Types of Truck Accidents

Trucks are essential to the functioning of our economy and communities. Unfortunately, these vehicles can pose significant dangers to others on the road. Accidents involving large trucks are typically the most severe and often fatal. 

One reason is that trucks are extremely heavy—as much as 20 times the weight of the average passenger vehicle—and thus hardest to maneuver. Difficulty stopping can complicate a driver’s ability to react to sudden hazards. Combined with their unwieldy size, large trucks can be a deadly force.

The Danger of Commercial Trucks

Accidents involving big trucks and passenger cars are far more dangerous to those in the smaller vehicle. Around 82 percent of truck accident fatalities are suffered by those inside smaller cars, on bicycles, or on foot. And while big trucks account for only four percent of all registered vehicles, they are involved in 10 percent of fatal accidents. In fact, 74 percent of all accidents resulting in passenger vehicle fatality involve impact with a big truck.

For more context, 4,119 people died in truck crashes in 2019 alone. Sixteen percent were truck occupants, while 67 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles.

Types of Trucks Commonly Involved in Accidents

1. Tractor-Trailers: Also called big rigs, eighteen-wheelers, or semis, tractor-trailers usually travel on highways at high speeds. These trucks account for the largest number of commercial vehicles on the road. The most common cause of tractor-trailer accidents is difficulty stopping, but they can also crash when improperly loaded cargo shifts during transit. Especially troubling is that tractor-trailers travel long distances without breaks, which can lead to driver fatigue.

2. Garbage and Recycling Trucks: Waste collection trucks typically travel throughout residential neighborhoods. Because they make frequent stops at houses and businesses, they are most commonly involved in rear-end accidents. In addition, their high cabs and blind spots can prevent drivers from noticing other vehicles and pedestrians on the road. 

3. Dump Trucks: Dump trucks transport materials from construction sites. Starting at an average weight of 28 tons, they can weigh up to 42 tons with cargo. This makes their weight 30 times heavier than a typical passenger vehicle. Because they carry loose materials like stone, incorrectly secured cargo can be hazardous to vehicles.

4. Tanker Trucks: Tanker trucks carry liquids that can shift inside improperly filled tanks, causing the truck to lose control. For this reason, tankers are especially prone to rollover accidents when rounding sharp turns. If the tank’s contents are flammable, poisonous, or otherwise toxic, the contents can pose dangers to those uninvolved in the crash.

5. Flatbed Trucks: Similar to tractor-trailers, flatbed trucks have an open back for loading and unloading oversized items. Crashes typically occur due to unsecured or unbalanced cargo. Because flatbed trucks can haul heavier loads, these accidents are often more serious than those involving tractor-trailers. 

6. Tow Trucks: Though smaller than a typical truck, tow trucks are still significantly heavier and larger than passenger vehicles. Tow trucks are often owned and operated by private companies, and their drivers can be improperly trained. Inexperience behind the wheel of a tow truck is extremely dangerous.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents 

Even when professional truck drivers are competent and prepared, a small mistake can create a serious accident. Some common causes of large truck accidents include:

  • Negligence: Whether the truck driver or another motorist is at fault, failure to drive with caution is the most common cause of accidents.
  • Driver Fatigue: Drowsy driving is dangerous in any vehicle. Truck drivers are especially at risk due to pressure to meet delivery times and long shift hours. 
  • Impaired Driving: Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an obvious danger due to slowed reaction times.
  • Reckless Driving: Speeding, unsafe maneuvering, and other forms of recklessness contribute to a large percentage of crashes. 
  • Equipment Failure: Big trucks and trailers require special maintenance. Brake failures, tire problems, and improper loading can be extremely dangerous.
  • Road Conditions: Truckers driving in rain or snowstorms may face unavoidable accidents. 

Who Is at Fault?

Determining who is at fault in a commercial truck accident can be complicated. An experienced truck accident attorney will investigate the accident to form a compelling theory of liability. They may use accident reconstruction, evidence collection, and expert consultations to present the strongest possible case on your behalf.

Some examples of who can potentially be held responsible include:

  • The truck driver.
  • Their employer or carrier company.
  • The companies that provide services to the carrier.
  • The manufacturer of the truck or its parts.
  • The company that owns or loaded the cargo.
  • The government entity or contractor responsible for building and maintaining the roads.

Truck Accident Damages

If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. This money may come from an insurance settlement or a successful court case award. 

There are two common types of damages personal injury victims receive. Economic damages cover quantifiable expenses like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional distress, compensate you for less tangible losses.

We recommend that you never accept an offer from an insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer. Consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney is essential to value your claim accurately. Insurance agents are incentivized to pay out as little as possible. While it may be tempting to accept their offer outright, a successful case can earn you much more. 

Contact a Detroit Truck Accident Attorney 

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, contact Sommers Schwartz today. Our accident attorneys are serious about holding negligent drivers and trucking companies financially accountable for the harm they’ve caused. We have a reputation for excellence and take great pride in helping victims recover the compensation they deserve.

To speak with a Sommers Schwartz attorney about your rights, call (800) 783-0989 for a free consultation.

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