You may not encounter them very often, but 18-wheeler accidents are probably more common than you think. While large trucks log many more miles on the road than passenger vehicles, both drivers of 18-wheelers and drivers of passenger cars are involved in a similar number of fatal crashes each year.
In 2018, there were 4,415 fatal crashes involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The majority of those fatalities were the drivers of the passenger vehicles involved in the crash. That same year, there were about 112,000 large trucks involved in injury accidents, resulting in about 150,000 people injured.
For at least the past decade, Texas has had more fatal truck accidents than any other state. In 2018, the state saw about 590 fatal crashes involving large trucks, according to the FMCSA. That was nearly double that of California, the state with the next highest truck-related fatalities.
Accidents with 18-wheelers may be so much more common in Texas because of the number of trucks and other vehicles on the road. Besides the sheer size of the state, Texas sees a lot of traffic due to local industry, its large population, and people passing through while traveling across the country.
Where 18-Wheeler Accidents Are Most Likely to Occur
Though an 18-wheeler accident can happen anywhere at any time, there are certain places and times they are more likely to occur, according to the FMCSA.
Truck accidents are more likely to occur in rural areas and on interstate highways. In 2018, nearly 60% of all fatal crashes involving 18-wheelers happened in rural areas, and about 25% occurred on interstate highways.
Most of the accidents occured between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. During this window, 36% of fatal crashes, 23% of all injury crashes, and about 20% of property damage-only crashes occurred.
More than 80% of crashes with large trucks happened on weekdays, and 10% of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.
Whether the truck driver was on or off the clock during the accident dictates who is held liable for the injuries — the truck driver themselves or the trucking company they work for.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
While there are endless causes of accidents, there are some that are more common than others when it comes to 18-wheelers.
- Speeding. Driving over the speed limit is the most common reason for 18-wheeler accidents. Truck drivers who speed have less time to stop when needed and less control over their very heavy vehicles.
- Inclement weather. Weather like rain, hail, severe crosswinds, and fog can increase the risk of an accident. About 30% of fatal crashes involving large trucks are due to poor weather conditions.
- Driver fatigue. When a truck driver doesn’t get enough sleep on a shift or works longer hours than is permitted, they may not respond as quickly on the road. They may even fall asleep behind the wheel. According to the FMCSA, more than 13 percent of truck accidents are due to fatigued driving.
- Distracted driving. Distraction and inattention is the second most common reason for 18-wheeler accidents. Drivers who are texting, eating, or otherwise not paying attention are more likely to be involved in an accident.
- Improper maintenance. When a truck isn’t properly maintained, it increases the risk of a mechanical failure or other problem on the road. Issues with poorly maintained brakes and tires are common causes of truck accidents.
- Driving under the influence. Whether using over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs, or alcohol, it’s not uncommon for 18-wheeler accidents to be caused by a driver who is under the influence of substances.
- Lack of training. When a truck driver isn’t properly trained in trucking protocol and the rules of the road, accidents are more likely to happen.
The cause of an accident with a large truck may not always be obvious. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Texas can help to investigate the cause of the accident and who was at fault, and determine if the trucking company can be held fully or partially responsible for the actions of the truck driver.
Potential Injuries in an 18-Wheeler Accident
The immense size of 18-wheeler trucks means that they can cause severe injuries in a collision. Potential injuries that can occur in an 18-wheeler accident include:
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Soft tissue damage
These injuries can show up immediately or appear in the days and weeks after an accident. Given the severity of these injuries, they may take a long time to heal and can significantly impact you both financially and emotionally.
What to Do After an 18-Wheeler Accident
Being hit by a commercial truck can be an overwhelming experience. The first thing you should do is get medical attention, whether or not your injuries are obvious. Getting prompt medical care can help you stay safe and show that the accident itself directly caused any injuries you may have sustained.
It’s also a good idea to file an official police report to document the accident. The report will include information that can be vital for your insurance claim, especially if you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit. This information will include road conditions, witness statements, and the police officer’s impression of what happened at the scene.
When possible, get photographs or videos of the scene, including those of injuries to yourself, damage to your vehicle and the truck, and the road conditions. This evidence can be vital to proving your claim.
How FVF Can Help
At FVF, our team of Texas 18-wheeler accident lawyers is here for you after an accident. We can help you assess the extent of your damages (both current and future) to determine what the cost of your accident may be.
When you work with a personal injury lawyer near you who has experience in 18-wheeler accidents, you have a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve. For a free, no-pressure consultation, contact us today to speak with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Texas.