How Common Are Commercial Trucking Accidents
Commercial Trucking accidents are not as common as car accidents. However, they do happen relatively often, especially in areas with heavy industries, like manufacturing, construction, or transportation hubs. These areas often have more trucks operating within the, so the chances of an accident are higher. Recent yearly data shows that the number of annual Trucking accidents is around 500,000 accidents per year. That is a significant increase from previous years, as there were only 327,000 Trucking accidents in 2013.
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Common Trucking Accident Injuries
Trucking accidents are generally more severe than car accidents. This is because trucks are much larger and weigh a lot more, so they tend to do more damage in collisions. A trucking accident usually results in severe bruising and broken bones for anyone involved. Truck drivers are less likely to be injured if they collide with something smaller than their truck. However, trucking accidents have a higher rate of fatalities. This is because trucks tend to demolish whatever vehicle they hit.
Types of Commercial Trucks
When people think of commercial trucks, they often think of tractor-trailers. However, there are many different types of commercial trucks. Tractor-trailers are the most visible and most common type of commercial truck and are used to transport goods in large quantities. In the construction industry, dump trucks are a more common type of commercial truck used to haul raw materials like dirt and gravel. Cement mixers are also commonly seen, especially in urban development projects. You may also see a flatbed truck carrying a wide range of materials and other vehicles.
Garbage trucks are also considered commercial vehicles. They often among the heaviest and most common commercial vehicles. An accident involving a garbage truck can be especially dangerous because of the materials that they transport. There are many accidents involving garbage trucks every year where the materials that the truck is carrying catch on fire or calls other environmental and road hazards.
How Much Do Commercial Trucks Weigh?
All commercial vehicles are classified into 8 classes based on their weight. This is generally the weight when the truck is unloaded, but special consideration must be made for the weight of a truck when it is fully loaded. The 8 weight classes, or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), are:
- Class 1 – up to 6,000 lbs
- Class 2 – 6,000 to 10,000 lbs
- Class 3 – 10,000 to 14,000 lbs
- Class 4 – 14,000 to 16,000 lbs
- Class 5 – 16,000 to 19,500 lbs
- Class 6 – 19,500 to 26,000 lbs
- Class 7 – 26,000 to 33,000 lbs
- Class 8 – Anything above 33,000 lbs
Any commercial vehicle can be classified into these ranges, and the GVWR is used to restrict access to such vehicles. Many states require specialized licensing to operate commercial vehicles and even more specialized licensing to operate specific classes of commercial vehicles. Some areas will have restricted access for certain commercial vehicles as well since their weight limits require specialized roads to travel on.
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Likelihood of Surviving a Trucking Accident
Although the number of trucking accidents is increasing every year, the chances of being involved in a fatal trucking accident are moderate. The two most prominent factors of being involved in a fatal trucking accident are the type of truck involved in the accident and if that truck was speeding. The majority of fatal trucking accidents involve tractor-trailers. There are many more tractor-trailers on the roads than the other types of commercial vehicles, so there’s a higher chance of being involved in a fatal accident with one. Research also shows that speeding is a significant factor. If the truck was speeding at the time of the accident, the accident is more likely to result in a fatality.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Commercial Trucking Accident
If you were involved in a commercial trucking accident, the first thing that you need to do is seek medical treatment. It is unlikely that you will walk away from the accident without any injuries. Furthermore, being assessed by a medical professional will create documentation that you can use for a related lawsuit later. You should also contact the police so that they can investigate and create an accident report. Finally, contact a trucking accident attorney to help you investigate and file a lawsuit if necessary. Having a skilled and experienced trucking accident attorney on your side can make the difference between winning and losing your case.
Accidents with commercial trucks carry greater risk due to their size and momentum. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. In the United States, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes during 2012.
Furthermore, in recent years, there has been an increase in fatalities caused by commercial truck accidents. NHSTA reports a four percent increase in fatalities involving large trucks from 2011 to 2012, bringing the total to 3,921. Seventy-three percent of these fatalities were occupants of other vehicles. However, despite the increased risks associated with commercial truck accidents, commercial trucks are only required to have $750,000 in liability insurance coverage. This means that the victim, or the victim’s insurance company, may be stuck footing the bill.
Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) called into question the $750,000 minimum, which has been in place for over 30 years. While many trucking companies and truckers carry insurance beyond the minimum requirement, the FMCSA wanted to see if the public felt this minimum was sufficient. However, mostly trucking businesses responded, indicating that a spike in the minimum requirement would only hurt small businesses and consumers. The issue of raising the minimum insurance amount for commercial trucks has yet to be resolved.
If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it’s important to understand your rights, especially if you or a loved one have been grievously injured. Kryder Law’s personal injury lawyers are experienced at negotiating with insurance companies and can make sure you get the compensation you deserve.