Driving 18 wheelers or semi-trailer trucks comes with certain risks inherent to the job. The immense size and velocity at which these trucks operate can result in significant damage on the roads. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 4,862 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2018. Of these crashes, singles (which includes 18-wheelers) accounted for 55%. When a collision involving a large truck occurs, numerous complications arise. That’s why it is crucial to seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in 18 wheeler accidents immediately after the incident. From navigating personal injuries to determining liability and filing insurance claims, an 18 wheeler accident attorney can provide the necessary guidance throughout the legal process.
I. Why Do 18-Wheeler Trucks Pose Such a Risk?
Let’s take a look at some reasons why 18 wheelers are much more dangerous in comparison to regular vehicles:
- Combination of weight and speed: An average consumer car typically weighs 1.5 tons, whereas an average loaded tractor has a weight of 40 tons. This means that a tractor weighs nearly 27 times more than the average car. If we imagine a scenario where a 40-ton truck, moving at a speed of 60 mph, collides with a small vehicle, the outcomes could be extremely disastrous.
- Stopping Distances: Big trucks require a significantly longer stopping time compared to cars. In perfect conditions, a regular car traveling at 65 mph needs 316 feet to come to a complete stop. Conversely, for a 40-ton truck at the same speed, it takes 525 feet. Moreover, large trucks have to account for brake lag. This is because air brakes have a delay between the moment the driver presses the brake and when the brakes start working. Consequently, 18-wheelers need an even greater distance to fully stop.
- Blindspot: Large trucks like 18 wheelers have four significant areas where their drivers cannot see smaller vehicles: the front, the two sides, and the back of the truck. Because of the truck’s big size and height, it can be challenging for drivers to notice smaller cars when they are in these spots. It is particularly hazardous for smaller vehicles to drive in these areas, especially if the truck driver does not properly check their blind spots.
- Hazardous material: Semi-trucks frequently transport dangerous substances on American highways. In order to do so, drivers must undergo specific training to become qualified hazmat drivers, as there are stricter regulations in place. Hazardous materials may consist of flammable, explosive, radiological, or poisonous items, all of which can cause extensive harm to both individuals and the surrounding environment if accidentally released.
- Unsecured cargo: Not every big rig possesses trailers that are completely closed off. There are certain trucks that have an exposed flat platform, necessitating the driver to carefully fasten the load. In the event of the driver’s failure to securely tie down the cargo, loose materials could lead to accidents causing harm or fatalities. Examples of inadequately secured cargo commonly encompass raw materials, industrial equipment, automotive components, and various others.
Operating an 18 wheeler carries many potential hazards, and failing to address these dangers can result in an accident. If an accident is caused by another person’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation. In these situations, seeking advice from a lawyer who specializes in 18 wheeler accidents can offer direction on the best course of action.
II. Typical Reasons For 18-wheeler Accidents
Finding the reason behind a collision involving an 18 wheeler is not always clear-cut. The truck driver may not necessarily bear sole blame for the incident. Frequently, there are several factors at play that contribute to the occurrence of such accidents. Below are some of the prevailing causes of 18 wheeler accidents.
A. Driver Inexperience
Before being granted a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), drivers must go through thorough training. The specific requirements differ among states; however, generally, drivers are expected to pass a written test, obtain a learner’s permit, and successfully complete a driving examination.
As the industry’s need for truck drivers continues to rise, companies may be hiring drivers who are not fully qualified, whether they are aware of it or not. Additionally, instances of trucking license fraud, where illegitimate licenses are being issued by trucking schools, can further contribute to an influx of inexperienced drivers on the road.
B. Driver Fatigue
In accordance with the FMCSA, tiredness played a role in 13% of collisions that involved drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). Truck drivers often endure long hours and challenging circumstances while on the road, making the possibility of dozing off at the wheel a genuine hazard when operating a substantial truck.
To combat this danger, regulations known as hours-of-service (HOS) have been implemented to restrict the number of hours drivers can spend on the road. As an example, drivers are only allowed to drive for a maximum of 11 hours after having 10 hours of rest. Additionally, there are obligatory breaks that drivers must take during their working hours. However, despite these regulations, driver fatigue can still occur. Furthermore, some drivers may intentionally break HOS rules in order to meet delivery requirements, posing a significant risk to everyone sharing the roads.
C. Distracted Driving
Truck crashes and near-crashes are greatly influenced by distracted driving. About 80 percent of these incidents involve truck drivers being distracted. There are various ways in which distracted driving can occur.
It can be inside or outside of the cab, including things like:
- Using dispatch devices
- Food and drinks
- Glancing at billboard
- Adjusting the GPS
In today’s world, the advancement of technology has created challenges for drivers to stay alert on the roads. Whether it’s using tablets, mobile devices, or in-cab displays, even a brief moment of distraction can lead to a serious accident involving an 18 wheeler.
D. Improper Maintenance
Trucking companies are required to adhere to strict maintenance standards set by FMCSA in order to guarantee the safe operation of their vehicles. Some of the maintenance obligations include inspecting important components such as brakes, fuel systems, lights, and tires. These parts must undergo regular safety inspections to ensure they meet the required standards.
Trucking companies occasionally take shortcuts when it comes to maintaining their trucks. In order to save money, they may only do the bare minimum. This can lead to accidents caused by inadequate maintenance, such as faulty brakes or worn-out tires, which can cause severe damage. It is the responsibility of trucking companies, maintenance contractors, and truck drivers to collectively ensure that proper maintenance of the trucks is carried out.
G. Bad Weather
Weather conditions can contribute to accidents involving 18 wheeler trucks. These accidents can occur due to various factors, such as strong winds, snow or ice, rain, and fog. Truck drivers need to be extra cautious during bad weather because they have large areas where they cannot see other vehicles and require more time to stop.
According to federal laws, truck drivers have the option to decline driving if they believe it is not safe. Nonetheless, due to the significant pressure to meet delivery timelines, drivers may decide to persist in driving even in adverse weather conditions, consequently raising the likelihood of an accident.
III. How to Proceed Following an 18-Wheeler Accident
It can be overwhelming to figure out what to do after an 18 wheeler crash. Here are some basic steps to take following your accident.
A. Move to Safety
If the accident was not severe and your car can still be driven, relocate your vehicle to prevent another accident. However, if it is safer to stay where you are or if you have suffered major injuries, stay seated until assistance arrives. Use your phone to dial 911 and report the accident to the authorities.
B. Document the Scene
If possible, capture the scene using photographs. Photograph the destruction, wreckage, injuries, and the surrounding surroundings. Request contact information from witnesses. Adjacent establishments might have video recordings of the occurrence.
C. Seek Medical Attention
An 18-wheeler accident carries significant consequences and should not be taken lightly. It is crucial to promptly seek medical assistance without delay. It is advisable to consult a doctor, even if you do not experience any immediate symptoms. It is important to note that certain injuries, such as whiplash, may manifest a couple of days following the accident, making it necessary to undergo a medical examination as soon as possible.
D. Consult with an 18 Wheeler Lawyer
Sometimes, individuals involved in a car crash make the mistake of providing accident statements to insurance companies without seeking advice from a lawyer specializing in 18 wheeler injury cases. Insurance companies do not have a vested interest in providing compensation, as trucking companies, supported by their insurers, will vigorously defend against every claim. It is advisable to rely on the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney to handle negotiations with insurance companies, as this may enhance the likelihood of receiving rightful compensation for any injuries sustained.
IV. How a Lawyer for 18-wheeler Accidents Can Help
Dealing with the consequences of a collision involving a large truck can be quite challenging. However, a legal firm that specializes in handling such accidents can provide valuable assistance in managing your case while you focus on recuperating from your injuries.
hey’ll address questions such as:
- Who’s at fault? There are various parties that could potentially bear responsibility in a collision involving an 18 wheeler. The fault could lie with the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, another driver, or a third-party entity. Identifying the party who acted negligently is crucial in order to receive compensation. A lawyer can assist in determining the negligent parties and building a case in your favor.
- How much compensation can I get? Significant harm can occur as a consequence of a collision involving an 18 wheeler. It is the responsibility of a skilled attorney to guarantee that you receive the necessary financial recompense to aid in your recuperation. This encompasses adequate funds to address medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost earnings, legal charges, as well as costs associated with pain and suffering.
- How to negotiate with insurance companies? The insurance company wants to resolve the matter quickly, which benefits them. They often offer a lower amount in hopes that you will accept. Many individuals lack the skills to negotiate effectively with large insurance companies. However, an attorney experienced in handling accidents involving 18-wheelers knows the strategies employed by insurance companies because they deal with them frequently. They can even the odds and help you secure the highest possible settlement.
V. Use of Valiente Mott’s corporate attorney
You don’t need to handle the overwhelming legal procedure on your own. At Valiente Mott, our lawyers specializing in truck accidents can assist you in maneuvering through the intricacies involved in such cases.
Get in touch with us now to schedule a complimentary consultation. No matter if you require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas or an injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, we are here to provide the support you need.