Bagen Law Firm | December 21, 2022 | Truck Accidents
Although semi-trucks and other large trucks are necessary to our supply chain and the American way of life, they pose quite a risk on the roadways. For example, more than 4,000 individuals lost their lives in large truck crashes in just on year. Fifteen percent were truck drivers or occupants, 68 percent were drivers or occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16 percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Thousands more suffered injuries, some of them catastrophic and life-changing. Sadly, many of these injuries and fatalities were preventable if it weren’t for the negligence of truck drivers and other parties. In you have been in an accident involving a truck, a truck accident lawyer can help you through the process of filing a claim.
What Kinds of Trucks Cause Most Accidents?
When most people hear about truck accidents, they think of big rigs and 18-wheeler-type trucks.
While these undoubtedly do more than their share of damage, other kinds of trucks also cause traumatic accidents, including:
- Cement trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Dump trucks
- Tow trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Delivery trucks
Truck drivers cause the majority of truck accidents by violating one or more of the countless state and federal safety regulations governing the trucking industry. No matter what kind of truck caused the accident that injured you, we know how to fight for your right to fair compensation. You likely don’t realize how much your claim is worth, but we can help you make this determination.
Who Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
Who can you hold liable for a truck accident? Although it’s frequently the truck driver, they aren’t the only party who can be held responsible for a truck accident.
Depending on the circumstances, other possible people or parties who you can hold liable or partially liable for a truck accident include:
- Another vehicle’s driver
- The trucking company that hired the driver
- The company or workers who loaded the truck’s cargo
- An alcohol vendor sold alcohol to a driver who caused a DUI accident
- A government agency
- The manufacturer or the truck or its parts
- The manufacturer of another involved vehicle or its parts
What if More Than One Party Caused the Truck Accident?
In some cases, truck accident liability might involve more than one party. For example, if an investigation reveals that several parties can be liable for a truck accident, you can maximize the compensation you obtain through multiple claims against them. An experienced truck accident attorney can help with this.
The involved trucking company will work quickly with its legal team after a crash to close out any claims and offer fast and what might appear to be generous settlements. However, if you accept this offer before a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer thoroughly investigates your truck accident, you might have received much less than you deserve and have unknowingly waived your right to seek more.
When you hire a truck accident lawyer, they can investigate the crash and develop solid cases against any potentially liable parties, including negligent drivers, trucking companies, manufacturers and distributors, vendors, and other third parties.
Truck Driver-Related Accident Causes
Causes related to either the truck driver or another driver are the most obvious when a truck accident occurs. Here are some primary causes of accidents related to truckers’ actions.
One of the most challenging parts of a truck driver’s job is that they frequently feel pressure to work long, grueling hours. Even though FMCSA rules mandate that truck drivers take a certain amount of rest time after so many hours of driving, some drivers ignore this to meet or push past deadlines. Sharing the highway with a truck driver who is asleep at the wheel of a fully-loaded 18-wheeler that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds is a frightening thought. In fact, recent studies have shown that drowsy or fatigued driving can present just as much danger as drunk driving.
Driving Under the Influence
All truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license. With this type of license, the intoxication standards are much stricter than for other non-commercial drivers. Many states restrict a commercial driver’s license holder to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of under 0.04 percent.
Anything higher will get them arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. This level is half of as much as tolerated in non-commercial drivers. Even still, many truck drivers turn to alcohol or drugs to help deal with the stressors and boredom of the job.
Careless or Reckless Driving
Reckless driving includes many different types of careless behavior, including speeding, ignoring traffic signals, reckless passing on a two-lane road, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, failing to stop at stop signs, or failing to yield the right-of-way, and many others. While these actions might seem harmless to some drivers, they can cause significant accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
Truckers are just as vulnerable as other drivers, if not more due to the nature of their jobs, to the temptations of distracted driving, including:
- Texting and talking on a cell phone
- Using their GPS or infotainment systems
- Eating and drinking
- Performing personal hygiene tasks
Lack of Vehicle Maintenance and Inspections
Poor vehicle maintenance and lack of inspections result in far too many truck accidents. For example, worn-down tires can cause blowouts, with severe or even deadly consequences. Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for performing routine maintenance and inspections on their fleets. Suppose they fail to do so and might have potentially prevented an accident. In that case, they can be liable for the damages they cause.
Poorly Loaded Cargo
Big rigs carry heavy, oversized cargo. However, crews must properly load and secure that cargo. If it isn’t, it can cause cargo to fall into the roadway at high speeds or even cause the entire semi-truck to tip over. Cargo loading is sometimes the driver’s responsibility. Still, it can also be the responsibility of the trucking company or even a third party. No matter who is responsible, the truck driver should ensure that it is adequately loaded and stowed for transport.
Causes of Truck Accidents Not Usually Caused by the Driver
Truck drivers and even other drivers aren’t always at fault for every accident involving a big rig. Here are some other common causes of truck accidents that aren’t attributable to truck drivers but might mean that other parties are liable for your losses.
Unfortunately, poorly maintained roads can easily result in a truck accident. Road construction, confusing traffic signals, and unexpected detours can also increase the chances of a truck accident. For example, a government agency might be liable because they failed to place a sign indicating a hazard in the road, such as a large pothole.
Bad Weather Conditions
Heavy snow or rain can cause slippery roadways, and weather conditions can negatively impact visibility. Some accidents caused by bad weather conditions can be labeled an act of God. Still, in other cases, another party is liable. For instance, an inexcusable delay in salting the roads on icy roads can make it nearly impossible for a big rig to stop quickly.
Unrealistic Time Expectations
Some trucking companies place much pressure on their truck drivers to transport their cargo quickly so that the company can maximize its own profits. Truck drivers who respond to this pressure by driving too fast are partially to blame for any resulting accident. The trucking company might also bear a lot of the liability.
Lack of Proper Driver Training and Experience
Truck drivers need a lot of training and experience to be safe and good at their jobs. It’s up to the companies that employ them to ensure they receive the proper training and experience before putting them out on the roads. Poorly trained drivers may not even know what they are lacking or that there are problems and that responsibility isn’t on them.
Types of Truck Accidents
Blind Spot Accidents
Every driver should be aware that their vehicle has blind spots, no matter the size of the vehicle they drive. Semi-trucks are no exception, and they have bigger blind spots since they are larger. Other drivers are at an increased risk of being hit, forced off the road, or even crashed into if they are a truck’s blind spots.
When a trucker loses control of their vehicle, it can potentially slide and start to roll over. This is a dangerous situation for any vehicles next to the truck or in the truck’s path.
Semi-truck rollover accidents can happen due to:
- Driving too fast
- Going too fast into a turn or curve
- Tripping up on a curb
- Hitting another object on the road
- Over-correcting after drifting from the lane or road
- Steep declines or inclines
Truck drivers must know their vehicle’s limits, be careful not to exceed the speed limit for commercial trucks while also accounting for road or weather conditions, and always be alert for potential hazards that can cause rollovers.
Wide Turn or Squeeze Play Accidents
Big rigs are large and more challenging to maneuver than smaller vehicles. When truck drivers make right turns, they often need to swing slightly left to have enough space to turn right. Before doing this, they must be aware of vehicles behind and to their right.
If another driver doesn’t pay attention before the truck turns right, they may think the truck is merging into the left lane and attempt to pass them on the right—causing the vehicle to get trapped or “squeezed” in between the front and back of the truck.
Jackknifing happens when a large truck folds in half on itself, creating a 90-degree angle between the cab and the trailer. Typically, the primary cause of jackknifing is braking too quickly.
When a truck jackknifes, it will almost always crowd into additional lanes of traffic where other vehicles are traveling and potentially block off parts of the highway, causing further accidents.
If a driver runs a red light or doesn’t yield at an intersection, causing one vehicle to collide with the side of another, it’s known as a T-bone accident.
Although these accidents can happen with any kind of vehicle, they are particularly serious if they involve big trucks. Truckers must be diligent not to run red lights as the length and size of their vehicle put them at greater risk of t-bone collisions.
Underride accidents are especially common with small vehicles or motorcycles. If a truck driver brakes too quickly and the vehicles behind aren’t expecting it, they won’t have enough time or distance to stop and can hit and get trapped underneath the back of the truck’s trailer. Sadly, underride incidents are some of the scariest and deadliest truck accidents.
Brake Failure Accidents
Although brake failure is rare in trucks because of high maintenance standards, it can still happen. Truck brake failure can happen due to poor maintenance, improper installation, aging brakes, or overheating from overuse or sudden high-speed stops. Multiple parties may be at fault if a brake failure accident occurs.
Truck drivers must have training on how to appropriately apply their brakes to prevent accident risks and brake damage. If a driver doesn’t know how to brake properly, the trucking company that employed them may be responsible in addition to the driver.
Truck Tire Blowout Accidents
Blowouts can happen if truck drivers aren’t careful about checking their tire pressures before getting on the road. If a truck tire blowout occurs, it may force the vehicle in various directions, putting other motorists at extreme risk of an accident.
Spilled Cargo Accidents
Trucks are designed to carry a lot of cargo. However, suppose someone doesn’t load and secure a truck’s cargo properly. In that case, it may fall off of the vehicle, causing severe collisions with other vehicles.
Do You Have Injuries from a Serious Truck Accident?
If you were recently in a serious truck accident, you might be dealing with overwhelming injuries and losses. Now is the time to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney. Your attorney can assess your case for free and seek the compensation you deserve on your behalf.
Truck accident claims are highly complex, and you need an experienced truck accident lawyer with the resources to take on trucking companies and insurers. Never try to handle the process alone – the right legal help can ensure you receive maximum compensation for your circumstances.