Truck accidents are some of the most devastating vehicle accidents that can occur on the roads of the United States. All drivers must understand the potential danger of truck accidents and do what they can to prevent these incidents from occurring. It’s vital to remember that truck accidents can happen due to the negligence of truck drivers and the drivers of other vehicles. If you want to reduce your risk of experiencing a truck accident, it’s vital to keep a few best practices in mind.
Are Semi Trucks Safe?
Semi trucks, like all other vehicles, are only safe when they are operated safely and properly maintained. The safety of a semi truck typically hinges on the truck’s driver. If the driver fails to uphold their duty of care to operate their truck safely, they place everyone nearby at extreme risk. Modern semi trucks include many safety features not seen on earlier models, but the duty of care to prevent truck accidents primarily falls to the truck driver.
What Causes a Runaway Truck?
The term “runaway truck” refers to a commercial truck whose driver has lost control of the vehicle. Commercial trucks are exponentially larger than most other passenger vehicles, requiring much more time and distance to slow down and stop when necessary. They are also more vulnerable to changes in terrain, such as sharp curves and steep slopes. A runaway truck can occur when a truck driver descends a sloping road too quickly or drives too fast to maintain control over the vehicle.
How Long Does It Take to Stop a Truck?
Stopping time and distance are major factors when it comes to avoiding traffic accidents. Several factors determine how long it will take for a vehicle to come to a stop, including the size and weight of the vehicle, current road conditions, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. As a general example, a larger and heavier vehicle traveling at high speed on a wet road will require much more time and distance to stop than a smaller vehicle traveling at moderate speed on a dry road.
The time it takes for a truck to stop can vary significantly based on these factors. For example, if two trucks are traveling at 55 miles per hour, and one is on a dry road while the other is on a wet road, the truck on the wet road will take longer to stop in both time and distance. The amount of cargo the truck is carrying will also influence stopping time. A fully loaded truck will carry more inertia than an empty truck and require much more time and distance to come to a stop.
What Are the Best Practices You Can Exhibit on the Roads to Avoid Accidents With Trucks?
All drivers, including passenger vehicle drivers and commercial truck drivers, can follow a few best practices to limit their risk of causing or experiencing a truck accident. If you are driving your vehicle near large commercial trucks, adopt the principles of defensive driving to limit your risk of experiencing an accident. This means refraining from speeding, keeping to the right whenever possible, and engaging your turn signals before turning or changing lanes. Defensive driving also means staying alert to the traffic conditions around you:
- If you are driving near a commercial truck and notice other drivers speeding or driving aggressively, keep to the right and move with traffic flow at a safe pace.
- Allow faster-moving traffic to pass and maintain an appropriate following distance from the vehicle in front of you, especially if it is a large truck. As a general rule, it is best to leave one car length of space between you and another vehicle for every 10 miles per hour of speed. When driving at 50 mph, it’s best to leave about five car lengths between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Do not make sudden maneuvers near large trucks, such as swerving between lanes or changing lanes suddenly without signaling. This can cause a truck driver to reflexively swerve and lose control of the vehicle.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition. Whenever you notice a problem with your vehicle, address it as soon as possible, so it does not cause an accident.
Hopefully, these best practices will help you limit your risk of experiencing a truck accident. However, it is not always possible to anticipate the actions of other drivers, including truck drivers. These parties also have a responsibility to drive safely and do what they can to prevent truck accidents.
Truck Driver Best Practices
So, how can truck accidents be prevented? One of the best ways to reduce the chance of a truck accident occurring is for the truck driver to be vigilant and alert at all times while operating a commercial truck. Large commercial trucks are some of the largest and most inherently dangerous vehicles on the roads. Truck drivers have a higher duty of care to drive safely than drivers of smaller passenger vehicles because driving is their primary job duty, and they must keep a few things in mind with every delivery:
- Truck drivers may not drive under the influence of alcohol. While the legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers of standard passenger vehicles is .08% BAC, the legal limit for commercial truck drivers is only .02% BAC. This is a very minute amount, so it is always best for truck drivers to completely abstain from alcohol before operating their vehicles.
- Truck drivers must abide by the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA upholds strict rules for truck driver safety, including hours of service requirements and required rest periods. While some truck drivers may feel pressured to push themselves too far to meet deadlines, breaking FMCSA regulations can lead to devastating accidents.
- Truck drivers must ensure their vehicles are fit for service before every delivery. In some situations, this responsibility may fall to the owner of the truck or another party. However, all truck drivers have a responsibility to address any mechanical issues as they appear.
These are just a few of the ways truck drivers can reduce the chance of accidents happening. The other parties involved in trucking operations also have their own responsibilities to follow if they want to avoid liability for a truck accident.
How Can Trucking Companies Prevent Truck Accidents?
Trucking companies can potentially absorb liability for the actions of their drivers under the legal concept of vicarious liability. Every trucking company must ensure the drivers they hire have the required licenses and certifications to operate commercial vehicles. They must also provide appropriate training before assigning a driver any delivery route.
Background checks are crucial for commercial trucking companies. If a trucking company fails to conduct a proper background check on a driver and that driver causes an accident, the trucking company will absorb liability for the resulting damages. Trucking companies must also ensure every truck in their fleet receives appropriate mechanical service and maintenance as required by the FMCSA.
Cargo Needs to Be Loaded Properly to Prevent Accidents
The average fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 40 tons and stand more than 13 feet off the ground. This means a large commercial truck is more vulnerable to momentum shifts due to the higher center of gravity, and improperly loaded cargo can exacerbate this vulnerability. Any party responsible for loading a commercial truck’s trailer must ensure that all cargo is properly secured and that the trailer is balanced. If a truck’s load is one-sided and the driver must negotiate a sharp turn, the imbalanced cargo can cause the trailer to tip over, causing a devastating accident that potentially harms many other drivers nearby.
Some commercial trucks carry special cargo like smaller passenger vehicles, construction materials, lumber, concrete pipe segments, and oversized loads. All specialized cargo must be secured appropriately and balanced.
Who Is Liable for My Truck Accident Damages?
If you or a loved one were recently involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you are likely wondering which party or parties bear responsibility for your damages. Truck accidents can easily cause catastrophic injuries such as brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal organ injuries. These injuries will, in turn, cause expensive medical bills and create complex financial problems for victims. If you have been injured in a truck accident in any way, a San Diego truck accidents attorney is your best resource for determining your options for legal recourse.
Due to the legal concept of vicarious liability, more than one party can bear responsibility for your damages. An experienced attorney will be invaluable for identifying the parties liable for your damages and ensuring a favorable outcome to your case.
Potential Damages in a Truck Accident Claim
If you believe another party is responsible for a recent truck accident, your San Diego truck accidents attorney can help you hold them accountable in a personal injury claim. California state law allows a personal injury plaintiff to potentially secure several types of compensation for their losses, including:
- Medical expenses resulting from the accident, both immediate and future. If you sustained injuries that will require a long recovery time, you could expect compensation for the immediate costs like hospital bills as well as your anticipated long-term costs for necessary ongoing treatments.
- Lost income. Your truck accident could leave you unable to work while you recover from your injuries. Some truck accidents result in permanent disabilities that can prevent victims from ever working again in the future. Personal injury plaintiffs have the right to claim lost earnings and lost earning potential in their cases.
- Pain and suffering. California state law allows a personal injury plaintiff to recover compensation for physical pain and psychological trauma resulting from a defendant’s negligence. The amount received typically reflects the severity of the victim’s injuries, anticipated recovery time, and the likelihood of long-term medical complications.
- Property damage. A personal injury plaintiff can claim the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle and any other property damaged or destroyed in a truck accident.
It should be easy to see that a truck accident can easily result in severe losses for the victims, translating to substantial recovery through successful personal injury claims. It is vital for anyone who has recently experienced a truck accident to consult an experienced San Diego truck accidents attorney as soon as possible to discuss their legal options.
What to Expect in a Truck Accident Claim
If you decide to take legal action for the recent losses you experienced in a truck accident, it is vital to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible, so you know what to expect from the process. Truck accident claims are some of the most complex vehicle accident claims for several reasons, namely the concept of vicarious liability and the substantial damages that typically come into play. The right attorney will help you navigate your case with confidence.
Your Attorney Can Help You ID All the Liable Parties
The first step in securing your recovery for your truck accident damages would be to identify the party or parties responsible for causing the accident. Your San Diego truck accidents attorney can help you determine whether vicarious liability is likely to come into play in your claim. If so, they will help you identify all the parties that bear responsibility for your damages.
When you work with Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates on your truck accident claim, our team will help you determine the best approach to your legal proceedings to ensure maximum recovery. We may consult with expert witnesses, including medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, or engineers, to address any complex technical issues that arise in your case. We will exhaust every open channel of compensation available to you to maximize your recovery. If you are ready to discuss your legal options after a truck accident in the San Diego, CA, area, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to schedule a case evaluation with our team.