18-wheel trucks are one type of semi-trailer truck. Semi-trailers include a tractor unit which pulls the trailer. The trailers carry shipping cargo within states and across the country. Other terms for these 18-wheelers are big-rig, tractor-trailers and semis.
Truck accidents are much more serious than car accidents. The bigger the truck, the more likely the occupant of a car that collides with the truck will be killed or suffer permanent injuries. 18-wheel trucks are among the biggest vehicles on the road. 18-wheelers, on average, are sixteen times the weight of a typical automobile.
Drivers of these 18-wheelers need a special license called a Commercial Driver’s License to drive.
Reasons Semi Truck Accidents Happens
There are many types of accidents that are unique or common to semi drivers as compared with drivers of standard automobiles. An experienced personal injury lawyer know the various reasons 18-wheel truck accidents happen include:
- Speeding. Many shipping companies push the limit on when drivers need to get the cargo to the warehouse. This rush causes many truck drivers to speed which, in turn, causes accidents.
- Driver Fatigue. Because many shipments are to places far from the destination, several days can be involved to deliver the goods. Drivers should take the time to sleep. There are many laws that regulate how many hours the drivers can drive without long-term rests. Still, many drivers and freight companies push the limit. As a result fatigued drivers are on the road much too often. Fatigue is a primary cause of many truck accidents.
- Driving While Intoxicated. Many drivers relieve the tedium of long-term driving by stopping and having a drink. Just one or two drinks can cause a driver to be under the influence of alcohol. Drivers with commercial driver’s license can lose their license if their blood alcohol level is above a low minimum standard. Drivers who do drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs often get into accidents which kill someone or cause permanent harm.
- Trucks with Too Much Cargo. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the size of 18-wheelers and the amount of cargo, by weight, that can be carried. Excess weight can make it tougher to control these big-rigs. Excess cargo is especially dangerous when there is a truck accident because the cargo can spill onto the road causing a hazard to many other drivers.
- Poorly Inspected Trailers. The FMCSA laws require regular inspections of big-rigs for safety violations. The regulations are meant to insure the stability of the vehicle and to minimize the odds the truck will get into an accident. In addition to the laws, shipping companies should regularly inspect their tractors, their trailers, the security of the cargo and all related vehicle parts to make sure they are safe. Failure to conduct these inspections is a prime cause of negligence.
- Untrained Drivers. Drivers who do not have a CDL should not be allowed to drive an 18-wheeler. Drivers with CDLs are required to pass yearly tests to show they are competent and have the physical ability to drive these large trucks. Lack of skill is a major factor that a skilled personal injury lawyer Philadelphia will use on behalf of injured clients.
Types of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
Just as there are unique reasons why large truck accidents, there are special ways that truck accidents happen that are different than car accidents. Some accidents are unique to a certain location such as a construction zone. Most large truck accidents are unique because of the way they happen. An experienced attorney will review these types of accidents, sometimes with the help of a traffic reconstruction expert. Many other accidents such as rear-end collisions and intersection accidents are similar to car accidents.
- Jackknife Accidents. This type of accident relates to the hitch that joins the trailer to the cab or tractor. In a jackknife accident, the trailer can form a right angle with the tractor. This type of accident typically happens during a skid. The right angle position of the two units can cause the 18-wheeler to turn over and also cause havoc for all other vehicles nearby.
- Truck Rollovers. Because of the physics of trucks, their size and movement, large trucks are susceptible to rollovers. Rollovers often kill drivers or cause long-term catastrophic injuries.
- Underride Accidents. This is an accident between a car and a truck. In some accidents, the car does more than just strike the rear of the truck. The car actually is able to ride under part of the truck because the front of the car and even the windshield of the car are lower than the bottom of the truck. These accidents are especially deadly.
Other 18-Wheeler Considerations
A truck accident attorney will review many other issues when someone is injured due to a collision with an 18-wheeler or large truck. Two mandatory review issues are:
- What Truck Accident Injuries Happened? Common truck accident injuries include death, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, bleeding, soft tissue injuries and a range of serious injuries that can often leave the victim unable to move and with severe functional and emotional limitations.
- Who to Sue? A key issue for a skilled personal injury lawyer is exactly who to sue. Targets will be the driver, the trucking companies that owned the trailer and tractor, any leasing companies and any manufacturers of faulty parts.