A semi-truck accident can change your world in an instant. Accidents involving large trucks are some of the most severe types of accidents and can have catastrophic effects on the people involved. Unfortunately, these accidents happen more often in and around Syracuse than we believe.
A closer look at semi-truck accidents
A recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that of all motor vehicle deaths in one year, 11 percent involved large trucks. This number, without question, is frightening. After a semi-truck accident, victims often face a long road to recovery.Thankfully, the law allows victims the right to seek reasonable damages after an accident. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a semi-truck accident, it’s imperative to understand your rights. To learn more, contact an experienced Syracuse semi-truck accident attorney.
A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and a smaller vehicle is no match for a truck of this size. When you look at how these accidents happen, you can truly understand the dangers these vehicles pose and why they often lead to catastrophic injuries. Some of the most common types of semi-truck accidents include:
A semi-truck consists of two main parts; the cab and the trailer. When a semi-trailer is functioning correctly, the trailer and cab move as one. During a jackknife accident, the trailer swings from behind the cab, creating a sharp angle as if you were folding a pocket knife.
The danger with this type of accident is that the driver often has little to no truck control. The trailer can slide into vehicles in adjacent lanes, and the truck is more likely to roll over. These accidents are unpredictable and can happen because of icy roads, high speeds, or brake malfunction.
Underride and override accidents
Any truck accident is scary, but underride and override accidents almost always result in fatalities. These types of accidents happen when a smaller vehicle becomes pulled and pinned under the cab or trailer of the truck. This type of accident can rip off the top of the smaller vehicle and lead to catastrophic results.
Currently, federal law only requires underride guards at the rear of the vehicle, making accidents involving the side and front of a truck high-risk. There have been numerous pushes requiring underride equipment at the front and side of all trucks, but these measures have been unsuccessful.
As the name implies, head-on collisions occur when the front of one vehicle collides with that of another. These types of accidents are scary because of the velocity of each vehicle as they move towards one another. These types of accidents can happen for various reasons, including distracted driving, low visibility, or one of the drivers driving under the influence.
Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of accidents on Syracuse roadways. These accidents happen when the front of one vehicle collides with the back of another vehicle. Large trucks take considerably longer to stop than smaller vehicles, meaning they should allow more space between their truck and the vehicles they follow.
This doesn’t always happen. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 5 percent of all accidents in the study occurred because the truck driver was following too close.
Wide right turn
If you have ever seen a semi-truck make a right turn, you know they require more room. Often, trucks swing into adjacent lanes to ensure they can make the turn. Unfortunately, these types of turns can lead to accidents.
Accidents involving wide right turns can happen when a small vehicle attempts to pass the truck on the right side of the vehicle and becomes trapped in the truck’s pinch point between the cab and the trailer. These accidents can also occur when the driver incorrectly makes the turn maneuver and drives into the path of vehicles in surrounding traffic lanes.
Why do semi-truck accidents happen?
When we consider just how dangerous semi-truck accidents are, you have to consider why these accidents continue to happen and have increased over the past several years. The answer to this question is a combination of human error, mechanical issues, and natural events. Common causes of semi-truck accidents include:
Speeding is one of the leading causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Of the 141,000 trucks involved in the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 32,000 involved a driver driving too fast for conditions.
Speeding increases the likelihood of an accident for many reasons. The faster a driver travels, the longer it takes them to stop. The driver also has less time to react to hazards and make appropriate decisions. Perhaps most importantly, speeding increases the severity of any injuries and the likelihood of a fatality in the event of an accident.
Distracted driving continues to be a significant problem among drivers of both small vehicles and semi-trucks. Whether on a busy New York highway or in a residential Syracuse neighborhood it only takes seconds for an accident to happen. Common distractions include navigation systems, radios, and personal cellular devices for truck drivers. Distracted driving is serious and negligent, and because of this, it may lead to punitive damages in the event of a personal injury case.
Unfortunately, circumstances outside the driver’s control can contribute to an accident. These circumstances can include bad weather, poor lighting, or dangerous road conditions. Truck drivers face tight deadlines and high pressure and often cannot delay their route because of these conditions.
If you are driving in these conditions, use extreme caution and allow trucks extra space. Poor conditions can make drivers unpredictable and cause them to lose control of their vehicles.
The last thing you want to think about is a semi-truck with bad breaks. But the reality is, it happens, and it happens more often than it should. The FMCSA requires drivers and trucking companies to administer daily vehicle inspections. However, these don’t always occur regularly or to the degree that they should.
When a truck suffers from a mechanical defect, there is often little the driver can do when the failure happens. This makes the trucks extremely dangerous and unpredictable, creating a hazardous situation for the truck driver and other drivers on the road.
Truck drivers face increasing demands. Businesses rely on the products that trucks deliver, expecting them on time. When a driver faces delays, they may push harder to meet deadlines. While federal guidelines restrict how many hours a driver can work, drivers may choose to or be forced to work beyond these limits.
Driver fatigue is dangerous and is comparable to driving drunk.
Dangers of driver fatigue include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Poor decision-making
- Diminished visibility
- Tunnel vision
- Falling asleep at the wheel
Every vehicle has blind spots. But the blind spots on semi-trucks are much larger than those of smaller vehicles. As such, truck drivers must constantly monitor their mirrors to watch for vehicles entering and leaving their blind spots.
For large trucks, blind spots exist on all four sides of the vehicle. At the truck’s front, the blind spot extends about 20 feet in front of the cab, and at the rear, this distance is 30 feet. For each side of the truck, you should stay clear of the lanes directly adjacent to it. On the truck’s right, the blind spot can extend to two lanes.
The most common injuries after a semi-truck accident
Semi-truck accidents can lead to severe injuries. It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention after a large truck accident. While you may not feel the immediate effects of an injury, you always want to go to the doctor to rule out anything serious. Common injuries after a semi-truck accident include:
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries happen when the head sustains a hard blow or when there is skull penetration. The CDC reports motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. While the effects of a TBI can be temporary, victims often end up with life-long consequences of these injuries.
Symptoms of a TBI to watch out for include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms or believe you hit your head during an accident, seek medical attention. Traumatic brain injuries can progress quickly and, left untreated, can be fatal.
Spinal cord injuries
Like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries often happen when the cord sustains a severe trauma. And just like TBIs, symptoms may not show up right away. It is essential to monitor any unusual symptoms and consult a doctor if something does not feel right.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may include:
- Extreme pain in the back or neck
- Weakness or tingling in the extremities
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
Broken bones are very common in serious motor vehicle accidents. The force of the collision can be too much for the bone to sustain and can cause a fracture. If you believe you have a broken bone, do not attempt to put weight on the area, as this can make your injury worse.
Treatment for a broken bone may include splints, casts, or surgery. While some people may experience a full recovery after treatment, others may suffer from chronic or recurrent pain or mobility issues.
Mental health issues
A semi-truck accident can be a traumatic experience, and often, it is not one you get over quickly. It is not uncommon for victims of such an event to experience mental health issues, including anxiety, sleep issues, or PTSD.
Mental health concerns are just as serious as physical concerns. If you are struggling after an accident, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are resources available, and they can make things better. If you are working with an attorney, share what you are going through. Your issues are valid and deserve recognition in your semi-truck accident case.
Your actions after a semi-truck accident matter
Nobody knows how they will react after an accident, especially to one of this degree. It is normal to experience emotions after an accident and not know what to do. What you do can directly affect your recovery in the days and weeks that follow your accident.
Remember, your health and personal safety are most important after a severe accident. Everything else can wait. With that, there are some things you can do to assist in your recovery and help if you choose to pursue a legal case.
Actions you should take include:
- Assess your surroundings: While the actual collision may seem like the most dangerous part of a collision, the danger may not be over after impact. Check your surroundings to make sure you are out of the way of oncoming traffic, and there are no impending dangers, including fire or hazardous objects.
- Talk to the other driver if possible: If you can safely move, get the necessary information from the other driver. This includes their name, contact information, and insurance information. If you are hurt, the police can assist you with this process.
- Seek medical attention: You should always go to the doctor after a semi-truck accident. In fact, after an accident of this degree, ambulance transportation is likely your safest choice. When you go to the doctor, be honest about all your symptoms and attend any recommended follow-up care.
- Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer: Semi-truck accidents can cause severe long-term damage. The costs associated with this type of accident are substantial. This is not a cost you should cover on your own. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your case and help you with your next steps.