What Should Drivers Know About Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents can be extremely scary experiences that may cause injury or death to the victim involved in the incident. These accidents can cause damages to passengers, as well as to the vehicles, due to the size and weight of commercial trucks. Commercial trucks weigh up to 20 to 30 times as much as an average road vehicle. If an average car gets hit by a commercial truck, the impact of the collision can cause catastrophic injuries or death upon impact. Truck accidents cause over 100,000 injuries per year and over half of those injured are occupants of smaller vehicles.
Victims of car accidents may face physical, mental, and emotional pain, as well as large medical bills. The Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help victims receive maximum compensation for the pain and suffering that a negligent truck driver has caused.
What are the Different Types of Commercial Vehicles?
There are many types of commercial trucks that do different tasks and perform specific duties. The most common large trucks include:
- Tractor-trailers: These are also referred to as semi-trucks or 18-wheelers and are designed to haul cargo. A tractor-trailer has large blind spots with the need for long stopping distances, as well as being prone to roll overs.
- Garbage and dump trucks: These types of trucks have large blind spots and a limited view of other cars. They also operate in residential areas where there are many pedestrians, bicyclists, and small vehicles present.
- Flatbed trucks: These trucks are easy to load and unload but due to them being open and flat, this may cause improper loading or improperly secured cargo.
- Tanker trucks: These trucks carry liquids, gases, and hazardous materials. A large tanker truck is prone to rollovers, which can be very dangerous if the materials inside the truck are flammable.
- Various others: Other types of trucks that are common on the road include box, cement, delivery, and tow trucks.
What are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
There are many causes of truck accidents. Accidents may be minor or serious and cause either injury or death to occur to all passengers involved.
- Speeding: When a truck speeds, especially around a corner, this may cause a rollover. A rollover occurs when a tire goes off the pavement and the driver tries to return back to the road.
- Jackknife accidents: This occurs when the trailer skids and forms a 90-degree angle to the tractor. This causes the driver to lose control of the truck, causing an extremely dangerous situation.
- Tire blowouts: Tire blowouts cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, putting other cars in danger.
- Underrides: This occurs when a vehicle behind a truck crashes into the trailer and is then carried underneath by its momentum. The impact of the collision could also cause the car to be demolished.
- Load accidents: Truck drivers and companies should always make sure that their loads are secure before the truck leaves for the highway. If a load shifts or falls off a truck, catastrophic injuries can occur to the other drivers on the road.
- Head-on collisions: If a truck crosses the center line and hits a passenger vehicle head on, the results are usually fatal.
- Blind spots: A truck has many blind spots, which makes it hard for drivers to see other vehicles. This puts other cars at significant danger of being hit or forced off the road.
- T-Bone accidents: This occurs when a truck runs a red light and hits another car perpendicularly.
What Types of Truck Driver Actions Cause Accidents?
The negligent actions of a truck driver could also be the reason for an accident to occur. Actions include:
- Prescription or over-the-counter drug use
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Lack of familiarity with the roadway
- Lack of familiarity with the vehicle
- Driver fatigue
- Unsafe lane changes
- Distractions, including phones and electronics
- Aggressive driving
Driver error is a main cause of truck accidents. When collecting evidence for a case, records of a driver’s training documentation, the driver’s previous accident record, and a post-accident drug and alcohol test will prove helpful in a case. There are also other problems that can cause truck accidents, such as:
- Problems with roadways
- Interruption of the flow of traffic
- Bad weather conditions
- Shifting cargo
- Faulty truck parts, such as brakes or engines
- Inadequate truck driving training
What are the Different Types of Truck Accident Injuries?
Trucks are necessary to move goods across the country. Despite their necessity, they pose serious risks to small vehicles due to the way trucks are handled and their large size. When a large truck collides with a small vehicle, many different injuries can occur. These injuries could be minor or catastrophic and may lead to death.
Musculoskeletal injuries: The impact of a truck hitting a car can cause broken bones, torn ligaments, and damage to muscle tissue. These types of injuries require months of rehabilitation and medical treatment. Victims of these types of injuries may have limited or no use of the injured body after rehabilitation.
Spinal cord injuries: Truck accidents can cause major devastation to a person’s spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries may involve the suffering of partial or total paralysis and limited range of motion for the rest of the victim’s life. Minor injuries can still lead to intense back pain, making everyday tasks a challenge.
Head and neck injuries: Most truck accident injuries involve the head or neck and can be extremely severe. Injuries may include a fracture of the skull, concussion, or damage to the connective tissues in the neck. Traumatic brain injuries are also possible from direct impact to the head and brain.
Burns: If a truck is carrying explosive or flammable material, there is a high chance that burns will occur during a crash. Burn victims require intense medical care, surgeries, and may suffer permanent disfigurement.
Internal organ damage: Injuries to internal organs can be difficult to detect but very dangerous to the victim. Common internal injuries include a punctured or ruptured spleen, pancreas, liver, or stomach. If an organ ruptures, this can cause severe internal bleeding, which is fatal if not found in time.
Lacerations: Broken glass and jagged pieces of metal can cut skin and cause major lacerations and deep wounds. This normally occurs when windows are shattered upon impact. These types of injuries can be very painful and may leave a victim with permanent scaring or loss of vision if it impacts the eye.
Amputations: Due to the weight of a truck, amputations of limbs are very possible. Amputations are extremely serious and could lead to extreme blood loss or death. Amputation may also occur at the hospital if there is too much trauma to the victim’s limbs.
Exposure to hazardous materials: If a truck with hazardous materials crashes into a small vehicle, this could cause harm to the victims inside both vehicles, as well as the first responders. Direct contact with chemicals can cause burning of skin, eyes, and internal organs.
What Should I Do When Injured in a Truck Accident?
After an accident, it is important to contact local law enforcement, especially if there is an injured person. They will create a written accident report of everything they see on the scene. Regardless of how specific the report is, it will still serve as great support for the case. Trucking companies are usually well-prepared for when an accident happens. Once the accident occurs, internal investigators and insurance companies are immediately called in to collect evidence from the scene. This is to try and avoid liability and to start building a case. Therefore, it is imperative to contact a truck accident lawyer for proper representation.
What Evidence is Needed from the Accident?
A truck accident case involves more extensive evidence to be collected, compared to normal car accidents. Physical evidence includes:
- Pictures of the aftermath of the crash
- Documentation of damage to all vehicles
- Evidence of any faulty part of the truck that may have led to the accident
Truck companies are also required to keep records on anyone who operates a trucking business under federal law. The following are other areas of evidence used to strengthen a case:
- Driving time: Federal laws require drivers to follow strict schedules to make sure they are not driving over time and becoming fatigued. Laws also require drivers to keep records of their work and time on the road. A driver’s logbook is a great piece of evidence to prove that they were not driving under the legal number of hours or if they were taking mandated breaks. This may prove negligence in a truck accident case.
- Truck inspection and maintenance: Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring the safety of their drivers and trucks by performing regular inspections. If records show that the truck was not properly maintained, this can prove negligence on the part of the driver or company.
- Weight of cargo: If a truck is hauling more weight than allowed, this can cause dangerous conditions and may result in a truck accident. This evidence can come from highway weigh stations and other transportation documents.
- Electronic data: Trucks have electronic control recorders that record data relevant to a crash. This can be useful in establishing the cause of an accident.
Evidence is very important in a truck accident case due to the different sources of information and theories on how and why the accident happened. A truck accident lawyer will go through each piece of evidence to build a strong cause for a jury.
How is Fault Established?
Determining who is at-fault for a truck accident can sometimes be a complicated process. There are many different parties that may be responsible for a victim’s injuries including:
- The driver of the truck
- The owner of the truck
- The company that leased the truck from the owner
- The manufacturer of the vehicle, tires, or other pars that may have contributed to the cause of the accident
- The loader of the truck’s cargo
Trucking companies normally argue over whose insurance will compensate the victim of the accident, since there are so many different players involved. Detailed investigations are always necessary when it comes to a truck accident.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer in Virginia?
Establishing liability for a truck accident can be difficult due to the many federal regulations of the trucking industry. The federal government maintains a list of strict regulations that controls how long drivers can drive without rest and how much a company can load into each trailer. All these regulations can be overwhelming and complicated. Hiring a lawyer is the best option to prove liability.
Hiring a truck accident lawyer is extremely important and helpful due to the seriousness of the injuries, medical bills, and evidence involved in a truck accident case. Insurance companies try and settle cases quickly after an accident. A lawyer will take the time to go through every piece of evidence and ensure victims are not settling with what the insurance company has to offer.