Tractor-trailers are an important part of Indiana’s economy, transporting goods throughout the state and across state lines. While trucks are essential, they also present unique hazards on the road because of their size and weight. There are numerous factors that could lead to a truck accident, which can leave accident victims with devastating injuries.
If you have been involved in an Indiana tractor-trailer accident, you know how dangerous these vehicles can be. You may be struggling to recover from your injuries and pay your bills. If the truck driver caused the accident, you may have grounds to pursue compensation for your losses in a tractor-trailer accident claim.
The experienced tractor-trailer accident attorneys of Truitt Law Offices can help. Contact us today to learn more in a free initial consultation.
What Makes Tractor-Trailers So Dangerous?
Tractor-trailers are giants among vehicles. A commercial truck carrying a full load of cargo can easily weigh 20 to 30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle. They are significantly taller and longer than other vehicles as well. In a collision, that weight difference means the smaller, lighter vehicle will generally sustain the brunt of the impact.
The size and weight of a tractor-trailer present the following issues that may increase the risk and severity of traffic accidents:
- Huge blind spots – Every vehicle has blind spots, but the size and length of a tractor-trailer mean that truck drivers have large blind spots on every side of the vehicle. They have to remain aware of any nearby vehicles located in the truck’s blind spots at all times. A truck’s blind spots increase the risk of blind spot accidents when changing lanes.
- Greater stopping distance – The weight of a loaded heavy tractor-trailer means that tractor-trailers require much longer distances to stop than automobiles. The stopping distance is even great on wet roads. If traffic ahead slows or stops suddenly, a truck driver may be unable to stop in time and avoid a rear-end truck accident.
- Greater ground clearance – Tractor-trailers sit much higher up off the ground than other vehicles, creating a structural incompatibility with smaller vehicles and the risk of serious accidents. The large gap underneath a tractor-trailer is especially dangerous to occupants of other vehicles in a crash. A smaller car may slide underneath the side or back of a truck trailer in what’s known as an underride accident.
- High center of gravity – Because tractor-trailers are so tall, they have a higher center of gravity than other vehicles. This can be an issue when truck drivers take curves too quickly or experience tire blowouts. The higher center of gravity contributes to rollover accidents.
- Wide turning radius – Compared with other vehicles, tractor-trailers have to make much wider turns around corners. This can increase the risk of accidents if drivers are forced to cross multiple lanes of oncoming traffic to navigate through a left-hand or right-hand turn.
- Intensive maintenance requirements – Tractor-trailers travel thousands of miles a month and require intensive routine maintenance to remain roadworthy. If truck owners neglect their truck’s maintenance needs, the failure of truck components such as brake failures or tire failure can lead to dangerous accidents.
How Do Most Tractor-Trailer Accidents Occur?
The majority of tractor-trailer accidents are caused by the negligence of truck drivers, other road users, or third parties who are involved in the operation of a commercial truck. Any of the following may be found responsible for a tractor-trailer accident, complicating the issue of determining liability:
- Truck drivers – Truck drivers may be responsible for accidents if they act recklessly or drive while distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise impaired.
- Other road users – Another driver may cause a tractor-trailer accident if the motorist violates traffic laws or drives in a way that causes a truck driver to collide with other vehicles.
- Trucking companies – A trucking company may be responsible for accidents caused by a truck driver it employs. The trucking company also may be liable if it fails to maintain its tractor-trailers, hires unsafe drivers, or pressures its drivers to disregard hours-of-service limits.
- Cargo loading companies – Cargo loading companies can be at fault for tractor-trailer accidents if they overload trailers or fail to properly secure cargo. If cargo shifts in transit, it can cause a driver to lose control and cause an accident.
- Truck repair mechanics – A truck mechanic may be responsible for an accident if the mechanic failed to properly inspect, maintain, or repair critical components and a subsequent component failure leads to a loss-of-control wreck.
- Truck component manufacturers – Manufacturers of faulty truck components may be at fault for tractor-trailer accidents if the components fail such as a tire blowout and cause an accident.
What Causes Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
Common causes of Indiana tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Distracted driving – Truck drivers who are distracted by cell phone conversations, food or drink, personal grooming, adjusting vehicle controls, or other activities that take their focus away from the road
- Driving under the influence – Drivers who are intoxicated by alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or over-the-counter medications that compromise their ability to drive safely
- Driver fatigue – Drivers who are drowsy due to lack of adequate rest, which can be just as dangerous as drunkenness, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Aggressive driving – Drivers who engage in aggressive or reckless behaviors such as speeding, lane weaving, tailgating, or failing to check blind spots
- Inexperienced driving and driving errors – Drivers with limited experience who may not have the skills needed to cope with truck-related driving scenarios
- Improper cargo loading – Cargo in the back of a tractor-trailer that was overloaded or improperly balanced or secured by cargo-loading teams, can lead to loss of traction or rollovers
- Truck component failure – Failing components such as tires, steering systems, or brakes that lead to loss of vehicle control
- Poor road conditions – Conditions such as slick surfaces, large potholes, and blind curves or steep grades make it more difficult for tractor-trailer drivers to retain control of their vehicles
What Should You Do After a Semi-Truck Accident?
If you were involved in an Indiana semi-truck accident, you can protect your legal rights by:
- Seeking prompt medical attention and following through on your doctor’s treatment recommendations
- Gathering as much information and evidence from the scene of the accident as possible, including contact and insurance information from the driver, photos of the scene, and statements from any eyewitnesses
- Establishing a pain journal to keep a daily record of the pain, discomfort, and physical limitations you experience as a result of the accident
- Keeping track of all documents related to the accident, including your medical bills, vehicle repair invoices, receipts from incidental out-of-pocket expenses, and pay stubs that reflect your reduced income due to missed time at work.
Contact an Indiana Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney Today
Tractor-trailer accident cases tend to be more complex than automobile accidents. It’s typically in your best interest to seek the help of a qualified attorney if you have been injured in a crash involving a large commercial truck. Contact the Indiana truck accident lawyers of Truitt Law Offices today to discuss the details of your case in a free case review.