Why are Large Truck Accidents So Deadly?August 2, 2021
Unlike some car accidents in which the people involved in the accident may walk away without a scratch or only suffer minor injuries, truck accidents are another story. Motorists who are involved in a truck accident often suffer very serious injuries if they were fortunate enough to survive the crash. This is largely due to the fact that the average commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is approximately 20 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle. The size and weight of a commercial truck make the force of the impact absolutely devastating if it hits another vehicle, particularly if the accident occurs on a busy highway where the vehicles are traveling at a high speed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,951 people were fatally injured in truck accidents in 2018. Over 70 percent of the fatalities were the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in the accident. Many of these accidents can be avoided if motorists understand some of the common causes of truck accidents and take the necessary steps to avoid them.
What are the Top Reasons Why Truck Accidents are So Dangerous?
There are a number of factors that make truck accidents so much more dangerous than the average car accident. The following are the top five reasons why truck accidents are so deadly:
- Size and weight of the vehicle: Depending on the size of the truck and whether it is fully loaded, a large commercial truck can weigh up to 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, a passenger vehicle is no match for a fully loaded 80,000-pound truck. When a truck is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle, the force of impact can cause the occupants of the passenger vehicle to suffer severe injuries and tragic fatalities.
- Difficulty stopping and maneuvering: A commercial truck’s massive size and weight make it much more difficult for a truck driver to slow down or stop. When traveling at a high speed on a busy highway, a large truck will require significantly more road space to slow down in order to avoid hitting another vehicle. A large truck is also more difficult to maneuver if the truck driver needs to avoid debris on the road, or another vehicle that swerved into the truck’s lane. If the truck driver is drowsy, distracted, or intoxicated, he or she will be even less able to safely maneuver the truck.
- Large blind spots: Large commercial trucks are equipped with large mirrors so that the truck driver can see other vehicles in the vicinity. However, the mirrors do not compensate for a truck’s large blind spots. If a vehicle moves into a blind spot without the truck driver realizing it, there is an increased risk of a serious truck accident. A truck’s main blind spots are directly behind the truck, directly in front of the truck, the driver’s side next to the side mirror, and the passenger side next to the side mirrors.
- Contents of the vehicle: Oftentimes, trucks are transporting hazardous cargo that can be extremely dangerous if an accident exposes motorists to the contents of the truck. Examples of hazardous materials include toxic substances, irritants and corrosives, combustible substances, radioactive materials, chemicals that release dangerous dust, unstable or explosive material, and anything else that is considered a physical or health hazard.
- Drowsy drivers: Drowsy driving is a serious issue in the trucking industry because of the tight deadlines that truck drivers are under a great deal of pressure to meet. Although this is dangerous driving behavior for any driver, it can be deadly for truck drivers to get behind the wheel when they are sleep deprived. Truck drivers are required to follow federal hours of service (HOS) regulations that are meant to prevent drowsy driving accidents. However, many drivers find ways to work around these regulations so that they can meet their delivery deadlines.
What are the Different Types of Truck Accidents?
When motorists have a better understanding of some of the reasons why truck accidents are so dangerous, they can take steps to avoid them. The following are examples of some of the most common types of truck accidents:
- Jackknife: This is a potentially devastating accident that can occur when the truck driver hits the brakes too hard, causing the trailer to fold in on itself. The cab and the trailer form a 90-degree angle.
- Rollover: When a truck driver loses control of the vehicle, it can roll over onto its side. If there are other vehicles in the vicinity, it can cause a serious accident.
- Tire blowout: If the truck driver fails to properly maintain the vehicle’s tires, there is an increased risk of a tire blowout, which can cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck and crash into another vehicle that is nearby.
- Wide turn: In order to complete a turn successfully, a commercial truck often may need to swing to the left a bit before making a right turn. If a truck driver fails to check his or her blind spots before making the turn, it can hit a vehicle that is in the blind spot to the right of the truck.
- Underride: These are among the deadliest of all truck accidents. If a truck stops suddenly, the vehicle that is following the truck can crash into the rear of the truck and become lodged under the truck’s trailer.
- T-bone: These occur when a truck crashes into the side of another vehicle. They can cause very serious injuries to the occupants of the passenger vehicle that was hit, particularly if the truck was traveling at a high speed.
- Head-on: There are few accidents that are more devastating than a head-on collision with a large commercial truck. The occupants of the vehicle that is hit head on rarely survive the accident. If they do, the resulting injuries are often catastrophic.
- Rear-end: When a large truck rear ends a passenger vehicle, it can cause extensive property damage, serious injuries, and even fatalities if the truck was traveling at a high speed at the time of the accident.
- Lost load: If the truck’s cargo is not loaded or secured properly, it can come loose inside the trailer and cause the trailer to become imbalanced. If the truck driver loses control of the truck, and there are other vehicles in the vicinity, this can cause a serious accident. In addition, if the cargo comes loose and falls out of the back of the truck, the cargo can strike the other vehicles on the road or cause them to veer out of the way in an effort to avoid getting hit. Either way, this can result in a serious truck accident.
- Blind spots: Large commercial trucks have blind spots so large that they are often referred to as the No Zone. Even when truck drivers use their side and rearview mirrors to monitor the road as they are driving, if a passenger vehicle ends up in the truck’s blind spot and the truck driver needs to change lanes, the passenger vehicle is in danger of getting hit, crushed, or forced off the road.
What Injuries Do Truck Accidents Cause?
Truck accidents cause some of the most severe and life-threatening injuries. Too often, victims of truck accidents do not survive the crash. Victims who do survive often suffer a range of serious injuries, including the following:
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Crushing injuries, including chest injuries, internal injuries, and organ damage
- Fractures and broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Partial or total paralysis
- Severe burns and disfigurement
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
What Damages May I Receive if I am Injured in a Truck Accident?
Owing to the catastrophic nature of a serious truck accident, the injuries often require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, and may even require long-term care if the injury was particularly severe. If the truck driver involved in the accident was negligent in any way, the injured victim will likely be entitled to the following damages:
- Medical expenses associated with the accident
- Future medical costs
- Physical therapy and mental health treatment
- Occupational therapy and rehabilitative therapy
- Loss of income and loss of future earning capacity
- Disability and permanent impairments
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death benefits if the accident resulted in a fatality
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Catastrophic Truck Accidents
If you or someone you know suffered a devastating injury in a truck accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We understand how traumatic these accidents can be, particularly when the injuries cause permanent impairments that prevent you from returning to work or accomplishing your regular daily activities. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every phase of the claims process and address all of your questions and concerns. We will continue to fight for you until we secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. 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.