Trucks make for a significantly lower number on roads than other vehicles. However, they account for a significant portion of injuries, the loss of property, and fatalities on the road. Their sheer size, weight, and the type of cargo they ferry contribute to the catastrophe should a truck be involved in an accident.
Legally, victims of truck collisions should be compensated. Insurance companies move fast to offer compensation, which in most cases is below what you can receive for your losses. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you can secure significantly higher compensation through negotiations with insurance providers or a lawsuit. It is best to engage an attorney for assistance.
Types of Truck Trucks Involved in Serious Accidents
Truck sizes and types vary based on functionality. A truck serves a particular purpose, and this informs the truck's design, height, weight, and length. All these factors contribute to the severity of the crash. Below are some trucks common on our roads.
a) 18-Wheelers or Tractor Trailers
Tractor-trailers, big rigs, or 18-wheelers ferry large and heavy cargo from one state to another. You will typically see big rigs on the interstate. These trucks’ size and design are pivotal in ferrying large and heavy cargo over long distances.
Size, cargo, and length make big rigs the most dangerous vehicle on the roads. Big rig crashes end in tremendous losses, catastrophic injuries, and even death.
b) Tanker Trucks
Tanker trucks ferry liquid cargo. Most tanker trucks are synonymous with gasoline, which we all know to be highly flammable. It is cost-efficient for oil distributors and marketers to transport gasoline on the road. However, this poses a significant risk to other motorists.
While regulations and industry best practices have made tanker trucks safer while transporting their cargo over the years, they are not foolproof. Most tanker truck accidents still result in fires.
Should you be involved in a collision with a tanker truck, it is best to exit the scene as soon as possible.
c) Delivery Truck Vehicles
We rely on delivery trucks to receive online orders, mail, medication, and other cargo shipments. Amazon, the United Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS dominate the delivery service industry. These companies have large fleets of trucks to distribute cargo throughout the state.
The COVID 19 pandemic significantly increased the demand for delivery services, necessitating the need for more delivery trucks to meet the demand. Fast forward to today, most of the trucks are in operation. Add that to the increased number of motorists who have resumed road travel, and you can see the increased risk of collisions as these companies seek to make timely deliveries.
d) Waste Disposal Trucks
Most dump truck accidents are located in residential zones since most dump trucks operate in these areas. Waste disposal trucks carry significant cargo. Their weight makes them likely to topple over and cause an accident, especially when navigating residential streets.
e) Fire Trucks and Other Emergency Vehicles
Fire trucks and other emergency trucks are relatively lighter than most trucks. However, they pose a significant risk due to the driving patterns drivers in these trucks engage in when responding to emergencies. Drivers will run red lights, drive on the wrong side, exceed speed limits, and make dangerous turns at excessive speeds.
Granted, they are allowed to do whatever is necessary to respond to an emergency, but these driving patterns pose a risk to other motorists. It is best to allow fire trucks and other emergency vehicles the right of way should you encounter them.
However, should you be involved in a crash with an emergency truck, a driver will be liable if it is determined he/she did not exercise due care.
Most farm trucks and equipment will be found in agricultural zones. They haul harvests, livestock, and any agricultural products. It is paramount that care is exercised on the road. However, in some cases, farm truck drivers do not, and their actions end up causing crashes they would have otherwise avoided.
g) Flatbed Trucks
Trucks shipping brand new vehicles, those offering roadside assistance by ferrying cars to mechanic shops, or trucks hauling pipes, logs, or other industrial equipment are flatbeds. As the name suggests, they have a flatbed to maximize their capacity to carry heavy tonnage goods and long products.
All goods should be properly secured. Failure to which, some of the goods become loose and smash through other motorists’ windshields. Bikers suffer the most since they lack a layer of protection other vehicle users have. When this happens, the driver or trucking company is liable because failure to secure cargo properly is negligence.
It is advisable to maintain a safe distance if you find yourself behind a loaded flatbed on the road.
h) Passenger Movers
Passenger mover trucks include tour buses, coaches, and large trucks modified to ferry people. Since they carry people and have a commercial interest in being on the road, drivers of said trucks should exercise a higher degree of caution. The drivers are burdened with a higher degree of care due to the number of lives entrusted in their care.
Further, the drivers owe other motorists a duty of care. Therefore, in case of an accident, potential plaintiffs include the passengers and other motorists.
Truck Collision Statistics
In 2020, large trucks accounted for 4,965 fatal crashes. Whereas the number is 1% less than the reported figures in 2019, the numbers are high. The 1% decline is attributable to the lockdown measures that reduced road traffic.
A comparison of the 2020 figures with reported cases in 2011 shows a 31% increase.
Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirms the high fatality cases involving large trucks.
Whereas considerable measures have been put in place coupled with technology to ensure truck safety, truck accidents are still common. This then brings up the question:
What are the causes of truck collisions?
Addressing the causes will help you better understand the potential risk areas in the trucking industry.
Top Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents vary for various reasons, thus causing several kinds of accidents. Though they could differ, what is not in dispute is that all these crashes potentially cause significant property loss, inflict grave injuries to the victims, and in unfortunate cases, cause death.
Knowing the various types of collisions helps you identify the potential defendants as well as understand the likely injuries victims involved in these crashes suffer.
Here is a look at some of the top causes of truck accidents.
Truck Driver Error
Driver error can be in the form of impaired driving, distracted driving, lack of proper training in handling the truck, and fatigue. All increase the risk of a crash.
Driving at Speed Exceeding the Limits
Speeding, especially for trucks, is extremely dangerous. Maneuvering the vehicle is difficult, particularly when facing an abrupt situation requiring emergency braking. The situation worsens when you consider the length, size, weight, and type of cargo on board the truck.
Overloading and Unsafe Cargo Loading
The prescribed weight should be adhered to. Carrying a load exceeding the prescribed limit increases the risk of a tire blowout. Further, failure to secure cargo as required puts other motorists at risk.
Severe Weather Conditions
Rain, ice, and snow severely compromise traction. It is easy for motorists to lose control of their vehicles, especially heavy, long, and large vehicles.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Proper maintenance of trucks ensures the truck is responsive on the road, a safety precaution all drivers should pay attention to. It starts by confirming the lights are functional, all fluids within the truck are at the right level, and all tires have proper tread depth and are properly inflated.
Additionally, the truck’s maintenance schedule should be honored. Failure to which a mechanical problem could occur and cause an accident.
Types of Truck Collisions
The above causes form the basis of the types of truck accidents. All these crashes can inflict grave injury and death to the victims and cause significant losses to property. If you are involved in any of the subsequent collisions, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately.
a) Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents occur when a truck with articulated joints between the cab and its attached trailer makes a sharp turn greater than a 90-degree angle to the trailer. This situation is synonymous with improper turns or braking maneuvers that force the trailer to swing wide thu8s creating a shape of a folding jackknife.
Several issues could suddenly cause a driver to brake, including bad weather, wet roads, distracted driving, and improper turns. Other motorists could have less time to react and thus end up crashing into the trailer.
b) Lost-load Accidents
When cargo is not secured correctly, it risks falling off the truck and smashing into vehicles. Since it is unexpected, motorists behind the truck would try to slam the brakes or maneuver to avoid hitting the object. However, it is almost certain their efforts will not be enough.
Unsecured cargo is hazardous since they become projectiles that can easily go through windshields, seriously injuring or killing the vehicle’s occupants.
c) Blindspot Collisions
Trucks have several blind spots more common at the sides and the back. This means drivers could fail to notice when the track veers to another lane and collides with another vehicle. Additionally, this is a problem when the trucks are backing up in the parking lot. The driver cannot see the back, and if he does not have a lookout, it is likely he/she hits a motorist.
We have to acknowledge technology has provided much-needed solutions like lane departure alerts, rear view cameras, collision warning and automatic instant baking systems, and rear-side-front sensors. However, most trucks, primarily older models, have not been fitted with these improvements.
d) Rollover Accidents
Trucks have a high center of gravity. Therefore, they are prime candidates for rollover crashes. Several issues contribute to the truck tipping over, namely,
- Excess cargo, either in weight or exceeding the height set for the truck
- Attempting to make turns at high speeds
- Traveling at speeds exceeding prescribed limits
- Strong winds hitting the side of the truck
e) Underride Collisions
Passenger vehicles slip beneath a tractor-trailer's back or side in underride crashes, resulting in catastrophic injuries and losses. It is a tight squeeze for most cars. Thus most vehicles are trapped between the trailer's wheels which could run over the car or cause extensive damage. Most of these crashes end in fatalities or serious injuries.
It is best to maintain a safe distance when driving behind a truck. Failure to do so means you can easily go underneath the truck if you lack adequate breaking space.
f) Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end crashes with trucks are some of the most dangerous. The truck’s size and weight create an adequate force enough to cause a significant impact on smaller passenger vehicles.
These accidents occur primarily when:
- The truck driver fails to pay attention and fails to realize the car in front is slowing down or is being driven at a slow speed
- Other motorists who veer into the truck’s lane and the crash is inevitable
- Improper braking techniques or a failed braking system
- Poor road conditions that compromise visibility or traction
g) Tire Blowouts
Heavy cargo loads, improper tire pressure balance, worn-out tires, or defective tires are common causes of a tire blowout. Blowouts are particularly dangerous because they can create subsequent accidents.
Here is a look at the possible scenarios.
- Blowouts make maneuverability difficult. Thus the driver could cause a head-on collision, rear-end another vehicle, or cause a jackknife accident
- Fragments of the tire can become projectiles that could easily cause injury to pedestrians or riders and cyclists
- The impact could be such that the truck topples over. The trailer and the cargo could fall on other motorists, thus increasing the causality count in a single crash.
There are no preventive measures other motorists can take in case of a blowout. Maintain a safe distance if a truck is in front of you.
Injuries Victims of Truck Accidents Sustain
Collisions involving trucks cause significant injuries to the victims, which require extensive medical attention. Insurance companies are known to shortchange victims and could end up paying a portion of the medical costs (economic damages). Personal injury ensures that all costs are considered in the final ask, both past, and future expenses.
Further, should the attorney advocate for a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties, your compensation will cater for economic and non-economic damages like emotional suffering, loss of disfigurement, disability, and loss of consortium.
The following are the common injuries victims of truck crashes sustain and for which victims can seek compensation.
Head Brain and Neck Injuries
Most crashes involving large trucks lead to people as passengers and other smaller vehicles being flung around the car. In some instances, they could be hurled out, causing mild and traumatic neck injuries, serious brain injuries, or death.
Several traumatic brain injuries range from mild to grave. They include:
- Brain hemorrhage
The movement also causes neck injuries since your head will be swung uncontrollably.
Head and neck injuries could result in loss of cognitive function and physical disability.
The impact of collisions involving trucks is severe, and our bodies cannot sustain the force. Bones are the first body parts to suffer. Victims can suffer broken leg bones, ribs, arms, or skull fractures. Although airbags help protect vehicle occupants from the impact, it is not enough in some cases.
In worst-case scenarios, victims could require amputation to save their lives.
Internal injuries are potentially dangerous. As the name suggests, they could go undetected since they occur inside the body. Physical symptoms show up when the injuries are extensive. At this point, the victim’s survival rate is significantly reduced.
Internal injuries include punctured lungs, liver, broken ribs, or a ruptured spleen.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Injury to the spine could lead to paralysis. The nerves in your spinal cord could be severely damaged, preventing the transmission of signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Whereas you could recover through extensive medical treatment if you suffer temporary paralysis, there is no recovery from permanent paralysis. You will thus need assisted living care.
Cuts, bruises, and lacerations are common in accidents and no different in those involving trucks. The cuts vary in severity: some are treatable through first aid, while others require suturing. Depending on the severity of the laceration, you could end up with permanent scars.
Unfortunately, death is a possibility in truck accidents. The loss of a loved one is devastating to the surviving family members. The law allows them to seek compensation under a wrongful death suit. Human life cannot be quantified. However, the award in wrongful death suits aims to provide money to the family to cope with the loss.
Contact a Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Are you a victim of a truck accident in California?
It is in your best interest to engage a reputable truck accident attorney right away. At Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm, we provide the legal assistance you need after sustaining injuries or losing a loved one in a truck accident. We can help seek compensation for medical costs and the pain and suffering occasioned by the crash. Contact us today at 619-754-7667.