The majority of us depend upon the trucking industry to deliver the food and goods we depend upon in our daily lives. Whether the delivery is to our home or the nearest grocery store or retail outlet, the commercial trucking industry is responsible for hauling billions of dollars’ worth of cargo from port to port throughout the United States, as well as both to and from Canada and Mexico. While we count on these deliveries for day to day essentials, our increased reliance upon goods that require shipping and delivery means an increase in trucks on our roads. Trucking accidents have become increasingly common, both on highways as well as local roads, and injuries caused by these types of accidents often causes serious and life threatening harm. The following includes what you need to know about these types of accidents, as well as what to do if you or a loved one is injured.
Trucking Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the national agency responsible for implementing and overseeing regulations that ensure commercial motor vehicle safety. Studies conducted by the FMCSA indicate that the number of trucking accidents has increased each year, and as these accidents continue to climb, so do the number of injuries and fatalities caused by these accidents. According to the most recent studies, there are an estimated 300,000 trucking accidents that occur each year in the United States, causing nearly $90 billion in damages. The FMCSA estimates that close to 4,000 people are killed in trucking accidents each year, and another 80,000 suffer serious injuries. In the majority of trucking accidents, only a small percentage of injuries are suffered by the actual truck drivers themselves. The majority of injuries, fatalities, and property damages are suffered by motor vehicle drivers involved in these accidents.
What To Do If You Are Involved In A Trucking Accident
Due to the large size and weight of most commercial vehicles, trucking accidents often result in severe and even disabling injuries to other drivers. There are three main ways in which you may be able to get compensation for your injuries:
- From the truck driver and the trucking company: Truck drivers generally perform their duties in the service of other companies, and both the drivers and the companies they work for are under strict federal standards, as well as California state trucking safety regulations and requirements in terms of licensing and safety. In the event you are injured in a trucking accident, you will likely be contacted by the trucking company the driver works for, and any claim for damages will be through the company’s insurance plan.
- From your own insurer: If you have collision coverage on your insurance, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries through your own insurance company, who will generally pay your claim, then pursue the trucking company for reimbursement.
- By filing a personal injury lawsuit: If your injuries were caused by the reckless or negligent conduct of the driver, you may be entitled to damages under Section 3333 of the California Civil Code, which allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit. Damages you may be entitled to claim include medical expenses, future rehabilitative costs, lost wages, property damages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. In the event the driver was grossly negligent, you may be entitled to punitive damages, which are meant to punish the offending party and deter others from committing the same type of behavior. Under Section 3294 of the California Civil Code, punitive damages are in addition to any other compensation you receive for your injuries, and are generally two to three times as much as your total claim.
In addition to the above, if you have had a loved one or family member who was killed as the result of a trucking accident, you may be entitled to file a suit for wrongful death. In this type of lawsuit, you can claim compensation for the total loss of wages your loved one would have earned throughout their lifetime, as well as compensation for the loss of their companionship and influence in your life. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, this compensation helps grieving families put the pieces back together in the aftermath of such a devastating accident.