For decades, motor vehicle accidents have been the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In recent years, accidental poisonings, primarily from drug overdose, has taken the lead according to research from the National Center for Health Statistics, an agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This published report shows that overdose surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death in 2008; however, CDC statistics covering the year 2010 show that fatal auto accidents killed more people than did accidental poisoning.
Whether car accidents are the leading cause of accidental death or a close second is of little difference to the families of the 708 people killed in Oklahoma traffic accidents in 2012, or to the 36,455 people injured in automobile accidents that same year.
Recovery from a serious crash is painful and expensive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the economic impact of motor vehicle accidents in the United States exceeds $230 billion annually, including medical expenses, property damage, travel delays, and lost market productivity. The economic cost of a fatally injured accident victim is nearly $1 million, and the lifetime economic cost of a critically injured accident victim exceeds $1 million.
Families of those killed or catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle crash face a new reality - one that brings with it pain, suffering, grief, lost wages, lost benefits, and staggering medical costs. When the accident is caused by another's negligence or failure to act responsibly behind the wheel, those who have been hurt have the right to pursue financial compensation for economic and non-economic damages inflicted by such recklessness.
Whether you call them big rigs, 18-wheelers, semi trucks, or tractor trailers, these commercial transport trucks are among the largest vehicles on Oklahoma's highways. When a passenger vehicle and a semi collide, the fallout can be devastating.
The most recent statistics of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that, nationally, approximately 300,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents in 2011, resulting in nearly 64,000 nonfatal injuries and almost 3,400 deaths.
According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), 91 of those fatalities occurred one of 76 fatal truck accidents in Oklahoma. The following year Oklahoma fared even worse. There were 94 fatal truck accidents resulting in 109 deaths. These large truck accident fatalities comprised more than 15 percent of all roadway fatalities in Oklahoma in 2012.
Nearly half of those killed in large truck accidents were occupants of passenger vehicles, more than twice the number of large truck occupants who were killed in these accidents. The statistics are similar for those seriously injured in large truck accidents: 44.5 percent were passenger vehicle occupants, while 32 percent were large truck occupants.
Speed is often a factor in tractor trailer accidents, but when a motorcycle, pickup truck, or passenger vehicle collides with a much larger rig, even a low-speed collision can bring enormous destruction.
Other causes of 18-wheeler accidents include driver fatigue and intoxication. The FMCSA mandates the number of hours a truck driver may spend driving and working on non-driving tasks such as loading or unloading freight before spending a mandatory 10 hours off-duty. Despite these limits, some drivers falsify log books in an attempt to meet delivery deadlines or increase their per-mile pay.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can create impairment and delayed reaction time that mimics that of an alcohol-impaired driver.
In addition, some drivers turn to illegal stimulants in an effort to fight fatigue. This places them - and anyone who encounters them on the road - in a no-win situation. Both fatigue and DUI can be deadly, particularly when the impaired driver is behind the wheel of vehicle whose gross vehicle weight, by law, can reach up to 80,000 pounds.
In 2012, there were 127,679 registered motorcycles in Oklahoma. Though motorcyclists love the freedom of the open road and the quick, light maneuverability of their cruisers, sports bikes, and sport touring motorcycles and dual-sport bikes, there is no question that motorcycle riders are at greater risk of injury or death in an accident than their counterparts securely fastened in passenger vehicles.
With a lack of structural support and physical restraint, even a motorcyclist covered head to toe in safety gear - helmet, goggles, boots, armored jackets and pants, or leathers - can be critically or fatally injured in an accident.
The leading causes of motorcycle accidents include the following:
Motorcycle riders caution passenger vehicle drivers to "watch for bikers." This is of vital importance, as an accident that allows the driver of a car to walk away unscathed can leave a motorcycle rider disfigured, disabled, or dead.
If you or your loved ones have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have quickly learned how difficult recovery can be. The physical, emotional, and financial ramifications of a serious wreck can be debilitating.
You are not alone. At the Law Firm of Oklahoma, we are here to fight for you. We can handle the insurance companies for you and take on the liable parties who seem unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. You have suffered. You deserve compensation for your losses.
Call today to find out how we can help. Call (405) 608-4990 for a risk-free analysis of your claim.