Truck accidents have a variety of causes and some of the most devastating outcomes. Out of 286,000 police-reported truck crashes in 2009, a total of 2,987 accidents resulted in at least one death, according to federal statistics. Another 51,000 motorists – including 1,173 Oklahomans – suffered injuries in wrecks involving trucks, tractor trailers, semi-trucks and 18-wheelers.
Many of the same factors that contribute to tractor trailer accidents also apply to car crashes. Negligent driving, inattention and speeding are frequently reported causes of hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle crashes each year. However, other factors, such as driver fatigue and improper maintenance, play a much larger role in truck accidents. As a result, a variety of individuals or companies may be liable for any injuries caused in a serious tractor trailer wreck.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a collision with a tractor trailer, semi-truck, or other commercial motor vehicle in Oklahoma, you need the Tulsa attorneys at the Rode Law Firm on your side. Our mission is simple: to help restore your health, well-being and sense of security by obtaining rightful compensation for your injuries.
How do we do that? By preparing, packaging and presenting a solid legal claim to the opposition – and we won’t stop until we believe you have fair and just results.
It doesn’t take much for our truck accident lawyers to get started on your case. Just answer a few questions by phone and complete a small amount of paperwork, and we’ll promptly begin investigating your claim. There is no fee unless we win your case.
Call the Rode Law Firm at (918) 599-8880 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We represent clients in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and beyond.
Background on Tractor Trailer Accidents
Even when equipped with the most high-tech safety features, a car is no match against a large truck in a crash. A tractor-trailer can outweigh the average passenger car by as much as 75,000 pounds, which means that the force of impact in a collision is more violent, more dangerous and more likely to cause catastrophic personal injuries and deaths.
Recognizing the dangers posed by tractor trailers on America’s roadways, the federal government and some states, including Oklahoma, have developed strict laws governing the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency responsible for developing trucking regulations, is focused solely on implementing policies to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries in commercial motor vehicle accidents. FMCSA rules and regulations dictate how long a driver can stay behind the wheel during a shift, what type of recordkeeping must be maintained by the driver and trucking company, instructions for proper tractor trailer maintenance, training rules and many other important guidelines. Violations of these rules are often contributing factors in serious truck accidents.
Causes of Oklahoma Tractor Trailer Accidents
A host of irresponsible driving behaviors — such as speeding, improper lane changes, and failure to yield at stop signs or other designated areas — can lead to serious truck crashes. Specific causes that frequently play a role in tractor trailer accidents include:
- Driver fatigue: Estimates show the average daily trip for a long-haul truck driver is 500 miles per day. Long hours on the road can contribute to drowsy driving, impaired judgment and slower response times in emergency situations. A study by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the most common factors in fatigue-related accidents included the duration of the truck driver’s most recent sleep period, the amount of sleep in the past 24 hours, and whether the sleep was continuous or in short shifts. Taking those findings into account, FMCSA has established hours-of-service rules that dictate how long a truck driver can stay behind the wheel during shifts. However, pressure from employers to meet tight delivery deadlines has led some drivers to violate the hours-of-service rules by staying on the roads and falsifying their log books. Each year more than 750 people die and another 20,000 are injured in fatigue-related truck wrecks.
- Improper maintenance: According to FMCSA data, the top two vehicle-related factors that contributed to collisions between large trucks and passenger cars in 2009 were problems with brake systems and tires. The agency requires regular inspection and maintenance of all trucks, semi-trucks, tractor trailers and 18-wheelers. However, trucking companies have been found to skip necessary maintenance in order to save money. More than one third of trucks inspected by FMCSA during its Large Truck Causation Study had maintenance violations that would have put them out of service.
- Drunk or drugged driving: Truck drivers cannot operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or higher, according to FMCSA, because it impairs their driving and makes them a danger to other drivers. Obviously, illegal drug use is not permitted, but over-the-counter drugs can also have an adverse effect on truckers, particularly if taken without knowing how their bodies will react to the medications.
- Defective truck parts: Problems with brakes, tires, hoses, lights, steering axles and suspension systems should be caught upon inspection of commercial motor vehicles, but sometimes the truck parts themselves are faulty. Truck manufacturers may be held liable if they produced an unsafe part that causes vehicle failure and a deadly truck accident.
Truck accidents also stem from:
- Poor driver training and inexperienced drivers;
- Fraudulent licensing of drivers;
- Overloaded cargo;
- Improperly loaded trucks;
- Tire blowout;
- Distracted driving;
- Illegal turns;
- Merging incorrectly;
- Following too closely;
- Speeding in inclement weather;
- Longer stopping distance;
- Jack-knifed trucks;
- Improperly secured hazardous waste.
Most wrecks happen due to some degree of negligence on the part of a truck driver, trucking company, owner of the rig, truck parts manufacturer or other individuals or corporations. Sometimes fault may be assigned to multiple parties. An experienced Oklahoma truck accident attorney can advise you if there are multiple parties to sue, which is important because it may increase your odds of getting fully compensated for your injuries.
Injured in an Oklahoma Truck Accident? You’ve Reached the Right Firm
The Rode Law Firm has more than 50 years combined experience in handling truck accident injury claims in Oklahoma. It’s easy to get us started on your case. Just answer a few questions by phone and complete a small amount of paperwork. We’ll promptly begin investigating your claim. There is no fee unless we win your case.
For a no-cost case evaluation, call (918) 599-8880 or fill out our online form. Take the first steps and our Tulsa trucking accident lawyers can start working for you immediately.
Based in Tulsa, the Rode Law Firm handles tractor trailer claims for injured people in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and beyond.