An accident involving a large commercial vehicle like a semi-truck is much different from one between passenger vehicles like cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. There are several reasons truck crashes tend to be more severe than other types of accidents:
- Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded—roughly 20-30 times the weight of a car.
- Tractor-trailers can reach 70-80 feet in length, while the typical car is between 10 and 17 feet.
- Large trucks have two separate components (the tractor and the trailer) that can come apart if not properly fastened.
- A standard semi-trailer is over 13 feet high and up to 53 feet long, creating a high center of gravity and a broad, flat surface that can be highly affected by winds.
- At 65 mph under ideal conditions, a car may need around 300 feet to stop—but a truck needs more than 520 feet to come to a complete stop after braking.
These factors cause trucks to be vulnerable to a number of unique types of accidents.
What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
There are some types of truck accidents that are also commonly seen in car vs. car collisions. These include:
- T-bone accidents (also called broadside collisions)
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe accidents
However, the common types of truck accidents listed below rarely happen in typical car crashes. These types of collisions are considered specific to large commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers.
A jackknife accident occurs when the tractor and trailer components of the vehicle move at separate angles, creating an “L” or “V” shape similar to a pocketknife. This usually happens because a driver brakes too hard and too quickly, thus causing the weight and acceleration of the trailer to push it forward.
Just as the name implies, a rollover accident is when the truck driver loses control of the vehicle, and it rolls over onto its side. This type of accident often results in serious injuries or fatalities. It is one of the few types of collisions that can be as deadly to the truck driver as it can be to passenger vehicle occupants. Driving in high winds, taking turns too sharply, and improper braking can result in rollovers.
One of the deadliest types of truck accidents is known as an underride. This describes a situation in which a passenger vehicle “rides under” the trailer of a semi-truck and becomes trapped. It typically results when a truck brakes suddenly and the following car slides beneath it without time to stop.
Similar to an underride accident, an override occurs when an 18-wheeler “rides over” a passenger vehicle in front of it. This may be the result of excessive speeding or a failure to notice a car braking on the road ahead.
These types of crashes are exceptionally severe and seldom result in minor injuries. If victims are able to survive an underride or override accident, there is a high chance their injuries will be catastrophic, resulting in life-long impairment.
Tire blowouts are one of the leading causes of truck accidents resulting from vehicle malfunction. Due to the enormous weight and pressure truck tires must bear, a blowout can easily occur if the conditions are not properly managed.
Overloaded cargo, unevenly distributed weight, improper tire pressure, cheap or defective tires, speeding, or hitting curbs, debris, or potholes can all lead to a truck tire blowout. This often results in the driver losing control of the semi-truck—striking an object, colliding with another vehicle, or veering into oncoming traffic.
Lost Load Accidents
When hitches are not properly fastened, loads are not adequately secured, and cargo is not safely packed, a driver may lose all or part of a shipment en route on the highway. A lost load can quickly escalate into a multi-vehicle pile-up as large objects roll into or block the flow of traffic.
Large commercial vehicles require a much wider angle for making turns than passenger cars. Left-hand turns, in particular, can be unwieldy and difficult for an inexperienced truck driver to safely maneuver. Truck drivers have a responsibility to warn other motorists well in advance of the turn, and to make the turn slowly, precisely, and only when the way is clear of vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Blind Spot Accidents
A trucker’s line of sight is hindered by sizeable blind spots on all sides of the tractor-trailer. Truck blind spots—also called no-zones or danger zones—extend 20 feet in front of the cab, 30 feet behind the trailer, and one to two lanes on both sides of the truck.
Serious collisions can occur when truck drivers and passenger vehicle motorists don’t respect the hazards of semi-truck blind spots. It’s essential that both truckers and other drivers exercise caution when merging or changing lanes. This includes signaling in advance and moving only when you are sure the other driver is aware of your actions and is allowing you to move.
Get Expert Legal Guidance After a California Truck Accident
The attorneys on our truck accident team devote their skill and effort to defending the rights of injured 18-wheeler crash victims in California. Regaining your rightful compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages can be enormously challenging. Large commercial vehicle carriers and their insurers often do everything in their power to evade liability and reduce payouts to injured accident victims.
At Frost Law Firm, PC, we have the experience needed to give accident victims the representation they deserve. If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a truck accident in Los Angeles County, contact our law office today. We will begin by scheduling a free, no-risk consultation to assess your legal options and give you the opportunity to find out if we’re the right law firm for you.