Tractor Trailer and Trucking Accidents

Tractor trailers, also known as eighteen wheelers and big rigs, are essential to our way of life.  They carry goods to and from destinations throughout the country on our interstate, intrastate, city, local, county, town and village highways and roads.   

Tractor trailers are large, especially if rigged in tandem, and have the unique task of sharing the roadways with passenger cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs and minivans.  What tractor trailer and passenger car drivers frequently overlook is the fact that a tractor trailer traveling at 70 miles per hour has nearly double the energy of a tractor trailer traveling at 50 miles per hour.  Passenger cars were not built to protect against forty ton trucks, and forty ton trucks were not built to mitigate collision damage to passenger cars.   

Tractor trailers and cars frequently collide – as often as every sixteen minutes.   Many times injuries sustained in tractor trailer accidents are severe because of the size of the vehicles involved and the force associated with a collision.  Tractor trailer accidents can occur for many reasons, including: 

  • Unsafe lane changes;
  • Illegal use of the shoulder;
  • Failing to signal;
  • Failing to yield;
  • Improper merging;
  • Unsafe passing;
  • Speeding;
  • Tailgating;
  • Driver fatigue;
  • Cell phone use;
  • Worn tires;
  • Worn brakes;
  • Defective reflective and safety equipment; and
  • Lack of safety equipment.
On average, a tractor trailer driver will log 125,000 miles per year.  That amounts to roughly 500 miles per day.  At 60 miles per hour, that means that an average tractor trailer driver is behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound machine for more than eight hours each day. In a study conducted on tractor trailer drivers by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety, a number of the participants tested positive for drugs an alcohol.  Specifically: 
  • Marijuana (15%),
  • Non-prescription stimulants (12%),
  • Prescription stimulants (5%),
  • Cocaine (2%), and
  • Alcohol (1%).
In the event of a severe personal injury, the injured individual and/or a spouse and immediate family members, may be entitled to recover for:
  • Wrongful death;
  • Past and future medical bills;
  • Past and future lost wages;
  • Loss of future earning capacity;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental and emotional disability;
  • Disfigurement and scarring;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Loss of society, love and affection;
  • Property loss; and
  • Incidental and out-of-pocket expenses.

While no dollar amount can adequately compensate for a loss, the legal system permits compensation where the injured party can prove that another negligently caused his/her harm. The amount of recovery is determined either by a jury at trial, or through a fair settlement made prior to trial.

If you or a loved one have experienced a severe personal injury in a trucking accident, we may be able to help.  To learn about your rights, contact Bottar Law, PLLC, at 1-800-336-LAWS,, or complete a contact form.