With many causes and types, truck accidents also tend to be the most devastating of all traffic accidents. In one recent year alone, more than 110,000 Americans were injured and over 4,000 Americans were killed in crashes involving the large commercial trucks known as tractor trailers, semis, diesel trucks, big rigs or 18-wheelers, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Trucks’ huge weight and size make truck injuries worse. In fact, while large commercial trucks are only 3 percent of all vehicles on the road, they are involved in 12 percent of all fatal crashes — four times what their proportionate amount would be.
How do 18-wheeler accident cases differ from a regular accident case?
There are several factors that distinguish 18-wheeler accidents from other cases.
First, there’s the sheer size difference. Big rig trucks are incredibly massive – up to 80,000 pounds, fully loaded – and basic physics means that other, smaller cars can face catastrophe if they are hit.
Second, 18-wheelers are subject to many more rules than other cars on the road. This makes it more complicated to identify which laws were broken and what exactly caused the truck accident.
Third, tractor-trailer wrecks typically involve additional parties, all blaming each other. While a regular car wreck often involves just two drivers, tractor-trailers are almost always used in the course of trucking business. This means that the truck driver may work for one company, while a second company owns his truck, and a third company owns the load he was hauling, with all four of them blaming each other. Each party may even have their own insurance company, which can confuse things even further.
Needless to say, 18-wheeler accident cases are very different than your average car wreck case, and they should be handled differently as well.
How often do truck drivers get into accidents?
The most recent available data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is for 2017. That year, there were approximately 450,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks. That’s a big number, and it gets worse — if you compare the number of truck accidents to the number of 18-wheelers on the road, you’ll find that truck crashes occur at a much higher rate than wrecks involving cars.
Why is this the case? There can be any number of reasons. Truckers are often paid by the mile, which can encourage them to drive longer hours or at faster speeds to meet deadlines. Truck drivers may also feel like they need to drive in dangerous weather conditions to deliver their loads on time. Unsafe driving choices like these can lead to accidents. And of course, big rigs are larger and heavier than other cars on the road, making them harder to safely turn and stop.
What are common truck accident injuries?
There are many different kinds of truck accidents, and these can cause many different kinds of injuries. Since 18-wheelers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded fully, while the average car may weigh only 4,000 pounds, large trucks can cause severe, catastrophic, debilitating and life-changing injuries to persons who are driving or are passengers in smaller vehicles.
Some common truck accident injuries include disfigurement; burns; paralysis, which can be full (quadriplegia) or partial (paraplegia); broken bones, which can be stable, compound, oblique or transverse fractures; and brain injuries such as concussion or contusion (a bruise with bleeding) of the brain), as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Victims also may suffer soft tissue sprains, strains and tears. Other common truck accident injuries include damage to the spine, neck or back; internal organ injuries, including internal bleeding; and amputation of a hand, arm, foot or leg.
Big rig accidents also can cause death.
What are the top causes of truck accidents?
As noted, causes of truck accidents can vary, but they often are due to driver error. A truck driver may be distracted and then cause an accident. Or the truck driver may violate traffic rules by speeding or changing lanes recklessly. Or the truck driver may suffer from driver fatigue by being at the wheel for too long without proper sleep.
Some truck drivers also have caused crashes while driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Or the truck driver may have been improperly trained to handle a large truck such as an 18 wheeler, big rig, semi truck, diesel truck or tractor trailer.
Sleep apnea also may lead to truck driver errors. This condition is caused by being overweight — as many truckers are — which leads to fitful sleep and then drowsiness while awake.
What’s known as “highway hypnosis” also may be to blame. Drivers who work long hours can become almost hypnotized at the wheel and may be slow to react to changes in the roadway.
Other causes of truck accidents may include top-heavy or overloaded rigs or trailers which exceed legal weight limits. Also, a poorly maintained truck may have a mechanical or tire failure which causes a truck accident.
Vehicle defects such tire blowouts also can be among the causes of truck accidents. In addition, truck drivers may make mistakes due to the fact that large trucks have blind spots behind or around them which the drivers can’t see. That is an inherent defect of virtually all large trucks.
Another problem which won’t go away is that, because of its size and weight, a loaded 18 wheeler can take up to 40 percent longer to stop than an average car, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If brakes aren’t properly maintained, and if roads are wet or slippery, the delayed braking time can be even worse.
Your truck accident lawyer can work to determine what caused a crash and who was responsible for your injuries. Then he or she can hold them responsible for paying you with a truck accident lawsuit.
What are common types of truck accidents?
As for common types of truck accidents in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or other areas of Texas, these can include rear-end collisions, side-swipe collisions and rollover collisions, when an overloaded truck rolls over and strikes other vehicles.
Other types of truck accidents include jack-knife accidents when a truck and its trailer fold into a 90-degree angle, which can happen when the driver brakes too abruptly, causing a collision. An 18 wheeler also may make a wide turn which causes an accident. Or it may spill some of its load, thus causing an accident.
The many causes of truck accidents and types of truck accidents should make one thing clear: You must engage a veteran truck accident lawyer to handle your case. Your truck wreck attorney from Jim Adler & Associates will have the knowledge and skill to develop your case and injury claim based on years of professional experience dealing with such matters. Contact us today for a free case review.