Semi Truck Accident FAQs

Semi truck accident attorneys are primarily responsible for the legal details of a semi truck accident case. However, it can bring comfort and clarity to a semi truck accident victim if they understand the guidelines followed by their Austin truck accident lawyers. Please read the FAQ below to become better acquainted with the nuances of a semi truck accident case.

What’s the difference between how an attorney handles truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases?

Although the rules determining fault for the accident are generally the same, there are special laws that apply to semi trucking companies. Other differences in the way in which semi truck accident attorneys handle semi truck accident cases differently from motor vehicle accidents include the nuances of how the semi truck accidents typically occur, the types of claims that can be brought against the semi trucking companies, the nature of the investigation required by the truck accident attorney, and the tactical jurisdiction issues regarding the most appropriate venue for the injury victim.

How do accident lawyers handle semi truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases?

There is no difference when determining negligence.  There are four criteria semi truck accident attorneys must consider in semi truck accident cases: (1) State and federal regulations that apply to semi trucking companies, (2) the types of claims that can be brought against the semi trucking companies, (3) the nature of the investigation required by the semi truck accident lawyer, (4) tactical jurisdiction issues regarding the most appropriate venue for those injured in the semi truck accident, and (5) the manner in which many semi truck accidents occur as specific to semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles (e.g., the problems associated with turning).

I was injured in an accident where a truck jackknifed. Does this mean the semi truck driver was negligent?

A common cause for semi truck jackknifing is driver negligence and is often due to the driver locking the brakes of the semi truck just before the semi truck accident. Because a semi truck can technically jackknife without an express error on the part of the semi truck driver, the 18-wheeler accident lawyers representing the defendant will seek to avoid liability by arguing that the semi truck jackknifed due to slipperiness of the road or due to an emergency turn. This argument can sometimes be debunked after an investigation of the physical evidence present at the site of the semi truck accident.

If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still prevail in a claim against a semi truck accident case?

Some jurisdictions do not allow you to recover damages if you are partially to blame for the semi truck accident.  This is known as contributory negligence. Other jurisdictions, under a legal theory called comparative negligence, allocate the amount the semi truck driver and/or the semi trucking company would be liable for according to the percentage of fault for the semi truck accident a jury attributes to the semi truck driver’s negligence.

Who can sue in an injurious or fatal semi truck accident?

The person injured in a semi truck accident or their loved ones can be involved in the lawsuit brought on by your semi truck accident.

Can I sue the truck driver’s trucking company for my injuries from the semi truck accident?

Usually, yes you can.  However, the answer depends on the relationship between the semi truck driver and the semi trucking company. If this relationship exists, the company can be held liable for the semi truck driver’s negligence under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior,” meaning the agent is responsible for the principal. The semi trucking company may also be liable under the theories of negligent entrustment or negligent supervision if their drivers were not properly screened for training and past unsafe semi truck driving records. Negligent maintenance, a related legal theory semi truck accident lawyers pursue when the company fails to properly inspect and maintain the semi truck, is another approach.

Semi Truck Accident and Other Vehicle Fatality Statistics

Semi truck accident lawyers take continuing their education of semi truck accident related laws and statistics seriously. The more information a semi truck accident attorney has available at their discretion when they represent a semi truck accident victim, the better prepared they are to maximize the compensation received by their client. The following statistical information is taken directly from The Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Transportation Fatality Rates

There were about 45,500 fatalities related to transportation in 2002—16 fatalities per 100,000 U.S. residents1 [1, 2, 4]. This is the same rate as in 1992, when there were about 42,000 deaths. Approximately 94 percent of all transportation fatalities in 2002 were highway-related (figure 9-1). Most of these people who died were occupants of passenger cars or light trucks (including pickups, sport utility vehicles, and minivans). Air, rail, transit, water, and pipeline transportation result in comparatively few deaths per capita (see box 9-A). For instance, railroads contributed about 0.33 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2002.2

Overall, highway safety remained about the same between 1992 and 2002 when compared to the size of the population. There were around 15 fatalities per 100,000 residents each year over the entire period. Highway fatalities declined 15 percent for occupants of passenger cars, but increased 34 percent for occupants of light trucks between 1992 and 2002 (figure 9-2). (This is a period during which the number of registered light trucks increased from 57 million to 85 million [3].) Motorcyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents have been rising since 1997.

Similar trends in highway fatality rates are apparent when the rate is based on vehicle-miles traveled (vmt). Passenger car occupant fatalities per 100 million vmt declined 21 percent between 1992 and 2002, while light-truck occupant fatalities per 100 million vmt rose 10 percent (figure 9-3). Motorcyclist fatalities grew 36 percent during the period. However, after falling from 25 fatalities per 100 million vmt in 1992 to 21 fatalities per 100 million vmt in 1997, motorcyclist fatalities grew 62 percent by 2002.3

Years of Potential Life Lost from Transportation Accidents

For people under 65 years of age, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has ranked transportation accidents as the third leading cause of death in the United States (after cancer and heart disease) each year from 1991 to 2000. During those years, an average of nearly 36,000 people under 65 died each year from transportation accidents.5

While transportation accidents amounted to 6 percent of the deaths of those under age 65 between 1991 and 2000, these fatalities represented 10 percent of the total years of potential life lost (YPLL) during this period (figure 9-4). YPLL, which is computed by adding up the remaining life expectancies of all victims (up to 65 years of age) at their deaths, is a measurement that accounts for the age distribution among different causes of injury mortality and other common causes of death (box 9-B). The difference between the percentage of deaths and YPLL indicates that people who die from transportation accidents tend to be younger on average than victims of other causes of death.

Motor vehicle crashes are the most frequent cause of transportation-related fatalities. YPLLs associated with deaths related to motor vehicle accidents can be compared with YPLLs for deaths from all other modes of transportation (figure 9-5). This shows that, over the 9 years, motor vehicle deaths also contributed to the bulk of YPLLs due to transportation accidents.


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Population Estimates for the United States

2. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Boating Safety, Boating Statistics

3. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics Summary tables VM-201A and VM-1

4. U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Transit Administration, National Transit Database, Safety and Security Newsletter

5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports

1 This total fatality rate has not been adjusted to account for double counting across modes, because detailed data needed to do so were not available at the time this report was prepared. See table 9-1 for further information on double-counting impacts

1 Because of methodological differences, fatality data from the CDC differ from those collected by the individual modal administrations.

Semi Truck Accident Fatality Statistics

There are over 500,000 truck accidents each year. Approximately 5000 of these end in fatalities each year.

Twelve percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States are caused because of truck accidents. In semi truck fatal accidents the passengers or driver in the other vehicle is killed as opposed to people in the truck 98% of the time.

Some Semi Truck Accident Statistics For Individual States:

  • In 2017, Texas witnessed 5040 fatal traffic accidents, of which 438 were fatal semi truck accidents.
  • In Pennsylvania, there were 2233 fatal traffic accidents in 2003, of which 213 were fatal semi truck accidents.
  • Florida had 4432 fatal traffic accidents in 2003, with 343 of them involving semi trucks.
  • The highest number of fatal traffic accidents happened in California, with the number being a staggering 5725 fatal auto accidents in 200, but only 332 of these were related to semi truck accidents.

National Statistics

In 2017, there were 58,512 total vehicle accidents involved in fatal crashes in the U.S. (NCSA).

4,669 were semi trucks involved in fatal truck accidents.

Large trucks are more likely to be involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash than are passenger vehicles.

Most fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas (68 percent) during the daytime (66 percent) and on weekdays (78 percent).

Only 1 percent of fatal truck accidents were DUI-related on the part of the truck driver compared to other types of fatal crashes. Higher DUI occurrences are 22 percent for drivers of passenger vehicles and light trucks and 29 percent for motorcyclists.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 states as to fatal truck accidents in 2017:

State Total Fatal Vehicle Crashes Fatal Truck Accidents

Compared to a breakdown of the top 5 states as to fatal truck accidents in 2017:

State Total Fatal Vehicle Crashes Fatal Truck Accidents