The only thing scarier than witnessing a truck accident is being involved in one. Measuring up to 80 feet long with a maximum weight limit of 80,000 pounds, these massive vehicles can cause tremendous damage in the blink of an eye. While trucks can pose serious danger to other drivers, when driven properly, they are a safe and important piece of our nation’s economy. As a country, we rely on trucks to transport our goods from one location to another.
The simple fact is that some accidents are unavoidable. Inclement weather, unforeseen hazards, and poor road conditions can all lead to catastrophe. However, the good news is that the majority of truck accidents are preventable. As drivers, knowing the most common types of truck accidents and doing your part to avoid them can help save lives.
The Most Common Types of Truck Accidents
The term jackknife refers to the folding motion a trailer makes in this type of accident. During a jackknife accident, the cab of the truck usually comes to a skid while the trailer whips around and comes to a stop at a 90-degree angle to the cab. These accidents can be extremely dangerous, as they are usually unexpected, and the movement of the trailer can take out several cars in adjacent lanes. Several factors may cause a jackknife accident, including:
- Braking problems
- Inclement weather
- Excess speed
- Driver inexperience
Due to their high center of gravity, large trucks carry a high risk of being involved in a rollover accident. The 2003 Large Truck Crash Causation Study analyzed 239 rollover crashes. Of these crashes, the primary causes of these accidents were:
- Failure to adjust properly adjust speed at a curve
- Shifting load
- Brake issues
- Road conditions
The above-listed variables accounted for half of all the accidents analyzed in the study. Driver inattention ranked just behind these causes. Because a large portion of truck rollovers occur while a truck is taking a curve, you should never follow too close or attempt to pass a truck at a curve.
One of the leading causes of rear-end accidents is unsafe driving by drivers of passenger vehicles. These accidents often occur when a driver changes lanes in front of a semi-truck. Most drivers don’t realize that most tractor-trailers have a 20-foot blind spot at the front of the vehicle. This, combined with the extra time it takes for a truck to come to a complete stop, makes rear-end accidents very dangerous. Furthermore, a rear-end accident can easily turn into an underride accident.
An underride accident happens when a passenger vehicle collides with the rear, side, or front of a truck and is pulled under the truck or trailer. The vehicle becomes stuck under the truck, increasing the risk of serious injury or death. While a 1998 rule required large trucks to install rear-guards to prevent these accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these laws are outdated and do not require side or front guards. According to a 2017 NBC News report, about 200 people are killed each year because of side underride accidents.
Lost Load Accidents
Federal law requires all trucker drivers to properly secure and inspect their cargo load before getting on the road. As the name implies, a lost load accident occurs when a truck’s cargo comes loose from its trailer. This usually happens when the truck’s load is not properly secured or is overloaded. When the cargo becomes loose, it can fly out of the truck and hit surrounding vehicles. Depending on what the cargo consists of, the debris may land on the roadway and cause other vehicles to collide with it, or it may fly directly onto another vehicle. In either case, a loose load accident may involve multiple surrounding vehicles and fatalities.
Tire blowouts can affect any type of vehicle, but they are particularly dangerous when they involve large trucks. When a tire blows out, the driver loses control of the vehicle. There are several reasons why a tire blowout is dangerous. When drivers lose control of their vehicles, they don’t have time to try to avoid surrounding vehicles. A blown tire can cause a truck to slide into neighboring lanes or move into oncoming traffic. During the accident, the debris from the tires is violently thrown away from the truck. The large scraps can land on or in front of surrounding vehicles, causing secondary accidents.
Recover Damages Through a Personal Injury Claim
Accidents involving large trucks are often catastrophic. Even low-speed accidents can cause serious injury or death. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a truck accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for the full cost of your accident. The amount that you can recover will depend on the specific facts of your case, but common damages include:
- Medical costs, including doctor bills, hospital stays, medication, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages for time missed from work due to the accident. For serious accidents, this may include future wages or loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering, including physical pain, mental anguish, and PTSD.
- Loss of enjoyment for activities that you are no longer able to participate in due to the accident, including recreational and household activities.
- Wrongful death if the accident kills a family member or loved one.
Know When to Retain a Personal Injury Attorney
The costs associated with a truck accident can add up quickly and easily surpass $100,000. Now is not the time that you should be worried about medical bills. We know that money can’t take away the pain of an accident, but it can help ensure that you get the treatment you deserve. If you’ve sustained an injury in a Virginia truck accident, don’t wait to reach out for help. For more information about your legal rights, contact a personal injury attorney.