Boston is home to more than 4,500 retail and food service establishments, and more than 66.4 million square feet of office space. Boston is also home to 29 colleges and universities, plus two community colleges. Combine that with 52,692 Boston households, 97 hospitals, Logan Airport, and a busy seaport area, there is little doubt the economy in the area depends on a massive number of big rigs to keep its institutions running.
Indeed, one study has found that in just the South Boston Waterfront area, more than 6,200 trucks pass through daily. When combining this with the usual Boston traffic, there is no doubt trucks add to the congestion, and a greater chance for accidents, on our roadways. This piece dives into the specifics of Boston truck accidents, the causes, consequences, and how victims can recover compensation for injuries they sustain in truck accidents.
Common Causes of Boston Truck Accidents
While we all assume we won’t get into an accident while traveling to work or leisure Boston, there are more than 140,000 accidents in a normal year on Boston roadways. Some of these accidents involve big rig trucks.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents on Boston roadways include:
- Distracted driving – Texting, talking, or using a map all result in a driver’s attention being off the road and on their electronic devices. It doesn’t help that Boston roadways often are confusing to navigate, with narrow roadways, detours, and one-way streets, there is an increased possibility a trucker will need to refer to a map to determine how to get to their delivery or pickup location. Distracted driving is dangerous—not only to the truck driver, but to everyone on the roadway. And, while Boston has had a hands-free law in force since early 2020, many ignore this law, and distracted driving remains a significant problem.
- Driver fatigue – Truck drivers who are recovering from a cold or the flu, have taken certain medications, or who drive drowsy overnight to get to their destination by deadlines become drowsy and may cause accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued regulations that set the maximum number of hours a truck driver may drive and specifies times for rest breaks. But truckers who are behind schedule or whose employers push them to move faster may skirt these rules, putting everyone on Boston roadways at risk for injury. Driver fatigue can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Impaired driving – Slower reflexes, drowsiness, and inattentiveness are all potential issues when drugs or alcohol impair a driver. When that driver is operating a big rig, the dangers increase. Truckers who operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol violate state laws in the Bay State and also risk losing their commercial driver’s license, temporarily or permanently, due to FMCSA regulations. Drivers who operate a large truck while impaired can cause serious accidents with deadly outcomes for other operators. Keep in mind, drivers may also present risks by taking over-the-counter medications including cough medicine, supplements to help them stay awake, and other medications which may impact their ability to operate a truck safely.
- Unsecured/improperly secured cargo – Since 2002, the FMCSA has had specific rules about securing cargo. These rules make the transportation of goods safer for truck drivers, cars on the road, and pedestrians. The more weight, the more issues an improperly secured load can cause. Truckers who attempt to swerve out of the way of a car that has left its proper lane, who change lanes too quickly, or encounter high winds can impact an improperly secured load and result in a truck tipping over. Cargo flying off a truck also threatens everyone on the road and in the general area.
- Jackknife accidents – Boston is well known for its weather changes. Drivers may see crystal clear skies first thing in the morning and be driving in whiteout conditions come afternoon. Slippery roads, speeding, poorly secured cargo, and poorly maintained brakes can all result cause a truck to jackknife and wind up causing horrible accidents on Boston roadways.
- Faulty truck components – One of the most important things an owner of a truck must do is ensure their trucks are properly maintained. Tires, brakes, steering, big rig suspension systems, and safety systems that fail can create immense and sudden dangers to truckers and other Boston drivers.
- Driver error – Truckers are human beings and, like other drivers, they can make mistakes. However, a mistake behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry and a mistake behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound truck tend to deliver vastly different outcomes in terms of severity of damage to property and persons—that is, trucks with their significantly greater size and weight can deliver much greater damage. Truck drivers who fail to maintain a proper distance from the vehicles in front of them, fail to obey traffic signals, or make unsafe lane changes do so on roadways everywhere with potentially deadly outcomes.
Truck Versus Car Accident Outcomes
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 5.3 million vehicles are registered in Massachusetts. The data further reveal that nearly 2.2 million of these vehicles are trucks. Even a minor accident involving a truck can cause devastating injuries. This is largely due to the disparity in the size of the vehicles involved. A car typically weighs around 6,000 pounds, whereas a truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.
When an accident occurs in Boston between a truck and a car, the injuries suffered by the driver of the car are almost always more serious than those suffered by the trucker.
Here are some of the injuries that often occur when a car and truck collide on Boston roadways:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – TBIs are some of the most devastating injuries a truck accident victim can incur. Ultimately, a victim could suffer emotional impairment, a loss of motor skills, and cognitive issues. Unfortunately, many of these permanent conditions could result in the victim never returning to work. Some victims fall into comas—in some cases, they may lose their lives and in other cases, they could live for years unable to care for themselves.
- Spinal cord injuries – Victims of a Boston truck accident could suffer paralysis. In some instances, the paralysis could be temporary. But, in many cases, spinal cord injuries cause permanent paralysis, which could confine the victim to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. Potential outcomes include multiple surgical procedures, relearning how to do everyday tasks, and a life-long need for assistive care.
- Severe burn injuries – Trucks carrying flammable liquids could result in a fire in the event of an accident. Victims who suffer burns face excruciating pain, long recovery, and potentially several surgical procedures to repair the damage from the burn injuries. Pain, post-traumatic stress disorders, and scars are some of the issues a Boston truck accident victim may have to deal with following a burn injury.
Physical and Financial Recovery Following Boston Truck Accidents
Victims of Boston truck accidents face a long road to recovery—some injuries will take weeks to heal, others will take months, and for some, the damage will never heal. How you can deal with the financial impacts of any level of injury can be tricky to figure out.
For starters, victims don’t always know that Boston truck accidents are subject to the state’s no-fault insurance requirements. Typically, no-fault insurance means you will file an initial insurance claim with your insurance company. Drivers in Boston must carry at least $8,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. However, truck accidents will often result in expenses far exceeding this minimum coverage requirement.
Under the no-fault rules, a driver may file a civil lawsuit, after collecting PIP benefits, against the responsible driver under certain circumstances.
- The victim has suffered a permanent injury;
- The victim has suffered broken bones, loss of hearing or sight, or serious scarring; or
- The victim’s reasonable medical expenses exceed $2,000
In general, any truck accident victim who suffers any of the previously mentioned injuries will likely require far more than $2,000 to cover medical expenses, and thus will be eligible to bring a lawsuit.
A truck owner’s insurance company may approach Boston truck accident victims soon after an accident, hoping you will accept a quick, inadequate settlement offer.
Remember, once you accept a settlement for your injuries, the insurance company will generally be off the hook for any future liability. This means that, regardless of how much your hospital bills are, how much time you lose from work, what modifications your home may require, or the outcome of your injuries, whatever the settlement is you accept, you cannot claim anything else. Thus, generally speaking, you should never accept the insurance company’s first offer.
There is a chance you will get several calls from different insurance adjusters. The Bay State requires truckers to carry insurance with higher limits than standard vehicle operators. Insurance often depends on the type of cargo. Even so, insurance companies are unlikely to immediately pay you a fair settlement.
To recover what you fairly deserve, you probably will require a thorough investigation of the accident. These investigations often start by obtaining a truck driver’s logs to determine whether or not they did not follow the driving hours and rest stop regulations.
Call a Boston Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident cases can be complicated. There may be more than one party who is liable for your injuries, and the insurance companies involved will have an army of attorneys helping them make decisions. They will make these decisions in the best interest of the insurance company, not you, the victim of a truck accident.
Your first concern following a truck accident should be regaining your physical health as much as possible. Chances are you will be facing rehabilitation and experiencing significant pain. The insurance companies all know you are facing financial challenges during this time, and may try to take advantage of your vulnerable situation. In some cases, they may tell you they are making you the maximum settlement offer.
Don’t be fooled, especially if you don’t know how long your medical recovery will take, the long-term consequences of your injuries on your ability to work, and your potential future medical care. With these unknowns, there is no way to tell what your fair compensation may be.
Victims of Boston truck accidents often think they do not need an attorney because of the facts as they understand them. They figure that the truck driver is at fault, and the driver has insurance coverage to compensate them. However, the more seriously you are injured, the more likely you will need an attorney as an advocate to recover fair compensation.
If you have been in a truck accident in Boston, you likely have a lot of questions. You are wrestling with how to deal with being out of work, how to pay mounting medical bills, and you may think you cannot afford an attorney. Don’t be hesitant to contact a Boston truck accident victim attorney. Most attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations, so you can explore your legal options without paying a dime. With this information, you can decide how to proceed in the best way for you and your family.
The dedicated, experienced Boston personal injury lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe can guide you through all of the above processes and more as we work zealously to protect your rights and recover the compensation you need. You can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or contact us online.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114