Accidents involving tractor-trailers are among the most deadly collisions that can occur on the roadways. From overrides to rollovers, drivers adjacent to tractor-trailers must be constantly aware of the types of truck accidents that can occur – and practice defensive driving tactics accordingly.
Unfortunately, the risk of severe injury or fatality increases when an accident involves a tractor-trailer, and far too many victims are left unable to return to work due to permanent disability – oftentimes due to the negligence and reckless misconduct of the truck driver or his employer.
What is a jackknife truck accident?
A jackknifed tractor-trailer can end up careening out of control, leaving nothing but damage in its wake. For those unfamiliar, a jackknife truck accident occurs when the cab of the truck stops, but the trailer does not, causing the trailer to whip around, creating an “L” or “V” shape.
According to 2012 statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were over 5,000 crashes involving a jackknifed tractor-trailer. Of these crashes, 163 resulted in a fatality; 1,000 involved serious injury; and 4,000 involved property damage only. Causes of a jackknife tractor-trailer accident could include any of the following:
- Truck overload
- Driver inattentiveness/fatigue
- Driving too fast for road conditions, braking too fast
- Traveling in severe weather
- Defective or malfunctioning truck parts
For vehicles immediately adjacent to a jackknifed truck, it can be exceedingly difficult to maneuver to safety, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities.
What is a rollover truck accident?
Rollover truck accidents are attributable to a number of factors. Overloaded trailers, speeding, abrupt movement, weather, and road conditions may all cause a truck to topple. As there is no way to control a truck once it begins to tip over, surrounding motorists may be crushed or become trapped. Moreover, rollovers can cause catastrophic environmental damage depending on the nature of the cargo the truck was hauling.
As always, tractor-trailer drivers must exercise reasonable care and caution while operating their vehicles, and failure to adhere to these requirements can quickly cause catastrophe. According to a 2008 study of rollover crashes by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, speed is the largest contributing factor – particularly as tractor-trailers attempt to navigate sharp turns and curves in the roadway. Moreover, the study estimated misjudgment, often while speeding, caused four-fifths of rollovers.
What is an override truck accident?
An override accident is one that occurs when a truck drives over the back of another vehicle, often crushing the vehicle’s roof and seriously compromising the safety of all passengers. An override accident can occur in any number of ways, but overrides are quite often attributable to inattention on the part of the truck operator. While all override cases involve a unique set of facts, the following are common scenarios leading up to an override event:
- The tractor-trailer is following too closely behind the vehicle in front
- Driver inattentiveness or distraction
- Abruptly changing lanes
- Failure to stop at a red light or stop sign
The driver of a passenger car can also cause an override accident if she cuts off the truck or brakes too abruptly.
Naturally, override accidents present an extremely high risk of fatality for the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle. According to 2008-2009 statistics compiled by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, override occurred in approximately 72 percent of all truck accidents when the front of the truck was involved. While the study suggested that size mismatch between the truck and vehicle is a common catalyst for overrides, driver negligence is often the starting point at which the incident begins.
What is an underride truck accident?
The term “underride” encompasses a variety of situations, all of which present a great risk of entrapment and serious injury for a small vehicle driver. Generally speaking, an underride accident occurs when a vehicle becomes trapped beneath a tractor-trailer, from either the sides or the rear of the truck.
While many tractor-trailer models must have underride guards to prevent this type of occurrence, the University of Michigan study mentioned above revealed that underride accidents are the most deadly type of truck accident – and only 55 percent of all trucks involved in fatal underride accidents in 2008-2009 were equipped with underride guards to prevent such instances.
An underride accident can happen in many ways, such as if the driver:
- Brakes too abruptly
- Does not have working brake lights
- Cuts off a smaller vehicle
- Backs up without signaling or checking
- Does not equip the truck with underride guards
Any truck accident can cause severe or fatal injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Broken bones
Not only do accident victims frequently miss work, but the sheer costs of medical treatment, recovery, and therapy can quickly lead to financial ruin for many families.
In the aftermath of a severe accident, a personal injury claim or lawsuit can help bring about financial relief – even in the wake of a major disability. Not only can personal injury plaintiffs pursue compensation for their medical expenses, but additional compensation for pain and suffering may be recoverable too.
In the tragic event of a fatality caused by a tractor-trailer accident, surviving loved ones may be able to recover under Pennsylvania’s laws of wrongful death as well.
Contact Cordisco & Saile LLC today
If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in any of the types of truck accidents discussed above, please do not hesitate to contact the legal professionals at Cordisco & Saile LLC right away at 215-642-2335.