We’ve all been there. We’re driving down the Ohio Turnpike and up ahead is a tragic accident. We slow down only to pass a scene between a semi-truck and a motor vehicle that perhaps could have been prevented. We thank our lucky stars it’s not us.
But what happens when it is us? You never think you’re going to be involved in an accident with another car driver, let alone a truck driver. But trucking accidents happen every day.
Trucking accidents can be scary and devastating, but we’re here to help you recover. This post will discuss how to respond to a trucking accident, how common trucking accidents are in Ohio, and how to get help with a trucking accident claim from the experienced personal injury attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci.
How common are trucking accidents in Ohio?
In 2016, more than 305,000 traffic crashes occurred in Ohio. Nearly all involved at least one passenger vehicle, while 23,474 crashes involved a medium or heavy truck, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s annual traffic crash report. Medium/heavy truck qualifications include everything from single-unit trucks or vans with two axles and six tires to Bobtails and semi-trailers.
Semi-trailers were involved in the most fatal crashes of any truck in Ohio in 2016 and in about 2% of total crashes statewide. Semi-trailers accounted for 8,769 reports of property damage, 2,299 injury crashes, and 89 fatal crashes.
Some of these crashes were non-collision: overturns or rollovers, fires or explosions, or jackknifing, which is when the trailer of a truck swings out to one side. Others were collisions with a motor vehicle, an animal, a train, or in a few cases, a pedestrian.
More than 70% of injuries and fatalities in Ohio crashes happen to drivers, rather than passengers. Truck drivers are usually more protected in their big rigs and are injured and killed far less often, though 17 truck drivers died last year and 1,201 were injured — about 1.5% of all traffic deaths and 1.1% of all traffic injuries. By comparison, 557 drivers of passenger vehicles were killed and another 73,213 injured.
But who is to blame?
Of all crashes involving trucks in Ohio in 2016, more than 58% were caused by truck driver error. Thirty crashes caused by truck drivers involved fatal injuries; however, this accounted for only 28.8% of crashes involving trucks. Truck drivers were most likely to be to blame for accidents involving property damage only (60.2% of cases), then injuries (51.9% of cases), then fatalities.
Keep in mind that a driver can be at fault for any number of reasons. Semi-truck drivers are held to specific standards governed by federal law as to how many hours they’re allowed to be on the road in a given period of time. This is called the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule. Drivers can be found at fault for driving longer than they were legally allowed, driving recklessly, not obeying signals or rules of the road, or driving impaired.
Alcohol was involved in 52 Ohio trucking accidents last year, including one that was fatal.
Trucking companies may be at fault, too, if their drivers weren’t properly trained, if the truck wasn’t properly maintained, or if the truck was carrying dangerous cargo. Even keeping inadequate records can get a trucking company in trouble after a crash.
What do I do after a trucking accident?
If you do get into a trucking accident, take down the names and numbers of everyone at the scene, do not leave the scene (it’s a misdemeanor at the least, and a felony in some cases per Ohio’s hit-skip law), and contact police immediately. You’ll want to provide a full account of what happened, but if you are unable to do so because you are injured, witnesses hopefully will be able to help support evidence for your case. Make sure you take pictures with your cellphone of the scene and any information that you wrote down for your recordkeeping — it’s good to have extra copies.
Remember to stay calm, don’t move, and wait for help if you are injured in a trucking accident. Injuries often can be serious — broken bones, internal bleeding, or even a traumatic brain injury — and adrenaline pumping through your veins after a serious crash can make them seem less severe.
Be extra cautious as a driver of a motor vehicle, drive defensively, and always follow the rules of the road. Even if you find yourself in a situation where you are a truck driver for a day — like when you rent a truck to move to another house — you’ll want to take every precaution to avoid an accident. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, four fatalities were reported in rental-truck accidents last year, in addition to 97 injuries and 481 reports of property damage.
How do I stay safe on Ohio roads?
A few other facts to consider from Ohio’s annual traffic crash report:
- 31% of all fatal crashes (trucking and non-trucking related) involved impaired drivers;
- 431 vehicle occupants died from their injuries because they did not wear a seatbelt.
Impaired truck drivers can get in big trouble, but so can motor vehicle operators who drive drunk or under the influence of drugs. It’s important to always wear a seatbelt and never drive impaired.
Take our advice: In one case handled by our experienced trucking accident attorneys, a motor vehicle passenger was killed when the driver of the vehicle struck an illegally parked truck. The driver was intoxicated, but both the bar and the truck driver were alleged to be negligent.
The result? One life tragically cut short and a $775,000 settlement to be paid.
Get Help if You’ve Been in a Trucking Accident
Trucks are big and powerful. When they come up against a motor vehicle in a crash, most likely the motor vehicle is going to lose. The injuries and property damage from a trucking accident in Ohio can cost hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an Ohio trucking accident, contact one of our qualified personal injury attorneys today. Plevin & Gallucci has local offices in Cleveland, Columbus, and Waverly. We’re standing by to help. Contact us today for a free case review by filling out our online form or calling 1-855-4-PLEVIN.