Why are Head-On Truck Accidents So Deadly?October 26, 2020
There are few accidents that are as devastating and destructive as truck accidents. The average passenger vehicle has no chance against a massive 18-wheeler that is travelling at a high speed on a busy highway. Perhaps the most serious and often fatal type of truck accident is a head-on collision, which occurs when the front of the truck crashes into the front of another vehicle. Because of the extreme force associated with a head-on collision, the resulting injuries are often quite severe, if the victim is fortunate enough to survive the accident. Unfortunately, these accidents often involve fatalities, most of whom are the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved. A skilled truck accident lawyer understands how devastating these accidents are and will work closely with the victim, and his or her family, to secure the best possible settlement.
What are the Most Common Causes of Head-On Collisions?
Most head-on truck collisions are caused by some type of driver error. Operating a massive commercial truck can be difficult, particularly during inclement weather, if there are sharp curves in the road, or if another motorist changes lanes suddenly. The following are examples of the top causes of head-on truck accidents:
- Distracted driving: When a truck driver’s attention is off the road, even for a matter of seconds, this can have devastating consequences if he or she zones out and veers into another lane. Common distractions include talking or texting on the phone, eating or drinking while driving, checking the GPS, and adjusting the heat or air conditioning.
- Drowsy driving: Unfortunately, this is a common problem in the trucking industry. Truck drivers spend a great deal of time behind the wheel, often driving long hours, in some cases through the night, to meet tight delivery deadlines. Although there are federal Hours of Service regulations, truck drivers do not always follow them. Studies show that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, particularly if the truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and veers into oncoming traffic.
- Drunk and impaired driving: Driving a massive 18-wheeler while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Whether the truck driver deliberately drives while intoxicated, or is hungover from a night of heavy drinking, this can increase the risk of a serious accident. Drugs or alcohol affects a truck driver’s motor control, as well as his or her ability to make quick decisions and maintain control of the truck.
- Failing to follow the rules of the road: Speeding, driving through stop signs and red lights, and swerving in and out of lanes are examples of extremely unsafe driving behavior. A head-on collision involving a speeding truck will likely cause massive property damage and fatal injuries.
- Inclement weather conditions: Rain, ice, and snow can certainly cause road conditions to become slippery. Heavy rain can increase the risk of hydroplaning, which can cause the truck driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. Truck drivers are responsible for checking the weather before each trip and taking the appropriate precautions to avoid head-on collisions.
- Navigating curves: Owing to the massive size of the average commercial truck, a truck driver can veer into oncoming traffic if he or she has a difficult time navigating a curve. This is more common among inexperienced or distracted drivers.
- Improper truck maintenance: Trucks must be inspected on a regular basis to identify any defects or maintenance issues that need to be addressed. A failure to do this can result in serious safety issues such as tire blowouts and brake failure.
What Injuries Do Head-On Truck Accidents Cause?
Unfortunately, not only are head-on truck accidents surprisingly common, but they are responsible for more fatalities than any other type of truck accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2014, head-on truck accidents caused close to 58 percent of all fatalities, totaling 2,152 deaths. Injuries caused by head-on truck collisions are often quite severe and can include the following:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Severe burns
- Traumatic brain injuries
Who is Liable for My Injuries in a Head-On Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are often caused by driver error, but there are other parties who may be liable for an accident as well, including the following:
- The truck company
- The company responsible for the truck’s maintenance and repair
- The brake manufacturer
- The truck manufacturer
What Steps Should I Take When Injured in a Head-On Truck Accident?
After a head-on truck collision, it is extremely important that the injured victim takes the following steps if he or she is physically able to do so:
- Call 911 as soon as possible. Dispatch will send police and an ambulance to the scene of the accident.
- Do not move. If a motorist was seriously injured in the truck accident, he or she should not try to move, as this can make the injury worse. In some cases, the adrenaline that courses through the body after a traumatic event can mask symptoms of an injury, so it is important to wait until the ambulance arrives before trying to move.
- Gather evidence, if possible. If the injured motorist is able to safely gather evidence, he or she should take photos of the truck driver’s license, registration and license plate, as well as photos of the injuries, the positioning of the vehicles, and a clear picture of the truck, particularly if there is information about the truck company on the outside of the vehicle.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if the injuries do not seem serious or life-threatening, it is crucial that the victim goes to the closest emergency room or urgent care facility so that he or she can be examined by a skilled health care provider.
- Contact the insurance company. The insurance company should be notified as soon as possible to start the claims process. However, it is important to understand that insurance companies will use whatever tactics necessary to avoid a costly settlement, so truck accident victims are urged to contact a skilled legal professional who will assist them with the claims process.
- Consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer. This will ensure that the victim’s rights are protected and that the injured party receives the financial settlement he or she deserves. A truck accident lawyer will also advise the injured victim about whether to accept a lump-sum settlement offer or to continue with the claims process.
What Damages am I Able to Receive?
Injuries from head-on truck accidents are often catastrophic and life changing. Traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, and neck injuries can cause permanent physical, mental, and emotional impairments, so it is crucial that the injured victim receives the financial compensation he or she deserves. A truck accident lawyer will work tirelessly to secure compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Home remodeling costs
How can I Avoid a Head-On Truck Collision?
There are some accidents that cannot be avoided, such as when a truck driver suddenly drifts out of his or her lane, cutting off a passenger vehicle. However, there are steps that motorists can take to reduce the risk of being involved in a serious head-on truck accident, including the following:
- Do not drive too close to the center line. Motorists who put space between their vehicle and the center line may be less likely to come in contact with oncoming traffic.
- Pay attention to the road ahead. This can significantly reduce the risk of an accident because the motorist will be able to react quickly if a truck driver loses control of his or her vehicle or fails to pay attention to the other vehicles on the road.
- Drive in the right lane. Whenever possible, motorists should stay in the right lane, particularly when driving on a high-speed freeway with large commercial trucks. The right lane is generally for slower moving traffic. In addition, by driving in the right lane, it is easier for motorists to pull over to the shoulder or exit the highway to avoid a potentially dangerous traffic accident involving a large truck.
- Keep headlights on to warn other drivers: Motorists should always keep their headlines on when driving at night, during inclement weather, or when driving on the highway. This makes the vehicle more visible to oncoming traffic.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Maximum Compensation for Victims of Head-On Truck Collisions
If you or a loved one was severely injured in a head-on truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand the devastation these accidents can cause, and the impact that a catastrophic injury can have on you and your family. Our dedicated and compassionate legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.