While semi-trucks play a vital role in transporting essential goods for Americans’ daily needs, they still pose significant risks on the road, potentially endangering motorists and passengers alike.
In the unfortunate event of a truck accident, reach out to a seasoned Hammond truck accident attorney Such a legal professional can offer invaluable assistance as you seek compensation for your damages. Their knowledge and guidance can recover the rightful compensation you deserve.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Big rig accidents happen for numerous reasons, many of which are specific to operating such colossal vehicles designed for cross-country cargo delivery.
Trucks are typically equipped with air brakes to halt a fully loaded tractor-trailer within approximately 100 feet when cruising at speeds of 35-40 mph. However, when brake systems fail or malfunction, these 80,000-pound behemoths transform into potential hazards on the interstate.
Even when truckers diligently apply brake pressure as advised by experts, malfunctions can still occur, creating a dangerous scenario.
Tire Blowout/Worn Out Tires
It doesn’t take a long drive down the highway to spot the telltale signs of stripped tires and discarded treads, often found dangerously strewn across the road. Trucks undergo significant wear and tear on their tires due to hefty loads and extensive travel.
A tire blowout can quickly lead to an accident, potentially resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities. Truckers and their employers must diligently inspect and maintain tire integrity, ensuring proper inflation and timely replacement when wear becomes excessive.
There are strict weight limits for truck loads. In many states, interstate haulers must not surpass the maximum gross weight allowance of 80,000 pounds. When a truck exceeds this limit, the load may become too cumbersome to manage. This raises the risk of losing control of the vehicle and causing an accident.
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Even if a truck’s cargo falls within weight limits, incorrect loading can result in cargo falling or shifting. This can lead to items spilling from flatbed trailers onto the road and causing accidents.
Cargo can move inside enclosed trailers, destabilizing the truck and causing an accident. Similarly, fluid sloshes around tanker trucks can cause accidents.
Adverse weather, such as ice, snow, rain, fog, and extreme winds, can contribute to car and truck accidents. Truck drivers require adequate training to navigate their vehicles in challenging weather conditions. They should adjust their speed and other driving habits accordingly.
Truck drivers face demanding schedules focused on meeting tight deadlines and ensuring timely cargo delivery.
Despite federal regulations that restrict driving hours and set mandatory break intervals, truckers often push themselves beyond limits to meet or surpass deadlines. This leads to fatigued or drowsy driving, which is especially risky when operating such massive vehicles. Some studies show that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a hazardous practice that puts both the driver and others on the road at significant risk. These substances decrease reaction times and judgment, as well as the ability of truck drivers to operate their rigs skillfully and safely.
Managing blind spots is crucial for drivers of all vehicle types. Trucks, however, have expansive “no zone” areas, including the sides and rear, which can potentially lead to accidents if other vehicles are too close behind or within these zones.
Truck drivers must use their mirrors and exercise caution to the best of their ability. If truck drivers don’t take their blind spots into account and drive cautiously, accidents can occur.
What Makes Semi-Trucks so Hazardous?
Surviving a semi-truck accident often leaves victims with catastrophic or life-threatening injuries. The severity of these injuries compared to those in regular passenger vehicle collisions can be attributed to several factors that render semi-trucks particularly dangerous on the roadways. These characteristics include the following:
The Size and Weight of Semi-Trucks
Fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh up to a staggering 80,000 pounds, which is 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger car. Additionally, they are typically taller and longer than standard vehicles, further highlighting their massive presence on the road.
Due to their immense weight, semi-trucks require significantly more distance and time to slow down or stop than smaller vehicles. This limited braking capability heightens the risk of accidents, especially when sudden stops are necessary.
The weight of a semi-truck also affects its acceleration. This can become critical when a truck driver attempts to merge onto a highway or switch lanes. If the trucker misjudges the speed of surrounding vehicles or other drivers fail to adjust their speed to accommodate the merging truck, the risk of an accident escalates.
Improperly secured cargo in semi-trucks can lead to various hazards. Shifting loads during transport can destabilize the truck, making it harder to control.
In an accident, the cargo may spill out, obstructing the path of other motorists. Furthermore, semi-trucks occasionally transport dangerous materials like chemicals and fuel. These substances increase the likelihood of fires in the event of an accident. Toxic spills can also occur, necessitating specialized clean-up procedures.
High Center of Gravity
Semi-trucks are considerably taller than standard vehicles, featuring elevated ground clearance. This results in a high center of gravity, rendering them more susceptible to tipping over under specific conditions, such as high speeds, strong winds, or while negotiating corners.
Additionally, the elevated ground clearance creates a dangerous gap beneath the truck, posing a risk for smaller vehicles to slide underneath in the event of an accident.
Who is Liable for Your Truck Accident?
Semi-truck accidents are inherently more complex than collisions involving other vehicle types, especially regarding liability. Another driver might be responsible for your car crash, but multiple parties often share liability for a truck accident and resulting injuries.
The following individuals or entities may bear sole or joint liability for the damages incurred in a semi-truck accident:
- The truck driver – Truckers must comply with stringent federal, state, and local regulations governing the safety and upkeep of their vehicles, as well as stipulating driving hours and mandatory rest periods. Any deviation from these crucial safety standards elevates the risk of an accident, potentially rendering the driver solely liable for ensuing damages.
- The trucking company – While some truck drivers operate as independent contractors and assume primary liability for accidents, situations may arise where a trucking company employs the driver at the time of the crash. In such cases, the employer will likely share at least partial responsibility. Your truck accident attorney can thoroughly review the truck’s maintenance and safety records, the truck’s black box (if available), the driver’s training documentation, and other pertinent records to determine liability.
- Government agencies – State and local governments are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions within their jurisdiction. For instance, if a truck accident is partially or entirely caused by a sudden or poorly maintained shoulder drop-off, a significant pothole, or other road maintenance issues, or if it occurs in a location known for frequent accidents, the government entity may be deemed liable for the incident. Claims against the government can be more challenging to prove and have different deadlines. As such, you should always have a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side.
- Private companies – In cases where improper loading of the semi-truck contributes to the accident, the responsibility falls upon the employer, employees, or contractors responsible for the vehicle’s loading.
- Other drivers – Some truck accidents involve the contribution of other drivers on the road. These drivers may bear sole liability or share responsibility with any previously mentioned parties.
A Seasoned Truck Accident Attorney Can Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
When hiring a seasoned truck accident attorney, you don’t have to figure out what caused your accident, what type, or who is to blame. Your truck accident attorney will launch a thorough investigation to identify and determine all the vital information and details necessary to pursue a successful claim for compensation. This allows you the time and space to begin healing from your truck accident injuries.
Seek legal assistance after a truck accident as soon as possible to maximize your claim. Case evaluations are free, so call a personal injury lawyer today.