Tractor-trailers, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and semi-trucks are enormous and heavy vehicles. Consequently, when they strike much smaller vehicles, especially at high rates of speed, severe accidents and injuries can occur. In a motor vehicle collision involving a tractor-trailer, it is almost always the driver and occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer the injuries. Victims of tractor-trailer accidents may need to go to the hospital, undergo a medical procedure, or attend physical therapy sessions, often at a significant expense.
In a recent year, 45 individuals suffered fatal injuries, and 604 individuals suffered non-fatal injuries in motor vehicle collisions that involved a tractor-trailer.
If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries in a tractor-trailer collision, you have legal options that are available to you. First of all, you may file a claim or lawsuit against the tractor-trailer driver, the owner of the tractor-trailer, or some other person or entity, depending upon the circumstances.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your case with you and help you determine the proper claims to file in your case. If the insurance company is unwilling to compensate you fairly, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in your case and pursuing damages in Alberta courts.
What Types of Accidents do Tractor-Trailer Drivers Cause?
Driver negligence is the primary or contributing cause in most tractor-trailer accident cases. When a tractor-trailer operator behaves carelessly or negligently, they can bring about an accident with a much smaller vehicle, leading to severe injuries.
Some of the most common types of accidents that result from tractor-trailer driver negligence include:
- Jackknife accident – A truck jackknife accident occurs when the tractor and trailer fold toward one another, resembling the shape of a jackknife. In a chain-reaction-type collision, the vehicle can skid down a hill and collide with several other cars. These jackknife accidents typically happen when tractor-trailer drivers and big rig drivers operate their vehicles far above the speed limit, especially during rainy conditions. Jackknife accidents can also occur when truck drivers take curves too sharply.
- Rear-end truck accidents – Rear-end truck accidents happen when the front of a tractor-trailer collides with the rear of another vehicle. When these accidents occur, the driver and passengers in the front vehicle usually suffer more severe injuries. An accident victim’s body can thrash around and about the interior of their vehicle, or they might strike something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, console, steering wheel, window, or door frame. The accident victim can suffer one or more severe injuries when this happens.
- Head-on impacts – A head-on truck collision occurs when the front of a large truck or tractor-trailer collides with the front of another vehicle moving in the opposite direction. These vehicles are prevalent on highways and roadways with a single travel lane in each direction. A truck driver, for example, might become distracted and ignore the road. Alternatively, they might be under the influence of alcohol, causing their vehicle to cross over the median strip or double line and collide with another vehicle head-on. These collisions are the most likely to lead to one or more fatalities. This is especially true when a large truck collides with a smaller vehicle at high speeds.
- Truck broadside collisions – A truck broadside accident happens when the front of a tractor-trailer collides with a side of a vehicle moving in an adjacent direction. The force of this impact may cause the receiving-end vehicle to spin or overturn in the intersection. These accidents typically happen when truck drivers are in a hurry and try to bead a yellow or red traffic light. Alternatively, they might run an intersection stop sign or yield sign, colliding with a vehicle traveling on the intersecting roadway. In either case, these accidents can lead to severe injuries for the occupants of the impacted vehicle.
- Sideswipe truck collisions – A sideswipe truck collision occurs when the side of a large truck or tractor-trailer brushes up against the side of another motor vehicle moving in the same direction. These accidents are common on busy, multiple-lane roads and highways. The truck driver, for example, might not pay attention to the road or may have consumed too much alcohol, causing their vehicle to shift over into another lane of travel and collide with another vehicle.
Tractor-trailer Driver Negligence That Can Lead to an Accident
Truck drivers often have a financial incentive to drive fast. Some trucking companies will offer their drivers huge cash bonuses if they deliver their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Therefore, many drivers will operate their vehicles as quickly and aggressively.
Moreover, in some instances, truck drivers will resort to drugs and other dangerous substances to keep themselves awake for long hours. These substances sometimes have the opposite effect and cause drivers to become drowsy while behind the wheel. Other truck drivers do not resort to drugs but continue driving for hours longer than they legally should and become sleepy. In any case, these activities amount to negligent driving and can result in severe accidents and injuries.
In trucking accidents, negligence means driving unreasonably under the circumstances.
Some of the most common types of truck driver negligence that can lead to accidents and injuries include:
- Violating road rules – Rules of the road apply not only to the operators of passenger vehicles but also to the operators of large trucks and tractor-trailers. When truck drivers violate these road rules, such as speeding, failing to use turn signals, tailgating other vehicles, and engaging in aggressive driving, they significantly increase the chances that they will cause an accident that leads to injuries.
- Violating motor carrier regulations – Motor carrier regulations determine the amount, sizes, types, and weights of cargo that large trucks and tractor-trailers can carry while on the road. They also prescribe rules for overhead and undercarriage lighting and loading materials and procedures. When truck drivers violate these regulations, cargo can fall off the truck or trailer while in motion, leading to a severe accident. Alternatively, when drivers fail to follow overhead and undercarriage lighting regulations, another driver might be unable to see the tractor-trailer, resulting in a severe collision.
- Intoxicated truck operation – Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a recipe for disaster. Some truck drivers resort to drugs to try and keep themselves awake for long hours. However, the substances they consume might make them tired and fall asleep at the wheel. A driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, stricter standards typically apply to commercial truck drivers, including the operators of large trucks and tractor-trailers. Moreover, even a truck driver who has a lower BAC might still be intoxicated to such an extent that they cannot safely operate their vehicle on the road.
- Distracted truck operation – Truck operators engage in distracted driving when they divert their attention away from the roadway. They may do this when attempting to program a GPS device, listening to loud music in the vehicle, or using a cellular phone or tablet to make a phone call or send a text message without a hands-free device. A truck driver who diverts their attention away from the road may not see a smaller vehicle or a pedestrian in the vicinity, resulting in a severe impact.
If you suffered injuries from any of these accidents resulting from truck driver negligence, you have legal options. An experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyer can explain what those options are and assist you with filing a claim for the monetary compensation that you deserve.
Trucking Company Negligence
Truck drivers are not the only ones who are negligent when a truck accident occurs. In fact, the trucking companies that employ these drivers may also share some or all of the responsibility for the accident. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring, retaining, and supervising safe and capable drivers.
When a trucking company does not perform the necessary background checks or keeps a problem driver, and an accident occurs, then the trucking company can be responsible for the collision. In addition, if a truck driver is operating their vehicle within the scope of their employment, imputed responsibility for the accident may lay with the trucking company and the driver.
A knowledgeable tractor-trailer accident lawyer can ascertain whether or not the truck driver who caused your accident was an employee and, if so, whether you can bring a claim against the trucking company in addition to the at-fault truck driver.
Other Negligence That Can Lead to a Tractor-trailer Collision
In addition to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, other individuals and entities can share some or all of the fault for an accident. First of all, a truck repair facility can be fully or partially to blame. Truck repair facilities are responsible for performing all of their repair work safely. When they make a mistake, and an accident occurs, you can hold them responsible.
In addition, some truck accidents result from defective truck parts, such as steering mechanisms and braking systems. When these parts malfunction while a driver is out on the road, they can bring about a severe collision. If that happens, the accident victim can assert a product liability claim against the responsible truck part manufacturer or distributor.
Injuries in Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Tractor-trailer accidents can lead to many severe injuries for accident victims. Not all truck accident cases are the same, and the injuries that accident victims suffer will vary significantly from case to case. The extent of a truck accident victim’s injuries will depend upon the speeds of the involved vehicles, the type of accident, how the accident occurs, and the mechanics of the accident victim’s injuries.
Common truck accident injuries include fractures, broken bones, soft tissue contusions, cuts, abrasions, bruises, internal injuries, spinal cord damage, and traumatic head injuries. If you have suffered any of these injuries in an accident, you must get immediate medical treatment. In a hospital emergency room, the healthcare provider on duty can render the emergency medical treatment that you need, take X-rays and MRIs, and recommend follow-up treatment if you need it.
After a tractor-trailer accident, obtain same-day medical treatment, follow through with all recommended treatment, and treat yourself continuously for your injuries.
Waiting too long to seek medical treatment after a tractor-trailer accident, or allowing for significant gaps in your medical treatment, will make an insurance company skeptical.
Specifically, the insurance company adjuster handling your truck accident claim will likely believe that your injuries were not all that serious if you wait too long to treat them or if you fail to follow the doctor’s orders. Therefore, the sooner you start treating your injuries, the better your case will go.
In addition, seeking early medical intervention helps to ensure that a minor injury does not become significantly worse. While you treat your injuries, a knowledgeable tractor-trailer accident lawyer can gather your medical treatment records and other necessary documentation and submit a demand package to the insurance company for you.
Talk With an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in a tractor-trailer accident that resulted from negligence, you may recover monetary compensation. In addition to recovering your lost wages, you can pursue compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, and mental distress. A truck accident lawyer can explain your options and help you pursue the compensation that you deserve.