When a large commercial vehicle such as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer is involved in a collision, the damage is hardly ever minimal. Trucks can weigh up to 20 to 30 times the average passenger car and are often fully loaded to a maximum of 80,000 pounds. They can also reach speeds matching lighter cars on highways.
As a result, trucks moving at a full legal speed might need 20% to 40% more room to brake before coming to a complete stop—which may not be enough to prevent an accident. Because of the sheer size, speed, and weight of a large truck, collisions often result in wrongful death.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were a total of 2,734 fatal bus and truck collisions in the U.S. in 2019. Out of these collisions, 3,087 people lost their lives. If you’ve lost a loved one in a deadly truck accident, it’s critical that you act right away.
Truck Accident Wrongful Death Causes
There are many potential causes of truck accidents and each one raises the risk of a fatality substantially.
- Distracted driving. Truck drivers are prone to a number of distractions in the cab of their vehicle, including radio communication, food and drink, and electronic devices. Distracted driving is risky for truckers because it’s much more difficult to regain control of a drifting truck than it is a passenger vehicle.
- Fatigued driving. Fatigued driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol for truckers. However, they are still pushed to drive as far and as long as possible to make drop off times and earn the maximum amount of money they can since most truckers are paid per mile driven.
- Driving while impaired. Operating any motor vehicle while impaired raises the risk that a fatality will occur in a collision, and this is even truer for large, heavy trucks. Truck drivers have a lower legal BAC limit to reflect this additional risk.
- Inadequate driver training. Truck drivers should be offered robust, comprehensive training before they are allowed to operate a truck on the open road. Failure to train drivers can quickly lead to fatal collisions for new tractor trailer operators.
- Inclement weather. Snow, ice, and rain can limit a truck driver’s visibility and make it more difficult for them to gain traction on the road. This can easily lead to a jackknife accident, where the trailer swerves out of control and stops perpendicular to the truck, much like the angle of a pocketknife.
- Improperly serviced trucks. Because trucks are driven nearly constantly, they require regular service to ensure they are in safe operating condition. If a trucking company fails to service a truck and an accident occurs, they may be held responsible for neglecting to keep their trucks up to code.
- Improperly loaded trucks. Trucks must be loaded a certain way to ensure that the weight of the load is evenly distributed and does not exceed the truck and trailer’s capacity to haul it. A poorly loaded truck can result in the driver losing control of the vehicle, potentially leading to a deadly accident.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Someone’s Death After a Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one are involved in a fatal accident with a commercial truck, determining who exactly is liable can be complicated. To hold someone liable for another person’s death in a truck accident, you must be able to show that the liable person had a duty of care to the deceased, that the duty of care was violated, and that the violation directly resulted in the death of your loved one.
In some cases, more than one entity may be at fault for the accident that killed your loved one. For example, your insurance claim or truck accident lawsuit may name the following defendants:
- The truck driver. If the driver themselves has acted negligently or carelessly and those actions caused the accident, they may be held personally liable for your loved one’s passing.
- The company the truck driver works for. In many cases, the trucking company may also be held responsible for carelessness if they did not train their employees, service their trucks, or neglected to put safety first.
- The mechanics that serviced the truck. If the truck was serviced by a third-party mechanic, that entity may be liable for injuries or fatalities that occurred as a result of an accident that stemmed from poor or inadequate maintenance.
- The city or municipality the accident occurred in. In some cases, if a city or municipality has failed to care for their roads or provide safe passage for vehicles and it resulted in an accident, the city itself could be held responsible.
- Another driver. It may be that another motorist’s negligence caused the truck to collide with your vehicle. This may be the case in scenarios of multi-vehicle pileups, especially when trucks are involved but may not be the at-fault party.
Call an Experienced Massachusetts and New Hampshire Truck Accident Death Attorney
A commercial vehicle collision that causes the wrongful death of a loved one can leave a family feeling lost. It may be difficult to determine who actually caused the truck accident, as both the insurance companies and the negligent company work hard to avoid taking responsibility.
They may offer condolences, but often do so while tacitly seeking to shift the blame for your loved one’s accident onto the deceased or another party. A wrongful death lawyer can help.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, our experienced wrongful death attorneys in Massachusetts never let a company off the hook for its actions. When we are retained in a semi-truck collision suit, we dig deep to find the root causes of the incident. We seek to maximize our client’s recovery and to change the practices of the trucking industry to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today for a free initial consultation about your truck accident fatality case. The right wrongful death lawyer makes all the difference. See our recent results here or call now at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.