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Truck accidents increase across United States in 2012

New Jersey motorists may want to drive more defensively when they're sharing the state's highways with large trucks. That's because the number of fatal truck crashes increased nationwide in 2012.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says the number of fatalities in truck wrecks increased from 3,781 in 2011 to 3,921 in 2012. This represents a 4 percent increase. Across the country, 333,000 large trucks were involved in accidents; a large truck is defined as one that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. The agency says that 73 percent of the fatalities were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash. Truck occupants accounted for 18 percent of the fatalities. The others killed with not occupants of any vehicles involved in the crash. The percentage of people killed in truck crashes in 2012 increased from 2011, while the percentage of non-occupants killed decreased.

The number of people injured in truck accidents rose significantly, from 88,000 in 2011 to 104,000 in 2012. Again, 73 percent of those injured were in other vehicles while 24 percent were truck occupants; the remainder of those injured were not occupants of any of the vehicles.

As these statistics show, people in other vehicles are more likely to die or suffer injuries than truckers. Their injuries also may be more severe than in accidents involving smaller vehicles, if only because the impact from heavier vehicles is harder. Victims may be eligible for compensation from the trucker's insurance if the truck driver is determined to have caused the accident. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the higher the compensation award may be, and the harder to achieve a fair settlement without legal assistance.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation , "Large Trucks", October 31, 2014

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