Recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that nearly 12.5 million commercial large trucks and buses are registered to operate in the United States. While the National Safety Council (NSC) found that these vehicles make up just 4 percent of all registered vehicles, they account for nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes.
There are different types of commercial trucks on American roads, each of which poses a risk of accident and injury. If you have been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, you could be owed compensation, but this compensation can be hard to secure without the help of a personal injury attorney who has experience handling truck-related cases. The Melonakos Law Firm has helped victims of commercial truck accidents throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia pursue compensation for their injuries and related losses.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, The Melonakos Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out what we can do for you.
What Are Commercial Trucks?
Essentially, a commercial truck is a large motor vehicle used for commercial or business purposes, including transporting people or property. Under federal law, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is defined as a vehicle used in interstate commerce that transports passengers or property and meets one of the following criteria:
- Weighs at least 10,001 pounds
- Transports more than eight passengers for compensation
- Transports more than 15 passengers but not for compensation
- Transports hazardous material
Types of Work Trucks and Commercial Vehicles
The federal definition of a CMV encompasses a broad range of vehicles used for commercial or business purposes, including the following:
- Big Rigs – A big rig is also known as a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or 18-wheeler. It is a large truck with an attached trailer for moving goods over long distances. Big rigs are among the largest and heaviest trucks on the road, making them especially dangerous. According to data from the FMCSA, semi-trucks were involved in over 2,750 fatal crashes, 28,760 injury crashes, and 56,950 towaway crashes in one recent year. More than half of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes that year were semi-trucks.
- Tanker Trucks – These trucks haul large tanks of liquids or gases, such as gasoline, diesel, natural gas, milk, water, sewage, and industrial chemicals. Depending on their tank contents, tanker trucks can cause serious damage when they get in an accident on the roadway, including fires, explosions, and hazardous spills.
- Commercial Delivery Trucks – With the increase in online shopping, commercial delivery trucks operated by Amazon, FedEx, and UPS are now commonplace on the roadway. Unfortunately, that also increases the risk of traffic collisions. CNBC reports that nearly one in five Amazon delivery drivers suffered injuries while working, which is 2.5 times higher than the rate for non-Amazon delivery drivers.
- Flatbed Trucks – Flatbed trucks do not carry their cargo within an enclosed trailer but rather on top of a flat, open trailer. This cargo is often large and bulky and must be secured properly so it doesn’t fall off in transit. According to FMCSA data, flatbed trucks were involved in 12 percent of fatal truck crashes in one recent year.
- Box Trucks – Box trucks are commonly used to transport and deliver household goods, such as appliances, furniture, or moving boxes. These trucks vary significantly in size and weight based on their purpose.
- HAZMAT Trucks – HAZMAT trucks carry hazardous material and can cause catastrophic injuries in the event of a collision. According to FMCSA data, trucks hauling flammable liquids are especially dangerous, accounting for over 65 percent of fatal truck crashes involving hazardous materials in one recent year.
- Mail Trucks – According to a report from the U.S. Postal Service inspector general, postal workers were involved in 144,607 motor vehicle accidents over a recent five-year period. Accidents involving mail trucks are especially complicated because one of the liable parties can be the federal government.
- Garbage Trucks – According to the FMCSA, in one recent year, 109 garbage trucks were involved in 109 fatal crashes, 1,546 were involved in injury crashes, and 2,424 were involved in towaway accidents. Garbage trucks must maneuver streets littered with large trash cans, make frequent stops, and operate mechanical arms. They pose a danger to other drivers, bystanders, and their operators.
Differences Between Commercial Truck Accidents and Car Accidents
Commercial truck accidents are drastically different from those involving only passenger vehicles, specifically because of:
- Severity of injuries – Because of their massive size, commercial trucks can inflict serious injuries in an accident. These injuries might include severe burns, broken bones, amputated limbs, traumatic brain injuries, and disabling back injuries. Their size also means more than one vehicle may be involved in the destruction, increasing the number of injured victims.
- Liable parties – Commercial truck accidents may involve multiple liable parties, including the truck driver, the company they are driving for, the truck owner, the truck manufacturer, the truck maintenance company, and the cargo loader. Identifying the liable parties is a challenging task, which is why it is important to work with a lawyer who has experience representing victims of commercial truck accidents.
- Investigations – Commercial truck accidents are often more difficult to investigate than car accidents because of the amount and accessibility of evidence. An attorney will need to contact multiple entities involved in the commercial operation, not all of whom may want to cooperate. Most large commercial trucks must have an electronic logging device that tracks data such as the driver’s duty status. While this evidence can be critical in an accident investigation, the trucking company may hesitate to turn it over without legal pressure.
Contact a Knowledgeable South Carolina Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, The Melonakos Law Firm can help you pursue compensation from the at-fault parties. Contact our commercial truck accident attorneys today for a free consultation about your case.