Were You Recently Injured in a Truck Accident?

When big trucks crash with passenger cars, the occupants of the cars are injured or killed far more often than the occupants of the trucks. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports about 72% of the persons killed in truck accidents are occupants of other vehicles.

Truck accidents can result in serious injuries and death for the other motorists unfortunate enough to tangle with the big rigs. Whether you were injured in an accident involving a large truck or you have lost a loved one to a trucking accident, Oros & Associates can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to receive.

For more than 30 years, the Birmingham truck accident attorney at the law firm of Oros & Associates has been handling personal injury claims for clients throughout Jefferson and Shelby Counties and the state of Alabama.

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Birmingham Truck Accident Lawyer

Passenger car occupants are more frequently injured or killed in collisions with large trucks, as per the National Safety Council (NSC), which states that approximately 72% of fatalities in truck accidents are individuals traveling in other vehicles.

Trucks are a lot bigger and heavier than most passenger vehicles. Mistakes made behind the wheel of a commercial truck can spell disaster for neighboring motorists and anything else in the truck’s path.

Commercial Trucks on the Roads in Alabama

Commercial trucks are a vital part of Alabama’s economy and are the primary way goods are moved throughout the state. The Alabama Trucking Association (ATA) reports that trucks transport about 82% of the state’s essential products, and 86% of the communities in Alabama rely on trucks to carry their goods.

The trucking industry in Alabama employs over 110,000 workers accounting for about 1 in every 15 jobs.

Alabama’s Trucks are a Little Bigger and a Little Heavier

Federal law requires that all states subject to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) allow truck tractor-semitrailer combinations (semis) of certain minimum lengths and gross vehicle weights legal access to interstate highways. The federal mandate is not an attempt to limit the size and weight but rather to force states to let longer, heavier trucks on federally funded roads.

The law requires states to allow the following on interstate roadways:

  • Semitrailers of at least 48 feet on truck semitrailer combinations
  • Truck tractor-trailer combinations of unlimited length
  • Vehicle width of at least 102 inches, excluding the additional width added by mirrors
  • Gross vehicle weight of at least 80,000 pounds

The federal requirements are minimums. States are free to increase the size and weight maximums within their boundaries. In Alabama, it is legal for semitrailers to be up to 57 feet long and for truck tractor-semitrailer combinations to weigh up to 84,000 pounds.

Truck Accident Statistics in Alabama

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that the first harmful event causing injury or death in most trucking accidents in the US is a collision between the truck and another vehicle. In 2020, collision with a vehicle in transport accounted for 92% of the trucking accident fatalities and 96% of the trucking accident injuries in multiple vehicle accidents.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) tallied 8,579 crashes involving trucks in the state in 2020. A truck includes any vehicle heavier than a light truck or SUV. The crashes resulted in 2,330 injuries and 130 deaths. Most of the crashes took place on interstate roads, but most of the fatalities took place on state roads.

Traffic Situations Often Lead to Truck Accidents

Due to the size and weight of truck tractor-trailer combinations, the driver has significant blind spots, it takes longer for them to stop, and they can’t easily maneuver in many of the traffic situations designed for smaller vehicles.

The following are the top five reasons for crashes involving trucks in Alabama, according to the ALDOT:

  • Improper lane change or use
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way
  • Unseen object, person, or vehicle
  • Tailgating
  • Misjudged stopping distance

Common Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents

Most trucking accidents are the result of human error. Many of the factors contributing to big truck crashes involve choices made by the truck driver. Factors outside the control of the driver that may contribute to truck crashes include shifting cargo, mechanical failure, and road conditions.

The FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did a study on the causes of large truck crashes. Three critical driving events were identified that made the truck accidents unavoidable:

  • Moving out of a traffic lane
  • Loss of vehicle control – due to poor judgment, lack of skill, cargo shift, systems failure, or driving environment
  • Rear-ending another vehicle

The study then looked to see what circumstances existed just before the critical events took place. Four main driver behaviors led to the critical events.

  • Driver non-performance – fell asleep, became ill or physically impaired
  • Driver recognition – failure to interpret traffic situations accurately due to inattention or distraction
  • Driver decision-making – speeding, aggressive driving
  • Driver performance – inappropriate driving response due to lack of skill or experience

Two behaviors accounted for the majority of the truck accidents studied: driver decision-making and inattention or distraction. Shifting cargo, driver illness, and making illegal traffic moves were three of the top associated factors identified in the study.

Determining Liability for a Truck Accident

Reconstructing the circumstances leading up to the event that resulted in the crash will help determine liability for a truck accident. Liability usually starts with the truck driver but can include several other parties associated with the truck or the driving conditions.

If the truck driver is an employee of a trucking company, the company may be held liable for the actions of its driver. If a separate company loads the truck’s cargo, it may be liable for an accident caused by an unexpected shift during transport. An accident due to a mechanical failure may create liability for the maintenance company servicing the truck or the company that manufactured the failed part. When a lack of roadway maintenance contributes to an accident, a governmental entity may also have some liability for causing the crash.

How Contributory Negligence Affects the Ability to Recover Compensation in Alabama

Persons injured in accidents in Alabama can only recover compensation from others if they are not in any way at fault for causing the accident. Unlike most other states that allow injured parties to be as much as 50% at fault and still recover a portion of their damages, Alabama bars recovery for any person who contributes even 1% fault toward causing an accident.

It is extremely important for persons injured in accidents not to do or say anything after an accident that might be interpreted as suggesting even the slightest bit of fault. The contributory negligence rule can produce a harsh result and, in limited circumstances, will bar an injured party from recovering damages.

When Contributory Negligence May Not Bar a Claim for Damages

There are limited instances when a person who has contributory negligence may be able to recover compensation for damages and injuries from another responsible party.

  • When the person injured is under age 14 or has mental disabilities
  • When another responsible party has acted with ‘wantonness’
  • If someone else had the ‘last clear chance’ to avoid the accident


Liability in personal injury cases is usually based on a mistake made by somebody who should have done better but who wasn’t intending any harm. When an accident is caused or contributed to by conduct accompanied by an awareness of the potential danger to others, a more sinister quality is recognized in the wrongdoer.

Alabama courts have described wantonness as a ‘conscious disregard’ or ‘reckless indifference’ to the likelihood or probability of injury. Wantonness requires an awareness of the danger and a willingness to participate in the activity, knowing the potential for injury.

Last Clear Chance

The last clear chance doctrine is also known as subsequent negligence. It is an affirmative defense to be used when an injured party was negligent, but it was someone else’s negligence that actually caused the accident. Successful use of the last clear chance requires proof the other party was aware of the impending crash and, in using reasonable care, could have avoided it.

Making a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim after a Trucking Accident

It is likely for those liable in a trucking accident to have insurance that will be responsible for paying the claims made against them. Injured persons seeking compensation may need to deal with a number of different insurance companies. Those insurance companies may be more concerned with how to reduce their exposure than how to adequately compensate injured persons or their survivors.

The first big hurdle for an injured claimant is to ensure they have no fault for causing the accident. If contributory fault is an issue, there may be other circumstances to help override the bar to recovery. If recovery is possible, an amount must be determined based on the various kinds of damages entitled to compensation.

The types of damages that can be collected and the amounts to be received may be subject to the applicable contracts of insurance as well as Alabama laws governing personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Where to get Help Making a Truck Accident Claim in Alabama

Truck accidents can result in serious injuries and death for the other motorists unfortunate enough to tangle with the big rigs. Whether you were injured in an accident involving a large truck or you have lost a loved one to a trucking accident, Oros & Associates can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to receive.

Contact a Birmingham trucking accident lawyer at Oros & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your legal options after a truck accident.

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Commerical Trucks in Alabama

Bigger & Heavier Trucks

Truck Accident Stats

Traffic & Truck Accidents

Contributing Factors to Accidents

Determining Liability

Impacts of Contributing Negligence

Contributory Negligence

Personal Injury & Wrongful Death claim

Where to Get Help

Jim represented me for injuries sustained at work and did an outstanding job. I could not have been more satisfied. Call him and if he can help he’ll be there for you all the way

Dan Jarvis