The Complexities of Truck Crashes
If you or a family member was involved in a collision with a tractor trailer, no one needs to tell you the catastrophic injuries and property damage that can result. Many factors make truck crashes particularly devastating. Likewise, the rules, regulations, and biases in the trucking industry can result in particularly complex legal matters.
The attorneys at CaseyGerry have successfully pursued hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of victims injured in truck crashes. We know how complicated these collisions can be. Below are some of the factors that contribute to the uniqueness of trucking accident lawsuits.
Size and Weight
Tractor trailers are much larger than passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles can be destroyed in a collision with little to no harm to the large truck. In fact, 97 percent of people killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a truck and a passenger vehicle in 2016 were riding in the passenger vehicle.
Because of its size, a truck that crashes can become a hazard in the road that leads to multi-vehicle pileups.
The weight of large trucks is another factor that increases their danger. A fully loaded commercial truck may weigh as much as 25 times that of a passenger vehicle. Rollover accidents and other collisions are even more destructive with all that weight.
Tractor trailers have different regulations than passenger vehicles. For example, truck drivers must drive in certain lanes, and many of them must drive at reduced speeds. Federal law also requires drivers to take breaks to avoid fatigue. An experienced truck accident lawyer who knows the ins and outs of these regulations can more thoroughly investigate whether the truck driver violated the law before a collision.
Truck drivers have more blind spots than drivers in other vehicles. These “no zones” include:
- 20 feet in front of the tractor,
- 30 feet behind the trailer,
- Most of the lane to the driver’s left, and
- Parts of the two lanes to the driver’s right.
Knowing about their limited visibility, motorists should always exercise care around trucks. However, even the most careful drivers are at risk, as you cannot control what other drivers do. If a truck driver cannot see a vehicle in a no-zone, he or she may make a move that could cause a crash.
Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) are substances that may risk people’s health, property, or the environment. HAZMATs include toxic chemicals, fuels, nuclear waste products, and more. They may be liquids, solids and gases. They might also come in the form of dust, fumes, gas, vapor and other forms. Because of these dangers, tractor trailers with HAZMAT cargo must display a warning placard.
HAZMAT trucks are especially dangerous in a collision. The toxic materials can leak and further endanger everyone nearby. Of all the trucks that released HAZMAT in fatal crashes in 2016, 60 percent released flammable liquids like gasoline.
Because of their substantial weight, loaded tractor trailers take much longer to stop. In fact, they typically need a 20 to 40 percent longer distance to stop than cars do. This factor creates additional dangers in scenarios including the following:
- Hazardous road conditions such as ice, snow and rain,
- When a sudden stop is necessary, or
- When the truck driver is distracted.
If a truck driver cannot stop in time, he or she might rear-end another vehicle. The driver might jackknife, roll over, or lose control and sideswipe a nearby car.
Insurance Policies in the Trucking Industry
Due to their added dangers, trucking companies hold larger insurance policies. Their policy could be worth 50 times more than that of a passenger vehicle. To minimize the payout after a truck crash, the insurance company may contact victims to get information they can use to reduce the payment to settle a claim. Without the assistance of an experienced trucking accident lawyer, a person might harm their ability to seek full compensation.
Getting Legal Help After a Truck Crash
More than 3,800 crashes involving trucks involved a fatality in 2016. The same year, more than 100,000 truck crashes resulted in injuries.
If you were injured in a truck collision, we can help protect your rights and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. For more than 70 years, the attorneys at CaseyGerry have been representing people who were hurt by negligent drivers, including many truck drivers. Please call our San Diego law firm at (619) 238-1811 for a confidential consultation.