Causes of Truck Accidents

When a trucking accident results in serious injury or death, assigning liability for victims’ losses is critical, and depends on accurately determining the cause or causes underlying the crash. Evidence degrades quickly, and witness’s memories become unreliable after a short time. For that reason, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrive at the scene of a serious truck accident shortly after the crash is reported. Investigators from the trucking company’s insurance company may arrive even before the NTSB. As a result, there is good data available on causes of truck accidents.

What are the primary reasons for trucking accidents?

Crash reconstruction experts agree that most truck accidents are complex events, involving more than one causative factor and two or more vehicles. It is common for more than one factor to contribute to the crash. A truck-crash causation study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that a majority of truck accidents involved fatigue, alcohol, and speeding. When breaking out details overall, however, the study pointed to a much wider range of factors that increase the risk a large truck will be in an accident, including some that may have occurred long before the accident.

  • Driver error was considered a critical reason for 87% of the accidents, and includes two major categories—the driver’s condition before the crash, and decisions made by the driver. The most common critical events resulting from driver error were driving out of the lane, crossing into another lane or off the road and loss of control due to speeding. The category of driver condition includes poor training, driver fatigue, alcohol, illness, and use of legal or illegal drugs. Poor decisions on the part of the driver include traveling too fast for conditions, responding to work pressure from carrier, inattention (distracted driving due to texting, eating, or other activity), following too close, making an illegal maneuver, and responding to an internal distraction in the vehicle.
  • Equipment failure, with brake failure the lead in the category, followed by tire failure.
  • Carrier negligence, a category that includes inadequate driver training and hiring, improper load distribution, pressure to drive longer than legal hours, and failure to maintain equipment.
  • Environmental issues, such as poor road conditions, improperly marked construction zones, and defective roadways can be contributing factors.

Assigning liability for injuries and death

Truck accident injury victims and families of deceased are entitled to compensation from negligent parties. Sorting out the degree to which each party is liable for the damages can be challenging. A person who has a serious injury or death claim should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident in order to ensure a fair settlement or result at trial.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Dealing with Your Insurer after an Accident

Mount Laurel Personal Injury Attorneys

In 2010, Allstate, one of the nation’s largest insurers, paid $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it by 41 states. The lawsuit claimed there were inconsistencies in how Allstate used a claims software called “Colossus” to calculate claim payments in injury accidents. While Allstate agreed to standardize the use of Colossus, the claims software is still used today – and not just by Allstate. Colossus is used by many large and smaller insurance companies in order to determine claims payouts in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian knockdowns, and other kinds of accidents where personal injuries are involved.

What is Colossus?

Colossus is a proprietary software used by some of the nation’s largest insurers (MetLife, Farmers, and the Hartford) for estimating claims in personal injury cases. In many ways, Colossus acts like a database for providing a baseline range of costs associated with different kinds of injuries that are similar in kind. To begin, a claims agent selects certain variables and enters them into Colossus – variables like “broken femur, “concussion,” lost wages, and the kind of accident you were in. Using pre-determined algorithms, Colossus then estimates the amount you should be paid based on costs associated with injuries that are similar to yours in your situation.

However, since there are certain questions associated with each variable entry, what is entered determines how each variable interfaces with value drivers considered by Colossus. Value drivers include such things as the kind of injury involved, hospitalization, its duration, treatment, etc. After analyzing costs associated with these value drivers, Colossus provides an estimate for a claims payout.

Questioning the Estimates of Colossus in Injury Claim Payouts

In this way, the results provided by Colossus depend in part on the variables entered by a claims agent in the first place. If your broken shoulder results in chronic pain or the weakness in your hand, the estimate provided by Colossus may not take into account these other factors that are a part of your injury. Critics of Colossus have pointed to this aspect of Colossus, though its supporters claim the software has been improved. Additionally, the manner in which Colossus determines an average payout has come under fire since insurers can tweak results by selecting from the low end of what is considered an average payout.

Why It’s Important to Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney

Insurance companies don’t always tell you that they’ve used a computer software to estimate your claim. And, since the result provided by Colossus is dependent upon what a claims agent enters, the estimate is subject to error. Further, Colossus does not take into account pain and suffering, especially in cases where an injury results in chronic pain or a loss in strength or the use of an arm or a leg. For these reasons, it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to challenge the estimates provided by Colossus and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck wreck, motorcycle crash, your slip and fall, contact Mount Laurel personal injury attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today to discuss your case.