There are apparent reasons why semi-truck accidents are very dangerous. Due to the large size of commercial vehicles and their sheer weight, the occupants of smaller passenger cars are very vulnerable to be injured or killed in semi-truck crashes. However, simply because truck drivers handle better in crashes with smaller cars does not mean they are free of risk — whether they are on the road or just performing their required duties.
Commercial Trucking Industry Deaths
632 semi and tractor-trailer operators were killed in roadway accidents in 2016, and another 154 died due to other work-related incidents. This is a total of 786 deaths on the job. This is a marked increase of 17 percent from 2011, with only 670 semi-drivers were involved in fatal injuries while on the job.
More drivers of commercial vehicles died due to work-related injuries or illness than in any other profession, with truck drivers accounting for around 12 percent of all deaths in the workplace. In 2016, other professionals, such as farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers come in second with 260 fatal injuries. 116 of these injuries were due to transportation accidents.
Commercial Vehicle Drivers Are Also No. 1 in Non-Fatal Injuries
Not only are commercial drivers killed on the job more often than in other professions, but they are also more likely to be injured as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claims that around half of non-fatal work injuries involving commercial drivers are due to serious strains or sprains.
Why Is Semi Driving So Dangerous?
A primary reason that truck drivers are at an increased risk of injury and death on the job is that they spend long durations on the road while operating heavy machinery in unfamiliar areas. Actually, about 67 percent of trucker fatalities happen in traffic accidents. There are other risk factors that contribute to the dangerous profession.
One reason that semi-drivers are at a greater risk of injury on the job is due to the fact that loading docks are very perilous work areas. There are many ways that a truck driver can be harmed when unloading his vehicle at a loading dock, such as:
- Falls from loading docks, lifts, and truck ladders;
- Back injuries due to lifting heavy items;
- Repetitive motion injuries from carrying cargo;
- Loading dock separation incidents;
- Being struck by backing semi-trucks; and
- Accidents with forklifts.
Luckily, many of these associated risks involving truck driving can be avoided. To minimize the danger of injury or death, truck drivers should:
- Make sure that they observe hours-in-service regulations and get enough rest—fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk and intoxicated driving;
- Ensure that the vehicle and equipment are adequately maintained—equipment failures like brake failures and tire blowouts are a cause of many commercial truck accidents;
- Slow down—driving faster than appropriate for the road conditions was one of the top five contributing factors identified in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration/National Highway Traffic Safety Association Large Truck Crash Causation Study;
- Understand the effects of given medications—according to the same study, both prescription drug use and over-the-counter-drug use were present in the top 10 contributing factors for commercial vehicle accidents;
- Comply with safe lifting procedures to avoid back injuries and strain;
- Follow all safe handling regulations and procedures when working with dangerous chemicals; and
- Make sure that all cargo being loaded into or onto the truck are loaded carefully and are properly secured.
Liability for Commercial Driver Injuries or Death
Determining liability when a commercial driver is killed or harmed on the job can be difficult. Many times, there are many factors that contribute to the accident involving a semi-truck or large commercial vehicle. Even more, there are a variety of employment and contractual options in the transportation field, meaning that different drivers have different rights available to them. For instance, commercial truck drivers who are employed by a shipper or a commercial trucking company may be eligible for benefits from workers’ compensation, but those who are using their own vehicles as independent contractors will often have to provide evidence of negligence or product liability in order to recover lost compensation from injury damages.
If you are a commercial vehicle driver who has sustained severe injuries on the job, or your spouse was a semi driver who was killed on the job or died due to an occupational illness, an experienced Utah commercial vehicle accident attorney can be an extremely valuable resource. Both these claims and work injury cases can be very complex and often technical, mandating the use of expert witness and knowledge of federal and state laws that impact these cases. Evidence can potentially be lost or destroyed over time, so it is best to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible to begin working on your case.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Salt Lake City
In 2012, 756 truck drivers lost their life while on the job, while 65,000 working in the industry sustained an injury due to an accident or occupational illness. These accidents are largely due to the dangerous conditions present in the commercial transportation industry. When this happens, the victim and their families are unable to work and earn the income needed to support themselves, and ts is a huge financial loss for everyone. It is a tense time where they often worry where the money is coming from to pay for financial damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from these injuries. In certain cases, victims can contact a qualified Salt Lake City commercial vehicle accident lawyer to put their mind at ease after a terrible accident.
The Utah personal injury lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen understand that victims and their families may not know how to begin the process of filing a claim to recoup lost financial damages. We have helped thousands of families recover multi-million dollar settlements, and we hope to help thousands more. If you or a loved one has been injured while driving a big rig, call us today at (801) 845-9000 to see how we can help.