If you’re involved in a wreck with a tractor-trailer rig, the chances are that you won’t walk away without injury or lots of damage to your vehicle.
“I’ve been handling all types of accident claims for nearly 40 years,” said Rodney Harrington, with the Harrington Law Firm. “Including clients who have had collisions with big rigs. Although you may not see us standing on top of an 18-wheeler touting our experience, we do have extensive experience in this area handling accident cases and we’ve successfully collected millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients over the years*.”
It’s no wonder that a crash between a tractor-trailer and a family vehicle too often results in death, injury or significant property damage: A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 20 times more and be almost five times longer than the average car. These huge vehicles, also popularly referred to as “18-wheelers” and “big rigs,” can be challenging to control when speeding down a highway, even with an experienced and well-training driver at the wheel.
Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demonstrate the extent of the problem. In 2012, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 were injured in U.S. crashes involving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. That same year, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes.
Almost three out of every four people killed or injured in crashes involving large trucks were riding in vehicles other than the truck. In 2012, large trucks made up for 4 percent of all registered vehicles, but accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. In addition, large trucks are more likely to be involved in fatal, multiple-vehicle crashes that involve a fatality.
So, what can the average drivers do to protect themselves from a wreck with a big rig? First, it’s important to know that most of the commercial big rig drivers you see on the road probably completed considerable training and testing before being allowed behind the wheel.
State and federal laws and regulations require big rigs to meet certain safety standards and carry considerable liability insurance policies. Rules also limit the time drivers of large commercial trucks can be on duty before taking a rest or sleep break.
What can drivers do?
Following basic safety driving rules that apply to all motorists goes a long way toward avoiding collisions with big rigs. These good driving habits include not texting and driving, drinking and driving, obeying speed limits, not tailgating, passing on the left side only, avoiding distractions, slowing down when roads are wet and always wearing seat belts.
Since crashes with big rigs frequently involve deaths, injuries and extensive property damage, it is important that victims of such accidents obtain proper medical treatment and seek assistance from an attorney with experience in such cases.
The Harrington Law Firm has offices in Natchitoches, Many and Leesville. They can be reached at 318-352-5900 or at www.theharringtonlawfirm.com
*Results may vary