Overall, it seems Boston drivers should feel safer when they travel next to tractor-trailers on Massachusetts roads. But, according to a 2012 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large truck involvement in fatal and injury accidents took an about face between 2011 and 2012.
Fatal crashes including large trucks shot up 5 percent during that time and more disturbing, 22 percent more trucks were involved in injury accidents in 2012 than the previous year. The increase in miles traveled by large trucks across the country was negligible at less than half of 1 percent.
The federal report shows trends but doesn’t offer explanations for the relatively sudden increase in truck accidents after years of steady decline. The reality is that any increase in large truck accidents includes the chance of extremely serious injuries for survivors. Trucks are huge, heavy and fast, and when they collide with smaller vehicles, the damage can be extensive: catastrophic injuries, disability and death for accident victims.
Establishing fault in truck accidents can be complicated. When a truck driver is liable, several other parties may share the blame. For instance, truck driver fatigue can stem from an employer’s insistence that a driver violate hours of service rules — the employer is accountable for the driver’s competence and performance.
In addition to a trucking company, a truck owner, leasing company, vehicle servicer or manufacturer may be faulted, depending on the cause of the accident. Consequently, plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death claims may be able to collect compensation from multiple wrongdoers for a single crash.