Even the most confident of drivers can feel pretty intimidated by the semi-trucks that roam America’s highways. After all, a fully loaded truck might weigh as much as 80,000 pounds as it rumbles down the road at high speeds. Your car, pickup, or SUV, on the other hand, might weigh 6,000 pounds at the outside, and may weigh as little as half that amount.
You could think of semis as the enormous dinosaurs of the road—and everyone else is just trying to stay out of their way. If you are some sort of small creature just trying to get from here to there, you definitely do not want to tangle with a tyrannosaurus or a triceratops or a therizinosaurus, right? (And just to put that in perspective, the therizinosaurus only weighed 11,000 pounds compared to the 80,000 pounds hurtling down the road in the form of a fully-loaded semi-truck!)
You don’t want to tangle with a semi-truck. But accidents do happen, and knowing about the different kinds of potential accidents is a good first step toward knowing what your legal options might be following an encounter with a semi.
Type of Commercial Truck Accidents
Here is a partial list and description of the kinds of accidents commonly associated with commercial trucks.
- Rear-end or head-on. Whether a truck hits you from the back or the front, the impact is likely to be substantial. These sorts of crashes may result from mechanical failure (for example, a rear-end collision may occur if the truck’s brakes fail), from driver inattention or fatigue (for example, a head-on collision could happen if a driver crosses over into the wrong lane), or by physics (for example, an overloaded trailer may be unable to slow down or stop on a steep incline).
- Jackknife. When a truck’s trailer skids out and ends up at a 90-degree angle from the cab, the truck is said to have jackknifed. As the driver loses control—perhaps due to weather conditions or a need to brake too hard too quickly—the truck becomes an immediate hazard for any surrounding vehicles. Those vehicles may collide with the truck, collide with one another in an attempt to avoid the truck, or end up in the ditch.
- Rollover. Tire blowouts, high winds, uneven loading, or tricky weather conditions can lead to a rollover accident, in which the trailer (and sometimes the cab) ends up on its side, potentially blocking the road or even landing atop another vehicle.
- Underride. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle—like your car, for example, becomes lodged beneath a semi-truck trailer. This might happen if a truck stops suddenly in front of you, especially if you have been following closely or weather conditions are hazardous.
- Left turn. The wide and often slow left turns made by trucks can lead to accidents as oncoming traffic may not have time to avoid the vehicle when they reach the intersection. (As a side note: the dangers of left turns led to UPS creating a “few to no left turns” policy decades ago. A UPS truck may be smaller than a semi, but it is still big enough to make left turns more dangerous.)
- Cargo related. If a semi-truck or delivery vehicle bearing cargo is in an accident, there are a couple of potential issues. First, the cargo itself may be hazardous. But even if it is not, any cargo that is spilled over the road becomes a hazard and can lead to pileups and other significant issues for drivers.
The Potential for Serious Injury Is Significant
Any of the crashes described above—and others as well—can lead to serious injuries for those involved. If you are involved in a crash with a semi-truck, you could suffer broken bones, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries. Worst case: you could be killed.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident involving a truck, you need to hire an attorney right away. A Griffen & Stevens attorney can investigate the crash, work to protect your rights, and advocate for an appropriate recovery on your behalf—all on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay unless you win your case.
Your initial consultation with us is free, and setting up an appointment is easy using the contact form on our website.