Fairbanks, Alaska Truck Accident Lawyers
Any auto accident has the potential to cause severe, even fatal injuries, however, when a large commercial truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, the odds that those in the smaller vehicle will be gravely injured increase significantly.
When you or a loved one have been wrongfully injured by one of these monstrous vehicles, the results can not only be life-changing but also devastating.
At Ringstad Law Office, P.C., we believe that you should be given the compensation you deserve to overcome your injuries. We’re here to help, and we’ll be in your corner every step of the way.
Since the size of a truck is significantly larger than most passenger vehicles on the roadways, truck accidents can cause significant injuries. The average semi-truck is around 75 feet long and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds fully loaded. The average passenger vehicle weighs between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds and is from 12-15 ft. long. Trucks are much taller, with greater ground clearance, resulting in smaller vehicles sometimes under-riding the truck in a crash.
Truck braking ability can also be a factor in influencing a potential accident—a loaded tractor-trailer can take from 20-40 percent farther than a passenger vehicle to stop. This discrepancy increases when the roads are wet or slippery, or when the truck’s brakes are poorly maintained. As you can see, the risk for those in the smaller vehicle is huge when there is an accident with a semi-truck.
According to the International Institute of Highway Safety, most deaths in large truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles. In 2017, 4,102 people died in large truck crashes, according to IIHS data. Seventeen percent of those deaths were occupants of a large truck, 68 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 14 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians. Thirty percent more people died in large truck crashes in 2017, than in 2009, when the fatalities were the lowest since the collection of crash data began in 1975. Fifty-two percent of the deaths which resulted from large commercial truck accidents occurred on major roads, other than freeways and interstates.
Driver Fatigue Still a Factor in Truck Crashes Even After Updated Trucking Regulations
As of 2012, truck drivers were allowed to drive a maximum of eleven hours, after ten consecutive hours off-duty, or a maximum of ten hours, following eight consecutive hours off-duty. Truck drivers are not allowed to drive after 60/70 hours on duty over a period of 7-8 consecutive days.
If you have ever driven eleven hours at a stretch, you are well aware just how exhausting it is, yet truck drivers routinely drive these hours. Fatigue is a serious issue for truck drivers and a cause of many truck accidents. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation believes truck driver fatigue is a leading factor in truck collisions.
While trucking companies may do their best to ignore drivers who drive longer hours than allowed—after all, the faster the loads turn around, the more money the trucking company and the truck driver make—the trucking company could find themselves liable for a truck accident if they were aware the driver was exceeding his or her hours.
Distracted Driving a Problem for All Drivers
Just like passenger vehicle drivers, distracted driving has become a significant cause of collisions. There are different types of distractions—visual distractions occur when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, to change radio stations, look at something happening on the side of the road, look at a cell phone or turn around to see what the children are doing.
Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind is on something other than driving, and manual distractions occur when the driver’s hands are off the wheel. Truck drivers often eat entire meals while driving. This is a form of manual distraction, and, perhaps a bit of visual and cognitive distraction as well. Reading or sending a text involves visual, manual, and cognitive distraction, and talking on the phone involves manual and cognitive distraction.
Truck drivers may actually be more prone to distracted driving simply because of the sheer number of hours spent behind the wheel. Truck drivers are also tied more closely to GPS devices or paper maps, as they attempt to navigate to an unfamiliar place.
Other Factors Involved in Truck Accidents
In addition to fatigued driving and distracted driving, there are a number of other factors involved in trucking accidents, including:
- Improperly secured cargo—Poorly secured cargo is much more common than you might imagine as a cause for truck accidents. A large, commercial truck can be carrying logs, bulk liquids, steel pipes, meat, produce, cardboard boxes, retail items, other grocery items, bulk liquids, hazardous cargo, or live cargo, such as cows or chickens. A top-heavy load can flip over when the driver takes a curve too fast, and if the cargo is not properly secured, it can end up all over the road, causing multiple accidents. Straps which hold the cargo may be worn or may loosen as the truck travels down the road. Cargo can shift, leading to a jackknife or rollover. The loading company and the truck driver are responsible for ensuring the cargo is properly secured.
- Underride accidents—When a truck stops suddenly, a much lower passenger vehicle can hit the rear of the truck forcefully enough to slide underneath the truck, shearing away the top of the passenger vehicle. Although underride bars are now required on most commercial trucks, there are significant weaknesses in the standards for construction and installation of those bars.
- Bad brakes—Large commercial truck accidents often occur because of bad brakes or overly-worn brakes. Since a large truck requires significantly more force to stop, truck brakes tend to wear more quickly.
- Inexperienced drivers—Trucking companies are only allowed to hire drivers who meet the age requirements, are able to read, speak and understand English, have a valid CDL license and are physically able to handle the long hours behind the wheel. Truck drivers must undergo training and must be able to pass a thorough background check. Unfortunately, some trucking companies cut corners when hiring truck drivers. If negligent hiring practices are responsible for a trucking accident, then the trucking company may be held liable.
How a Fairbanks, Alaska Truck Accident Attorney Can Change the Outcome of Your Truck Accident
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney from Ringstad Law Office, P.C. can comprehensively evaluate the facts of your accident, determining who should be held accountable.
We will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive a settlement which will cover your medical expenses (past, current and future), lost wages (past, current, and future), and pain and suffering. We are experienced in handling truck accident claims with multiple defendants and will know who to target in your truck accident.
Do not wait—contact Ringstad Law Office, P.C. today for exemplary legal representation following your Fairbanks, Alaska truck accident.