Trucking accidents cause serious injury or death to thousands of people across the nation each year.
Semi truck accidents account for almost 13% of all traffic deaths in the United States. The driver of a tractor trailer is significantly less likely to be injured in a collision than the drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved. This is primarily due to the sheer size of most semi trucks. Trucking accidents can be caused by a number of factors.
Tractor trailers are very large, unwieldy vehicles to drive. Even at relatively low speeds, some maneuvers can cause a semi truck to roll over. When going down a hill, it is possible for a large truck to “trip” itself when turning suddenly. Tractor trailers may be overloaded, given an unbalanced load, or the load may shift in transit. These situations can all make a semi truck more likely to tip over. It is also difficult to bring an 18-wheeler to a sudden stop. Tractor trailers are equipped with special brakes, however it is still possible to lock the brakes. This can also cause the loaded trailer of a semi truck to swing out to the side of the vehicle, in other words locking the brakes can cause the big rig to “jackknife.” This is an extremely dangerous situation, as a jackknifed tractor trailer can sideswipe other cars, bystanders, and buildings.
Many times, trucking companies do not properly maintain their fleet of semi trucks in order to save money. Poorly maintained tractor trailer fleets can result in dangerous and inadequate trucks. If a semi truck needs to brake suddenly, for example, it is important that the brakes are properly calibrated, or the truck may not be able to stop quickly enough without jackknifing the trailer. This sets the stage for catastrophic trucking accidents, which can cause permanent injury or death.
Another common cause of trucking accidents is negligent semi truck drivers. Trucking companies typically pay their drivers by the number of miles covered, which encourages speeding and extended periods behind the wheel. Tractor trailer drivers may push themselves to accumulate greater mileage, despite new laws placing limits on the number of consecutive driving hours. Drivers are also required to record their hours in a log. It is possible to falsify records, however.
Be aware that trucking companies act immediately after accidents to assess and limit their financial liability to the victims involved. The sooner you hire a qualified accident attorney, the better it is for your case.