Each year commercial trucks—also referred to as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs, or tractor-trailers—cause significant harm to Minnesota motorists. What sets these truck accidents apart from passenger vehicle accidents are the size and weight of the big rigs, which make them incredibly dangerous to motorists in smaller vehicles.
Semi-truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries to their victims. Because of this increased risk, commercial truck drivers must follow federal and state regulations to minimize the risk of fatal truck accidents and big truck wrecks. Even with these regulations, however, there are semi-truck drivers and commercial trucking companies that violate the rules and put other travelers at risk of serious harm.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, each year hundreds of thousands of large trucks are involved in crashes on U.S. roads, causing thousands of fatalities. Hundreds of those commercial truck crashes are on Minnesota roads, putting Minnesota drivers at risk of devastating harm.
Semi-trucks can weigh more than 10,000 pounds and sit much higher than passenger vehicles, meaning people in other cars and trucks are vulnerable to devastating injuries. Among those at risk of a truck cash; are motorists or passengers in other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
Underride crashes are especially horrific and occur when part or all of a passenger vehicle becomes wedged underneath a tractor-trailer. This occurs because of the difference in size between the two vehicles. Because of that size and weight difference, however, the occupants of the passenger vehicle are at risk of catastrophic harm, including decapitation.
There are laws requiring semi-trucks to have rear-guards to prevent a rear underride crash, but there are currently no laws requiring side guards. Furthermore, a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that strong underride guards could reduce the risk of injury in 75 percent of large truck side crashes. The institute estimates that up to half of fatal crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles involves an underride component.
Jackknife Truck Crashes
A jackknife truck crash occurs when a tractor-trailer skids and the trailer swings out from behind the cab to form a 90-degree angle with the cab. In addition to colliding with passenger vehicles when it jackknifes, a truck in this situation could roll over, causing more danger to other motorists.
Trucks Parked on the Shoulder
Occasionally, it is necessary for a tractor-trailer to pull over to the shoulder of the road. When that happens, the driver is responsible for taking proper precautions to ensure motorists see that the truck is parked at the side of the road. This includes pulling over as fully as possible and using alerts to warn motorists. Failure to do so could result in a motorist not seeing the truck and colliding with the stationary vehicle, causing devastating injuries.
Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
As with passenger vehicle accidents, there are a variety of reasons why an 18-wheeler accident might occur. Rarely is there only one factor that causes a truck crash. Rather, a combination of factors may combine to create the circumstances for a big truck wreck. These factors are typically split into different categories, including issues with the driver, issues with the vehicle, and issues with the environment.
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Following too close
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Brake problems
- Vehicle improperly maintained
- Tire problems
- Cargo shift
- Roadway problems
- Weather conditions
Among the regulations that trucking companies and drivers must follow are rules regarding keeping accurate logbooks, rules limiting the number of hours driving, rules requiring background checks, and rules regarding administering employee evaluations.
Some trucking companies or drivers may falsify logbooks, time sheets, or other paperwork to avoid following laws designed to prevent driving while fatigued, putting motorists at risk of a catastrophic truck accident.
Truck Crash Lawsuits
Depending on the situation, there are a variety of parties who could be responsible for paying damages if you or a loved one is harmed in a truck accident. The driver may be responsible for his own actions but if the trucking company was negligent in hiring him—or forced him to drive unreasonable hours—the company could also be liable.
Among the parties who could be liable in a truck accident lawsuit:
- Trucking company
- Truck manufacturer
- Cargo shipper
- Cargo Loader
Experienced Truck Injury Lawyer
At Patterson Dahlberg, Injury Lawyers, we have successfully recovered more than $120,000,000 for our personal injury clients. We have a strong history of fighting for our clients to ensure they receive the compensation they’re entitled to. Our truck accident attorneys are highly experienced at handling personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims.
Truck Accident Law Firm
Because of the regulations surrounding the trucking industry, truck crash lawsuits can be complicated.
If you have been injured in a big rig accident, or have had a loved one involved in a fatal truck accident, it is vital you speak with an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney.
Truck crash lawyers at Patterson Dahlberg are experienced in the complexity of vehicle regulations and commercial vehicle insurance.
Your best interests are our focus and we’re committed to fighting to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Contact truck accident lawyers at Patterson Dahlberg for a free consultation. We’re here to help you.