While no one would describe a pedestrian accident caused by a motor vehicle as anything but serious, the dangers increase astronomically when the vehicle involved is a truck. Unfortunately, these tragic accidents are common. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,852 people died in truck crashes in 2015, with 15 percent being pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcycle riders. If a trucker causes your pedestrian accident, you could suffer catastrophic injuries that limit your ability to work and your day-to-day activities. However, with the help of an experienced pedestrian accident attorney, you may be able to hold the negligent truck driver and trucking company responsible for compensating you.
What Are the Causes of Truck and Pedestrian Accidents?
In Georgia, all drivers—including truckers—must follow certain traffic laws designed to protect pedestrians. For example, they must stop before the sidewalk when exiting an alley, driveway, or building. Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always obey traffic laws and often engage in other negligent actions that cause pedestrian accidents, including the following:
- Headlights. Truck drivers are required to conduct pre- and post-trip inspections of their trucks. While they should discover defective or dim headlights, they often do not—or chose to drive the truck anyway. Truckers already have a difficult time spotting pedestrians, and poor headlights increase the risk of hitting an innocent person walking on the road.
- Distracted driving. If a trucker is eating and drinking, looking at his GPS, texting, or talking on his cell phone, he is not giving his full attention to his driving—even more important when driving a truck. Just a few seconds where his eyes and mind are off the road can result in him not seeing a pedestrian who has the right of way.
- Drowsy driving. Truck drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours without taking a long break, which in itself can result in driving when drowsy. If truck drivers violate the federal rules on how long they can drive and drive longer than this, the chance that they will fail to see a pedestrian because they are sleepy or fall asleep at the wheel increases dramatically.
- Speeding. Speeding is always dangerous, but more so when driving a truck since the time to slow down and stop is significantly longer than with a passenger vehicle. A speeding trucker may not have sufficient time to avoid a pedestrian, even if he sees the person.
- Failing to yield. When a truck driver fails to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or intersection, disobeys stop signs or traffic signals, or does not signal to warn others that he is turning, a truck driver can cause a devastating pedestrian accident.
- Driving for weather. When road conditions are treacherous due to snow, ice, rain, or fog, a truck driver must exercise more care and reduce his speed as necessary. When he does not, he could lose control of his truck and slide into a pedestrian.
- Intoxicated driving. If a trucker is intoxicated due to alcohol or drug use, he is unlikely to see a less visible pedestrian or be able to respond quickly enough to avoid hitting him.
- Brakes. When a truck’s brakes malfunction, are in poor repair, or were “adjusted” to reduce wear and tear, a truck driver may be unable to slow down and stop for a pedestrian.
Why Do Truck Accidents Cause Such Serious Injuries?
Truck crashes with pedestrians cause more serious injuries than other pedestrian accidents for a few reasons. First, the sheer size and weight of the truck—often 80,000 pounds when loaded—mean that the force of impact is greater than that of a car. In addition, trucks take longer to slow down and stop, increasing the chances that the pedestrian will be hit at a faster speed. Finally, pedestrians have virtually no protection between their bodies and the truck smashing into them, making the impact much greater. Motor vehicle drivers and occupants have at least some protection from their vehicles’ frames.
Pedestrians can suffer life-altering injuries in a truck accident. Some of these include:
- Internal and external bleeding—sometimes life-threatening
- Internal organ damage
- Broken and fractured bones
- Pelvic fractures
- Spinal cord damage—including paralysis
- Leg injuries
- Head injuries—such as concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and brain swelling
- Chest and upper body injuries
When a truck is the cause of your pedestrian accident, your case may be more complex due to the many federal regulations the truck driver and trucking company are required to follow. Failure to follow these regulations—common in many cases—may have caused or contributed to your accident. If you were injured as a pedestrian in a truck accident or any other type of accident, call our office today to find out how Brauns Law can help you to obtain the compensation you may deserve.