The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes a yearly report outlining the most dangerous states for truck accidents. For 2020, truck fatalities were over 5,600, and injuries topped 146,000 nationwide, demonstrating the dangers of truck accidents.
Their current report lists the deadliest dozen states for truck accidents, and North Dakota has made the list. The deadliest dozen is as follows:
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
In response to these statistics – as well as preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing an estimated 13% jump in truck crash fatalities from 2020 to 2021 – the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) is calling for lawmakers to take action. In a new release, the TSC claimed that “Despite this trend [of increasing fatalities], policymakers are acting with little urgency to curb the carnage on our roads. Members of Congress and truck crash victim volunteers of the TSC issued a call to action, demanding decision-makers reckon with the price of inaction and take swift and meaningful action to address this crisis.”
Truck accidents are prevalent in North Dakota
North Dakota has a track record of consistently higher fatality rates for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2019, there were 100 traffic accident deaths, and 82 of these deaths were among North Dakota residents, as opposed to out-of-state individuals. Studies show that every 37 minutes, there is a motor vehicle accident, and one person dies every four days. While these are general statistics, it shows dangerous car accidents across the state. When you add the prevalence of truck accidents, these numbers are more shocking. Drivers are not the only ones susceptible to injury and death; other vehicle occupants are also.
While these numbers continue to rise, and we are among the deadliest dozen, not much is being done to prevent these accidents. Truckers have regulations they must follow, but they often do not. Negligence and the need to meet strict deadlines are deadly for residents and others on the road. Truck drivers must be held liable, but you can only successfully do this by speaking with a Minot truck accident lawyer.
Truck accident injuries are often permanent
Truck accidents differ from car accidents because they involve multiple liability issues and extensive injuries. The size of a commercial truck compared to a passenger vehicle is substantial. While many drivers try to avoid trucks when driving, you cannot avoid an accident when a trucker is negligent. If you survive a truck accident, you can suffer some of the following injuries:
- Spinal cord trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Loss of eyesight
- Loss of hearing
- Broken bones
These injuries often require months and years of treatment, if they heal at all. Even if you can heal, you may be left in chronic pain.
Why North Dakota truck accidents happen
There are many causes of truck accidents, so you will need an independent investigation into the circumstances to verify fault and liability. An investigation involves collecting police and medical reports, speaking with witnesses, and working with experts to reconstruct the accident. Typically, an investigation can verify:
- Overloaded trucks
- Improperly secured cargo
- Distracted driving
- Truck defects
- Improper maintenance or repair
- Fatigued drivers
- Not adhering to regulations
- Lack of training
While the driver is usually responsible for these dangerous actions, others can also be held liable for a commercial truck accident.
Truck accident liability is complex
Most drivers believe the trucker is responsible for paying damages, but that is only partially correct. While the driver is at fault for causing the accident, they are not the only party that is responsible for paying for your losses. You can take legal action against all contributing parties for your injuries. Potentially liable parties include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Cargo loader
- The company that owns the truck
- Construction company
- Government entities responsible for road maintenance
- Truck maintenance or repair company
- Defective parts manufacturer
Legal options are complex in Minot because we are in a no-fault state, meaning you can file an insurance claim and get payments through your PIP coverage, regardless of fault. One caveat is PIP does not cover noneconomic damages you sustain from a truck accident. Additionally, these accidents often result in severe injuries that can far surpass your PIP benefits.
Instead, you can file a personal injury claim with the assistance of a Minot truck accident attorney. You will need to prove the trucker was at least 50% responsible for your injuries, because North Dakota is a modified comparative negligence state. That means that even if you bear some portion of the fault, you will not be barred from making a claim from compensation. c.
When you file a lawsuit, you can recover damages that exceed your PIP coverage. Depending on your circumstances, you can recover:
- Pain and suffering
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Lost benefits like health insurance
- Lifestyle changes leading to loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Punitive damages when applicable
- Spouses can recover loss of consortium
- Home modifications
Truck accident claims are often contentious, and the insurance companies are not prepared to pay you what your claim is worth. You need a Minot truck accident lawyer who knows how these insurance companies work and is willing to negotiate aggressively for you. If the accident is fatal, there is a two-year statute, and you have six years for accidents that lead to serious injury. One caveat is that while the deadlines are more prolonged, that does not mean you should wait to speak with a Minot truck accident lawyer.
Larson Law Firm PC is here to guide you on your legal options and protect your rights. We have offices in Bismarck, Fargo, and Minot where you can meet with a truck accident lawyer during a free consultation. Do not speak to the truck insurance company without first talking to us. Call our office at 701-484-HURT, or submit our contact form today.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson