Your Truck Accident Questions Answered
The trucking industry affects nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Trucking companies and their drivers are responsible for delivering the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the gas in our cars, as well as the cars themselves. Truckers haul vast amounts of goods throughout the country each day, and it is rare to travel the highways or interstates of New England without passing a number of big rigs.
As more drivers share local roads and highways with an increasing number of large trucks, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of dangerous accidents involving commercial trucks. Rhode Island truck accidents cause serious and potentially life-threatening harm, and the size and weight of most trucks put car and motorcycle drivers at a disadvantage when it comes to escaping injuries in collisions with 18 wheelers. Our Rhode Island car accident attorneys have compiled answers to several common questions many people have regarding truck accidents, as well as information on what to if you are injured.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents?
According to statistics from Ryder Systems, Inc., one of the leading providers of commercial transportation in both the United States and abroad, roughly 500,000 truck accidents occur each year in the United States. Despite the fact that commercial trucking companies generally require drivers to undergo training before getting behind the wheel, the causes of truck accidents are often related to some type of driver error such as speeding, inattention or going to fast for road conditions. Other common reasons that truck accidents happen include:
While accidents resulting from these types of errors have the potential to cause serious harm, many truck accidents can be prevented through increased emphasis by trucking companies on safety precautions, as well as proper vehicle maintenance.
What Are The Federal And State Rules For Trucking?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for developing and enforcing trucking regulations to increase safety on the roads, for both truckers as well as any vehicles they encounter. Any commercial vehicle that hauls either passengers or cargo from state to state must register with the FMCSA and be given a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. The USDOT number provides a way for trucks to be identified for purposes of tracking such information as vehicle inspections and crash investigations.
While the FMCSA regulates the trucking industry on a national level, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC) regulates the industry as it operates in the state. Through the Division of Motor Carriers, the RIPUC works to ensure the Rhode Island state rules and trucking regulations are met. These rules cover the types of materials or chemicals that may be transported throughout the state, and the containers they may be transported in. The regulations also establish weight limits, restrict vehicle emissions, and designate tolls.
Who Is Responsible In A Truck Accident?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 95,000 people suffered injuries related to trucking accidents in 2013, and only a small percentage of this number were truck drivers. According to the NHTSA, the majority of people injured on these accidents were automobile drivers who had been involved in the truck accident. While driver error and improper vehicle maintenance are the causes of many truck accidents, there are some things drivers can do to help prevent these accidents. They include:
- Avoid trucking no-zones, which are blind spots that occur when driving beside or behind a truck;
- Give trucks extra space to maneuver around turns;
- Refrain from following a truck too closely, which can decrease your own visibility of the road;
- Be careful about slamming on your brakes, and remember that trucks cannot slow down or stop as quickly as cars.
While these are valuable tips for maintaining safety when sharing the road with truck drivers, it does not change the fact that trucks and other vehicle drivers are still responsible for controlling their vehicles at all times. While braking suddenly when a truck is behind you may increase your risk of being involved in a truck accident, it does not necessarily make you responsible for the accident, or for the injuries and property damage you sustain as a result.
What Can I Recover If I’ve Been in a Truck Accident in Rhode Island?
If you have been involved in a truck accident, you may be entitled to the following types of compensation:
- Medical and hospital expenses;
- Costs associated with long-term care and physical rehabilitation for your injury;
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and mental anguish;
- Loss of livelihood and loss of enjoyment in life;
- Loss of wages and/or earning capacity;
- Compensation for scarring and permanent impairment;
- Property damage and the cost to repair or replace damaged items; and
- Punitive damages, meant to punish behavior that shows a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
In the aftermath of an accident, you will likely be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance carrier. It is important to realize that any claim adjuster you speak with will be looking for a way to either deny or reduce your claim. Your best bet is to speak with one of our experienced Rhode Island truck accident lawyers before making any kind of statement to an insurance adjuster or signing any release.
Contact Our Rhode Island Truck Accident Attorneys Today
As one of New England’s trusted personal injury law firms, we fight for the rights of our clients, and stand up to the trucking companies and their insurers. Before speaking with the insurance company, contact Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP today for a free consultation. Serving the Providence, Cranston, Warwick, Woonsocket, and Wakefield areas, we provide the comprehensive, effective legal service that you deserve.