Head-on truck accidents are dangerous because occupants in the passenger vehicles will likely incur severe or fatal injuries. According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports, 4,000 fatal truck accidents occur each year in the United States. Most of the victims are the occupants in the passenger vehicles.
There are several reasons why head-on collisions with trucks are so dangerous. A fully loaded tractor trailer truck can weigh up to 40 tons or 80,000 pounds. This is much bigger than the size of most passenger vehicles, which typically weigh between 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. The size and weight of a truck makes it more difficult for the driver to slow down or bring it to a full stop. Speed has a direct effect on the force of the impact of the collision. In a head-on truck accident, this deadly force makes it more likely that the occupants of the passenger vehicle will be killed or suffer devastating injuries.
The height of a truck also makes it more dangerous in a head-on collision. At the moment of impact, many vehicles can slide under the truck and crush or trap the occupants in the vehicle.
What are Common Injuries in Head-On Truck Accidents?
Those who survive head-on truck accidents are often left with catastrophic injuries, ranging from head and brain injuries to broken bones and amputations. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries are also common as well as back injuries and paralysis. These types of injuries can require multiple surgeries and extended hospital stays for recovery with necessary rehabilitative therapy afterwards.
Depending on the type of insurance the victim has, medical bills may be massive, and recovery from serious injuries may cause many days or months of missed work. In some cases, it is impossible for the victim to return to their previous line of work. Many survivors are left with permanent disabilities.
What are Common Causes of Head-On Truck Accidents?
Most head-on truck accidents are caused by human error on the part of the truck driver. The following list contains the most common causes of head-on truck collisions.
Anything that takes the motorist’s attention away from the act of driving is a distraction. Common distractions include:
- Changing the radio station
- Interacting with a dispatcher
- Reaching for an object
- Programming a navigation system
- Talking or texting on a cellphone
- Using social media
- Personal grooming
Many states have explicit laws banning the use of hand-held communication devices because of the frequency of their involvement in accidents.
Driver fatigue is a problem for long haul truckers who spend many hours alone on the road with a deadline for delivering their cargo. Studies show that driving while fatigued is dangerous because motorists have many of the same deficiencies that drunk drivers display.
Fatigue causes slowed reaction times, impairs judgement, and reduces the driver’s attention to the road and their surroundings. Truck drivers are strictly regulated in the number of hours they are allowed to be on the road before they must take a rest break, but some motorists thwart these rules for fear of losing pay. Drowsy driving can also be caused by sleep disorders, certain medications, shift work, such as driving odd hours, and drinking alcohol.
Truck drivers may experience delays due to weather, traffic jams, construction, or road conditions and may feel pressure to make up the time on the way to their destination. Speeding is dangerous for any vehicle, but in a large heavy truck, it can be deadly if the driver loses control or the truck or cannot brake in time during an emergency.
Using drugs or alcohol while driving impairs the motorist’s judgement and ability to react to their surroundings. It also gives a person a false and inflated sense of their own capabilities.
Truck drivers may be tempted to take stimulants to prevent drowsiness during long and monotonous drives. It is not only illegal substances that are dangerous, prescription medications can have negative side effects and interactions that are not safe for operating a vehicle.
Aggressive or Reckless Driving
Truck drivers spend most of their lives on the road and frustrations from traffic. Pressure to deliver cargo can lead to unsafe and aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and speeding.
Failure to Do Regular Maintenance
A truck is a complex vehicle that must be maintained to regulated standards. If a truck is not properly maintained, it can be a threat on the road. Head-on collisions can happen when trucks are not regularly cared for.
Truck drivers regularly navigate roads they have never driven on before. Curves, pot holes, inclement weather, construction zones, and uneven surfaces can all cause an accident if the driver is inexperienced, untrained, or speeding.
A truck is a complex machine with many intricate parts. Sometimes, a manufacturing defect can cause a part to fail and cause an accident, such as when a truck’s brakes fail or a defective tire blows out.
Who is Liable for a Head-On Truck Accident?
Liability in a truck accident case is complicated and very different from accidents between passenger vehicles. When a truck causes an accident, liability may lie with the truck driver, the company that leased the truck, a trucking company that hired the driver, or a combination of any of these parties.
Trucking companies have teams of lawyers ready to investigate accidents involving their trucks with an aim to mitigate or avoid payment for any claims made against them. Often, the different parties will try to evade responsibility for the accident by passing the blame off on one another. The occupants of the passenger vehicle must try to recover from their serious injuries while dealing with the tactics of the trucking company’s insurance company and lawyers.
Rather than face it all alone, it is highly advisable to enlist the help of an experienced lawyer who knows and understands liability in these complex situations. A good lawyer will do the following for their personal injury client:
- Explain the rights of accident victims according to Virginia law.
- Seek maximum compensation for each victim, including pain and suffering and third-party claims for manufacturing defects.
- Hold responsible parties accountable for their actions.
- Handle all insurance and legal paperwork.
- Ensure that all legal and court deadlines are met.
- Investigate the circumstances of the truck accident, such as where the truck was headed, its speed at the time of impact, what kind of cargo was being carried, and if it was properly loaded.
- Gather evidence, such as police reports, witness accounts, drug tests, driving history, truck maintenance logs, and hours of service logs to build a strong case for compensation.
Injured victims of truck accidents may be eligible for compensation for present and future medical costs, present and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Injured Head-On Truck Crash Victims Seek Justice
The trucking industry is highly regulated for a reason. Trucking companies and truck drivers have a responsibility to inspect and maintain their trucks and equipment to ensure the safety of everyone on the road around them. If you have an injury that was caused by a head-on truck collision, a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can fight for your rights. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.