Common Types of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
The type of truck accident, along with the cause of the truck accident, provides helpful information on who is responsible for a truck crash and what evidence is needed to hold the wrongdoer accountable. Below are some of the most common types of truck accidents that result in liability.
- Rear-end collisions – When a passenger car gets hit from behind by a big rig, serious damage can occur. Depending on the truck’s speed and the severity of the impact, the car’s occupants may suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. Rear-end accidents can happen for any number of reasons, but common causes include brake failure, driver inattention, fatigue, and even intoxication. These accidents can easily be avoided if the truck driver simply practices defensive driving and follows the established rules. By keeping their rigs well-maintained, making sure they get plenty of rest and focusing on driving at all times, truck drivers can keep accidents like this from ever taking place.
- Unsafe lane change accidents – All vehicles have blind spots when driving; that’s why in order to make a safe lane change, you must use a turn signal and check for cars. Trucks are no different, except their blind spots are much bigger. Truck drivers still have a duty to check blind spots when they are changing lanes and take reasonable steps to ensure there is not a vehicle or obstacle in their blind spot. They are required to manage the space around their vehicles, including signaling lane changes and checking their mirrors to avoid hitting other vehicles. Failure to take preventative actions can result in serious accidents.
- Intersection collisions – When a tractor-trailer is carrying a full load, it can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making it slow to start and stop. Therefore, the driver must take this fact into consideration when assessing the amount of time needed to get through an intersection. Misjudging the ability to make it through an intersection safely can cause major accidents. Because of their size, some truck drivers think they own the road, and that other motorists will yield to the truck. However, truckers must follow traffic laws like everyone else, yielding the right-of-way to those around them. When a trucker fails to yield at an intersection, accidents occur.
- Right-turn accidents – The right side of a truck is the largest blind spot a truck driver has, making right turns very dangerous if not done with extreme caution. If a truck driver makes a right turn at the wrong time, any vehicle to his right will be crushed. These collisions can be prevented if the trucker is fully aware of his surroundings and turns only when he is certain it is safe to do so.
- Left-turn accidents – When a trucker makes a left turn in front of oncoming traffic, the law requires him to yield. However, sometimes a truck driver will misjudge the speed of oncoming cars, thinking he can make it through in time. Or maybe he is in a hurry and thinks the approaching cars will stop rather than hit a big truck. But these cars are likely not expecting the truck to pull out in front of them since they have the right-of-way and may not have time to stop. So the oncoming vehicle either crashes into the semi-truck or, if the car decides to swerve to avoid hitting the truck, may collide with other vehicles or objects like telephone or light poles. Accidents like this can be disastrous, even deadly. Truck drivers can avoid these dangerous accidents if they wait until they have a clear path to safely complete their left turn, as required by law.
- Buttonhook left turn – Depending on the angle of the road, truck drivers may need to make a buttonhook left turn. A buttonhook left turn requires the trucker to move right before making a wide, sweeping left turn. This allows the truck to approach the street straight on and helps avoid running into objects. Truckers that make buttonhook turns without proper signals risk running into unsuspecting motorists.
- Underride accidents – An underride truck accident occurs when a smaller car runs into the side or rear of a tractor-trailer and goes underneath it. These types of collisions are some of the deadliest accidents on the road. Every year over 300 people die nationwide in underride wrecks. Underride accidents usually occur because of weather conditions, damaged taillights, inadequate signals, sudden braking, or a lack of adequate underride guards. Underride guards are fixed to the back of an 18-wheeler to prevent smaller vehicles from ending up under the trailer. However, the placement or design of the guard doesn’t provide enough protection when crashes happen. Additionally, although rearguards are required by law, side guards are optional and many trailers do not have them.
- Head-on collisions – When a car collides with a truck head-on, the damage is inevitably going to be significant, and the harm to the vehicle’s occupants is catastrophic and often fatal. Common causes of these tragic accidents are truck driver fatigue, inattention or distraction. Sometimes drug and alcohol use is to blame. These crashes also happen when equipment failure happens unexpectantly. Tire failure can occur when a tire is defective, and brakes can fail to work properly or go out completely if not properly maintained.
- Rollover accidents – An accident in which a truck rolls over endangers the life of the truck driver as well as the lives of everyone else in the vicinity. One primary cause of truck rollover accidents is truck drivers going around corners too fast. Sudden tire blowouts are also a major cause of truck rollover accidents. Another major cause is an imbalanced load, which causes a higher center of gravity. This is why it is imperative that truck drivers adequately inspect the load before driving and check their tires for signs of wear. When there is a rollover accident, knowing what the driver was doing at the time of the crash is insufficient to determine the cause of the accident – information about the cargo and the condition of the tires must also be obtained.
- Spilled cargo accidents – If the cargo shifts in the truck, the sudden movement can make the truck’s center of gravity shift, which can cause the tractor-trailer to jackknife or rollover. But another consequence of improperly loaded or unsecured cargo is falling debris or other objects from an 18-wheeler. Traffic safety research shows that unsecured cargo causes more than 25,000 crashes, including about 80 to 90 fatalities each year. Cargo loads must be properly secured and strapped down or stored in appropriate containers; they also must be properly distributed. If the people who load the cargo neglect their duty to safely secure the cargo, or the truck driver fails to inspect the cargo or ensure that it is safe before taking it on the road, catastrophes ensue, and these negligent parties are liable for the resulting damages.
- Loose trailer accidents – Whenever a truck is pulling a trailer, it is imperative that the trailer be attached securely. If it is not, then the trailer can break loose and separate from the tractor. As soon as a trailer becomes disconnected from the tractor cab, it starts rolling or skidding out of control, endangering anyone or anything in its path and leading to injury and death. Equipment malfunction is often to blame for runaway trailer situations. Regular inspection and maintenance by truck operators and commercial trucking mechanics are the only ways to prevent these accidents from happening. Making sure that the tractor and trailer are securely connected and that safety chains are in place and functioning can prevent these tragic accidents and save lives.
Contact a Trained Truck Accident Attorney
The Ammons Law Firm has prosecuted truck-related accidents for over thirty years and has successfully recovered over $1 billion in compensation from wrongdoers. We are committed to helping each of our clients recover fair compensation under the law so they can move forward with their life without financial worry. If you or a family member were injured in a truck accident, contact our Houston truck accident lawyers today to learn how we can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
Our Houston truck accident lawyers are here to help you. Contact us to learn how you can recover compensation after a truck accident.