From 2016 to 2020, 13.5% of roadway deathsin Georgia occurred during accidents involving a semi-truck. But what makes them so dangerous? And why do these accidents seem to be so common?
Why are truck accidents more dangerous than car accidents?
A fully laden semi-truck can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds [https://www.jdpower.com/cars/shopping-guides/how-much-does-a-semi-truck-weigh]. Compare that your mid-sized SUV, which weighs less than 6,000 pounds. A car weighs less than an SUV and a pickup truck generally weighs more, but regardless of the type of personal vehicle you drive, being hit by something over ten times larger and heavier than your vehicle is disastrous. When two cars or other personal vehicles collide, they are about the same size and weight, so the impact forces can be distributed throughout each car, ideally keeping you safe within the vehicle’s frame and protected by your seatbelt and airbags. When a semi-truck impacts a car, though, there’s too much force for the vehicle’s materials to resist, leading to more rollover accidents, cars being pushed off the road, and vehicles being totaled. Even if the vehicle and truck are going the same speed, there is a tremendous amount of force behind the semi that your vehicle simply can’t withstand during a collision. This is why truck accidents are more dangerous than car accidents. The worst accidents I’ve ever seen, both as a nurse and as an attorney, have been semi-truck accidents.
Why are semi-truck accidents so common?
Truckers are trained and licensed on their specific truck and the type of cargo they’ll carry, and they must obey a host of trucking-specific laws and rules. For example, they have to keep a logbook of their loads and distances traveled and they must not load the truck past legal weight capacity. But this is the truckers’ livelihoods, and sometimes people get greedy. Some trucking companies pressure their driversto take heavier loads farther distances, which puts the truckers on the road longer than is legally allowed while carrying unsafely heavy loads. They then lie in their logbooks, which an experienced attorney like me can figure out. Fatigue is also a common cause of trucking accidents due to the long, boring hours on the road.
Why is truck driving so stressful?
Throughout my career as a trucking attorney, I have attended trucking seminarsto learn as much as possible about truck driving, the latest laws and regulations, and the latest technologies used in trucks. And while I do this to better represent my clients who have been in accidents with semi-trucks, I know that truck drivers have a stressful job. They feel pressure from their companies and deal with unpredictable traffic, long hours in the cab, terrible weather, odd hours, and poorly maintained roads. I’ve also seen examples of car drivers not giving trucks enough space, cutting them off, stopping suddenly, riding in their blind spots, and following too closely, all of which can lead to accidents. Because of the tremendous weight in a truck, even when unladen, it takes longer for a truck to slow down, stop, change lanes, and react to the unsafe driving of others. Most truck drivers are careful and work hard to protect the drivers and pedestrians around them, but even small errors and momentary distractions can cause terrible and tragic accidents.
What should I do if I’ve been in an accident with a semi-truck?
If you are still at the scene, after you’ve determined if everyone is safe and someone has called 911, document the scene. Take videos, photos, voice memos, and notes showing the full scale of the crash site and how extensive the damage is to both your vehicle and the other vehicles involved. Cooperate with the police officers who come to document the accident and ask how you can obtain a copy of the police report. After the accident, schedule a doctor’s appointment to get a full evaluation. Keep in mind that it can take a while, even several months, for injuries sustained in an accident to become apparent.
Write down everything you can remember from the accident it in as much detail as possible, as well as what happened immediately before and after. Use your photos and videos to draw a little map of the crash site, showing how the vehicles impacted each other if you know that. Drawing a second map can show where the vehicles came to rest and what directions they were facing when they did. Date your notes and make copies of all your documentation. Next, tally up all the expenses you incurred because of the accident and share that information with your insurance company. Share copies of your documentation, always keep the original copies yourself.
After you hear the offer from your insurance company, decide if you think it’s fair. If it isn’t, or if you aren’t sure, do not accept it. Instead, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer like me. I offer a free consultation to all my potential clients so I can hear your unique situation and help you determine if the offer from the insurance company is fair.