Semi-trucks also referred to as big rigs, tractor-trailers, or 18-wheelers, are an iconic sight on highways across North America. As vital carriers engaged in transporting goods over long distances, they are also the largest vehicles sharing public roads. When fully loaded, these heavy trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Unfortunately, their enormous size and weight capacity come at a price should things go awry. When commercial semi trucks are involved in highway accidents—whether single or multiple vehicle crashes—the physical forces unleashed and damage incurred tend to be severe and traumatic in nature.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
There are several common causes of semi-truck accidents:
- Driver fatigue – Truck drivers on long hauls often get drowsy and fall asleep at the wheel. Lack of sleep is a major contributor to fatigue-related crashes.
- Driver distraction – Truck drivers can get distracted by texting, talking on cell phones, eating, or adjusting in-cab devices while driving.
- Speeding – Trucks going over the speed limit have trouble stopping quickly, increasing crash risks.
- Improper loading – Improperly secured or overweight cargo can shift and cause the truck to overturn during quick maneuvers.
- Faulty equipment – Defective brakes, headlights, tires, etc. can fail and lead to crashes.
- Drug or alcohol impairment – Studies show that in 16% of truck crashes, drug or alcohol use by the truck driver is a factor.
Serious Semi-Truck Accident Injuries
Due to their size and force, semi-trucks can cause catastrophic injuries in an accident:
- Traumatic brain injuries and death from blunt force trauma
- Severe lacerations and crush injuries
- Bone fractures and loss of limbs
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis
Seeking Compensation as an Accident Victim
If you have suffered injuries in a wreck with a semi truck caused by the truck driver’s negligence or their company’s malpractice, you may have grounds for legal action to recover damages. An experienced truck accident attorney can evaluate your case and counsel you through every step of the legal process. They will launch a thorough investigation into the crash, gathering police reports, speaking to witnesses, obtaining truck maintenance records, hiring accident reconstruction experts, and building a compelling case on your behalf.
Compensation can cover both economic and non-economic losses like:
- Medical bills from hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, at-home nursing care
- Prescription medications and medical equipment
- Lost wages from missing work during recovery
- Diminished earning capacity if left disabled
- Cost of treatment for present and future medical needs
- Repairs/replacement for damaged vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship/consortium
- Emotional distress
It’s very likely the liable party’s insurance company will offer you a quick settlement, but don’t jump at the offer. While it MAY be a good offer, beware of settling too fast or accepting an amount that does not sufficiently cover your current and future accident-related expenses. An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate fair compensation.
Be Proactive About Semi-Truck Accidents
While semi-truck accidents are sometimes unavoidable, you can take steps to minimize their likelihood and potential impact:
- Avoid driving in blind spots around trucks
- Allow extra braking distance in front of trucks
- Never cut off or squeeze in front of a truck making a turn
- Act defensively, being alert to possible truck driver errors
- Support stricter safety regulations for semi truck companies
Standing up for your legal rights can create company accountability and bring about positive industry changes over time.