It can be frightening to look in your rear-view mirror and see the grill of an 18-wheeler following closely behind you. Semis are massive vehicles, weighing up to 80,000 pounds when carrying a full load.
When an accident involves an 18-wheeler, it is often those in the passenger vehicle who are seriously injured, while the truck driver may walk away practically unharmed. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a semi-truck accident, the compassionate personal injury attorneys at Judd Shaw Injury Law are here to help. We can offer support and legal guidance during this difficult time.
Types of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
A recent annual report from the National Safety Council (NSC) reported that 107,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in injury.
Some of the most common types of 18-wheeler accidents include:
- Jackknife accidents: These types of accidents occur when the truck driver brakes too suddenly or the brakes lock up and the trailer swings around to the cab of the vehicle forming a 90-degree angle.
- Rollovers: Tire blowouts, improper loading of cargo, or speeding can cause the trailer to flip and the entire truck to roll over on one side.
- Wide turn accidents: Due to the vehicle’s immense size, a truck driver may have to swing an 18-wheeler out wide when making a right-hand turn. This creates a danger for vehicles in adjacent lanes that may collide with the truck or get caught underneath as it swings left.
- Trailer detachment: If a hitch malfunctions or is defective, a trailer could detach from the truck and collide with surrounding vehicles.
- Underride accidents: These types of collisions are some of the most fatal types of truck accidents. They occur when a passenger vehicle is crushed or pinned under the trailer of a truck.
- Falling cargo: When freight is inadequately secured or improperly loaded, it can come loose and fall onto surrounding pedestrians and vehicles.
Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
Truck drivers have an obligation to adhere to regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Unfortunately, some trucking companies and their employees do not take these regulations seriously. The result? Accidents that could have been prevented.
Consider some of the common causes of 18-wheeler accidents:
- Distracted driving: Anything that takes a person’s attention away from the task of driving is a distraction. Texting, programming the GPS, eating, drinking, daydreaming, talking on the phone, and reading are all dangerous truck driver distractions.
- Fatigue: In order to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines, truck operators may work long hours without breaks to sleep or rest. Drowsiness can affect a driver’s coordination, vision, judgment, and reaction time. An overly fatigued trucker may even fall asleep while behind the wheel.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol: It is illegal for a driver to operate a truck within 4 hours of consuming alcohol or with a blood alcohol level (BAC) is .04 or higher. Truckers who fail to obey these laws can have their commercial driver’s license suspended and face criminal charges.
- Reckless driving: Truck drivers, like all motorists, have an obligation to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles in a way that does not endanger others. Many truck accidents are caused by excessive speeding, tailgating, failing to signal, weaving in and out of traffic, and other reckless driving behaviors.
- Driver inexperience: It takes training and experience to be able to safely operate an 18-wheeler truck. Some accidents occur because a driver was not properly trained and a trucking company did not perform a thorough background check to confirm a person’s driving experience.
- Overweight truckloads: The FMCSA has rules that govern how much a truck can weigh depending on how many axles it has. An overweight truck can result in a tire blowout or a rollover accident if the cargo shifts. In addition, the more an 18-wheeler weighs, the more difficult it will be to control speed while driving downhill.
Who May Be Liable for an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident?
In accidents involving only passenger vehicles, one of the drivers is typically liable for the collision. However, when a commercial truck is involved in an accident, the trucking company could bear at least partial responsibility.
One or more of the following parties could be liable for an accident involving an 18-wheeler:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck or parts manufacturer
- Loading company
- Another driver
- Government entity
If you or a loved one has been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, it is beneficial to have a skilled personal injury lawyer on your side. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we will use our resources on behalf of our clients to conduct an independent investigation of your collision and identify all parties who may be liable for your injuries.
Evidence Needed to Prove Liability After an 18-Wheeler Accident
In order for your truck accident claim to be successful, you will need to prove who is responsible for the collision. This can be complicated in cases involving 18-wheelers since there may be multiple parties who are liable.
Evidence that may be collected and analyzed to determine liability may include:
- Police reports
- The truck’s event data recorder, or “black box”
- Dash cam or surveillance camera footage
- Photos from the accident scene
- The trucker’s driving record
- Accident reconstruction
- Evidence of alcohol or drug impairment
- Cell phone records indicating driver distraction
- Eyewitness testimony
Compensation Available to 18-Wheeler Accident Victims
Truck accident victims should not have to bear the financial burden of someone else’s negligence. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney before signing any paperwork with the insurance company. They may try to pressure you into accepting a settlement that is far less than your claim is worth.
An 18-wheeler accident lawyer can determine what damages you are entitled to, calculate the value of your claim, and help you pursue financial compensation.
Damages available to truck accident victims may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
If you suffered the tragic loss of a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident, you may be entitled to wrongful death damages. This could include compensation for funeral expenses, burial costs, loss of support, and more.
Contact an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Have you or a loved one been injured in an 18-wheeler truck accident? If so, the knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Judd Shaw Injury Law are here to help. We can investigate your accident, help you file a claim, negotiate with the insurance companies, and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Our law firm believes that, after being injured in an accident, the last thing you should have to worry about is the cost of hiring a lawyer. We offer all our clients our No Fee Guarantee®, our promise that you do not owe us anything unless your case is successful and you are awarded a settlement.
Contact us 24/7 at 866-909-6894 or complete our online form to schedule a free case review. Our legal team has decades of experience fighting for New Jersey 18-wheeler truck accident victims.