According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are over 13 million registered trucks in the U.S., and this does not take into consideration trucks that enter the country from Mexico and Canada. These vehicles are an essential part of our economy and are vital to delivering goods to stores, businesses, and customers. However, when these trucks cause collisions, the devastation can change lives.
What Kinds of Truck Accidents Are Common, And What Kinds of Injuries and Damages Often Result?
Trucks, including tractor-trailers, tankers, and other commercial vehicles, often have safety systems to guard against collisions and injury. Despite this, crashes can and do happen. Trucks can get into side-swipe, head-on, and T-bone accidents, just like any vehicle. The size and weight of large trucks, however, can also put them at risk of other types of collisions, including:
- Rollovers. Trucks tend to be top-heavy, which can make them subject to rollovers, especially in cases where a driver is speeding. Tankers and trucks with incorrectly loaded cargo are also more vulnerable to rollovers if their weight shifts.
- Jackknife accidents. Jackknife accidents happen when the cab and tractor-trailer are at a 90-degree angle to each other. This is usually caused by sudden braking.
- Under ride. These collisions cause passenger cars to become lodged under a tractor-trailer. They can be caused by a truck suddenly braking and they often lead to fatalities for the passengers of the smaller vehicle.
- Swing wide accidents. Trucks need more room than cars when making turns. In some cases, cars and pedestrians can get trapped or crushed by a truck driver making a wide turn.
- Blindspot crashes. Large trucks have many blind spots behind and along the sides of the vehicle. Smaller cars can be crushed, forced off the road, or sideswiped if they are in this “no man’s land” when a truck turns or changes lanes.
- Tire blowouts. The tens of thousands of pounds of cargo commercial trucks carry places a lot of pressure on tires. When tire blowouts happen, they can cause collisions if the truck driver loses control of the vehicle or if pieces of tire fly at other cars.
- Lost load. When an incorrectly secured load falls from a truck, it can crash into other vehicles. If cargo is flammable or dangerous, it can cause further devastation to anyone in the area.
Any of these types of collisions can cause serious injuries and even fatalities. The average loaded tractor-trailer weighs 40 tons, compared to about 1.5 tons for an average passenger car. Obviously, when two such unevenly matched vehicles collide, the results can be devastating and can lead to serious injuries, including fractures, lacerations, spinal cord and back injuries, head trauma, amputations, crushing injuries, and other serious injuries.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
Determining truck accident liability is important if you have been injured. Knowing who the liable parties are can allow you to file a legal claim against anyone who caused the crash, and this allows you to seek compensation so you do not pay for the many costs of your injuries out of pocket.
However, truck accident liability can be challenging to determine because there may be multiple liable parties involved. In a collision with another car, the driver could be at fault. With a commercial truck, however, the driver might be hired by the trucking company and might be hauling cargo owned by a third party. In this situation, there may be many possible liable parties, including:
- The manufacturer of the truck, truck tires, or truck components
- The trucking company or carrier
- The driver
- The company that hired the driver
- The municipality or government responsible for the roads or road signs where the collision took place
- The vendors responsible for maintaining the truck, loading or unloading the truck, and other services
- The cargo’s owner
It is unlikely you will determine all liable parties on your own. Often, it requires a thorough investigation to determine truck accident liability. If you have been injured, a good option is to speak with a truck accident attorney soon after your collision. An attorney may be able to take immediate steps to safeguard evidence and to start an investigation into all the causes of your crash and injuries.
How Do You Gather Evidence After a Truck Accident to Determine Liability?
If you are in a truck accident, there are several things you can do at once to start documenting your injuries and the potential cause of the accident. At the scene, if you can, take photos of the accident and surrounding area. Even photos taken with your phone can help. Also get the contact information for any potential witnesses and write down any details you remember as soon as possible. If the police become involved, get a copy of the police report and get a copy of any medical records if you are injured. All this information can help your attorney determine liability.
Once you hire an attorney, your attorney can gather additional information, including data from the “black box” of the truck and any footage from nearby security cameras. Your attorney may use a court order to secure company records, statements from carrier employees, and truck driver logs recording hours driven. A truck accident attorney may also work with accident reconstruction specialists, expert witnesses, and investigators to determine truck accident liability.
How Can an Experienced Attorney Like Johnson Garcia Ensure That Those Liable Pay for the Injuries and Damages Caused?
If you have been in a truck accident, you may need an experienced attorney to file a claim, investigate liability, and guide you through the personal injury lawsuit process. We founded Johnson Garcia Law after successfully representing international corporations because we wanted to help those who needed our assistance. Today, we bring more than 30 years of combined experience to the table to help injured plaintiffs seek fair compensation for their injuries.
At Johnson Garcia, we work tirelessly to find liable parties and to hold them accountable so those they injure are not stuck with medical bills and other costs. With a track record of success and clients who recommend us highly, we are here to help. If you have been injured, contact Johnson Garcia Law today for a free consultation.