Many drivers are fearful of sharing the road with semi-trucks. This fear is understandable when you consider the fact that:
But are large commercial trucks actually more dangerous than cars?
In this article, we’ll take a look at large truck accidents in Alabama, including how they differ from car accidents and how fault is established. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about truck accident claims in the Cotton State.
Every year in the United States, there are approximately 110,000 large truck crashes that result in injuries and 5,000 large truck crashes that result in fatalities.
In Alabama, large commercial trucks travel 6.5 billion miles annually. Let’s take a look at how often these trucks are involved in accidents:
|Alabama truck accidents (2015-2019)|
|Source: Alabama Department of Transportation|
In contrast to truck accidents, car accidents occur much more frequently in Alabama. In 2019, there were nearly 160,000 car crashes, compared to the roughly 10,000 reported truck accidents. In other words, collisions and crashes with large trucks happened at 1/16th the rate of accidents between 2 or more passenger vehicles.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took a look at a massive number of large commercial truck accidents and found that the causes of truck accidents could generally be broken down into 6 categories:
|Causes of large truck crashes in the United States|
|Decision||38%||The driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.|
|Recognition||28%||The driver was inattentive, distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.|
|Non-performance||12%||The driver fell asleep, was disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired for another reason.|
|Vehicle||10%||Vehicle failures, such as brake problems, were responsible for the crash.|
|Performance||9%||The driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.|
|Environment||3%||Fog, heavy rain, bad weather, or roadway problems caused the crash.|
|Source: FMCSA large truck causation study|
The Alabama Department of Transportation took a narrower look at all crashes involving large trucks in Alabama in 2019 and found the following primary causes:
|Primary cause of truck accidents in Alabama (2019)|
|Primary cause||Crashes||Percentage of all truck crashes|
|Improper lane change||1,558||14.8%|
|Failed to yield right of way||1,047||10.0%|
|Unseen object, person, or vehicle||862||8.2%|
|Misjudged stopping distance||531||5.1%|
|Avoiding animal, object, or person||366||3.5%|
|Failure to heed signs or signals||289||2.8%|
|Driving too fast for conditions||226||2.2%|
|Fatigued or fell asleep||202||1.9%|
|Driving under the influence||125||1.2%|
|Over the speed limit||79||0.7%|
To recover damages after a truck accident in Alabama, you need to prove that someone else was at fault for your accident. In most cases, this means establishing these 3 elements of negligence:
Common examples of truck driver negligence include:
Most truck accident lawsuits are filed against truck drivers, but other parties can be negligent as well. These parties include:
Although large commercial trucks don’t crash as often as cars, they tend to cause more damage when they do crash.
In Alabama, truck accident victims can collect the following damages:
All motorists in Alabama are required to maintain the state’s minimum amount of liability insurance coverage, which is:
If you’re involved in an accident caused by a truck driver, you have 2 options:
Keep in mind that the insurance company is only responsible for damages up to the limits of the policy. If your damages exceed the policy limits, you’ll need to collect the excess amount from the truck driver or the trucking company personally.
Alabama has a 2-year statute of limitations for most truck accident claims. This means you generally have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this period, you will (with very few exceptions) be forever barred from filing a lawsuit based on the accident.
Still have questions?
Let’s see if we can address a few of them:
Due to the size and nature of 18-wheelers, there are a few types of accidents that are particularly common:
You can avoid a truck accident by doing many of the same things you do to avoid a car accident. For example, watch your speed, pay attention to the weather, and avoid distractions.
Rob Lyons, a commercial truck driver for 17 years and former director of the Sage Technical Services truck driving school, says that he constantly watches the road and his own car in what he calls a scan pattern: left mirror, straight ahead, right mirror, straight ahead, gauges; then repeat.
If you’re involved in a truck accident, there are some things you can do to help ensure your safety and increase your chances of recovering damages down the road:
The vast majority of truck accident attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they receive a percentage (typically 20-40%) of whatever damages you’re ultimately awarded. If you’re not awarded any damages, you typically don’t owe the attorney any money.
You can find an experienced truck accident attorney using our free online legal directory. Most initial consultations are free, so there’s no reason not to meet with an attorney as soon as possible.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more