial vehicle
- Passenger vehicles driving between two commercial vehicles or other large trucks
- Improperly loaded cargo
When an auto accident involves a truck, there are a variety of categories the accident may fall under:
- Jackknife – When a truck driver loses control of their vehicle, there’s a chance the truck will jackknife. This happens when the trailer portion of the truck skids and forms a 90-degree angle to the cab.
- Override – Override accidents occur when a tractor-trailer drives overtop a passenger vehicle. A truck’s inability to stop quickly often causes these types of deadly accidents.
- Rollover – Because of their high center of gravity, commercial vehicles are subject to rollover accidents, where the tires come off the pavement as the driver is attempting to turn. The truck will then begin to roll uncontrollably.
- Tire Blowout – A truck driver can quickly lose control of their vehicle in the event of a tire blowout. Blowouts are often caused by poor tire maintenance, improper loading, and road debris.
- Undercarriage – Undercarriage accidents occur when a passenger vehicle drivers under the back of a truck. Of all truck accidents, this type of accident is the most fatal.
The injuries sustained during a truck accident are often more severe than those sustained during an accident with two passenger vehicles. Because of the size of the truck, the truck driver faces less risk of injury in the event of an accident. Keep reading for a list of the most common truck accident injuries.
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries. The back is vulnerable to damage in the event of a truck accident. Bone and soft tissue damage may result in chronic pain or impairment. Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis or death.
- Broken Bones. Broken bones can take a long time to heal and may require surgeries and physical therapy.
- Burns. If a truck is carrying hazardous material and crashes, the chances of a fire or an explosion increases. Burn injuries are some of the most severe and painful injuries a person can sustain. Permanent scarring and disfigurement may occur.
- Head and Neck Injuries. Some of the most common head and neck injuries involve concussions and whiplash; however, traumatic brain injuries can occur and cause permanently impaired function or brain cell death.
Getting Help from a Milwaukee, Truck Accident Attorney
As we discussed, not all commercial truck accidents are caused directly by the driver. Oftentimes, determining who’s at fault for a major truck accident can be difficult. Questions like this can be difficult to answer without the help of a legal expert.
A skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you determine who was really at fault for the accident and get you the compensation your family needs. Additionally, if the truck driver or trucking corporation was at fault for the accident, filing a lawsuit sends these agencies an important message. That message reads loud and clear: The trucking industry needs to do more to stop accidents from happening.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a devastating truck accident in Wisconsin, you may feel like there’s nowhere to turn. Trucking corporation insurance agencies can be very forceful when attempting to get you to sign off on an insurance claim, but under no condition should you sign off if you’re not ready to or feel the settlement amount is too low. You deserve to get the financial compensation you require to recover from your injuries.
At Urban & Taylor, S.C., you can get the help of a Milwaukee, WI truck accident lawyer who will do everything they can to fight for your rights and send the above message to the guilty party. Our firm has experience going up against major corporations and can let your voice be heard. Contact our Milwaukee office to learn more or receive a free case consultation.