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In this digital era, people are fond of online shopping. We can see the plethora of trucks flying across the country to deliver the goods. Trucks have also played a vital role in replenishing the necessities during the pandemic. They have become an important part of the growth of our country. However, the wrecks created by tractor-trailers or trucks, when involved in a crash, are more devastating.
The 18-wheeler or the big rig is a mammoth and needs more experience and patience to maneuver it through the tight-packed traffic and unkempt roads. Hope this blog becomes an eye-opener, regarding the trucks and aftermath of truck accidents, to all.
Let’s Know more about Trucks
According to the statistics, around 15.5 million trucks speed across the country, transporting 70% of the freights annually and accounting for the country’s economy. However, more than 5,000 people lose their precious lives in truck accidents every year. Most such accidents happen in rural areas, under daylight, and on weekends. Of all the truck-related deaths, 98% are the people in passenger vehicles.
These statistics warn us to know more about the size and mechanism of the trucks. Therefore all road users must be aware of the different kinds of trucks and the potential threat they may cause on the road.
- Types of trucks:
- Box trucks or panel trucks, where the box is connected to the truck unlike the others, and can’t be moved. Delivery companies use such trucks to haul their freight safely.
- A flatbed trailer has a flat platform to load materials like huge logs.
- Tanker truck usually carries liquids and gases, some of which are inflammable and toxic.
- Semi-trailer, whose sides or back can be opened for loading or unloading.
- Trash truck collects the trash from the residents and takes them to recycling mills or landfills.
- A dump truck is often used to transport construction materials like sand, aggregate, etc. The body of these trucks can be raised to unload the material.
- 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer is usually very heavy as it lugs heavyweight trailers.
- Liftgate truck with hydraulic lifts at the rear end collects and lifts the freight to help in loading or unloading.
- A livestock truck carries animals.
- What makes them dangerous juggernauts:
- These cyclopean vehicles have many weak points. It may seem that they have a good view as the drivers are seated higher. But there are a few areas that act as blind spots and cause accidents. Close to the front and rear area and close to the body of the trucks are mainly the blind spots from where the other vehicles won’t be visible to the truck drivers. When you look at their rearview mirrors, if you can’t see the driver’s face, you are in the blind spot.
- Due to their gigantic size and weight, they need more space to move around. Stopping the speeding trucks is not as easy as the cars. They need twice more space and time than the cars to come to a stop. Maneuvering around these monsters to overtake is highly dangerous since the drivers can’t notice you. Evasive actions cannot be possibly undertaken. This may lead to gruesome accidents. Side swiping is too dangerous.
- While making turns, especially right turns, the truck drivers need more space to swing the behemoth to turn safely. During such times, the drivers can’t see the vehicles coming behind. Before you try to overtake, make sure the truck is not trying to turn. Tailgating the trucks in such instances paves the path for horrendous crashes.
- In slow-moving traffic, make sure to give enough space while you are in the front or at the rear of the truck. Sudden stopping or moving of the truck is very dangerous to the other vehicles. Don’t ever try to rush through the traffic. An 18-wheeler is surely a juggernaut that can crush your car completely in adverse situations.
- While going alongside the trucks, air turbulence may affect your balance and make you fall. Don’t try to cross the truck too close to its body.
- Adverse weather conditions are dangerous to all vehicles. Think about a giant in hostile weather. Controlling the big rigs on slippery roads need more effort than the pigmies.
- Tanker trucks carrying hazardous substances may pose the most detrimental threat to all. Even slight derelictions may cause mighty explosions to clean sweep the entire area.
- Overloaded and unbalanced cargo in the trucks makes the drivers find it hard to steer it. Such overloads might result in tire explosions, which would send debris to the surrounding with force. The excess load can damage the brake system, and stopping the truck becomes too hard. When unfastened cargos fall down, this may crush the vehicles coming behind.
- Unfamiliar roads can show up as unexpected and unavoidable dangers.
The video below will tell you how dangerous truck accidents could be.
Types of Truck Accidents
- Head-on Collisions: Since most truck drivers are rushing to get to their destinations on time, even minor negligence or a loss of control can cause a speeding truck to collide with oncoming traffic. Such head-on collisions can occur at intersections, stop signs, or red lights, increasing the number of fatalities.
- Jackknife Accidents: When tractor-trailers make turns at intersections, the body of the trailer requires more space to make the turn safely due to its size. Improper maneuvers, negligence, or miscalculations of the distance between the vehicles may cause the trailers to swing around the center point more than necessary, resulting in the tractor-trailer forming the shape of a jackknife. This sudden movement may pose a risk to the other vehicles coming nearby and result in jackknife accidents.
- Rear-end Collisions: Can you imagine a monster truck following you and crushing your car? Even thinking about it would be terrifying. Because of its massive size and the speed with which it moves, it can smash anything in its path. Such rear-end collisions give the vehicle in front no chance of escaping.
- Rollover accidents: Going over the speed limit is dangerous for all vehicles, but the size and weight of the trucks make them even more dangerous in bad weather, tire blowouts, or with overloaded cargo. An error could cause the truck to roll over and cause multiple vehicle accidents in the blink of an eye.
- Sideswipe Accidents: These kinds of accidents mostly happen to the vehicles traveling side by side with the trucks. When the trucks try to change lanes or merge into other lanes, the vehicles in their blind spots will be in great danger of side-wipe accidents.
- T-bone collisions: When the trucks make unexpected turns at intersections, oncoming vehicles may collide with the truck’s body. When trucks disregard traffic laws and run red lights, they may collide with vehicles turning at intersections. T-bone collisions like this would be disastrous. Because the entire force of the impact is transferred to the side of the vehicle, the driver or passenger sitting on the side would sustain more fatal injuries.
- Tire blowouts: Truck tires can blow out due to factors such as heat, overload, wear and tear, potholes, and insufficient air pressure. The consequences of a speeding big rig tire blowing out suddenly would be heinous. The flying debris from the blowout can cause serious damage to nearby vehicles. When a truck loses its balance, it can either roll over or overturn onto passing vehicles.
- Wide turn accidents: When making a right turn, truckers must make a wide turn. If the truck driver is not vigilant, other smaller vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians may become entangled under the truck and be injured.
- Underride accidents: When the trucks came to a sudden halt, the tailgating vehicles or other vehicles speeding behind the truck would pass beneath it. In such cases, the roofs of the cars are either severed or crushed, and the occupants may suffer serious injuries.
- Blindspot accidents: Because the truck driver is seated at such a high height, the truck has numerous blind spots. When other vehicles enter the driver’s blind spots, the driver is unable to take any evasive actions in the event of a collision. A lane change, merging into the lane, or overtaking would be hazardous to the vehicles in the blind spot.
- Runaway trailer crashes: When the trailer’s speed exceeds that of the truck, it may become detached from the truck. Consider this: if a blown tire from a speeding car can cause devastating accidents, consider a detached trailer from a speeding truck. It has the potential to result in multi-vehicle accidents.
- Overturn accidents: It is possible to see how tall a truck is. If the truck is overloaded or the cargo is not securely fastened to the body, it may lose its balance and overturn onto the adjacent traveling vehicles. It has the potential to severely crush vehicles and passengers.
See how the error of other drivers too can cause truck accidents in the below video.
Fatal Truck Accident Injuries
Destinies are rewritten when devastating wrecks occur. Semi-truck crashes cannot be compared to normal collisions. They mostly result in catastrophic casualties. A survey on road accidents in 2018 shows around 885 truckers lost their lives in 4,900 truck accidents. More passenger vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, and pedestrians lose their lives in truck accidents every year.
According to NHTSA data, approximately 146,930 people were injured, and 4965 people were killed in truck accidents in 2020. Among these numbers, approximately 4134 other vehicle occupants and pedestrians died, and 101,997 were seriously injured. It also killed 831 truck occupants and injured 44,934 truck occupants. This data indicates that trucks can have a high toll in accidents, and those other vehicle occupants are killed or injured at a higher rate than truck occupants. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The number of people injured every year is greater than this.
- The most prominent injuries caused by truck crashes:
Even the minimum speed can cause a whiplash-type of injury. Hence, can you imagine the fatalities could be caused by monster truck crashes?
- Head traumas: In massive impacts like semi-truck accidents, internal brain traumas cannot be prevented. The impact can affect the brain when it hits against the walls of the skull and result in internal tissue damage like concussions. When the vehicles had underride accidents with the mastodons, injuries due to metals penetrating the brain can occur. Traumatic brain injuries may even take you to the coma stage.
- Neck injuries: Even whiplash injuries can cause serious troubles in your life. Mostly in rear-end impacts, when the occupant’s head snaps forward and backward like the flash of a whip, the fragile neck bones undergo whiplash injuries. This may surface after hours or days of the injury.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord acts as the messenger between the body and the brain. Therefore, injuries to the spinal cord can even make one paralyzed partially (tetraplegia) or completely (paraplegia) and even rewrite one’s future. One may need many surgeries and therapies to get at least a 50% cure.
- Amputation: When the giant trucks ambush the smaller vehicles, amputations cannot be averted. In such cases, long-term medical care, the need for prosthetics, and the need for caretakers to help with daily basic human needs are unavoidable. Due to disfiguration, mental trauma can torture the victims.
- Internal traumas: Even when impacted against the airbags could cause blunt trauma to the internal organs that may not have been noticed earlier. After weeks or months of the accident, they may surface. Broken bones also can damage important internal organs like lungs, liver, heart, etc., and result in internal hemorrhage.
- Burn injuries: The power of the impact could damage the fuel tanks, and the vehicles may catch fire. Such explosions become more horrific in tanker truck accidents. The easily inflammable gases or liquids could cause tremendous flare-ups. Widespread fires and unexplainable agonies due to the burn could be the result. This can cause disfigurement and lifelong physical and mental traumas.
- Lacerations and broken bones: As the disheveled metal pieces formed during the crashes impact the body parts, lacerations and broken bones are common in these terrifying accidents.
- Abrasions: Abrasions or bruises could become infectious if not properly cared for and leave permanent marks on the body. Those who are with keloid problems can be affected more due to all kinds of injuries.
- Immediate actions to be taken after the truck accidents:
Most truck accidents would be multiple vehicles crashes as the impact is much more powerful. You need to undertake some immediate actions after a truck accident.
- Move your vehicle to a safer place if possible. Turn on your lights or keep traffic cones around your vehicle to avoid further accidents. Remain at the place of the accident till the police arrive.
- Try to identify the number of vehicles involved in the crash. If possible, try to identify to which company the truck belongs.
- Inform ambulance service and seek medical care.
- Call the police or highway patrol. After they do the interviews and interrogations, collect a copy of the report for future legal proceedings.
- Collect the details of the people who caused the accident and the drivers of other vehicles. Exchange personal details and insurance information, and contact details.
- Photograph the evidence like personal injuries, damaged vehicles, and other properties involved in the crash. They are the strong evidence nobody can manipulate.
- Try to find out the witnesses and collect their details. Talk to them to find out what they know about the accident.
- Never give statements to any insurers since they may use them against you to reduce your settlement.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer to plan how to proceed next.
- How to prevent semi-truck accidents:
Trucking companies and truckers should remember the following:
- Truckers should have experience in handling heavy vehicles and should possess special licenses to drive them.
- Trucks should be loaded based on the given weight limits.
- The cargo should be fastened and secured to the body of the truck.
- Maintain speed limits instructed on the different roads.
- Go slower than the permitted speed limits in adverse weather conditions to prevent skidding or jackknifing.
- Proper truck maintenance at regular intervals would save the trucks from unwanted situations.
- Truckers should make sure of enough rest before they go behind the wheels.
- Driving long distances would make them tire easily. Taking breaks whenever needed would help a lot.
- Trucking companies should avoid putting pressure on the truckers by giving deadlines.
- Avoid the intake of alcohol during the drive.
All other road users must do the following:
- Avoid tailgating.
- Maintain a safer distance between the truck and your vehicle.
- Don’t travel along with the truck too close.
- Make sure the trucker notices you before overtaking.
- Never overtake on the right side of the truck.
- Beware of side sweeping.
- Your distraction also can be a reason for a disastrous truck accident.
Arduous measures taken and the penalties have brought an important difference in the fatalities than before in the trucking industries. More strenuous efforts are needed to bring it down to a considerate level.
Truck Accident Laws
- Safety standards for the trucks and truckers:
The US Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have established laws and standards to be followed by the trucking industry. Each state has special laws for interstate trucking. All truckers must follow state statutes and truck licensing rules. Some of the regulations regarding the truck laws are as follows:
- Break and rest time of the trucker.
- Quality maintenance of the truck.
- Based on the size of the trucks, the maximum weight to be hauled is derived.
- Safety regulations to be followed in case of transporting hazardous substances.
- Safety standards for the trucks were ensured.
- Drug test for the truckers.
- Signs and markings must be on the trucks.
- Minimum vehicle insurance standards:
Based on the size of the truck and the type of cargo it carries, trucks should have minimum insurance as follows:
- General freight trucks: $750,000 insurance.
- Tanker trucks carrying certain types of hazardous substances: $5,000,000
- Oil tankers and hazardous waste tankers: $1,000,000
State regulations for minimum insurance vary based on the different states.
- Liability laws:
- If the truck driver is negligent while driving and caused the injuries, he is liable for gross negligence.
- If the trucker is proved to be violated the law, you can claim punitive damages.
- Even if the employee is negligent and caused the accident, the trucking company can be held liable under respondeat superior liability law.
- If the accident is caused by the manufacturing defects of the truck, the manufacturer is liable under the product liability law. Truckers can claim this if proven.
- If you are partially liable for the accident, based on the comparative liability law, your compensation amount may be reduced. Some states consider your compensation, for example, even if you are 70% liable, you will be given 30% compensation. Some other states assure you compensation only if you are less than 51% liable, and based on the degree of liability, the amount will be reduced. Compensation will be denied for more than 51% liability.
- Truckers can go for workers’ compensation claims despite their liability in the accident.
- The shipper of the toxic cargo can be held liable for improper cargo loading in case of injuries.
Remember to file the lawsuit as early as possible since too much delay ends up in easy dismissal of your compensation.
Like in the 2019 truck accident, which took the lives of four people, the at-fault truck driver can get punishment.
Truck Accident Lawyer
Try to get a well-experienced attorney to succeed in your legal proceedings. Truck accident lawsuits are somewhat complex since it includes multiple parties. Your litigation should be analyzed to understand the complicated legal proceedings needed to attain your compensation. Since victims of such accidents need extensive future medical care and multiple surgeries to overcome the injuries, expenses would be sky-high. Many truck accident law firms have attorneys with extensive experience and knowledge to find out the various possibilities of claims to avail you of the maximum compensation.
If you are a trucker injured in a disastrous truck accident, opt for a truck accident lawyer to know how to get the maximum of your workers’ compensation and other possible claims. The help of a lawyer would ease you through the complicated procedures of your legal claims.
Are you injured in a truck accident? The DK Law Firm is there to assist you.
18-Wheelers can be deadly! On the I-45, two loose tires hit 2 vehicles, killing driver of another car – https://t.co/bWH5zHa0by #houstonpersonalinjury #sanjacintoriver #I-45 #bigrig #18wheeler #truckingaccident pic.twitter.com/MrEDcNqeXD
— The DK Law Firm (@TheDKLawFirm) August 22, 2022
Maneuvering giant trucks on various types of roads during all kinds of weather needs experience, expertise, and patience. Truckers and trucking companies should be prudent enough to comply with the laws and regulations to avoid terrific crashes. Other motorists also should consider their difficulty and respect their right of way to avoid fatalities. When involved in an accident, contact a semi-truck accidents lawyer to benefit by getting the maximum compensation possible to meet your medical expenses. Expert medical record review companies work hard with your attorney to win your litigation. Rewrite your destiny with the right decisions.