Types of Truck Accidents
In 2017, 4,761 people in the U.S. were killed in large truck accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That same year, there were 1,165 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in Virginia alone. Even when truck accidents are not fatal, they often result in serious injuries due to the size and weight of commercial trucks. If you lost a loved one or you were injured in a truck accident, our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
There are various negligence-related causes of truck accidents. Truck accident victims in Virginia may receive compensation for their injuries and other damages arising from all types of truck accidents. Drivers should be aware of how truck accidents occur and how to avoid them.
Aggressive driving causes accidents every year, and these accidents typically include a truck driver who used aggression to get to their destination faster, intimidate other drivers, or to clear a path on the road.
The most common aggressive driving tactics involve:
- Driving through a stop light. Other motorists might not know a large truck is coming, and the accident can be even more severe if drivers are turning with a protected green arrow.
- Disregarding stop signs or rolling through stop signs. Someone who passed through the intersection could be clipped, or the driver in front of a large truck could be rear-ended because the truck driver never slowed down.
- Cutting through traffic. These accidents are typically direct-impact crashes that involve one or more vehicles. The truck driver is using the immense weight and size of their vehicle to force other cars out of the way. Because the truck driver cannot accurately determine how long their trailer is, they could sideswipe an unsuspecting driver.
- Blocking those trying to pass. Even though most trucks need to stay in the right lane on a highway, truck drivers might block other motorists in an effort to keep the road clear in front of them.
- Speeding. Large truck drivers who are speeding create tension on the road because traditional car drivers are afraid to get too close to them. These drivers will also need more room to make an emergency stop.
- Tailgating. This can be the most terrifying situation for a driver on the road. If that driver has nowhere to go, they may feel like the truck could hit them at any minute.
Driving aggressively near a large truck could distract that driver and cause any of these accidents. A truck driver may not have enough time to stop if a driver cuts them off, or they might overheat their brakes if a driver is brake-checking. Truck drivers may also cause these accidents when they direct their anger at other drivers.
Blind Spot Accidents
Truck drivers must constantly check their blind spots before changing lanes as they often strike vehicles that are stuck in those areas. Drivers may want to pass large trucks quickly, but they are not given the chance. Truck drivers are supposed to signal before changing lanes, but unannounced lane changes can cause crashes or force vehicles off the road. Trucks have large mirrors and high driving positions that allows the driver to see cars in their blind spots, however, this does not always prevent an accident.
Blind spot accidents also occur when:
- Drivers are turning with a large truck and strike the trailer.
- Pedestrians are struck on the sidewalk because the truck did not take a wide turn.
- Drivers are sideswiped because they stayed next to a truck driver who could not see them.
Truck drivers are supposed to check their brakes every day before starting their route. These drivers, however, may fail to check their brakes because they are in a hurry. Drivers who do not release air from the brake chamber properly could cause the brakes to lock up under normal braking. Trucking companies may not maintain these trucks properly, and situations on the road can escalate quickly to cause a crash.
Large trucks do not have traditional anti-lock brakes. If a truck driver does not leave a safe stopping distance, they cannot make an emergency stop. These situations are even more dangerous on hills where truck drivers will need to ride their brakes. In the process, the brakes could overheat and fail. Aggressive driving also plays a part in brake failure. Brake failure could easily occur if a driver has been brake-checking. The brakes wear down faster, and the truck cannot stop fast enough. Additionally, there are situations when the manufacturer of the brakes provided faulty or defective products to the driver or fleet management company.
Jackknife Truck Accidents
Often caused by equipment failure, adverse weather conditions, or negligent operation, jackknife truck accidents occur when a truck skids and allows the attached trailer to pivot at a 90-degree angle. This type of truck accident typically spans across several lanes of traffic and involves multiple vehicles. Even if the truck does not roll over, it can still strike several vehicles in the process. Drivers who do not see the accident could strike the truck, and a car may even drive under the trailer causing serious injuries or even death.
Commercial trucks often carry heavy loads in attached trailers. If this exposed cargo is not loaded and secured properly, there can be catastrophic consequences. Inadequately secured loads may become loose and fall in the road or cause truck drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Lost loads can occur if the driver did not secure their load, the trailer was loaded improperly, or the trailer was not maintained. Trucking companies that do not maintain their equipment can lose loads when doors swing open, the floor of the trailer gives way, or the wheels on the truck buckle due to rust accumulation.
Accidents involving multiple vehicles can occur due to various causes, such as jackknife truck accidents, lost loads, rear-end crashes, rollovers, or wrong way accidents. A chain reaction can cause those in passenger vehicles to suffer serious or fatal injuries due to the sheer size of commercial trucks, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Drivers should stay away from large trucks for this very reason. If a large truck cannot see you, they could sideswipe you. As the truck driver brakes or tries to correct during the crash, they could jackknife or roll over. This is also why large truck drivers are encouraged to slow down. If they have more time to stop, they can avoid a multi-vehicle accident.
Commercial trucks require more time to come to a complete stop. If a truck driver fails to brake in-time or the driver in front slams on their brakes, a rear-end crash may occur. Another common cause of rear-end crashes is negligent truck maintenance; some contributing factors our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers have seen include faulty brakes, inadequate lighting, and worn tires.
More than 10,000 people die in rollover accidents each year in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Trucks are more likely to be involved in a rollover accident due to their higher center of gravity and limited steering capacity. The NHTSA also reports that speeding is the underlying cause of rollover accidents. Truck drivers who are too aggressive may feel that they can correct when the truck begins to jackknife. The truck, however, cannot be saved if it begins to roll. Extreme wind, rain, and snow can also cause rollover accidents. A strong gust of wind could knock over a truck at any time, and drivers who skid on puddles could jackknife and roll their vehicle.
Trucking companies may not service the tires or truck properly, or the road conditions may be so poor that a tire bursts. The tire could strike another vehicle, cause another crash, and the truck could roll over, slide, or jackknife. If drivers are not inspecting their vehicles on a daily basis, they will not know if the tires are balding. Tires might even have cracks that could open at any time. Drivers should be sensitive to changes in the way the truck handles. If a driver knowingly drove with bad tires, they could be held liable for your accident and injuries.
An underride accident occurs when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a commercial truck. Although federal law requires that tractor trailers have rear underride guards, most fatalities involve the side, rather than the rear, of the truck, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Also, some trucking companies may not maintain the underride guards, and those guards could break apart during an accident.
Wide Turn Crashes
Large trucks that are navigating surface streets must take care when making turns. The trailer tracks with the truck, but the trailer is very long. The trailer can cut off the corner of the intersection, and any driver or pedestrian stuck on that corner could be struck. Drivers must be careful not to take turns alongside large trucks, and pedestrians should back away from the corner for their own safety. Cars stopped at traffic lights must stay behind the lines designed to give large trucks enough room to turn. Additionally, large trucks should not make turns unless they believe they can do so safely.
Work Zone Accidents
Large trucks often have a difficult time seeing small cars on the road. Construction workers are even harder to see. Truck drivers must slow down as much as possible when passing work sites. Construction workers could be struck by the truck, or the truck could create a gust of wind so great that it injures a worker.
A truck driver might knock down equipment or road signs near a construction site. Large trucks that are delivering to roadside workers must slow down, use their hazard lights, and ensure that they unload as far from the road as possible. Failing to set up properly could cause a crash when an oncoming car cannot see the truck driver or the loading crew. Setting up reflectors or traffic cones can also help alert cars to the presence of an unloading truck on the shoulder.
Wrong Way Accidents
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that 300 to 400 people in the U.S. are killed each year in wrong way accidents. This type of truck accident typically causes more severe injuries than other types of crashes because it involves a head-on or sideswipe crash. Wrong way accidents are often the result of fatigue, falling asleep behind the wheel, or distracted driving.
Our Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Represent Victims of All Types of Truck Accidents
If you were involved in a truck accident, a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer can help. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we will evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and fight tirelessly to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.