Accidents involving 18-wheelers, also known as tractor-trailers or big rigs, tend to be more serious for several reasons according to an 18 wheeler accident lawyer with our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer:
- Size and Weight: 18-wheelers are significantly larger and heavier than most other vehicles on the road. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger car weighs around 4,000 pounds. The sheer mass and momentum of a tractor-trailer make collisions with smaller vehicles especially devastating.
- Increased Stopping Distance: Due to their size and weight, 18-wheelers have a longer stopping distance. This means that they require more time and distance to come to a complete stop, which can result in rear-end collisions or an inability to avoid obstacles on the road.
- Limited Maneuverability: Tractor-trailers are less maneuverable than smaller vehicles. They have a wider turning radius and may have difficulty navigating tight corners or avoiding hazards. This limited maneuverability can contribute to accidents in certain situations.
- Driver Fatigue: Long-haul truck drivers often face demanding schedules and spend extended hours on the road. Fatigue can lead to reduced alertness and slower reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Blind Spots: 18-wheelers have large blind spots, especially on the right side and directly behind the trailer. Smaller vehicles that linger in these blind spots may go unnoticed by the truck driver, increasing the potential for collisions.
- Mechanical Issues: Mechanical failures in large trucks, such as brake malfunctions or tire blowouts, can lead to accidents. Regular maintenance and safety checks are essential to prevent such issues.
- Cargo Spills: When an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident, the cargo it’s carrying can spill onto the road, creating additional hazards and causing more extensive damage.
- High Speeds: Tractor-trailers are often driven at high speeds on highways and interstates. When accidents occur at high speeds, the force of impact is more significant, leading to more severe injuries and damage.
- Inexperienced or Inattentive Drivers: Some truck drivers may lack experience or engage in distracted or reckless driving behaviors, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Jackknifing: Jackknifing is a dangerous situation where the trailer of an 18-wheeler swings outward, causing the truck to fold into a V-shape. This can occur during hard braking or sharp turns and often leads to serious accidents.
Accidents with large commercial trucks can result in severe injuries, significant property damage, and even fatalities due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. You should seek legal representation to ensure that you have an advocate who can help you navigate the complex legal process to obtain fair compensation.
Truck accidents often involve multiple parties, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and potentially other third parties, such as maintenance providers or cargo loaders. An experienced lawyer will investigate the accident thoroughly, identify liable parties, and determine the cause, which may involve factors like driver fatigue, mechanical failures, or regulatory violations.
Additionally, trucking companies often have insurance teams and legal counsel to protect their interests. Having your own attorney levels the playing field and ensures that your rights are safeguarded throughout the negotiation or litigation process.
Moreover, trucking regulations are extensive and complex, with federal and state laws governing various aspects of the industry. A knowledgeable attorney will understand these regulations and how they apply to your case, ensuring that all relevant laws are followed.
In summary, contacting a lawyer after a semi-truck accident is essential to protect your legal rights, investigate the incident thoroughly, and pursue the compensation you deserve. It’s a crucial step in ensuring that you receive proper medical care and financial support during the challenging aftermath of such a traumatic event.