Who Are the Victims of Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
June 29, 2022
Tractor-trailers are a leading cause of severe road injuries and death.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the vast majority of victims of fatal accidents are occupants of smaller vehicles sharing the road with tractor-trailers, also known as 18-wheelers. The remaining victims are almost equally divided between occupants of the tractor-trailer, pedestrians, and individuals riding bicycles and motorcycles at the time of the accident.
There are several reasons individuals other than the occupants of the trucks are more vulnerable to the severity of trailer-tractor accidents. Tractor-trailers are much larger and heavier, take longer to stop, have major blind spots, and require greater focus and concentration to operate. Unfortunately, when truck drivers get tired on their long routes or are distracted and careless, innocent victims often suffer the consequences.
Fatal car accidents involving tractor-trailers continue to increase due to truck driver fatigue, unsafe or careless driving, and speeding. One reason has been cited as drivers fighting to meet tight schedules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the hours a commercial driver is allowed to operate a truck. Although this limitation and other regulations bind commercial carriers, violations continue. When violations of those regulations lead to accidents, victims can hold several parties liable.
Leading causes of tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Speeding: More than 25 percent of fatal tractor-trailer accidents are caused by truck drivers who have had at least one speeding conviction, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Trucks crossing lanes: Trucks accidents can be caused by trucks traveling over the center line or off the road.
- Improper loading: Improper loading or loading errors causes a rig to become unstable. An overweight tractor-trailer can also cause an accident.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: Faulty parts and truck defects such as problems with tires, wheels, brakes, engines, transmissions, and steering wheels are common contributors to tractor-trailer accidents.
- Driver performance: Driving under the influence, driving while tired or sick, driving aggressively, and driving all fall carelessly under driver performance and cause most large-truck accidents.
What Are Different Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
There are a few ways tractor-trailer accidents occur that affect innocent victims, including the following:
- Jackknife accidents: Jackknifing occurs when the trailer swings out, forming an acute angle with the truck’s cab. Large commercial trucks, particularly 18-wheelers, are susceptible to jackknife accidents, which typically happen when drivers brake suddenly. Other causes of jackknifing are improperly adjusted brakes, downshifting, and taking turns too quickly. When these accidents happen, the trailers of the trucks can impact vehicles in oncoming traffic and cause multiple-vehicle collisions and car accidents.
- T-bone accidents: Also known as side-impact collisions, these accidents occur when two vehicles collide perpendicularly. They often happen when a driver runs a red light or fails to obey another traffic law. T-bone accidents can be devastating for other drivers because the body of the smaller vehicle takes most of the impact directly. This impact usually results in severe injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal injuries, and fatal wounds
- Head-on collisions: It is hard to imagine a more catastrophic car accident than a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer truck. When a truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds crashes head-on into a vehicle that weighs under 4,000 pounds, the results are almost always tragic. Fortunately, head-on collisions are rare, but when they occur, they are typically attributed to driver impairment, medical issues, speeding, or poor visibility.
- Rear-end accidents: In most rear-end accidents involving tractor-trailers, the truck hits the smaller vehicle, resulting in a car accident. These accidents are more severe because of the trucks’ height and weight and can cause severe injuries to the occupants of the rear-ended vehicle.
- Rollovers: When tractor-trailer drivers lose control of their heavy trucks, particularly while speeding and taking turns too sharply, the trucks can roll over and slide. This often takes other vehicles and victims with them, causing severe injuries and often fatalities.
- Tire blowouts: When tire blowouts happen on the massive scale of tractor-trailers, they can cause drivers to lose control of the trucks, rollovers, flying road debris, loosened loads, and additional dangers for motorists and pedestrians.
- Underride accidents: This type of accident occurs when a car or other vehicle travels underneath the body of a tractor-trailer. These traumatic car accidents often result in devastating injuries. Although some trucking companies must equip their vehicles with reflective tape and rear bumpers, many tractor-trailers still do not have the proper underride safety protections.
We Can Help You After a Life-Changing Accident
Whenever a tractor-trailer is involved in a car accident, the results will likely be life-changing. It is essential to hire an experienced car accident lawyer if a tractor-trailer has injured you. It can be overwhelming and confusing to go through the legal, financial, and healing process alone.
A car accident lawyer will help to put your mind at ease and ensure that your case is handled smoothly and efficiently. We will be sure to investigate the accident site, examine all police and medical records, interview witnesses, consult with experts, and negotiate skillfully against defending attorneys. Most importantly, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer allows you focus on recovering from your physical injuries and emotional distress.
At Galfand Berger LLP, our attorneys have been fighting on behalf of injured accident victims for 75 years. Some of our past cases:
- We successfully recovered $3 million in tractor-trailer accident case. Our client was a driver who was struck by a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway. His injuries were so severe that they resulted in the amputation of his legs below the knees. Investigation revealed that the brakes and tires on the tractor-trailer were not properly maintained. We also found evidence that the truck driver’s log was inaccurate and indicated that he was driving for excessive hours. We successfully recovered $3 million on behalf of our injured and disabled client.
- We obtained $675,000 in a pre-lawsuit settlement in tractor-trailer accident case. Michael Malvey, Esq. successfully represented our client who suffered injuries in a rear-end collision on I-81 when a tractor-trailer rear-ended his truck. Our investigation into the accident revealed that the tractor-trailer that hit him had poorly maintained brakes and other violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Our client sustained serious injuries to his neck and back that required him to undergo physical therapy, which included injections to his back. Mr. Malvey was able to settle the case on behalf of his client for $675,000 before a lawsuit was filed.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Victims in All Types of Car Accident Cases
If you have been injured by a tractor-trailer in an accident, let one of our seasoned Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP review your case today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.