A tractor-trailer loaded with cargo can tip the scales at more than 80,000 pounds, which is 20 times heavier than the average car or truck. Because of their weight and size, accidents involving trucks can lead to debilitating or fatal injuries for those in smaller vehicles. Recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that there are close to 14 million registered large commercial trucks in the U.S carrying billions of tons of goods, and these numbers will likely increase in the future. The FMSCA also reports that 13 percent of the fatal crashes on our nation’s roadways involved one or more oversized commercial trucks or buses. Out of those fatalities, seven out of 10 were occupants in the other vehicles. Here is some background about how these crashes occur and how the Macon truck accident lawyers at Childers & McCain, LLC may be able to help your case.
Types of Truck Accidents
- Head-on Collisions: These collisions can happen when large trucks drift out of their lanes and head into oncoming traffic. Other scenarios include failing to give the right of way at intersections and traffic signals.
- Jackknifes: Jackknife crashes involve tractor-trailers. These vehicles have articulated joints between their two parts and when the front cab brakes, skids, or turns improperly, the trailer swings out to the side. If the cab slows down faster than the trailer, that back part can fishtail. Jackknife accidents are mostly unpredictable.
- Rear-end collisions: When a tractor-trailer rear-ends a smaller car or truck, they can get crushed upon impact. Large trucks need more time and stopping distance to slow down, especially when traveling in bad weather or at high speeds.
- Rollovers: Large commercial vehicles have high centers of gravity compared to standard passenger cars, so drivers must be cautious when they swerve or maneuver around tight turns. The wrong move could cause the truck to flip and roll over onto its side.
- Sideswipes: Sideswipes occur when two vehicles are being driven in the same direction, side-by-side. These are dangerous when large trucks are involved because the force can push the other vehicle into another lane or oncoming traffic.
- T-Bone crashes: These accidents are more often seen at intersections and are known as broadside or side-impact crashes. One vehicle hits the other at a perpendicular angle, causing the “T” shape. Drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles who get hit by large trucks in these kinds of accidents are particularly vulnerable to injuries because of the trucks’ large sizes and lack of a barrier (a hood or trunk) to shield them from the impact.
- Wide-turn crashes: Truck drivers need to be careful with right-hand turns since they are tighter than left turns. If there is not enough space, trailers can swing in the wrong direction and hit nearby vehicles.
What Are the Main Causes of Truck Accidents?
The main categories of truck accident causation are the drivers, weather conditions, and the trucks. The FMSCA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study determined that driver training and experience influences the likelihood of these accidents occurring. Other factors included driving under the influence, poor decision-making, speeding, and fatigue.
Truck drivers and other company employees responsible for cargo can also contribute to accidents. If the items are not loaded properly, they can shift and cause the trailer to swerve. Poorly secured cargo can also lead to the same problem, and can also fall off the truck, into the paths of other vehicles.
Snowy and icy roads also increase the chances of truck accidents, as does vehicle design and manufacture. Poor maintenance can also lead to truck accidents, and it is not uncommon for trucking companies and vendors to cut corners on maintenance. That can lead to tire blowouts, brake failures, and electrical problems.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Anyone who survives a large truck accident with a few scrapes and bruises should feel lucky since the risk of life-threatening injuries and fatalities is considerable. These injuries are more likely to happen:
- Cuts, burns, and lacerations: Deep wounds from flying glass and other debris can be quite painful and can happen to any part of the body, including the face. A ruptured fuel line can cause a fire, causing severe burns, scarring, loss of limb, nerve damage, and disfigurement.
- Fractured bones: The force of impact in large truck accidents can fracture bones as well as damage the nerves and muscles surrounding them.
- Head and neck trauma: These include concussions, fractured skulls, traumatic brain injuries, and other trauma. The symptoms might not be immediately apparent and can show up later, so it is vital to seek immediate medical attention even if you think you are fine.
- Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding symptoms might also not show up right after a truck accident and lead to serious medical conditions. Spleens and aortas can rupture, leading to cardiac arrest or worse. Internal bleeding is often caused by blunt force trauma from airbags and seat belts.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries might also not present immediate symptoms, and usually happen to the lower back and neck. Examples include a fractured spine that leads to paralysis, crushed vertebrae, and herniated discs.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
Truck accident survivors need immediate medical attention and are often taken by ambulances to emergency rooms. Anyone at the scene (who is able) can provide law enforcement officers with information for a police report, get the truck driver’s contact and insurance information, speak with witnesses, and take photos of the scene. If you wait too long to seek medical attention, the insurance provider might claim that your injuries were not serious enough to warrant it; they might also assert that the injuries were caused by a separate incident.
You also need to reach out to your insurance provider, but only provide the basic facts. Any additional information you offer might be misinterpreted or held against you later. Keep records of your medical treatment, all the related expenses, and your communications with the insurance provider, truck driver, and anyone else involved. During this time, it is a good idea to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who will work to protect your rights and get your fair compensation.
How Can I Seek Damages After a Truck Accident?
After your insurance provider is contacted, their adjusters will analyze the case and either deny the claim or offer you a settlement. This can be tricky because the amount might not be enough to cover your out-of-pocket costs – and you could experience medical complications related to your injuries after the check was cashed. Adjusters have been known to offer lowball settlements, so it is best not to sign these without legal counsel. Lawyers can work with insurers to negotiate fair settlements, and this is a common outcome. When agreements cannot be reached, the next step might be a lawsuit.
In the State of Georgia, you have two years to file a personal injury claim related to a truck accident. The allegedly at-fault party might be a truck driver, trucking company, truck or parts manufacturer, or repair and maintenance vendors. When successful, a plaintiff might receive damages to cover their medical expenses, lost time from work, and pain and suffering.
Contact the Macon Truck Accident Lawyers at Childers & McCain, LLC
Truck accident cases can be challenging, but you do not have to face your situation alone. Our caring, skilled Macon truck accident lawyers at Childers & McCain, LLC are experienced with these kinds of cases and offer free consultations. Complete our online form or call our Macon, Georgia office at 478-254-2007. We help clients in Macon, Savannah, Albany, and Atlanta.