Have you or a loved one been injured in a tractor-trailer accident? We know how hard this is to deal with as a family, and we want to help. Contact Burg Simpson for a free consultation to find out your legal options.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 74% of large truck crashes in 2020 involved tractor trailers. Long hours and safety defects are major contributors to large truck crashes. In 2020, at least one large truck was involved in 15 percent of work zone injury crashes and 26 percent of work zone fatal crashes. Fatal large truck collisions increased 27 percent from 10.6 to 13.49 fatal crashes per million people in the United States.

Many trucking accidents are caused by negligent truck drivers, whether they are speeding, driving recklessly or under the influence, distracted, or fatigued. Other times, the cause could be negligence by the truck company or even the local government. Regardless, a tractor trailer accident is a terrifying event with a high cost of physical and emotional injuries. If you’ve been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, a personal injury lawyer can provide you with a free consultation. Call Burg Simpson at (888) 895-2080 or fill out a FREE case evaluation form today.

How do Tractor-Trailer Accidents Differ From Car Accidents?

A tractor-trailer is a transport vehicle for goods that consists of a type of large truck called a semi-tractor, semi-truck, or large semi-truck, and attached trailer. It is also known as an 18-wheeler or a big rig. The average semi-truck in the United States is about 13.5 feet high, 8.5. feet wide, and 72 feet long. It can weigh up to 80,000 pounds by federal law, or more with a special overweight permit. Most truckers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks that have a total weight of 26,000 pounds. By comparison, standard passenger vehicles weigh 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.

What makes trucking accidents different is not only the large weight of the semi trucks, but their disproportionately large size in comparison to smaller passenger vehicles. Furthermore, semi-trucks often transport hazardous materials such as flammable liquids and toxic chemicals. Also, they take 40% longer to stop when braking compared to cars, and poorly maintained brakes or slippery roads mean they take even longer.

Common Types of Truck Accidents and Their Causes

A trucking accident can take several forms:

  • Truck rollovers: Trucking accidents involving rollovers are some of the most devastating accidents imaginable, especially when they involve a tractor-trailer. Because a tractor-trailer has a much higher center of gravity compared to other vehicles, large truck drivers must take care to avoid sudden swerving and going too fast around tight turns. Truck rollovers result in approximately 60 fatalities each year in the U.S.
  • Head on collisions: This type of truck accident is also one of the most dangerous and occurs when a tractor-trailer drives into oncoming traffic. Head on collisions often occur from driving while fatigued, under the influence, or tire blowouts.
  • Rear end accidents: Being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer can result in the crushing of passenger vehicles upon impact. Such crashes can occur from impaired, fatigued, or reckless driving.
  • Jackknife accidents: A jackknife accident occurs when a large truck takes the shape of a folded jackknife as the trailer swings wide around its pivot joint. It is caused when the driver improperly brakes or turns.
  • Wide turn accidents: Most often from right-hand turns, which are tighter than left-hand ones, wide turn accidents occur when the truck driver cannot make the turn and crashes into other vehicles in the other lanes.
  • T-bone accidents: So-called because the crash takes the form of a T, this type of accident occurs at an intersection when the truck driver crashes into the side of other vehicles after ignoring a stop sign, running a red light, or otherwise failing to follow the right-of-way.
  • Sideswipe accidents: Sideswipe accidents are similar to t-bone accidents, except that the vehicles are traveling in the same direction.
  • Unsecured cargo accidents: Unsecured freight accidents are a larger category of accidents that involve large truck debris on the road. Raw materials, household goods, and car parts are the most common types of fallen cargo.

Side-impact collisions as with the T-bone and sideswipe are often more dangerous than head-on or rear-end collisions. That’s because the driver in a passenger vehicle has less protection and any injuries they sustain in a side-impact crash may not be immediately apparent. Regardless of the type of collision you experienced, even if you believe it was minor, it’s in your best interest to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Your doctor will be able to determine the extent of your injuries. Since part of supporting your tractor-trailer accident claim is being able to describe the type of accident you experienced and how it caused your injuries, a medical evaluation following the incident is a primary piece of evidence. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you’ll be able to create a strong case for fair compensation.

Factors in Tractor-trailer Crashes Nationwide

Trucking accidents involving tractor-trailers close down roadways and can result in fiery collisions and deadly crashes involving multiple drivers. Accidents involving semi-trucks are more serious than accidents involving other vehicles because these types of commercial vehicles have a large size, length, and weight. Such large trucks are difficult to maneuver and have larger blind spots than other vehicles, so a small mistake or oversight by a driver or another party could result in disaster for the driver and other vehicles around them. Smaller vehicle drivers cannot see in front of or alongside the truck due to its rear blind spot, which is approximately 200 feet from the truck’s back bumper.

Common causes of tractor-trailer accidents when the at-fault party is a negligent truck driver are:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving

Other causes are adverse weather conditions or dangerous road conditions. When the trucking companies are at fault to any degree, it is often due to:

  • Improper loading
  • Maintenance or mechanical issue
  • Improper training
  • Negligent hiring

Tire blowouts can cause any one of several types of truck accidents and are often due to improper loading or a lack of maintenance on the tires. However, by far, the most common cause of large truck crashes is some form of driver inattention or driver error that causes them to lose control of the wheel or the weight of the truck.

Common Injuries in Trucking Accidents

A semi-truck is long and wide, making it difficult to steer around debris and other obstacles in the road. It can easily push other vehicles under its trailer during a collision. The injuries from trucking accidents are similar to those in car accidents but often more severe. Here are some examples:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Seat belt injuries
  • Internal bleeding and organ injuries
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Burns
  • Amputations
  • Death

Liability Laws in U.S. Large Truck Accidents

Personal injury law often holds at least one party accountable in any type of accident. Truck accidents involve multiple parties. Depending on where you’re located, your state is either an “at-fault” or a “no-fault” state for vehicle accidents. Some at-fault states have a modified comparative fault rule that assigns a portion of liability to each party. Under a comparative fault rule, anyone can seek compensation for injuries they sustained from a trucking accident if they were 50% or less at fault. Their state’s negligence law then determines the amount of damages that will be awarded to each party.

The potentially liable parties in a trucking accident are:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • A parts manufacturer or mechanic
  • The cargo manufacturer or loaders
  • The truck owner

Both at-fault and no-fault states allow people who’ve been injured in a truck accident to seek compensation by filing a claim with their own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company. In a no-fault state, you cannot generally file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party unless certain conditions are met, such as having severe injuries. Car insurance in no-fault states requires drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) for their car insurance, and it is their PIP that pays for their injury claims.

Damages in a Tractor-Trailer Accident

Typically, the truck driver and trucking company are financially liable for paying damages to accident survivors and victims’ families. The primary damages are economic as they are compensation for bills, expenses, and physical consequences related to injuries sustained from the accident:

  • Property damage to the vehicle
  • Emergency medical care
  • Hospitalization
  • Doctor visits
  • Prescription medications
  • Out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation and over-the-counter medications
  • Physical therapy and other long-term treatments
  • Future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity

To receive compensation for economic damages, it is important to save every bill and receipt associated with the accident, your injuries, or your medical care. A lawyer can gather the medical records that will be necessary for showing the set dollar amounts you need to be compensated for. For instances in which you do not have a receipt, it is sometimes possible to estimate the cost.

Secondary are non-economic damages, which include things like:

  • Loss of consortium (loss of familial relations)
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement or disability
  • Worsening of previous injuries

Non-economic damages are difficult to calculate. To do so, it is best to have a personal injury lawyer on your side to determine the types of non-economic damages you are entitled to, and then calculate them based on a daily value or multiplier times the number of days the survivor experienced pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are another type of damages that accident survivors or their loved ones may collect in a trucking accident. In cases where the semi large truck driver was extremely negligent through fraud, willful misconduct, or malice, punitive damages are sometimes awarded by the judge. Such damages serve as a message to the public and punishment for the at-fault party. Punitive damages are rare. Your attorney can advise you on whether you should try to collect them.

How Can I Get Fair Compensation for my Tractor-Trailer Accident?

Determining liability is a major priority in your truck accident injury claim. But to obtain full compensation and recover from the incident, it is necessary to hold the correct party responsible. For example, if certain regulations were not followed, both the driver and an associated party could be at fault. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly investigate your case, gather evidence, and carefully deal with insurance companies. We at Burg Simpson are committed to our clients and giving them the legal representation they need to hold the responsible party accountable.

Accidents Caused by Semi-Trucks

Here are some facts about tractor-trailer accidents from 2020:

  • According to the NSC, most injuries in large truck crashes are sustained by occupants of other vehicles (68%), followed by truck occupants (30%) and non-occupants (2%)
  • Fatal large truck crashes are more common in rural areas (54.65%), non-interstate roadways (73.29%), during the daytime (63.45%), and in non-work zones (95.41%)
  • According to surveys from the IIHS, many large truck drivers violate the federal hours-of-service regulations that allow them to drive up to 11 hours at a time
  • In 2020, a total of 4,014 people died in large truck crashes. The greatest fatalities involved occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles (68%), followed by pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists (16%), and truck occupants (15%).
  • In 2009, the number of fatalities was the lowest it had been since the initial collection of fatal crash statistics in 1975. It was 28% higher in 2020, while the number of truck occupant fatalities increased 35% compared to 2009.

How Can I Protect Myself As A Motorist?

You can safely share the road with semi-trucks by keeping some helpful tips in mind:

  1. Wear your seat belt. Doing so is an effective way to reduce your risk of serious injuries and death from a car accident.
  2. Avoid distractions. It can only take one second of inattention on the road to underestimate the speed of an approaching semi-truck when turning, changing lanes, or merging.
  3. Avoid blind spots and give enough space. The truck driver cannot see you if you cannot see the truck’s mirrors. You should stay a minimum of 30 feet behind or 20 feet ahead of the truck, avoid the lane on the semi-truck driver’s side, and try to stay at least two lanes’ width away on the truck’s passenger side.
  4. Don’t forget your turn signals. Doing so lets big rig drivers know of your intentions and gives them time to adjust their driving.
  5. Watch for wide turns. When a large truck driver turns to the right and the trailer swings left, you may have to back up to give more space.
  6. Pass safely. Do not try to pass a semi-truck when going up or down a hill, as the truck driver is likely to change their speed. When you do pass, use your turn signal, approach on the driver’s left side, and make sure you can see the driver in the mirror before passing quickly.

Evaluate Your Tractor-Trailer Accident Claim with Burg Simpson

Drivers, including truckers themselves, experience serious injuries from truck accidents. Commercial trucks provide essential goods to businesses, but that doesn’t mean negligent behavior that causes people to get injured is acceptable.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a truck crash, you need legal representation with extensive knowledge, experience, and a successful track record. Burg Simpson is ready to fight for you to avoid being bullied by a trucking company. We want to help you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to. To get a free consultation, call us at (888) 895-2080 or fill out our online form.

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