Regrettably, thousands of truck accidents take place on the road every year. An accident with an 18-wheeler or other large truck, which weighs as much as 80,000 pounds and averages 70 feet in length, can cause devastating injuries. When passenger cars and 18-wheelers collide on the road, serious property damage, as well as personal injuries, inevitably follow, even at low vehicle speeds. Due to their sheer sizes, trucks are never in simple accidents. In many cases, trucking accidents result from drivers failing to follow safety standards, trucking industry regulations, and general traffic regulations.
How Dangerous Are 18 Wheeler Accidents?
When an 18-wheeler truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the consequences can be catastrophic, often resulting in devastating injuries or even death. These giant vehicles, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and stretch 70 feet in length, dwarf regular passenger cars, making any accident involving them far from simple.
Annually, thousands of truck accidents occur across the nation, causing substantial property damage and personal injuries, even when the vehicles are moving at relatively low speeds. Sadly, many of these accidents can be attributed to drivers or companies neglecting to adhere to trucking industry regulations, safety standards, and general traffic rules.
The State of Texas, through the Texas Department of Public Safety, stringently regulates the truck industry to ensure the safe transportation of passengers and cargo on state roadways. In combination with other state and federal agencies, it aims to:
- Reduce commercial vehicle accidents
- Reduce fatalities, injuries, and property losses involving commercial vehicles
- Reduce the amount and frequency of hazardous material incidents.
Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes strict regulations on commercial trucks throughout the United States. These codes and policies aim to reduce large truck accidents, decrease fatalities, injuries, and property losses, and limit the amount and frequency of hazardous material incidents. However, non-compliance by some in the trucking industry increases safety risks dramatically.
Unfortunately, many players in the trucking industry fail to follow these regulations, and safety risks increase accordingly.
Speeding, improper load securement, inadequate training, defective brakes, and unsafe lane changes are some common, preventable causes of truck accidents. Other causes include fatigue, inexperienced or under-qualified drivers, faulty equipment and poor tires, poor maintenance, road defects, non-compliance with driving laws, overloaded freight or incorrect distribution of weight, and drug or alcohol use. Any one of these factors can lead to an accident, and often, a combination of them is involved.
Truck Accident Statistics
In a recent year, the Texas Department of Transportation recorded 38,621 truck accidents. Of these, 716 fatalities were documented. In the event of a fatal crash, it is highly likely that the resulting loss of life will be that of passenger car occupants and not the truck drivers. An overwhelming 97% of those killed in two-car passenger vehicle and tractor-trailer accidents were occupants and operators of smaller vehicles.
The Reality of Large Truck Crashes
When a truck accident occurs, identifying liability can be complex due to the potential involvement of multiple parties, ranging from the truck driver to parts manufacturers and loading companies. Given their significant resources, trucking companies will vigorously defend their drivers, employing various tactics to bolster their cases and reduce the victims' chances of compensation. This reality underscores the importance of victims securing the services of an experienced lawyer.
Victims of 18-wheeler truck accidents often sustain life-threatening injuries such as back, neck, or head trauma, burns, internal injuries, paralysis, and severe cuts and lacerations. These injuries may require lifelong medical care, impede the victim's ability to work, and drastically impact their quality of life. When pursuing compensation, it is crucial to consider not just the current state of the injuries but also the long-term impact on the victims' life. These may include the need for ongoing medical treatment, potential lost wages, and other changes in lifestyle.
Staying Safe While Driving
Every driver of any vehicle must drive with caution, obeying the rules of the road and driving appropriately for weather and traffic conditions. When sharing the road with a semi-truck, ensure that:
- You leave plenty of distance between you and the truck in front of you
- You can see the truck driver’s side mirror at all times
- You allow the truck ample time and distance to come to a safe stop
- You leave ample space for trucks to make extra-wide right turns
Common Causes of 18 Wheeler Truck Accidents
Speeding, improperly secured loads that shift, inadequate training, defective brakes, and unsafe lane changes—most of which are preventable—can result in trucking accidents. Other causes of semi-truck accidents include:
- Fatigued, inexperienced, or under-qualified drivers
- Faulty equipment and bad tires (whether improperly inflated or with insufficient tread)
- Poor maintenance
- Road defects
- Failure to obey driving laws
- Failure to check blind spots for smaller vehicles
- Overloaded freight or incorrect distribution of weight
- Drugs or alcohol use
It only takes one of these errors to cause an accident, though in some cases, several factors may result in accidents. Circumstances such as the time of day, time of year, and weather conditions may also result in a greater likelihood of vehicle crashes, although negligence is almost always the primary cause.
Accident Investigation and Liability for Truck Accidents
To investigate the cause of the accident, lawyers may explore the accident scene, talk to witnesses, and check the truck’s digital recording equipment. The investigation determines what happened before, during, and after the accident. The number of potentially liable parties can make assessing liability in these cases complicated. From part manufacturers and loading companies to the drivers themselves, liability can spread out across numerous parties.
Unfortunately for accident victims, trucking companies have substantial resources at their disposal, which means they will aggressively litigate in defense of their drivers, doing everything in their power to strengthen their cases and weaken their victims’ chances of receiving compensation. Thus, victims of large 18-wheeler truck accidents should retain the services of an experienced lawyer.
Common Injuries Caused by 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
The stakes are much higher in large truck accident cases than in any other type of car accident due to the size and weight of these large 18-wheeler trucks. In addition, personal injury lawyers need to address and investigate many complex issues. Victims of 18-wheeler truck accidents may sustain life-threatening and devastating injuries, such as:
- Back, neck, or head injuries or trauma
- Internal injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
Your Injuries Can Alter Your Life
When you get behind the wheel of your passenger vehicle, you expect to share the road with others, including large trucks. What you may not expect, however, is that the driver of a commercial vehicle will act negligently, which may lead to an accident that results in serious injuries (or even death).
Your injuries may cause you to require lifelong medical care, prevent you from returning to work, and prohibit you from enjoying life in the manner to which you were accustomed before the accident. How will your accident damage your ability to work? Will you return to work right away, or will you need to recover for an extended period? Is it possible you will never work again? A medical evaluation will need to answer these questions, which will bear directly on your ability to recover financially for your injuries and losses. How will the accident damage your life at home? Were you always the caretaker for young children or elderly family members? If your large 18-wheeler truck accident is going to bring about additional expenses, such as daycare for your children, then your settlement should consider those costs. Will your truck accident injuries require additional medical treatments in the distant future?
Many serious injuries require additional physical therapy sessions and visits with specialists for years to come. You may also need to buy expensive prescriptions, for which you never needed to budget before. You must consider all of these factors when you seek compensation for your injuries. Furthermore, you're not just seeking compensation for the current state of your injury but rather for how it will damage your life in the future.
Call for a Free Consultation With a Texas Truck Accident Law Firm
If you or a loved one was involved in a large 18-wheeler truck accident, consult with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. You need a law firm that understands the complex nature of truck accidents, and that can protect your rights. To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, call today at 866-674-5289 or email us through our online contact form. Don't let an 18-wheeler accident derail your life without seeking the justice you deserve.