If a victim was injured in a truck accident, they may be left with serious, costly injuries. After the dust settles, a victim should reach out to a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we protect the rights of truck accident victims.
Why are Truck Accidents Often Deadly?
Truck accidents are more than twice as likely to cause personal injury to those in nearby cars. If a large commercial vehicle hits a car, the force of the crash is obvious. Keep in mind that a large truck is several times heavier than a car, and these crashes can be even more fatal when they involve motorcycles, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
Large trucks do not operate like small cars, and they are extremely difficult to drive. Since large trucks are complex machines, there are many systems that could fail at any time. Truck drivers are expected to inspect their vehicles, but these inspections might be skipped or performed poorly. Trucking companies are expected to abide by strict federal regulations, and they must keep their vehicles in good condition.
There could be a breakdown in the system when the truck is loaded, or the truck might succumb to poor road or weather conditions. Fortunately, a truck accident lawyer handles these dangerous accidents. If someone is killed in a truck accident, a wrongful death suit can be filed on the behalf of the family, and a lawyer will ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for their reckless actions.
What are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents can occur in a variety of scenarios. Large trucks are difficult to steer, and they are more susceptible to poor road conditions. Common types of truck accidents include the following:
Sideswipe Accidents: Sideswipe accidents are common with commercial vehicles. Most often, this type of accident happens on the highway when the truck fails to stay in its lane. It can cause a cascade of problems for other drivers on the highway who are not expecting the wreck. One way to try to avoid this is to remain out of the truck driver’s blind spots. Some trucks even have warning stickers that alert drivers of these severe blind spots.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents: A truck could easily involve multiple vehicles as it slides out of control, sideswipes more than one vehicle, or jackknifes. Large trucks that are thundering through stop lights with no regard for traffic signals can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Large trucks that do not stop in time could severely injure those that they hit.
Accidents Caused by Truckers Losing Control of Their Vehicles: Since these trucks are so complex, the truck driver could lose control of the vehicle at any time. The brakes, engine, or steering could fail, or the trailer could detach from the truck. A large truck may start swaying because the trailer is no longer attached properly. Motorists need to give large trucks enough room so that they reduce their risk of being involved in an accident. Another common occurrence is when a truck cannot stop and then slides sideways across the highway. The force of an out-of-control truck can cause smaller vehicles to flip or roll over.
Jackknife Accidents: When truck drivers try to stop suddenly during an excessive speed, sometimes a jackknife accident happens. This is when the heavy trailer swings to the far right or left and then folds in on itself. An experienced lawyer knows that it can be difficult to know precisely what happened during the accident and will look into the case and collect as much evidence as possible before filing a claim.
What Causes These Accidents?
When truck accidents occur, it is important to understand how they might happen. These accidents occur every day on American roads, but they are often difficult to understand because the aftermath of the crash is so devastating. When an attorney begins to review a case, they know that these are the most likely factors. Car drivers should be on the lookout for the following common causes of truck accidents:
Speeding: Speeding falls under driver error, and truck drivers may feel pressure to get to their destinations quickly, or they may choose to drive too fast because they believe they can maintain control over the trucks. Motorists will speed because they feel as though they have complete control over their vehicles. A small car, however, can surprise a large truck driver who is slowly changing lanes or needs to make an emergency stop.
Drowsy Driving: Drowsy driving can result from work-related pressure. The driver knows they need to get their route finished as fast as possible, and they believe they can stay awake long enough to make good time. When other drivers see a large truck weaving on the road, they may want to report it because the driver might be drowsy or asleep. Truck drivers who are sleepy should pull over or go to a truck stop to recover and rest.
Imbalanced Loads: Improper loads are often the fault of those who loaded the truck. A truck driver, however, must inspect their rig every day before they start driving. Without a proper inspection, the driver could easily begin their day with a vehicle that is ready to tip over.
Driving Under the Influence: Drivers may drink or use illegal substances while driving, causing horrible accidents because of their poor judgement. At the same time, some truck drivers use prescription medication to remain well. Drivers are responsible for driving only when they feel that they can drive safely. Some prescription medications make it very difficult to drive, and the packaging might even advise the patient to not drive or operate heavy machinery.
Hazardous Road Conditions: Poor weather conditions should prompt truck drivers to pull over and turn on their hazard lights. It is better to wait for bad weather to pass than drive through rainstorms, where heavy winds that can tip over trailers and cause the driver to lose control.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: All drivers should be aware of aggressive driving on the road and avoid these drivers. Aggressive truck drivers, however, are much more dangerous. Calm down, take a deep breath, and report any aggressive drivers to local law enforcement. Road rage might start out as a simple misunderstanding or lane change that was a little too close. Do not let these situations spiral out of control. Anger has no place on the road because two angry drivers can put dozens of people in danger.
Should Motorists Avoid Large Trucks?
Motorists should try to avoid large trucks as much as possible because of the following:
Large Trucks Cannot Adjust to Sudden Movements: This is a major problem because most truck drivers do not have anywhere to go when cars cause truckers to swerve. The truck driver could avoid the impending accident, but the trucker could cause another accident in the process.
Truck Drivers Cannot Brake Quickly: When a motorist gets in front of a large truck, drives slowly, or taps the brakes, it is impossible for the truck driver to stop suddenly. The brakes on the truck could easily overheat, and the truck cannot stop. This type of driving is rude and dangerous. When drivers are in locations with hills or mountains, truckers have very little control over their trucks and the brakes. This is why avoiding large trucks is helpful for everyone.
Trucks Have Large Blind Spots: Truck drivers are sitting much higher than other cars on the road, and it is difficult for them to see cars in blind spots. Smaller vehicles can get stuck under large trucks if they rear-end these vehicles or initiate sideswipe crashes. This is also a problem when a passenger car tries to turn at an intersection with a large truck; the trailer can cut the corner and hit the car. Large trucks are not built for emergency stops, so it is important that car drivers give truckers plenty of room. A truck accident lawyer will review every cause and learn what led to a victim’s accident.
How can a Motorcyclist Avoid an Accident?
Motorcycles should be aware of large trucks while driving. Motorcyclists are in danger because they move quickly; riders often dart through traffic and truckers cannot see people on motorcycles. While large truck drivers must take care to protect other people on the road, motorcyclists should also be very careful. When sharing the road with trucks, motorcyclists should do the following:
Avoid Riding the Lines of the Road: A motorcycle rider should not ride the lines of the road because a vehicle that plans to change lanes could sideswipe a motorcycle without even seeing it.
Avoid Speeding: Speeding also plays a part in truck accidents because motorcycles are small and difficult to see. A large truck that is planning to get in the next lane could easily strike a motorcyclist that bolts through traffic.
Avoid Cutting Off Trucks: Cutting off large trucks makes it difficult for truck drivers to stop, and rear-end crashes involving large trucks and motorcycles can be lethal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that motorcycle riders are 40 times more likely to die in crashes when large trucks are involved.
Let Truck Drivers Pass: Motorcycle riders should also let large trucks pass when it is possible. It is better for the motorcyclist to keep the truck in their sights instead of trying to blow past them.
How can Bicyclists Stay Safe Around Trucks?
Bicyclists are in the same situation as motorcyclists, but they need to be aware of when they will encounter large trucks. Bicyclists on rural roads need to keep to the shoulder and look both ways before going through any intersections. A large truck that is driving down these roads will never see the bicyclist.
How can Pedestrians Avoid Accidents?
Pedestrians also need to step back from the curb when they know large trucks will be turning at intersections. A large truck could clip the intersection and pedestrians could be hurt. A pedestrian should not cross the road when there is no crosswalk.
Dealing with Trucks and Insurance Companies After Accidents
Insurance companies for commercial driving companies have lawyers ready to fight every injury case. If a victim is in an accident with a commercial vehicle, they will likely get a call from their insurance company. They will want the victim to make a statement, and they might offer money to make the claim go away. Do not take it, that is usually a quick settlement to prevent a victim from recovering money for their injuries and pain. Remember, the commercial driver’s insurance is in the business of minimizing any payouts; they are not looking out for accident victims.
Who is Liable for Large Truck Accidents?
A truck accident can become complicated because liability can fall in a few places. When a lawyer investigates a truck accident, they will examine the following:
Truck Driver: When the accident occurs, the driver could have erred when driving. They could have been speeding, intoxicated, driving an improperly loaded trailer, distracted, or driving too fast for conditions. A lawyer can determine if the truck driver did anything that caused the accident. Some of this information might come from the police report, and a legal team can conduct their own investigation.
Other Drivers: Another driver may have caused the accident, and that is why a police report must be filed. A lawyer needs that information, as well as insurance or personal information from others who were involved in the accident. A lawyer can use eyewitness statements and scene reconstructions to determine who caused the accident.
Trucking Company: The trucking company may have pressured their drivers to speed, drive outside of federal regulations, or drive while drowsy. The trucking company might not have repaired or maintained the truck properly, or they may have sent drivers out on the road who were not trained. They might have even chosen drivers who were not technically licensed to drive commercial vehicles.
Leasing Company: When a logistics company does not repair or maintain the vehicles properly, it can be held liable for the accident. A driver cannot prevent accidents when they are in a malfunctioning truck.
Mechanic: A mechanic who is not properly repairing or servicing these vehicles can be held accountable for the accident. This requires receipts and testimonials from the trucking company showing that they believed the work had been done.
Manufacturer: The manufacturer of the truck or the truck’s parts can be held accountable for the accident if they knowingly allowed those parts to be used on the road. Recalls may have been ignored, or the company may have used substandard materials to create these parts.
Government or Private Entities: Additionally, a government or private entity may have caused an obstruction in the road. Construction crews or government entities that make the road impossible to drive on, that do not mark the road properly, or leave debris on the road can be held liable.
How can a Lawyer Help?
A truck accident lawyer will ensure that a victim’s case is thoroughly reviewed and also file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the dependents of anyone who died in the accident, if necessary.
Our Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Seek Maximum Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
After a truck accident happens, you can trust our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we have experience in all types of truck accident cases. These cases can be much more complicated because of the liability issues raised when a trucking company, driver, or third party could be responsible. Call us today at 757-352-2237 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we work with accident victims throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.