Challenges With Commercial Trucking Accidents (and How to Avoid Them)

Sobering statistics

Just ten states account for more than half of all fatal large truck and bus accidents in the U.S., and one of those states is Ohio. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, almost one in ten fatal traffic accidents in Ohio involve commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). 

Accidents involving CMVs are often even more deadly than car vs. car accidents, for a number of reasons:

  • MVs are much larger and heavier than regular cars and motorcycles—20 to 30 times heavier, a fully loaded semi truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds—they can cause more significant damage to smaller vehicles.
  • Also because of the size and weight of CMVs, they take a longer time to slow down and stop—20 to 40 percent longer than the average car for a loaded tractor trailer—resulting in accidents occurring at a higher rate of speed. That longer stopping time can be even more pronounced if the road is wet or icy.
  • Because CMVs are taller and higher off the ground than cars, the cars often end up underneath the trucks, resulting in catastrophic destruction.

Contributing factors to CMV accidents

While alcohol consumption, speeding, and fatigue are major contributing factors to vehicle accidents in general, there are other factors even more specific to accidents involving CMVs. According to a major study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these include:

  • Drug use, both prescription and otherwise. By law, commercial truck drivers can only spend 11 hours on the road at a time, but many drivers violate that law, and take drugs to help them stay awake.
  • Poor decision making and judgment by the driver.
  • CMV failure, due either to chance or improper maintenance, particularly brakes.
  • Road conditions due to weather, construction work, or unfamiliarity with the road.
  • Speeding—while speeding is often a factor in many vehicle accidents, it can be particularly deadly with CMVs.

Challenges with proving fault in commercial trucking accidents

Motor vehicle accident cases in general are complex and multi-faceted, and collisions involving CMVs can be even moreso. Here are some of the reasons why:

Just who exactly is liable? 

The driver of the CMV first comes to mind, but there are many other potential possibilities. If the driver is not an independent contractor, as many are, then the driver’s employer could be liable. The truck’s owner, manufacturer, or maintenance company could also come into play. In the case of equipment failure, it could be the truck maintenance company could be at fault. Other possibilities include the cargo owner/loader, and the drivers of any other vehicles involved.

This raises the issue of multiple defendants, where responsibility for damages could be shared. For that reason CMV litigation can quickly become vastly more complex than other motor vehicle accident litigation.

Significant damages 

For the many reasons discussed above, commercial trucking collisions often cause significant, even overwhelming damages—to vehicles, property, and human bodies. This can add layers of complications to any lawsuit.

Laws and regulations 

There are multiple state and federal laws that regulate the trucking industry—one of the most regulated industries in the U.S.—and all of them can influence and impact liability in a CMV case.

Insurance battles 

While truck drivers and trucking companies are required by law to carry heavy insurance policies, insurance companies are in the business of minimizing the amount of money they must pay out, and they will fight tooth and nail to do just that.

Collecting evidence 

Motor vehicle accident scenes are volatile, chaotic, and prone to rapidly changing due to traffic, weather, and safety considerations. For that reason, collecting collision evidence can be a real challenge.

Challenging cases require a lawyer up to the challenge

When hiring a lawyer for a commercial trucking accident claim, choose someone with the knowledge, expertise, resources and staff necessary to competently navigate the complexities of commercial trucking accident suits, and recover suitable compensation. 

If you or a family member has been involved in a commercial trucking accident, contact the attorneys at LaSalvia Law. We will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

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