One of the challenges of driving any vehicle is seeing the areas close to your vehicle. Modern cars and trucks have rear-view and side-view mirrors and technologies like backup cameras to help ensure drivers avoid hitting nearby vehicles, people, and objects. When you drive, you must use these tools to drive safely.
This challenge grows for truck drivers because of the size and shape of their vehicles. Car drivers learn to avoid the blind spot of a semi-truck driver, but semi-truck drivers must ensure they also drive safely. When they do not, accidents leave victims with extremely serious injuries. They can always turn to a truck accident lawyer to protect their rights and seek compensation.
What Are Blind Spots on Commercial Trucks?
Blind spots are areas around a vehicle that are not visible to the driver particularly by using mirrors. Blind spots can be dangerous, as drivers may be unaware of vehicles around them when they change lanes or turn. Semi-truck drivers have a better view of what is in front of them and larger mirrors than passenger vehicles. However, they still have significant blind spots.
Semi-truck blind spots include:
- Directly in front of the truck’s cab for about 20 feet
- Directly behind the truck’s trailer for about 30 feet
- Along each side of the truck extending backward diagonally
- Immediately below and behind the driver’s window
Semi-trucks have larger blind spots than other vehicles. Drivers of passenger vehicles or smaller vehicles can more easily turn their heads to see out their side windows, they have rear-view mirrors, and they are more likely to use their mirrors to check their blind spots.
Semi-trucks have larger blind spots because:
- They lack rear-view mirrors
- They are taller than cars, making it more difficult to see what is around them
- The average length of a semi-truck is 70 to 80 feet long, creating a large area where the truck driver has limited visibility
- Trucks with triple trailers can be more than 100 feet long, making their blind spots possibly the largest on the road
Truck drivers should understand these factors and know how to properly clear their blind spots when changing lanes, turning, or moving their trucks. If truckers do not take these actions and cause injury, victims can often hold them liable for their injuries with the help of a truck accident attorney.
No-Zones on Trucks
Blind spots on commercial trucks are often referred to as “no-zones” because the trucking industry advises drivers not to linger in these large blind spot areas. However, when you drive next to a large semi-truck, you cannot avoid the no-zones.
Truck drivers and trucking companies should not avoid liability for blind spot accidents by referring to these areas as no-zones. This implies that the driver might have been in the wrong by being in a blind spot, but this cannot overcome the trucker’s duty to check their blind spots. The right truck accident attorney can review what happened and fight allegations of lingering in no-zones that might jeopardize your case.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Blind Spot Accidents
Many circumstances can cause a blind spot accident. Most of them can be reduced to the fact that the truck driver did not see the smaller vehicle when they were changing lanes or turning, which then caused them to collide with the other vehicle.
Common causes include:
- Vehicles are following each other closely, whether the car in front of or behind the semi-truck
- Aggressive actions of truck drivers such as hitting the breaks to encourage the driver to back off or cutting off another vehicle
- The truck driver’s failure to check their blind spots before changing lanes
- Truck driver fatigue
- Impaired driving
- Sudden lane changes
- Distracted driving
Whatever the reason why a truck driver failed to check a blind spot might be, they should be liable if their error caused harm to you or others on the road.
What Truck Drivers Can Do About Blind Spots
While drivers of passenger vehicles should be aware of a truck’s blind spots and stay out of them, truck drivers must reduce the potential for an accident if a car is in a blind spot.
If they breach this duty of care, a truck accident lawyer can prove their liability in the accident.
There are several ways truckers can reduce the risk of collisions caused by blind spots:
- Extra mirrors: Truck drivers can install extra mirrors. Mounting one on each side of the hood can decrease the size of the blind spots in the left and right lanes. Another mirror on the passenger side can help the driver see traffic passing on the right side.
- Positioning mirrors correctly: The position of a truck driver’s mirrors can make a big difference in reducing their blind spots.
- Install accessories: In addition to mirrors, several safety accessories can prevent blind-spot accidents. These include audible tones, backup sensors, wide-angle cameras, and fish-eye mirrors.
- Clear blind spots: Before changing lanes or otherwise maneuvering their vehicle, truck drivers should use their mirrors and other accessories to clear their blind spots. If they do not take this action, substantial accidents can occur.
Who Is Liable for a Semi-Truck Blind Spot Accident?
Despite the push for drivers of passenger vehicles to take care while driving in a trucker’s blind spots, truck drivers are often liable in a blind spot accident. If you are in a blind spot accident, the truck driver’s insurance company and their attorneys will likely argue that you are at fault for being in the truck driver’s blind spot. However, if the truck driver did not check their mirrors and clear their blind spots before maneuvering their vehicle, they can still be at fault.
For example, truck drivers usually swing to the left before turning right at an intersection. If the truck driver does not check to see a vehicle on their right before turning, they could swipe, crush, or force off of the road any smaller vehicles on the side. In this example, the truck driver would likely be liable for the accident. If you were in a recent blind spot accident, a truck accident attorney can assist you as you seek compensation for your damages.
In addition to the truck driver being liable, the trucking company that employed the driver often shares liability. This is because the law holds employers liable for the negligence of their employees under a principle called vicarious liability. Trucking companies often have larger insurance policy limits than individual drivers might.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has requirements for the financial responsibility of trucking companies, and these high policy limits cover people who suffer catastrophic injuries in truck crashes for all of their losses. Some truck accident claims can reach well into the millions of dollars, so you want to identify when you can file a claim against the trucking company that hired the driver who failed to properly check their blind spots.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Although passenger vehicle drivers do play a role, truck drivers should do everything they can to avoid blind spot accidents. If you recently have suffered injuries in a blind spot accident, you may be wondering what your legal rights are. Contact a truck accident lawyer who can review the circumstances of your accident, answer your questions, and discuss the viability of your case.
An experienced lawyer can assist with:
- Gathering evidence of liability for the blind spot accident
- Filing the necessary insurance claims
- Handling the entire claim process
- Calculating your damages, which can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future losses
You want a trusted truck accident law firm on your side as soon as possible following your truck accident. Evidence often disappears following these crashes, so do not delay seeking legal help that can benefit your case.
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