Truck accidents are often caused by distracted driving or speeding and can lead to serious harm. To minimize these risks, truck companies must ensure that their drivers have the correct qualifications and training. Additionally, they must make sure to maintain their vehicles in good working condition.
Most Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Examples of instances where a driver or company may be deemed negligent are:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while fatigued
- Failing to Secure a Load Properly
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Truck Malfunction
- Tire blowouts
- Bad Weather
- Heavy Traffic
Commercial Truck drivers are equally as susceptible as anyone else to the dangers of distracted driving, like sending texts and using a cell phone. Though they are less used than in past years, most trucks still have CB radios installed. Listening to music while driving can be a form of distracted driving, even during long trips.
Driving While Fatigued
Truckers can experience a lot of stress due to having to work extended hours. Despite the law requiring truck drivers to take a specific amount of rest time, some still disregard this. Nothing is riskier than sharing the road with a fatigued truck driver, no matter if the traffic is good or bad.
Failing to Secure a Load Properly
It is important to ensure that the load is properly packed and secured for even weight distribution, regardless of the product being carried. Improper weight distribution can increase the chances of a truck accident occurring. This is particularly true for making turns or when braking. If a product isn’t securely fastened or loaded onto a trailer, it can be flung off onto the road, creating a hazardous situation for vehicles in other lanes.
Driving Under The Influence
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited in all states. There have been instances of drivers operating under the influence of alcohol and illegal substances while at work. Driving under the influence of either prescription or over-the-counter medication can drastically impair a driver’s ability to maneuver a large vehicle. Some stop in towns to access substances, while others bring alcohol and drugs while operating a vehicle. Taking drugs while driving in heavy traffic or even on an open road is a recipe for disaster.
When semi-trucks experience tire blowouts, it can cause the truck to lose control and hit other vehicles. This is especially true if the road conditions or traffic are bad. Though a tire blowout is not a frequent type of accident, it’s important to know to drive defensively.
Just like any passenger vehicle, bad weather can make semi-trucks even more dangerous.
Heavy traffic can make it incredibly difficult for a tractor-trailer to stop or maneuver quickly enough to avoid an accident. If there’s another accident ahead or a wind gust with an improperly secured load, heavy traffic can cause an accident.
Which Types of Trucks Are Most Frequently Involved in Truck Accidents?
When referring to truck accidents, the majority of people envision large 18-wheeler trucks. Trucks of this type cause a great deal of harm. An 18-wheeler fully loaded can be as heavy as 80,000 pounds. Devastating accidents can also be caused by other types of trucks, including:
- Cement trucks
- Dump trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Other commercial trucks
Steps You Can Take to Prevent the Causes of Most Truck Accidents
Although the responsibility of an accident between a car and a large commercial vehicle may be on the truck or tractor-trailer driver, car drivers can take steps to help protect themselves from such an incident. Driving defensively and staying alert on the road will benefit you, as well as adhering to speed limits.
Increase the Distance Between Yourself and a Truck
Because of their heavier weight, it takes longer for large vehicles to brake and accelerate. Drivers in passenger cars should increase the distance between their vehicles and trucks on highways and in cities to better avoid accidents. Obeying your turn signals and not making any sudden lane changes will help to prevent collisions with trucks.
Don’t Stay Behind a Truck for Too Long
When you drive behind a truck, your ability to see and identify road conditions and traffic signs is significantly reduced. To be able to respond quickly to any potential hazards when driving behind a truck, it’s important to leave a substantial amount of space between your vehicle and the truck.
Be Mindful of Blind Spots
It’s essential to be aware of trucks’ big blind spots when trying to pass these types of long vehicles, such as trailers and tractor-trailers. They may not notice you. Drivers are more likely to spot you when you are on the driver’s side of the vehicle than on the passenger side. Passing a truck on the left side can help avoid accidents.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident in Illinois?
Who is responsible for semi-truck accidents? Someone other than the commercial driver can be responsible for a truck accident. Contacting an experienced truck accident attorney can help determine liability. Depending on the situation, other possible parties could include (but not be limited to):
- The driver of another vehicle
- The trucking company that hired the driver or loaded the cargo
- An alcohol vendor (a bar) that sold alcohol to a driver who caused a DUI accident
- A government agency
What Damages Can I Recover After A Truck Accident?
Those hurt in truck accidents can seek compensation from the driver or trucking company responsible for any damages suffered due to the collision. When calculating damages, personal injury attorneys calculate two main types: economic damages, which cover financial losses, and non-economic damages, which compensate for losses without a dollar value.
You may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Property damage
- Medical bills, including emergency and home care
- Lost Wages
- Wrongful Death
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Accidents between trucks and passenger cars tend to cause more serious injuries than when two or more passenger cars are involved in a collision. After a truck accident, the consequences can be life-altering so it’s important to get the compensation needed for current and future medical expenses and other related costs.
These are some common injuries from truck accidents:
1. Back and Neck Injuries
Your back and neck include small and fragile bones and ligaments that can be easily injured from impact. One of the most common injuries in any vehicle accident is whiplash. Whiplash can happen when your head and neck snap forward, but your torso stays in place. It’s an injury that might not appear immediately, but you might experience pain and other symptoms hours or days after a crash.
2. Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries may cause partial, temporary, or complete paralysis of the legs and lower body. Your spine works like a data highway, with its nerves carrying signals from your brain to the other parts of your body. Back injuries usually don’t have an easy remedy. Treatments, surgeries, physical therapy, and adaptive devices might be needed for months or even years and could ultimately lead to permanent disabilities. If you have suffered any of these injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from the trucking company, truck driver, or other parties.
3. Head and Brain Injuries
Head injuries can range from a minor bruise that resolves itself to a mild concussion. Traumatic brain injury can have severe, long-term consequences.
Due to its size, a truck is more likely to do more damage than a passenger car in an accident, and fuel tanks can be easily ruptured. Flames can quickly spread and engulf a truck or the cars near it. Those in a nearby vehicle might suffer severe burns, resulting in lifelong disfigurement.
Fatal Semi-Truck Accidents
Tragically, thousands of lives are lost annually due to truck crashes. After fatal crashes involving a loved one, you may wish to pursue legal action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. Although money cannot bring a lost family member back, filing a wrongful death claim may help survivors recover compensation for the premature death caused by another party’s negligence.
You may still have outstanding medical expenses from the crash, funeral bills, as well as damages associated with your own trauma and suffering. Working with a truck accident attorney can help you identify potential compensation for your case.