NBC article highlights increasing number of truck accidents, fatalities in US

July 31, 2014 | 10:46 am


Fatal truck accidents in the United States happen nearly 11 times every single day in this country on average, killing nearly 4,000 people each year, according to a recently released NBC News feature titled “Truck Accidents Surge, But There’s No National Outcry.”

On top of that, more than 100,000 people are injured every year in truck crashes. NBC News states that the numbers are as bad as if a commuter jet crashing every week of the year, killing everyone on board.

The numbers are getting worse through the years, according to NBC News. Truck-crash fatalities have increased since 2009. The reason: an improving economy leads to more goods being shipped on American highways and more pressure being placed on trucking companies, and drivers, to get the loads delivered on time.

NBC News interviewed with regulators, industry, lawyers and victims of truck crashes that revealed a toxic mix of causes for the deaths. The reasons include overly tired drivers, companies that don’t screen for problem drivers, and a U.S. government that is slow to force new safety technologies on to American roads. Some blame also goes to drivers who weave dangerously in and out of the way of heavier, slower-reacting trucks.

NBC argues that normally, thousands of deaths a year would generate a national outcry. But because trucking deaths are scattered in small numbers across the country, they don’t get covered in the national news; at least not someone famous becomes a victim, as what happened this summer in New Jersey when actor Tracy Morgan was involved in a fatal truck crash.

In California, a truck crash involving a FedEx truck that killed 10 people, including students, made national news.

NBC discusses the issue of government and industries being wary of putting too many restrictions in place that could harm the country’s ability to do business. The expose also highlights these interesting statistics:

  • 3,921 fatalities from truck crashes in 2012, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • 104,000 injuries from truck crashes in 2012, according to NHTSA
  • That’s more than 10 crashes and more than 284 injuries per day.
  • Fatal crashes were up more than 18 percent between 2009 and 2012
  • In the same period, passenger car fatal accidents are down 1.74 percent.
  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4.89 percent of truck drivers were taken out of service once inspected in 2012 for having too many violations. That’s 171,150 drivers.
  • On the same front, 20.13 percent of vehicles were taken out of service; that’s 2,145,733 trucks.
  • To keep up with expected growth in the trucking industry, the United States will add nearly 100,000 drivers each year over the coming decade.

For more on the NBC feature, go HERE.

As you can see, truck accidents often involve complex legal issues that require the assistance of an experienced accident lawyer. The Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have handled hundreds of truck, semi and big-rig accident cases in the firm’s 80-year history. If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident, contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately.

Here are some other questions and answer to consider if you’ve been involved in a truck accident:

Is my case any different if I am injured, or a family member is killed, by a truck as opposed to any other vehicle driver?

Yes. Although the same laws of negligence will apply, there are special vehicle code sections which apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies and there are special licensing and training requirements of truck drivers which generally make truck accidents harder to defend and easier to win for plaintiffs.

Who can be sued in a truck accident case?

Any person or entity who was at fault for causing the accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver and the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the shipper, as well as any other driver, person or entity who in anyway contributed to the accident, such as the manufacturer of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, the manufacturer of a tire that contributed to the accident or the owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident.

Can I still sue even if I was partially at fault for causing my own injuries in the accident?

California is a comparative fault state. A person can sue for serious Big Rig Accidents even if he or she are partially at fault, as long as he or she can prove that one or more parties are also at fault. However, the amount of a plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by the amount of his or her fault. Therefore, if someone is awarded $5 million dollars in a serious big rig accidents case, but are found to be fifty percent at fault, the recovery will be reduced to $2.5 million dollars.

What damages can I, or the survivors of a loved one, recover in a truck accident injury or death case?

Under California law, a seriously injured plaintiff is entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages which are awarded to punish the defendant. If a person dies in a truck accident, the survivors can recover monetary damages for their economic losses and emotional distress damages for loss of society, love and comfort.

For more vital questions and answers for a truck, semi- or big-rig accident case, visit our Frequently Asked Questions section.