Accidents involving large trucks like semis often result in severe, life-changing injuries or death to passenger vehicle occupants. On average, large truck crashes cause more than 70,000 injuries and more than 4,000 fatalities each year in the United States.
Oklahoma registers an average of about 5,000 large truck accidents annually, and that number is growing. In this post, the Oklahoma injury attorneys at Carr & Carr discuss the hazards of large truck crashes and how a lawyer can help injury victims pursue the financial security they need to cope with medical expenses and other damages.
Large Truck Accidents On the Rise in Oklahoma
In 2017, there were 5,540 crashes involving large trucks in Oklahoma, a 9-percent increase over the previous year. These wrecks resulted in nearly 2,000 injuries and 120 deaths, both of which marked increases over 2016, according to a report by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
Fatal crashes involving semis and other large trucks are more likely to occur in rural areas and on highways. Oklahoma’s State Highway 9 has seen so many large truck crashes that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pegs it as one of the 5 most dangerous highways in the United States. Other Oklahoma roadways with high truck accident rates include Interstates 35, 40 and 44 (especially the Turner Turnpike segment).
The size and weight of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles makes them especially dangerous in collisions with passenger vehicles. According to an NHTSA report, 14 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in Oklahoma in 2017 involved large trucks.
Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents in Oklahoma
Although the number of injuries and fatalities related to large truck accidents in Oklahoma is increasing, the majority of these accidents are preventable. Most large truck accidents stem from some type of driver error or negligence.
In a report to Congress on the causes of large truck crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cited driver behavior as the main reason for more than 88 percent of large truck accidents. Primary underlying factors included distracted driving, driver fatigue and engaging in unsafe behaviors such as speeding.
Distracted driving most often applies to talking or texting on a smartphone while behind the wheel. In Oklahoma, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, although adult passenger vehicle drivers are still allowed to talk on their cell phones while driving. It is illegal, however, for commercial truck drivers to use any hand-held device while driving.
It’s dangerous for anyone to drive when exhausted, but the hazards increase exponentially when you’re behind the wheel of a large truck carrying heavy cargo. Truck driver fatigue is the most common cause of trucking accidents in which the truck driver is at fault. A 2014 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that more than 20 percent of fatal truck crashes involved a drowsy or fatigued driver.
Unsafe vehicle operation is another common cause of large truck accidents. Many truck drivers face tight deadlines that pressure them into making dangerous decisions, such as driving too fast for conditions or driving longer hours than allowed by the FMCSA, the latter of which can also lead to operator fatigue.
Who is Liable for Large Truck Accidents?
Although most large truck crashes are caused by driver error, liability in truck accident cases isn’t always straightforward. Other factors in large truck accidents may include:
- Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
- Vehicle defects or defective vehicle components
- Insufficient driver training
- Inadequate vehicle or trailer maintenance
At-fault parties in large truck crashes may include:
- The driver
- The trucking agency
- The owner of the truck and/or trailer
- The cargo loading company
- The maintenance provider
- The vehicle manufacturer or vehicle parts maker
With so many potential contributing factors and parties involved, determining liability for a large truck accident can be challenging. If you were hurt in a collision with a large truck, it’s advisable to gather as much evidence as you can and contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact an Oklahoma Truck Accident Attorney
The knowledgeable truck accident lawyers at Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law understand the complexities of truck accident cases, and we know that the initial settlement offers from trucking companies’ insurance providers are rarely enough to cover injury victims’ long-term needs.
That’s why we fight hard to recover the financial security truck accident victims and their families need to restore their lives. We strive to achieve a fair and timely settlement on your behalf, but we also have the resources and trial experience necessary to take your case to court when settlement offers are too low.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a large truck accident in Oklahoma, please call us today at 888-238-4282 to schedule your consultation or contact us online to tell us your story now. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you understand your options, and we don’t charge for our services until we recover compensation on your behalf.
Carr & Carr has offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but we work with injury victims throughout Oklahoma. We can also meet you at your home, hospital room or other location convenient for you.