Truck crashes are undeniably dangerous. In 2019 alone, 4,119 people were killed in collisions with semi-trucks in the U.S., according to data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They rarely cause “fender benders” on the highway.

Although we can’t prevent truck accidents altogether, we can try to understand how truck crashes happen so we can both try to avoid them and hold the at-fault parties responsible.

Four major sources of tractor-trailer crashes are discussed below.

Driving in Blind Spots

It’s always nerve-wracking when another vehicle emerges out of your blind spot, and truck drivers know this more than anyone else on the road. Commercial trucks have enormous blind spots, so you might actually spend more time driving in them than out of them when you’re sharing a road with a massive tractor-trailer.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are driving behind a truck and can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see you. And if you are driving in front of a truck and can’t see its roof in your rearview mirror, the driver can’t see you.

Additionally, the blind spot on the left side of the truck extends for most of the length of the cab, but the blind spot on the right side of the truck extends for nearly the entire length of the tractor-trailer!

Many truck accidents occur when a driver cuts off a truck in traffic or attempts to pass it on the right, especially when merging, while being completely unaware that the truck driver can’t see them.

Driver Error

Truck drivers are only human, which unfortunately means they are just as prone to making bad decisions as any other driver. But depending on how exactly a truck crash happened, the trucking company that employs the driver may also be liable for the truck driver’s actions:

  • The truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • The truck driver was inexperienced (There are strict legal requirements for driving a commercial vehicle, but some trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers because they can pay them less money);
  • The truck driver was driving distracted;
  • The truck driver was driving drowsy. Studies show that driving while tired can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. And unfortunately, while federal guidelines exist to prevent drivers from working too many hours in a row, many trucking companies illegally instruct their drivers to ignore these laws and work longer hours, which can lead to drowsy driving wrecks;
  • The truck driver was speeding. Trucking companies might illegally instruct their drivers to ignore speed limits if they are trying to beat a tight delivery deadline. But because trucks are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, they take longer to slow down. This means when a truck driver is speeding, the driver is less likely to be able to react in time to stop a collision, putting them at risk of either colliding with the vehicle ahead of them, or causing the trailer to slide out and jackknife.

If you are unsure whether the driver, the trucking company, or both are at fault for your crash, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. Our legal team can help you determine exactly who is liable for your crash. Call today for a free case consultation.

Poor Maintenance

The owner of the truck is also responsible for maintaining the truck in safe and working condition. With large commercial vehicles, including log trucks and trucks that haul rocks, the owner could be the driver, the trucking company, or even a third company that the trucking company leases its vehicles from.

But when the owner of the truck does not maintain the vehicle, it is much more likely to break down, which can cause a crash if it happens when the truck is on the highway. Some of the most common causes of breakdowns for trucks are their brakes and tires, which need to be replaced often because they experience so much wear and tear.

Unbalanced Load

It is extremely important that tractor-trailers be appropriately loaded and secured with the weight of their cargo evenly distributed throughout. If the cargo isn’t secured properly, it may come loose or shift in transit. Cargo could fall from the truck and onto vehicles behind it or into the road, creating a significant road hazard.

Unbalanced trailers can also make it harder to control the truck, resulting in dangerous rollovers. When a truck overturns, it can block multiple lanes of traffic and cause a pile-up.

Trucks being overloaded is equally dangerous. Federal regulations state a fully-loaded truck should never exceed 80,000 lbs., which is dangerous enough in a collision, but trucking companies may also ignore this law to make more money by transporting more goods in a single trip. An overloaded truck is harder to control, more likely to experience a tire blowout or brake failure, and will cause more damage in a collision due to its weight.

We Help Victims of Semi-Truck Crashes Get Compensation

If you or a loved one has been in a wreck involving a tractor-trailer, there were likely severe injuries involved. You may need treatment for weeks, months, or years before you see a full recovery. And when your injuries are no fault of your own, you deserve compensation for both your medical expenses and the pain and suffering you’ve experienced.

Getting to the scene, securing video, finding witnesses, taking photos, documenting evidence, and retaining experts is all critically important to big truck cases. And time is of the essence. Don’t think you can go to an underfunded law firm or inexperienced lawyer, because victims of big truck wrecks are often eligible for significantly more compensation than people filing standard car crash claims because they often need significantly more money for their medical bills and lost wages, and it can usually be paid. The best way to ensure that the insurance company doesn’t try to wriggle out of what you are owed with only lowball offers is to hire a lawyer to pursue and argue your claim.

At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we’ve been serving our local communities for years, and we know how to fight back against insurance companies who try to deny victims of truck crashes. Call today for a free consultation.