It is obvious that semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers and other extra-large commercial vehicles are much larger and weigh much more than standard automobiles. It then comes as no surprise that the injuries and damage from an accident involving a truck of this size can be far more catastrophic than the injuries from a smaller vehicle. There are a variety of situations that can lead to a serious truck accident:
- Jack-knifing: When a truck jack-knifes, the driver does not have a lot of time to react. The tendency for a truck to jack-knife increases if the front brakes are removed or de-powered.
- Fuel fires: If a truck catches fire, the most common reason is a battery spark that comes in contact with the truck’s diesel fuel. The best way to avoid this is by protecting the battery from being crushed by not locating it in a vulnerable spot.
- Rollovers: Rollovers are a major cause of fatalities in trucking collisions. There are many factors that contribute to rollovers including driver error, mechanical malfunctions and highway conditions. Driver error includes driving too fast or too close to other vehicles or driving impaired by fatigue or while intoxicated. Mechanical malfunctions include improper load distribution, low pressure in tires and brake failure.
- Braking: Many truck accidents are caused by brake malfunctions. The cause of the malfunction can be attributed to many parties, in combination or individually, such as the driver, the company that loaded the cargo, the party responsible for maintaining the braking system and the brake manufacturer. Air brakes are the only brakes used in trucks. When a truck stops fully at 60 miles per hour, the heat that is generated reaches approximately 600 degrees. If the brakes are not properly set or maintained, or the load is not evenly distributed, the brakes may overheat and cease to function.
Injuries in these types of accidents are usually extensive and often fatal. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh 80,000 pounds and most cars weigh between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds. Because there is a greater likelihood that life-threatening injuries can occur in an accident, truckers must carry insurance with higher liability limits. Consequently, in comparison with automobile accidents, there is usually more money available for compensatory purposes when settling a truck accident lawsuit. Truck drivers must have a special license as well as training, knowledge and experience that an automobile driver does not need to operate a passenger vehicle. If an accident occurs, a claim can be made against the truck company for negligent hiring or training.