Commercial trucks are frequently used to move goods from ports and warehouses to their destinations. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has only increased the amount of online commerce. According to Forbes, U.S. retailers saw an unprecedented 68 percent growth of online sales from April 2019 to 2020.
Commercial trucks are ubiquitous across the nation’s highways, and truck drivers are often under tremendous pressure to deliver goods on time. When a truck accident happens, the consequences can be deadly. Knowing the different types of truck accidents and causes of truck accidents can help drivers of passenger vehicles stay safe when sharing the road with trucks.
Taller vehicles, including commercial trucks, are at greater risk for rollover accidents. Taking a curve at too high of a speed or changing lanes too quickly can cause a truck to rollover on its side. Other causes of rollover collisions include hazardous road conditions and improper cargo loading. Correct loading procedures are important for weight distribution to minimize the risk of rolling over.
In a jackknife accident, the trailer of the truck swings out and ends up at a 90 degree angle from the cab. A jackknife truck accident usually happens when the driver brakes too quickly and the weight of the cargo causes the trailer to move forward against the traction of the cab. Jackknife accidents are extremely dangerous because the truck often ends up sprawled across the highway, impacting all lanes of traffic.
Unsecured Load Accidents
When a truck’s cargo is not properly secured, the driver can lose the load they are carrying, causing the vehicles around them to crash. Cargo may be strewn everywhere for miles, creating obstacles for cars or making roadways slippery if the cargo is liquid. If the truck is carrying a hazardous substance like gasoline, nitrogen, or other chemicals, there is a risk of toxic chemical exposure in addition to injuries from crashes.
Tire Blowout Accidents
Trucks have many tires that require regular maintenance. A tire blowout can cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck with devastating consequences for the other vehicles in the near vicinity.
When a truck comes to an unexpected and sudden stop, smaller vehicles behind it can be pushed underneath the trailer. This type of accident is particularly deadly with a high rate of severe injuries and fatalities.
Very few passenger vehicles can withstand a head-on collision with a truck. Head-on collisions can happen when impatient drivers try to pass trucks on small roads and misjudge the oncoming traffic. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and drunk driving can also cause a truck driver to swerve into the opposite lane, causing a head-on collision.
A truck may rear-end another vehicle if the driver does not leave enough following room, is speeding, or is driving while distracted by a cellphone or navigation system.
Blind Spot Accidents
A commercial truck has a much larger blind spot than a passenger vehicle, so if the driver does not check carefully before changing lanes, multiple cars in the adjacent lane may be hit or run off the road.
This type of accident happens when a truck driver runs a red light or stop sign and hits another car traveling across the intersection on its side. The impact can cause serious injuries because the passengers in the other vehicle have nothing separating them from the truck except glass windows and the side walls of their car.
Wide Turn Accidents
To make a tight turn a truck may have to swing out in the other direction first. Sometimes, the driver fails to look carefully before they start to swing wide and hits vehicles in the adjacent lane as they turn.
Almost all truck accidents are caused by some type of driver error. In some cases, it is because the truck driver has not been properly trained by the company that hired them. In others, the driver has many years of experience but may be exhausted from spending too many hours on the road or is driving under the influence of drugs taken to combat fatigue and sleepiness.
Irresponsible trucking companies may skimp on maintenance for their trucks or overload them to attempt to save money; both tactics can cause an accident. Tight delivery deadlines can also lead truck drivers to speed recklessly, follow other drivers too closely, and violate hours-of-service regulations.
What are Some Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Those fortunate enough to survive a crash with a truck may be left with devastating injuries. Some common injuries caused from truck accidents include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries, including spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Internal organ injuries
Accident victims may also suffer from emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, anxiety, and depression. These conditions can be just as debilitating as physical injuries and can occur during or after recovery.
Liability in Truck Accident Cases
Determining liability in truck accidents is complicated. Unlike a car accident where liability usually rests with one driver, several parties may be involved, including the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the trucking company, the company that was transporting the cargo, and the company responsible for repairing and maintaining the truck.
Virginia law sets a high bar for injured plaintiffs in that the burden rests on the person filing the complaint to prove that the other driver was 100 percent responsible for causing the accident. This means that someone who was seriously injured in an accident but also contributed to it cannot make a claim against the other parties for compensation. However, if the truck driver or another party was solely responsible for the accident, anyone injured may be able to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Families who lost a loved one in a truck accident may make a claim for wrongful death. If there is a chance that the accident was caused by a manufacturing defect in one of the many parts of the truck, a third-party lawsuit may be filed.
Consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer can help clarify what legal options exist for the unique circumstances of any accident. A good lawyer should be able to do the following:
- Investigate the cause of the truck accident.
- Gather evidence to build a strong case for a claim, including the police report, driving record of the truck driver, maintenance logs for the truck, cellphone records of the truck driver, and what kind of training the driver received.
- Go to trial if necessary, or negotiate a settlement that is fair and takes the client’s present and future needs into account.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Advocate for Victims Injured From All Types of Truck Accidents
Injuries from a truck accident can be serious and life-altering, sometimes jeopardizing a person’s ability to earn a living. If you have been injured in a truck collision, contact a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer right away. Our legal team at East Coast Trial Lawyers will fight to hold the responsible party accountable. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.