Approximately 18,510 vehicle accidents happen every day in the United States, causing over 100 deaths. That translates to around 6.75 million crashes and 38,000 deaths per year.
While both can cause vehicle or property damage, injuries and even deaths, car accidents are quite different from accidents involving semi-trucks. Some of these differences are:
- The severity of damages and injuries is usually greater in truck-related accidents.
- The immediate and long-term required medical care resulting from truck accidents can be more extensive. Financial burdens can also be more significant. There is likely to be more time lost from work. Pain and suffering can be worse than in car accidents.
- The likelihood of fatalities is greater in crashes including big trucks.
- Semi-related crashes are more complicated than passenger vehicle crashes, which results in more time and money spent investigating them.
- Truck drivers and trucking companies can be jointly held liable for accidents, whereas most drivers are car owners in personal auto crashes.
- Insurance carriers for trucking companies can be more aggressive in disputing their client’s liability, making reasonable settlements harder to obtain.
Trucks vs. Cars
Semi-trucks are monsters when compared to passenger vehicles. An average semi-truck is 72 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall. A fully loaded semi-truck weighs around 80,000 pounds.
Cars, on the other hand, are much smaller. The average car is 14.7 feet long and weighs an average of 4,094 pounds. One semi-truck is the same length as almost five cars and weighs as much as 19.5 cars.
Because of their weight and size, trucks are harder to maneuver and it takes longer for them to come to a stop than a car traveling at the same speed. The chances are that if a truck is involved in a crash, injuries and damages will be severe.
While truck drivers suffer fatalities also, passenger vehicle occupants are far more likely than truck drivers to sustain fatal injuries in accidents involving a semi-truck.
Circumstances that usually cause truck accidents are different from the common causes of car accidents. Both types of crashes can result from human error but circumstances such as speeding and distracted driving cause most car crashes. Many truck accidents happen because of the driving limitations presented by the massive size of the trucks.
Crashes that don’t involve heavy trucks are more common than those that do. Many situations can cause car crashes but there are a few common types of car accidents, including:
Single Vehicle Accidents
This type of crash is usually caused by distracted driving, although slick road conditions also cause drivers to lose control of their car and crash.
Improper Merging Crashes
Drivers who pull out of their lane into the path of another vehicle can cause accidents when merging into traffic because they don’t pay close enough attention to the cars surrounding them.
Drivers must pay attention to the speed of the car directly in front of them. If you follow too closely behind a vehicle and that car slows suddenly, you may not be able to slow your vehicle quickly enough to avoid a crash. Speeding, aggressive or distracted driving can contribute to this type of collision.
Unfortunately, drivers sometimes become complacent when driving at lower speeds. They might look away from the road and look back only to realize that they are about to hit an animal or person in their path or crash because their car veered away from their lane of traffic while they weren’t looking. Cell phone use while driving is frequently behind these crashes.
These accidents occur at intersections. The driver of one vehicle either fails to stop at a stop sign or traffic light or doesn’t yield to other cars and hits another vehicle or places their car into the path of oncoming traffic. In these crashes, one car drives straight into the side of another vehicle. Distracted driving or negligence is often the cause of these accidents.
As previously mentioned, human error usually causes passenger vehicle accidents. Examples of human error include:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving, which includes actions like eating, cell phone use, putting on makeup, daydreaming, interacting with other occupants in the vehicle, and using GPS
- Reckless driving
- Weather conditions such as rain that causes limited vision of the roadway, puddled water which causes hydroplaning and sleet, ice, or other slick road conditions
Some truck accidents are similar to car accidents as far as the types of crashes that occur; however, the truck’s size can cause crashes that generally wouldn’t happen if only passenger vehicles were involved. There are several common types of truck accidents, including:
Under Ride and Rear-End
Sometimes trucks must stop quickly, and cars traveling behind the truck may not be able to stop fast enough to avoid a collision. Because trailers are higher off the ground, those cars can travel under the trailer and become wedged.
If a semi-truck approaches a car too quickly, it may not be able to slow down in time to prevent hitting the car. Because of the truck’s extreme weight, the truck might hit and ride up onto the back of the vehicle.
Several factors can cause drivers to lose control of their trucks. Slick road conditions, tire blowouts and driver fatigue can cause trucks to go out of control. An out-of-control truck can slide and roll over onto its side. The truck can crush nearby vehicles or slide into them, causing severe trauma or fatalities to the occupants.
Because of the trailer’s weight, its forward momentum can push it into the cab at a 90-degree angle if the driver brakes hard, causing the driver to lose control of the truck. This type of crash can’t occur with other vehicles unless they pull a trailer, like a pickup truck pulling a trailer filled with lawn care equipment.
No Man’s Land
Trucks have huge blind spots, known as “no man’s land.” Truck drivers can hit surrounding vehicles because they aren’t able to see them.
Improperly loaded cargo can shift during transit and fall out or cause the truck to overbalance, and surrounding traffic might hit or be hit by the falling load. This issue is especially hazardous if the truck is hauling toxic substances.
If a truck and a passenger vehicle hit head-on, the truck isn’t likely to be harmed; however, the car can be destroyed and its occupants severely injured or killed.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Although some causes of truck accidents are similar to the causes of car crashes, the effects of a truck accident are usually worse because of the size and weight of the truck. Some factors that cause truck crashes are:
- Equipment failure
- Severe weather conditions
- Speeding or aggressive driving
- Fatigued driving — laws require truckers to rest after driving a certain number of hours; however, some drivers don’t stop driving when they should.
- Cargo issues — including improper loading and overloading
- Distracted driving
Truck accidents and car crashes aren’t created equally. Accidents involving trucks are more deadly than car crashes, even in the same type of incident.
If you are involved in a car or truck accident in Indiana, you need the help of experienced attorneys in sorting through the resulting investigation, damages and insurance challenges. The personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group have experience with both types of accidents and are ready to assist you.