For the most recent year for which statistics are available, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reports that 7,358 large truck accidents occurred in Wisconsin. These accidents injured 2,187 individuals, many of them seriously. Sixty-three people died in collisions involving large trucks.
Passenger Vehicles Vulnerable
A fully loaded semi tractor-trailer might weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. In a collision with a passenger vehicle often weighing 1/20 of that, a big rig often wreaks havoc on the vehicle and its occupants. Even a collision with an empty rig will often result in crumpled metal and multiple injuries. Semis are often in rear-end collisions because braking distances are far greater than those of passenger vehicles. Multiple broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, lacerations and severe burns are just some of debilitating injuries that some truck accident victims suffer.
There are many reasons why semi tractor-trailer accidents happen, including:
- Excessive speed
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Faked log books
- Excessive load
- Improper loading, load shifting in transit
- Manufacturer error
- Maintenance failures, especially brakes
Many victims of semi tractor-trailer accidents face a series of challenges that may seem overwhelming at times. A seriously injured victim might be unable to return to work as medical expenses pile up. Family members may struggle to adjust to dramatic changes in home life. The emotional strain can lead to stress reactions and even depression.
Who is Liable?
When an injury or death results from the negligent conduct of another party, the law provides a means to recover monetary damages. An attorney focused on relevant aspects of the law can help a truck accident victim to navigate through the legal system in pursuit of just compensation.
In a commercial truck accident, there are a number of possible responsible parties that need to be accurately identified. Sometimes, one company owns the rig and another one leases it. Faulty maintenance may point to yet another business as a responsible party. In other cases, an accident is caused by faulty parts, even faulty software, and the manufacturer needs to be held accountable. When a shifting load causes an accident, the company that employs those that loaded the trailer are often held accountable. Sometimes, an overloaded truck is carrying contents that are too heavy, and those responsible are liable.
Unfortunately, truckers themselves often cause accidents. They might drive too fast for conditions.They might get distracted by cell phone use or something that comes loose in the cab. It is important to determine whether a trucker in a crash was impaired by alcohol, illicit drugs or improper prescription drug use.
After an accident, it is also important to examine the truck driver’s log book (required by federal law) to see if legally mandated rest breaks and other requirements were followed. Horrific truck accidents have occurred because fatigued drivers failed to react in time to slowing traffic ahead. Some have even fallen asleep at the wheel.
Wisconsin’s personal injury laws allow large truck crash victims to seek compensation for a variety of losses and expenses, including but not limited to, medical costs, pain, suffering and lost wages. Survivors of those killed often seek compensation for loss of companionship and loss of support as well. Most cases are settled without a trial.
If you or a family member is a victim in a truck accident, we make it possible for you to speak with a Wisconsin semi truck accident attorney about your case details at no cost to you. We fight hard to get our clients every dollar they deserve under the law. To learn more about our legal services or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.