Munley Law has over 50 years of experience representing victims of truck accidents, and our attorneys have become experts in truck accident law. Accidents involving large trucks are all too common and are often the most devastating. But, in some cases, the devastation can be prevented.
What Causes Large Truck Accidents
Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds is considered a large truck and is governed by specific federal safety regulations and laws. The government requires that truck drivers qualify for commercial licenses and are subject to limited drug and alcohol testing. Unfortunately, many truck safety advocates question the effectiveness of the licensing and testing programs. From 1992 to 2012, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes has increased by up to 10% due to driver fatigue, unsafe vehicle operation, large, unstable loads or defective equipment. Accidents involving semi-truck, 18-wheeler, and large trucks present many unique issues including:
Driver Fatigue Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. In 2013, new laws were put in place to help regulate the number of consecutive hours truckers can spend on the road. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, sleep-deprivation is still a major cause of highway accidents.
Intoxicated Drivers. Over a period of one year, a study of truck driver fatalities was conducted by The National Transportation Safety Board and The National Institute on Drug Abuse in eight states. Comprehensive drug screenings were performed on blood specimens taken from 168 fatally injured drivers. One or more drugs was detected in 67% of these fatally injured drivers and 33% of these drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.
Driver error. Big-rig operators are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle. When semi-trucks travel at rates exceeding 55 mph, they are speeding and the likelihood of a jackknife or rollover significantly increases. When sharing the road, truckers and other drivers must work together to prevent an accident and avoid the following:
- “Underrides” refer to passenger vehicles that slide under another vehicle, with the majority of these incidences happening between large trucks and passenger cars.
- “No-zones,” or blind spots, exist in the front, back and sides of a big rig truck. Recognizing these “no-zones,” the trucking industry has advised that the driver of a passenger car should not be in front, back or in either lane beside a large truck. Otherwise, when vehicles are in these blind spots, the truck may make a wide right turn into the passenger car.
- “Squeeze plays” involve trucks making wide right turns. When a passenger vehicle is caught between a large truck and the curb – they are caught in a “squeeze” that can have serious consequences.
- “Off-track” occurs when a truck turns at high speed and swings into an adjacent lane unexpectedly. Unlike passenger vehicles, transport trucks require up to 40 percent more space to stop. Following too closely results in inadequate stopping distance between large trucks which then rear-end vehicles in front. It is not difficult to imagine the devastating results that occur when a car, van or SUV is hit from behind with over 10,000 lbs. of moving metal.
Substandard inspection. According to FMCSA, there were over 2 million roadside inspections of trucks. Of those inspections, 23.2% of the vehicles were found to have serious violations. Despite the best efforts, defective and unsafe trucks continue to be a leading cause of catastrophic accidents on the nation’s highways.
Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs) are tractor-trailer combinations with two or more trailers that weigh more than 80,000 pounds. These trucks are at increased risk of jack-knife (the rig jackknifes when the drive axel brakes lock up); roll-over, sway, and loss of control. The size of these trucks causes them to perform and handle differently than tractor semi trailers or twin trailers, and makes them more dangerous.
Hazardous Materials (hazmat). Revenue from hazardous materials shipments has increased to $10 billion with more than 800,000 shipments every day. Hazardous materials (hazmat) in trucks are usually flammable liquids, such as gasoline. Each year about 200 hazmat trucks are involved in fatal crashes and 5,000 in nonfatal crashes.
Improving the Odds
The following suggestions may help motorists to improve the odds when sharing the road with large commercial trucks:
- Keep visible. Stay out of the “no-zones” – the truck’s blind spots. When behind a truck, stay far enough back to see both of the truck’s side mirrors
- Maintain a safe distance to allow enough space and time to brake
- Drive defensively
- Use signals when turning or passing, and avoid sudden moves such as swerving to pass
- Keep lights on and windshield wipers working on rainy days
Why You Need An Attorney That Specializes in Large Truck Accidents
Munley Law has over 50 years of experience in dealing with truck accident claims. We are familiar with all of the techniques that the trucking companies and their insurers may use to influence you to settle quickly and for less compensation. Trucking companies have a team of investigators, adjustors, agents, and lawyers to help protect them. As the accident victim, you need your own team of legal experts to protect you. Munley Law has consistently been named to the Best Lawyers in America and have received the highest peer review ratings possible from Martindale Hubble. Additionally, we have received some of the largest settlements and verdicts in the country for our clients. Our expert car accident attorneys collaborates on our cases, so you will have the benefit of having a full team of expert lawyers representing you.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a trucking accident in Pennsylvania, New York or New Jersey call us today toll free at (855) 866-5529 or use our online contact form. We will provide you with a FREE consultation and help you decide how to proceed after your accident.