Ohio truck accidents can cause a lot of damage. In 2016, 11,944 units were involved in crashes. It’s often a challenge to restore order after a serious collision. Between managing your personal health and dealing with insurance companies, this situation is overwhelming. To focus on recovery and ease your worries, a Cincinnati truck accident lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim.
At Bey & Associates, we have years of experience fighting for the rights of citizens who were wrongfully injured as a result of negligence. We understand what you’re going through, and we have the tools and resources to build a strong claim on your behalf that proves you were wronged and are owed compensation for your financial, physical, and emotional losses.
Causes of Truck Crashes in Cincinnati
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study identifies reasons for tractor-trailer crashes and major factors that lead to them. Being able to determine the cause of a crash is a crucial part of building a claim that proves the incident was not your fault. Our attorneys will investigate the wreck, collect evidence, collaborate with experts like an accident reconstructionist, and determine why and how your crash happened.
According to the study, the most common causes of big rig wrecks include:
- Performance vs. Nonperformance. When the driver makes a sudden decision, tries to correct their steering, or loses control of the wheel, their performance is the reason for the truck accident. Non-performance covers instances where the driver falls asleep, or an emergency health situation occurs and they’re unable to drive. Heart attacks and seizures are examples of non-performance reasons.
- Driver’s Decision. When a driver tailgates or improperly merges, their decision is the reason for the truck accident. Poor driving decisions are often made when a trucker is under strict time constraints or has been driving for too long without rest.
- Driver’s Focus. Distracted driving reduces awareness and control. Tasks like texting, eating, or adjusting controls takes the driver’s eyes, hands, and mind away from the road.
- Exhaustion. Fatigue from lack of sleep and driving for long hours puts drivers at risk of slowed reactions, drifting from their lanes, or falling asleep at the wheel.
- Speeding. Driving above the speed limit gives trucks less reaction time to brake, change lanes, or turn. Big rigs need more time to make these changes.
- Not Driving for Weather Conditions. Heavy rain, snow, and ice are all inclement weather that makes driving conditions dangerous. In emergency situations, trucks don’t have enough time to safely brake.
- Heavy Traffic. Traffic congestion from rush hour or another crash means driving in close quarters at inconsistent driving speeds. Conditions like that make it easy for a driver to lose focus and cause an accident.
- Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Use. Illicit drugs slow reaction times, affect decision-making skills, and the ability to stay alert. Drugs, even if they’re prescribed, can make drivers drowsy and less attentive.
- Unfamiliar Locations. Whenever a truck driver is in a new area, they may get into an accident because they don’t know the exact route or how the roads are laid out. They could have to maneuver unfamiliar blind turns or not know the speed limit.
Regardless of the cause of a truck accident, the negligent party should be held accountable for their actions. If you’ve been in a semi crash, there are a number of consequences you may be tasked with tackling.
How Do Tractor Trailer Accidents Affect Ohio’s Citizens?
Unsafe truck drivers affect everyone in Ohio. When they engage in reckless driving behaviors, the surrounding drivers are at risk for serious injury or worse. The Ohio Traffic Safety Office annually reports on crashes in the state.
In 2017, many of the wrecks had consequences like property damage, injuries, and fatalities:
- When the truck driver was in error, there were 35 fatalities, 1,773 injuries, and 8,085 instances of property damage.
- In heavy truck crashes, truck drivers caused 42 fatalities, 2,217 injuries, and 10,474 cases of property damage.
- There were 16 tractor-trailer occupant deaths, as well as 947 occupant injuries. In those accidents, there were 32 other fatalities and 2,021 injuries.
Truck accidents can be non-collision or collision events. Non-collision events include overturning, jackknifing, failing equipment, running off the road, or crossing the median. Collision events are when the tractor-trailer strikes other vehicles, people, or animals on the road. A crash with a fixed object is also considered a collision event.
As you can see, it’s much less common for the truck driver to sustain injuries or be killed in the event of a crash. This is because the size of the vehicle offers them more protection. When a smaller car or truck is hit by a large commercial vehicle, the occupants are likely to be affected physically, emotionally, and financially. Immediately following an accident, it’s most important to deal with the physical consequences.
Truck Accident Injuries
Because of the size difference between vehicles, truck accident injuries can be catastrophic. For example, if an 18 wheeler collides with a regular-size sedan, the occupants in the sedan are at risk of life-threatening injuries. If the crash isn’t fatal, it’s possible the injuries will leave the victim with a lengthy recovery or disability. Along with the injuries comes extensive medical bills and emotional suffering. Fortunately for accident victims and their families, filing a truck accident claim and seeking compensation can assist with the losses.
When you file a claim, you’ll need to include a complete list of injuries and the related losses. Your doctor will be able to help you understand your injuries and their consequences. Some of the most common tractor-trailer accident injuries include:
- Broken Bones. The force of an accident can result in fractured arms, legs, ribs, and more. Depending on the severity of the break, casts, surgery, and physical therapy may be needed. Last impairments are possible if a fracture never heals properly.
- Head and Brain Injuries. Head injuries are most common in head-on collisions. Concussions, broken facial bones, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are possible. With a severe TBI, a person may experience mood and personality changes and impaired cognitive function.
- Back and Neck Injuries. The most common neck injury in an accident is whiplash. Serious whiplash can result in lasting neck pain. When the back is injured, the bones and soft tissue are vulnerable to chronic pain and impairment.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. The spinal cord is one of the most delicate parts of the body. Depending on the severity of the accident and the location of the injury, partial or total paralysis can happen.
- Burns. A number of commercial vehicles on the road carry hazardous material. If a semi accident causes a fire, the victims may sustain burns. Third-degree burns can result in scarring and permanent disfigurement.
The Trucking Industry Dilemma
You may wonder why truckers would drive past the point of exhaustion or why they would stay with the job at all. They’re driving commercial trucks all over the country and seem to have no time to even sleep. But the problem is more complicated than that.
Truck drivers often have to choose between pushing themselves past their physical and the legal limits of staying awake or risk getting assigned the worst jobs. When they complain to their superiors, they could possibly get fired.
So why don’t they find work somewhere else? Many truck companies require their drivers to purchase their own tractor-trailers. The companies’ lease-to-own programs push drivers into debt because of the cost and maintenance. The drivers’ paychecks cover the vehicle expenses, which reduces their paychecks to pennies.
If these truck drivers spoke out against the long hours and short deadlines and were fired, they wouldn’t get to keep the truck due to the nature of the agreement. The trucking companies are cornering their drivers into helpless situations. Truckers often have to choose between a difficult job with impossible hours for little money or speak up and lose everything.
While this is not an excuse for fatigued driving, it does bring to question how to determine fault after an accident. While you might automatically assume the trucker is to blame, the trucking company may be the truly negligent party.
Determining Fault After a Semi Collision
Establishing fault after a crash is an important part of building your claim. With the right evidence, your lawyer will be able to prove you were wronged because of the other party’s action. There, however, may be questions as to who that party is.
The truck driver is the most obvious party to look at when considering fault. Depending on what they were doing at the time of the accident can give an indication as to whether their actions or inactions caused the accident. If, however, the crash was a result of a poorly maintained vehicle, the trucking company could be the guilty party. If the semi had a defective auto part, the manufacturer could be responsible.
Once it’s proven who caused your accident, you and your lawyer can begin negotiations to reach a full and fair settlement agreement. While most claims settle outside of court, we have no problem taking your case to trial if negotiations fail.
Get Help from Bey & Associates
A truck accident can put your life on hold. Dealing with recovery could mean seeing doctors, going to physical therapy, and taking prescription medications. These expenses add up, and your injuries could also prevent you from returning to work. This stress is a lot for anyone to handle. The good news is you don’t have to go through this alone.
Getting help from an attorney is the first step to standing up for your rights. The Cincinnati truck accident lawyers at Bey & Associates will stand by your side and fight for you to get the compensation you need. Call us today for a free consultation.