Parked Semi-Truck

What To Do After a Crash with a Parked Semi-Truck

If you crash into a semi-truck parked beside a highway travel lane, you may think you are at fault. The fact is that most people believe that if they hit another vehicle from behind, they are automatically to blame for the accident. This is not necessarily the case.

Collisions with 18-wheelers parked beside highways are dangerous and occur with alarming frequency. Because of this, semi-trucks are only permitted to park on highways in emergency situations. When parking is necessary due to mechanical failure or other trouble, the driver must warn passing motorists of the truck’s presence.

When motorists are involved in an accident with a parked truck, attorneys must quickly determine why the truck was parked and whether the driver complied with all federally mandated safety procedures. A driver that parks for personal reasons or does not comply with mandated safety procedures may be liable for harm caused by the truck’s presence. Additionally, trucking companies cannot escape liability when the breakdown could have been avoided with preventative maintenance.

Contact us online or call us at (281) 801-5617 to learn how our truck accident attorneys can help you recover compensation for your injuries. 

Rules Governing Trucks Parked Beside Highways

As a general rule, truckers must park in designated rest areas to avoid the risk of injury. When roadside parking is required, federal regulation 49 CFR 392.22 governs truckers warning other motorists of the truck’s presence.

  • The truck driver must immediately turn on the trailer’s hazard warning signal flashers when parking on the shoulder of a highway for reasons other than a traffic stop.
  • The truck’s flashers must be on while the trucker places warning devices.
  • Warning devices must be placed as soon as practicable, but no more than ten minutes from the time of the stop.
  • The trucker must place warning devices approved by law, which include three bi-directional emergency reflective triangles, red flags, fuses, and liquid-burning flares.
  • The warning devices must be placed:
    – On the traffic side, four paces from the truck in the direction of oncoming traffic;
    – 40 paces from the 18-wheeler in the direction of oncoming traffic within the center of the shoulder; and
    – 40 paces away from oncoming traffic.
  • If stopped on a shoulder that is within 500 feet of a curve, hill, or other obstruction, the warning device must be placed in the direction of the obstruction, 100 to 500 feet from the stopped truck.

Truckers are required to strictly comply with these rules to protect innocent motorists from crashing into the back of their parked vehicles. Failure to comply with these regulations may subject the driver and company to liability for harm caused by a crash.

Accidents Caused by Illegally Parked Tractor Trailers

A rear-end collision is the primary accident caused by a parked semi-truck. Crashing into a stationary object subjects the body to significant force. In fact, a 20 MPH vehicle coming to an instant stop is equivalent to a seven-ton block lying on your chest. Because of the sheer size of a fully loaded 18-wheeler, crashing into the back of a truck is like crashing into a steel wall, often resulting in near-instantaneous deceleration. Since impact force is determined by the mass of an object multiplied by its deceleration, these accidents routinely result in catastrophic injuries and death.

Often, crashing into a parked semi-truck may result in an underride accident. An underride accident occurs when a passenger vehicle slams into the back or side of a tractor-trailer and slides underneath the trailer – causing severe injuries or fatalities. According to the Government Accountability Office, over 200 people lose their lives in underride crashes yearly. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of underride guards in stopping vehicles from sliding underneath the rear of a trailer.

Preventing Collisions with 18-Wheelers Parked Beside Highways

Truck drivers must follow strict federal and state regulations regarding where and how trucks can be parked. Big rig drivers should get plenty of sleep before traveling and keep their trucks adequately maintained. In the event of an unavoidable breakdown, commercial drivers must follow federal law to warn passing motorists of the disabled truck.

Commercial truck companies should train their drivers to avoid stopping on public roads. Additionally, trucking companies must properly maintain their trucks to prevent breakdowns. FMCSA §396.7 states that commercial motor vehicles must not be operated in a condition likely to cause an accident. Poorly maintained and inadequately repaired trucks present a high risk of accidents and should not be operated on public roadways.

Contacting a Parked Truck Accident Attorney

In parked truck accidents, the truck driver may be liable for legal damages when the truck was illegally stopped or when proper warning devices were not activated. Even if the semi was stopped due to a legitimate breakdown, the trucking company may be responsible for failing to properly maintain its vehicle, increasing the likelihood of a serious accident.

Rear-end accidents are complicated cases that require a thorough investigation of actions taken prior to the crash. Consulting a trained attorney experienced in truck accident litigation provides the best opportunity to recover damages for the injuries sustained in these accidents.

Our Houston truck accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you. Call us at (281) 801-5617 or contact us online to learn how we can help you recover compensation after a truck accident.

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