If you or someone you love has been the victim of a trucking accident, you are not alone. Especially in North Carolina, tragic crashes caused by truckers occur all too often. On March 18, a 30-year-old woman from Rutherfordton was killed when her Nissan Sentra crashed into the rear of a stationary box truck on U.S. 74 in Polk County. The truck driver, who had stopped his vehicle for unknown reasons, was charged with illegally stopping in the roadway and misdemeanor death by vehicle.
Ten days later, on March 28, a crash involving four passenger vehicles, three tractor-trailers, and another vehicle killed two people and closed Interstate 77 for hours. State troopers said that the wreck occurred when a tractor-trailer driver failed to slow down when traffic stalled, causing a chain reaction with fatal consequences.
Sadly, these tragic events are not unique. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, North Carolina was one of the 10 states with the highest number of fatal large truck and bus crashes between 2014 and 2016. These crashes involved a wide range of truck types, from single-units and semis to tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and commercial motor vehicles such as moving trucks, buses, and garbage trucks. The typical causes of the catastrophic crashes include both excessive speed and driver inattention.
We respect and support truck drivers in North Carolina, and the trucking industry is important to North Carolina businesses. Large trucks, meaning those weighing more than 10,000 pounds, make sure that goods are delivered to stores and businesses. Plus, commercial trucks cause fewer crashes when compared to other vehicles However, when large trucks do crash, their weight and size make them far more likely to cause serious and fatal injuries.
Below is a quick overview of key facts related to trucking crashes across the U.S. and within North Carolina.
National Trucking Accident Statistics
- Trucks and interstates are a deadly combination. Approximately 25% of all crashes involving large trucks happen on interstate highways, compared to only 8% of crashes involving other vehicles.
- Trucking accidents are serious. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 4,657 large trucks – mostly tractor-trailers – were involved in 9% of the fatal crashes recorded nationwide in 2017.
- The car drivers, not the truckers, are usually the victims. Of the people who died from large truck collisions in 2017, 72% were occupants of other vehicles, not trucks.
- Truckers often have histories of wrecks. Large truck drivers involved in fatal 2017 crashes had the highest rate of previously recorded accidents compared to other driver types.
State Trucking Accident Statistics
Fatal trucking accidents are on the rise in North Carolina. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes has increased 41%, from 104 to 147. The number of people killed has also increased sharply, from 117 to 164 during the same period. Some say this troubling trend began in 2006, when North Carolina logged 148 truck-related deaths, the highest since 1968.
More facts and figures:
- In 2017, tractor-trailers / semi-trucks accounted for the highest number of truck crashes: 4,567. Unsurprisingly, they were also involved in more fatal collisions (66) than other truck types.
- Single-unit trucks (vehicles with two axles and six tires) were responsible for the second-highest number of trucking collisions (4,420) and the highest number of trucking collisions causing injury (1,213).
- Between 2011 and 2015, over 137,000 people in North Carolina were in collisions involving large trucks. 43% were driving or riding in a large truck, while 57% were drivers or passengers in another vehicle type. However, 85% of the people killed and 82% of those seriously injured were in vehicles other than large trucks.
- The five counties with the highest number of truck accident fatalities between 2011 and 2015 all have major interstate highways: Mecklenburg, Guilford, Wake, Buncombe, and Forsyth.
Civil Claims Following Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accident injuries can be catastrophic, and sadly the driver and passengers of the other vehicles often suffer the lion’s share of injuries. Truck crashes, too often the result of driver or company negligence, may kill innocent victims driving or riding in passenger cars. In those cases, many family members of wrongful death victims pursue civil claims against the trucker or trucking company. Damages collected by truck injury victims may be significant and may include compensatory damages such as medical costs and missed work; loss of future income; loss of family relationship; and punitive damages. While no amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, compensation may at least help surviving family members financially cope with the life-altering catastrophe.
Victims of non-fatal trucking accidents, too, may be able to recover damages in civil court for the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. Typical injuries arising from non-fatal trucking accidents may include the following:
- Lacerations and cuts creating permanent, visible scars.
- Back and neck injuries that cause inability to work and permanent, debilitating pain.
- Compound fractures that are slow or even impossible to fully heal.
- Traumatic brain injuries that cause loss of motor and cognitive function.
- Spinal cord injuries that lead to paralysis.
These injuries and others may entitle victims to compensation, and in many cases may be recoverable even without filing a lawsuit.
Contact a North Carolina Truck Accident Lawyer
Large truck accidents appear to be on the rise in North Carolina. If a speeding or inattentive truck driver causes you to be seriously injured or lose a loved one, an experienced truck accident attorney can provide the advocacy and support you need.
At Johnson & Groninger PLLC, our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys understand that some of your losses are irreplaceable, but we can still fight for the compensation you need for your family to move forward. Claims for compensation following trucking accidents may be resolved simply or may involve intense legal disputes with several insurance companies. Either way, we will protect your rights and demand full value for your claim. For more information, please contact Johnson & Groninger PLLC or call 919-240-4054.