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Why Are Truck Accident Claims Complicated?

Car accidents and their subsequent claims can be long, frustrating processes to deal with, even with a straightforward incident like a fender bender. Truck accidents, however, can involve many more factors than a “simple” accident involving two cars. 

Truck accidents can be more dangerous and cause more damage or injuries to people or property. There may also be many parties involved in the accident, from employers to maintenance and repair companies to multiple drivers and passengers, and so on. Because of this, filing a truck accident claim can be more complicated.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in Rhode Island, call (401) 400-3337 to speak to the personal injury attorneys at Gemma Law. You can also fill out an online contact form to schedule your free initial case consultation.

Truck Driver Responsibilities

Over 5,200 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2019, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA reported a number of reasons, or “harmful events,” that contributed to these accidents.  In 2020, there were six fatalities due to truck accidents in Rhode Island.

Driving in rural areas

If you’ve ever driven on a rural road, particularly at night, you may have noticed that they tend not to be as well-lit as urban roads. Rural roads may be poorly maintained, and wildlife can collide with trucks or obstruct the road. 

Imagine navigating these difficult conditions in a large truck, and you can see why rural roads can be so hazardous to truck drivers. Approximately 57% of fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas; 25% occurred on interstate highways and approximately 13% occurred on rural interstate highways. 

Carrying hazardous cargo

Hazardous materials cargo can include gases, explosives, flammable liquids or solids, radioactive materials, corrosive, or other dangerous substances.

Hazardous materials were present on 3% of large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 2% of nonfatal crashes.

If hazardous materials were to be released from a truck during an accident—which occurred in 16% of the crashes—injury from a fire or the materials themselves can make truck accidents even more dangerous.

Driver fatigue or impairment 

Many truck drivers work tight schedules, having to deliver shipments in a certain window or else face reprimands by their employer. There are also regulations imposed by the FMCSA which dictate the maximum driving time limit, required breaks, consecutive hours driven, and so on. Having to follow federal regulations as well as employer rules can be stressful and lead to dangerous driving habits.

For one-third of large truck drivers in fatal crashes, at least one driver-related factor was recorded, including: speeding, distracted or inattentive driving, impairment from illness, fatigue, drug use, or alcohol use.

Truck-Specific Reasons for Accidents

Loss of control

Large trucks are heavier, longer, and require more skills to drive than the average car. When a truck driver loses control of their truck, it can be deadly. Loss of control in a truck accident may mean speeding, getting a flat tire, handling a stalled engine, or losing control due to poor road or weather conditions. Over 20% of large trucks in fatal crashes experienced a loss of control that led to crashes in 2019.

Overturn or rollover

Sometimes, loss of control and road conditions may lead to overturning or rollover. Overturn was cited as the first harmful event in 4% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks, and 2% of all nonfatal crashes involving large trucks.

Vehicle-related factors

Tires were the most commonly cited vehicle-related factor in truck accidents at 1% of crashes. Tires referred to either the tires on the large trucks themselves or tire issues experienced by the passenger vehicles involved in crashes with large trucks.

When a part on a large truck is faulty, it can be hard to figure out who is responsible. It may be the manufacturer of the part, a third-party maintenance company responsible for the care, a repair shop, or someone else involved in the maintenance of the truck.

Get Help from an Experienced Attorney

If a truck accident occurred for one of these common reasons, who is responsible for the accident? For example, is it the exhausted truck driver who was given unreasonable expectations by their employer, or the truck driver’s employer? Was it the construction company that failed to put up road signs properly or created the conditions which caused the truck to rollover? Could it be all three? 

It can be very difficult to determine if one party is liable, or if multiple parties are at fault. If you file a lawsuit and represent yourself, without the help of an attorney, this means you’ll have to determine and prove who is liable on your own. 

Not only will you have to gather evidence to prove your case, but you’ll also likely have to communicate with the truck driver’s employer, the truck manufacturer, auto maintenance or repair companies, insurance companies, and other parties’ lawyers. 

That’s why it’s in your best interest to work with an attorney experienced in personal injury and truck accidents. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights, file your claim, and handle communication on your behalf. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Rhode Island, call Gemma Law at (401) 400-3337 to speak to one of our personal injury attorneys. You can also contact us by filling out an online contact form. For more truck accident claim resources, follow Gemma Law on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Mark Gemma

    Mark Gemma is a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, and is a Principal of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. With 25 years of legal experience, Mark is nationally recognized for his legal ethics, receiving an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2009. Some of his legal specialties include auto accidents, wrongful death, and slip and fall cases. You can reach him at mark@gemmalaw.com.

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