While the trucking industry transports and delivers a number of important goods and services across the country, there are dangers associated with any type of vehicular travel. Trucks can be particularly dangerous because of their size.
Unfortunately, the number of tractor trailer crashes that occur in Nebraska and all over the country is high. While many of those accidents only result in injuries, a number do result in loss of life. Our Omaha truck accident lawyers are here to represent victims of those accidents, in an attempt to seek justice and possibly prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.
Truck Accidents in Nebraska
Commercial vehicles are involved in a significant number of accidents every year. As a responsible driver, it’s important to understand the common road risks, why they happen, and how to avoid them. The following facts and statistics come from the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s 2017 Traffic Crash Facts.
- There were a total of 34,999 crashes.
- Of the total number of accidents, 2,213 involved a semi-trailer truck or other heavy truck.
- 1,515 instances of property damage occurred.
- 656 individuals were injured in truck wrecks.
- 42 people who were involved in a commercial vehicle accident died.
- The majority of fatality victims were not wearing seatbelts.
- Most of the crashes occurred between 3:00 and 6:00PM.
Reasons Commercial Trucks Fail
Before understanding why commercial trucks fail, you need to understand what they are. A commercial truck is a type of large vehicle that is used to transport raw materials or finished goods. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Tanker trucks
- Tow trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Delivery and cargo vans
When maintenance rules are not followed, trucking companies use irresponsible hiring practices, or truckers are negligent behind the wheel, accidents are likely to occur. There are numerous ways a semi can fail, but the following are among the most common:
- Failed Brakes. If a truck’s brakes fail, it’s likely to rear-end another vehicle or collide with nearby stationary objects. If the brakes aren’t properly cared for, this could happen.
- Tire Blowouts. As you’ve probably noticed, tractor-trailers have a significant number of tires. When they aren’t properly cared for or changed, one could easily shred. Depending on the circumstances, the tire debris could strike another vehicle or the 18-wheeler could end up flipping. Tire blowouts can also occur is debris is left in the road.
- Improper Loading. There are specific guidelines that state how a truck can and cannot be loaded. If a semi is carrying to much weight or the weight isn’t evenly distributed, it’s possible the vehicle could cause an accident by turning over.
- Steering Failure. As a part of truck maintenance, it’s important to look over every aspect of the vehicle. In the event the steering column is neglected and has issues, a trucker could lose complete control while driving.
- Headlight Burnouts. Headlights benefit both the driver and other travelers on the road. Truckers need to be able to see where they’re going, and other drivers need to be aware there is a truck nearby. If a headlight goes out, a semi is likely to be less visible.
- Brake/Trailer Light Malfunction. Just as it’s important to be able to see a truck coming towards you, it’s equally as important to know when you’re behind a truck. If a tractor-trailer’s tail or trailer lights are out, a car traveling behind may not realize when the larger vehicle stops. This could result in a deadly rear-end accident.
Maintenance Regulations and Accident Liability
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) established the guidelines for truck maintenance. According to their regulations, every truck must be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained. All controls, parts, and accessories should be in safe and proper operating condition at all times.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for ensuring those regulations are met. Drivers should perform daily inspections to make sure the brakes, tires, windshield wipers, mirrors, reflectors, lights, steering mechanism, and horn are all in working order. If a broken part is discovered, it is imperative the trucker report the need for repair right away. If an inspection is not carried out and an accident occurs, the trucker may be held liable.
Ultimately, however, trucking companies are responsible for the condition of their vehicles. They need to ensure their drivers undergo regular inspections and their vehicles are inspected annually by a qualified professional. If they neglect their responsibility, they can be held legally liable per FMCSA’s laws.
If you or a family member have been affected by a trucking company or trucker’s negligence, a lawyer from Welsh & Welsh PC, LLC can review your claim and help you proceed with your case. You may be eligible for compensation that can aid with your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. For more information about your legal rights and options, contact us today.