Trucks cause more deadly accidents than any other vehicle on the road. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. If the driver loses control, what you end up with is the functional equivalent of a missile cruising down the highway.
The bad news is that many truck accidents tend to be serious, and the death rate is high. The good news, if you can call it that, is that injury victims can often establish negligence by proving a violation of a trucking regulation — and truckers tend to be well-insured.
Typical Truck Accidents
Let’s look at a description of types of accidents that commonly involve big rig trucks:
Override accidents occur when a truck drives over the roof of the vehicle ahead of it. Injuries in such accidents tend to be horrific, and the death rate is exceptionally high.
Underride accidents are perhaps even more horrifying than override accidents. Imagine a truck stopped on a highway when a small car rear-ends it at high speed. In many cases, the bottom of the car will proceed for some distance under the truck, while the top of the car hits the rear of the truck and crumples.
Cargo spills put unexpected obstacles onto the road with little to no warning. To make matters worse, the cargo itself is often hazardous since trucks sometimes carry corrosive and flammable chemicals. In many cases where there is such a spill, the fault lies with either the trucking company or cargo packer. Spills are typically not the driver’s fault.
Imagine a brake failure on an 80,000-pound truck cruising down the interstate at 70 mph. In many cases, it is the brake manufacturer, not the driver, who is responsible for accidents caused by brake failure.
A jackknife accident occurs when a truck’s trailer swings perpendicular to the cab. This often means that the trailer ends up at an angle of more than 90 degrees relative to the cab. Jackknife accidents can be catastrophic because the swinging trailer can easily slam into cars traveling in adjacent lanes.
The most likely candidates for rollover accidents are tall vehicles with high centers of gravity一like big rig trucks. Rollover accidents tend to occur around curves, and they are particularly deadly.
Now that we’ve looked at types of trucking accidents, let’s look at what factors might cause these accidents to occur.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents can be caused by many things. But some causes are more common than others. Therefore, let’s look at 10 common causes of trucking accidents.
Tailgating is more than just an annoyance. It is dangerous, and never more dangerous than when truckers do it. When driving a heavy rig, tailgating is a dangerous practice that can easily lead to catastrophic override accidents.
Trucks require much longer stopping distances than most cars. Therefore, texting while driving and other distractions are even more dangerous for a truck driver than for ordinary drivers.
A truck driver can lose their commercial driver’s license for driving with a BAC of over 0.04%, compared with the 0.05% blood alcohol concentration limit that applies to the general public. Some truckers even drive while intoxicated on legal prescription medications.
Unqualified or Dangerous Drivers
Some trucking companies loosen the requirements of a background check when they are pressed for time or experiencing a shortage of drivers. This is never acceptable as it endangers the public when unqualified drivers get behind the wheel of a semi-truck. Some of these drivers have a history of reckless driving that the trucking company knows about or failed to take reasonable steps to investigate the driver’s history.
A speeding truck carries so much momentum that its stopping distance is measured in football fields. An 80,000-pound truck needs more than 500 feet to decelerate from 65 mph to 0, and 65 mph doesn’t even qualify as speeding on many interstate highways.
A commercial truck is a complex entity with many working parts. A manufacturing defect or inadequate maintenance might cause an essential part to fail and result in a crash.
Some accidents occur because the driver falls asleep at the wheel, even though federal trucking regulations require commercial truck drivers to rest a certain number of hours a day. Some drivers, pressed by busy schedules, choose to ignore these regulations.
Downshifting can cause a truck to slow suddenly and, in many cases, catastrophically. Downshifting often causes underride accidents in trucks that do not have a guard to prevent them.
Improper Cargo Loading
Unevenly loaded cargo can flip a truck or cause a cargo spill.
When in doubt, it might make sense to hire an accident reconstruction specialist to determine the cause of the accident and, if necessary, testify in court. A truck’s event data recorder can also yield valuable evidence of the cause of the accident. An experienced big rig accident attorney could handle this for you.
In many accidents, more than one party is at fault. So who pays who? Colorado resolves this problem by specifying that no party can sue any other party who was less at fault than they were. This means that if you were involved in a two-party accident and were at least 50 percent at fault, you cannot sue the other party. And if you are less than 50 percent at fault and sue, the court will subtract an amount proportionate to your percentage of fault. So if you are 10% at fault and are entitled to damages of $100,000, you will receive a $90,000 recovery, but even that has a number of complicating factors.
We’re Ready to Go to War for You
The Colorado Springs truck accident lawyers at McCormick & Murphy possess over 50 years of combined legal experience. Indeed, we have been serving the people of Colorado for over 25 years now. Call us at (719) 309-4420 or contact us online for a free case review.