The Capital Beltway has been open since 1964 and links Washington, D.C. to the surrounding neighborhoods and cities in Virginia and Maryland. It is really the main artery of travel in the D.C. area. It also has four lanes in each direction, meaning it can carry so many vehicles in such a tight area.
When some of those vehicles are trucks, especially in the rush of morning and evening traffic, they block lines of sight, move slowly, maneuver dangerously, and cause accidents. Calling them “accidents,” though, is not always appropriate. When a truck and its driver are responsible for a crash, it can leave the innocent drivers and passengers of other cars injured. If you have been a victim of a truck crash on the Capital Beltway in D.C., Virginia, or Maryland, the Truck Accident Team can help with your case.
How do Trucks Cause Accidents on I-495?
Some truck accidents are really no different than car accidents. Truck drivers are just as human as the rest of us. They make poor judgement calls, they fail to check blind spots, and they are sometimes overconfident in their driving abilities. These driver errors can happen to anyone – but when they happen to a truck driver, their effects are amplified. Unlike a small car, when a truck swerves out of its lane or hits another car, it can cause severe damage and injury. The fact that trucks can often weigh over twenty times that of a normal car, and their sheer height and length, mean that they can not only affect more cars at once, but that their momentum causes much more severe impacts.
Driver error is also more likely for truck drivers, who are on the road much longer than most drivers. While there are federal regulations limiting truck drivers to no more than sixty hours in a seven day period – and requiring ten hour rests between maximum shifts of eleven hours – these regulations do not mean drivers will always be in top form. People get tired. Most people work about eight hours each day, and I think most would agree they are not alert enough throughout that entire day to safely operate a nearly forty-ton vehicle.
On top of all of this, trucking creates dangerous incentives for both drivers and trucking companies. A trucking company gets paid based on how much it can ship and how fast it can do it. Truck drivers get paid by how much they drive. That means that, to cut costs and get more pay, trucking companies get better money when they keep drivers and trucks in service for longer periods and haul more freight. Drivers get paid more if they ignore these limitations on driving hours. This means the regulations get broken, and potentially dangerous drivers and trucks stay on the road.
That means that we get trucks that are too heavy and have not been properly rested or serviced, driven by drivers who are overworked and tired. Even worse, sometimes truckers resort to abusing drugs and alcohol to stay awake. Whether it be large amounts of caffeine, prescription drug abuse, or illegal drugs, truckers may rely on these, or alcohol’s buzz, to keep them going on long drives. Aside from usually being illegal, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is immensely dangerous, especially for the other drivers on the road.
What Can Drivers Do When They Are Injured by Trucks?
In the vast majority of fatal crashes involving trucks and cars, those who died were the drivers and occupants of the other cars – not the truck. Truck drivers are often protected from the effects of a crash by their larger vehicle, while car drivers are left injured or dead. For those who are injured by trucks, or the families of those who lost their lives to truck accidents, there is help.
Obviously, seeking medical care is the first priority for anyone who is injured in an auto accident, but seeking legal care should often be the second priority.
Insurance can only do so much to compensate those who are severely injured, but the law can do more. Whether you’re facing medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, the law can get you compensated. Courts may even punish especially dangerous trucking companies by awarding you extra damages. Truck drivers themselves might not be financially equipped to pay for your injuries, but if you were injured while they were working for a trucking company, that company can be made to pay for your injuries, too.
Speak to an Experienced I-495 Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured by a truck driver or lost a loved one in a crash on the Capital Beltway in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, contact the Truck Accident Team. Our attorneys work throughout the country to fight Big Trucking and get our clients compensation for their injuries and losses. For a free, no obligations consultation about your case, contact the Truck Accident Team at (215) 246-9000.