The U.S. economy is heavily dependent on the trucking industry. Over 70 percent of freight transported annually is moved on our roads by trucks. This accounts for a whopping $671 billion of retail and manufactured goods delivered just in the U.S. and an additional $490 billion transported between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
With over 15.5 million trucks moving goods across the country, passenger vehicles and trucks will inevitably get into accidents. Unfortunately, due to the difference in size between cars and trucks, those in passenger vehicles are in far greater danger and thousands of people lose their lives in these kinds of commercial vehicle accidents each year.
Common Types of Accidents
Because they are such unique vehicles, trucks are involved in a variety of different accidents, some more serious than others. Some of the most common types of truck accidents are listed below.
Tire blowouts can cause vehicles to veer uncontrollably and erratically. While this is a serious situation in a passenger vehicle, the danger is multiplied when the vehicle with the blowout weighs tens of thousands of pounds. Tire blowouts are often caused by poor tire maintenance practices, such as not checking to ensure that tires are properly inflated or that they have sufficient tread. In addition to causing a vehicle to behave in unexpected ways, the tires themselves often come loose from the vehicle’s wheels and fly off into traffic, creating a serious hazard for other drivers.
When a truck stops suddenly, the car following it may not have sufficient time to stop, causing it to impact the back of the truck. Often, the passenger vehicle ends up underneath the back end of the truck, this is called an underride accident, causing severe damage to the car and catastrophic or even fatal injury to the car’s occupants. These can be the most serious types of truck accidents and result in both the most fatalities and most severe injuries to those involved.
Rear-end collisions are often caused by inattentive driving. A trucker failing to observe a stopped car in front of the truck can lead to serious consequences, mostly for the car, while the truck will likely escape fairly unscathed. Rear-end collisions, if there is a line of cars in front of the one impacted, can lead to pile-ups, as the car hit by the truck is often forcefully pushed into the car in front of it.
When a truck is stopping and/or turning while improperly loaded, the movement may cause the truck to lose its load while on the road. Such a spill would obviously create obstacles for other cars which must attempt to avoid them. Like rear-end collisions, these types of accidents can end up involving multiple cars if the car closest to the truck swerves into another lane or brakes suddenly.
Front-end collisions occur when a truck and car collide with each other with their front ends. These accidents occur when either the truck or car crosses the center lane. These accidents can have devastating consequences because they most often occur while both vehicles are traveling at a higher rate of speed. They are the most difficult types of accidents to predict and drive defensively against, as there is usually little warning that the truck is going to cross the center lane.
All vehicles have blind spots—areas that are not visible in the rearview or side mirrors. Unlike drivers in cars, truck drivers are not able to look over their shoulders to check their blind spots because of the trailers attached to their cabs. When truckers don’t notice a car in their blind spots, they may make unsafe lane changes. Divers of passenger cars should remember that trucks have large blind spots and to avoid driving in them. In addition to lane changes, when trucks make wide turns (one in which the driver veers into a farther lane to make a turn into a nearer one), a car in its blind spot may be trapped with nowhere to escape a collision.
If a truck driver stops suddenly, the truck may jackknife. Jackknifing happens when the cab and trailer end up at 90 degrees. A jackknifed truck presents a hazard to other drivers who may have to attempt to stop suddenly. Depending on the speed of the car, a collision may cause serious bodily injury or property damage and cause pile-ups.
When one vehicle hits another perpendicularly, it is called a T-Bone accident. These most often occur when the truck runs a red light or stop sign. As with most car vs. truck accidents, the passengers in the car are normally the ones who are the most severely injured. Truck drivers usually escape with no injuries and very little damage to their trucks. The consequences of a T-Bone accident can be very serious because there is less distance between the occupants of the passenger vehicle and the oncoming truck than there is during a front or rear-end collision.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Truck Accident
Depending on the severity of your injuries you may incur significant medical costs following an auto collision with a truck. An initial stay in the hospital can result in tens of thousands of dollars–and even more– in costs if your stay extends for more than a few days. If you are seriously injured, after your emergency room stay you may be required to seek follow-up examinations, various forms of therapy and purchase medical equipment–all at significant cost.
If you are in this unfortunate situation, your best option for recovering monetary damages is likely a personal injury case against the responsible party. You should contact an attorney right away because in California you only have a short time from the date of your accident to file your suit. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner he or she can begin to prepare your claim and investigate the accident. And of course the sooner you get the ball rolling, the sooner you can escape the burden of overwhelming medical expenses.