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06/28/2022

For anyone involved in a truck accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by confusion and disbelief. If you were injured in an 18-wheeler accident, contact a Houston trucking accident lawyer at Calhoun Meredith to see if we can help.

We all know the dangers of trucking accidents and big rig wrecks, whether you're the truck driver or someone else involved in the accident.

However, many don't fully understand what can cause these kinds of accidents to happen in the first place and how to keep from being involved in one.

In this article, we will take a look at several of the most common causes of 18-wheeler wrecks, according to a trucking accident lawyer. We'll also discuss how you can stay safe on the road when you see these things happening around you.

Truck accidents are complex, and hiring the right legal counsel to help you recover your losses can be challenging. Calhoun Meredith has experienced truck accident lawyers who have represented many people who have been seriously injured in these dangerous accidents.

Now, let's look into the leading causes of truck wrecks.

The trucking industry has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, with drivers on the road nationwide hauling anything from food and clothing to construction materials and medical supplies. It's no secret that big rigs rule many of Houston's highways and byways. Here is a list of the most common popular trucks on Houston roads.

  • Car Transporter/Car Carrier Trailer

A car transporter is a trailer used to transport cars. Depending on their size, car transporters can be towed by a truck or semi-trailer. A large car transporter allows entire households to relocate in one trip, transporting cars, furniture, and household items at once. Most people who move don't have enough trucks or trailers to transport all their belongings and rent an additional vehicle.

  • Cement Truck

The cement truck is used to transport cement. The concrete vehicle is also called a cement mixer, cement truck, or mixer truck. It is designed to mix small batches of cement and water to make concrete in a controlled manner.

  • Crane Trucks/Mobile Cranes

Crane trucks, or mobile cranes as they are commonly known, are trucks with a crane attached to their beds. They can be used for many different applications and generally fall into low-level cranes and high-level cranes. Low-level crane trucks typically have a boom between 12 – 15 meters long, while high-level crane trucks typically have a boom between 18 – 24 meters long.

  • Dump Truck

The dump truck is a classic heavy-duty vehicle that gets its name from its primary job duty. A dump truck must be equipped with a large bed that can carry and dump large amounts of materials to function properly.

The most common type of dump truck is designed to hold ten cubic yards of materials. This can range anywhere from 4-15 tons, so they're often used in construction or road maintenance jobs. A standard model will sit at around 80 inches tall and come in various sizes.

  • Extra Duty Truck

The Extra Duty Truck (EDT) is a smaller class of vehicles designed to provide jobs outside of normal highway maintenance. With an EDT, workers can access hard-to-reach areas and spot repair problems.

  • Flatbed Truck

A flatbed truck is a commercial vehicle used for transporting loose cargo (i.e., items that are not contained in crates or containers) that can't be stacked, such as wet or dirty items, animals, oversized loads, and liquid goods.

  • Fire Truck

A fire truck, also known as a fire engine, is a vehicle used to fight fires. They can carry 500 gallons of water and other liquid substances to help douse flames. Fire trucks are only dispatched by officials when there is a high risk of an out-of-control fire or flammable hazardous materials (like gasoline).

  • Garbage Truck

The purpose of a garbage truck is to collect household waste, trash, and other discarded items from houses and businesses. The average garbage truck can carry up to 14 tons of material. Garbage trucks are typically 18-21 feet long and vary in length depending on how much material they can carry.

  • Heavy Truck

One of these is a heavy truck (commonly called a tractor-trailer), which means that it has three or more axles. This style of vehicle has three main components: a chassis, cab, and trailer. Heavy trucks fall into two categories: single drive and tandem drive. Single-drive trucks have just one axle in front with a cab and trailer connected behind it.

  • Jumbo Trailer Truck

A jumbo trailer truck is a commercial truck used for moving, freight, and utility vehicles. When it comes to working trucks, these are some of the largest to have ever been manufactured.

They come in various sizes, with their load capacities varying from 35 tons to more than 80 tons. This type of vehicle is utilized all over North America and by numerous companies, especially those in the construction business.

Leading Causes of Truck Wrecks

Unfortunately, truck wrecks are common on many major highways across the United States each year. Truck accidents can be devastating to drivers and their families, but they can also cause major disruptions in other people's lives.

The number one cause of semi-truck accidents, especially ones that result in fatalities, is driver error. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that roughly 37% of truck wrecks are caused by driver fatigue and disobedience of the speed limit. This is followed closely by drunk driving and reckless driving. Other causes of truck accidents include:

  • Distracted Driving

It's estimated that 80% of truck accidents can be blamed on distracted driving and a negligent driver. While some may think talking on a cell phone is mildly distracting, it's far more distracting than many realize.

It takes about 23 seconds for distracted drivers to regain full concentration after an interruption. During that time we're not entirely focused on driving, which can lead to devastating consequences.

  • Hours Of Service Violations (Fatigued Driving)

More than 40 percent of fatal crashes were a result of fatigued driving. To prevent these truck wrecks, it's vital that truck drivers stay within federal regulations and their hours-of-service limits and avoid driving when they are too tired to drive safely.

According to data from FMCSA, 61 percent of these injury crashes involved a single vehicle going off-road or off-course. This type of crash often occurs when an exhausted driver loses control and strikes an obstacle on or near roadways.

  • Severe Weather

Heavy storms, high winds, and ice can contribute to truck wrecks. Poor visibility from these conditions can leave truck drivers unable to quickly see objects in their path to avoid fatal collisions.

When planning a trip, check weather forecasts for any regions you'll be driving through. If you must travel when hazardous weather is expected, consider taking alternate routes or altering your speed to safely react to any hazards that appear in front of you.

  • Road Construction

Trucks are particularly susceptible to accidents when driving through construction areas. Construction workers and their equipment are often hard to see, and many drivers can't help but underestimate their speed or change lanes suddenly.

  • Overloading Cargo

As much as drivers would like to think that they can control everything on their truck, weight is one area that's out of their hands.

Overloading cargo may seem like a harmless way to earn a little extra cash, but it's a huge safety hazard. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that overloaded vehicles are likely to crash within 12 months.

  • Brake/Vehicle Failure

Brake failure and vehicle malfunction are among some of the most common causes of truck accidents, so taking precautions is essential. For example, if your brakes ever feel soft or spongy, immediately have them checked.

The longer you wait to address a brake issue, the more likely you'll lose control and crash into another vehicle or cause an accident while attempting to stop. Brakes should always feel firm when you're applying pressure – there shouldn't be any give in them at all.

  • Driving Under the Influence

We've all seen the horrific truck accidents when a driver is using drugs or alcohol. According to semi-truck accident inspectors, driving under the influence of drugs is one of the leading causes of truck wrecks.

Drug and alcohol-impaired drivers are about three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than those who don't drink or use any type of drug, prescription or otherwise.

If you were injured in a truck accident as a result of some type of negligence, reach out to a trucking accident lawyer for help.

Types Of Truck Wrecks

Truck wrecks are more common than you may think and can be caused by several factors. Whether it's an 18-wheeler, dump truck, or heavy-duty truck, these vehicles can cause serious damage to people and property alike if they're not handled correctly.

On average, commercial vehicle accidents leave those involved with more severe injuries compared to regular car accidents. These include but are not limited to traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even death. Because truck wrecks tend to cause serious injuries, many victims choose to work with a trucking accident lawyer to ensure their tremendous medical costs are covered.

Here are some of the most common types of truck accidents you should be aware of when on the road.

  • Truck Rollovers

A truck rollover is a type of semi-truck accident in which a vehicle tips onto its side or roof. Most often, rollovers happen when a vehicle is going around a curve and slides past its center of gravity, or when weather conditions are bad and roads are slippery. Either situation can make it difficult for a driver to keep control of their vehicle.

  • Rear-End Collisions

Another common type of truck crash involves a rear-end collision. In these instances, a smaller vehicle hits the back of a truck, causing an injury to the occupants of both vehicles.

This can happen when drivers lose focus or due to another cause entirely. Accidents like these are most likely to occur in stop-and-go traffic on urban roadways and during inclement weather.

It is suggested that you always keep at least 3 seconds worth of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. To do this, pick a fixed point on or near the road and begin counting when the car in front of you passes that point. Your car should pass the point around 3 seconds after the car in front of you, this will help you maintain a safe following distance.

  • Head-On Collisions

40% of all truck wrecks are head-on collisions. In many cases, drivers swerve into oncoming traffic when they see a car in their blind spot and avoid it, but don't consider how much room their tractor-trailer requires and they take up two lanes of traffic.

  • Jackknife Accidents

These accidents are among the most common types of truck wrecks. They occur when a truck makes a left-hand turn and accidentally crosses into oncoming traffic.

These collisions are usually caused by driver error, but they can also be triggered if bad weather causes a driver to lose control of their vehicle. If you've been involved in one of these accidents, it's important to speak with a Houston truck accident lawyer right away.

  • T-Bone Accidents

T-bone accidents are one of the most dangerous types of accidents in any vehicle, let alone a huge, heavy semi-truck. In a T-bone collision, one vehicle runs into another perpendicularly, forming a T shape in relation to each other.

The front end of one car hits directly into the side of another car, crushing its side frame and wheel well. This leads to catastrophic injuries if there is a passenger vehicle. The frontal section or bumper usually crumples due to the high force caused by such an impact.

This type of accident is dangerous because there is not much space to protect you from the other vehicle if it impacts the side of the car you're on.

  • Sideswipe Accidents

A sideswipe is when two vehicles hit each other on opposite sides. It's usually caused by poor or distracted driving and often occurs at intersections or in heavy traffic.

Trucks are often involved in these types of accidents, but passenger vehicles can also be responsible for sideswipes especially because of blind spots.

  • Wide Turn Accidents

These occur when a driver is taking a wide curve in an attempt to maneuver around an object on the road, or while making a turn at an intersection. If you see a semi-truck at an intersection, make sure to give them space because they might be making a wide turn from the middle lane.

Who Is Responsible for Truck Wrecks?

Trucking accidents are responsible for more than 4,000 fatalities every year in the United States. That number is climbing each year as both the amount of truck traffic and the trucker population grows.

However, who is the responsible party to blame when a truck wrecks? Is it the truck driver or someone else entirely? A trucking accident lawyer can help you determine the at-fault parties from which you may be able to seek compensation. Here are several parties that may have some responsibility in a semi-truck accident:

  • The Commercial Driver

When a commercial truck driver is behind the wheel, they are responsible for the safety of everyone on the road. Whether it's a minor fender bender or a full-on accident scene, truck drivers are held to a high standard of care by law.

Just like every driver in an accident must do their part to mitigate damage and avoid further harm, truck drivers are required to take action when their vehicle makes contact with another vehicle, pedestrian, or animal.

  • The Trucking Company

Trucking companies have a lot of responsibilities and thus may have some percentage of fault for an accident. Trucking companies are responsible for loading their trucks, maintaining those trucks and the drivers' training to operate them properly, and ultimately for making sure those drivers are able to drive safely on the road.

If a truck accident is caused by a trucking company's poor truck maintenance or hiring of unfit drivers, it will be held liable for all damages.

  • The Owner of The Truck

The vehicle owner is responsible for making sure it's driven carefully by following proper hiring practices for drivers. If you own semi-trucks or trucks, make sure you have an experienced driver behind the wheel at all times to avoid loss of control.

In some cases, truckers are not liable for accidents caused by their trucks; drivers who caused truck wrecks may try to pass responsibility off onto someone else. Truck drivers and owners must be able to provide proof that they were driving safely and did not have equipment failure or mechanical failure.

  • The Cargo Loaders or Manufacturer

Cargo loaders are responsible for making sure they're stacking items safely and securely, or they could be held responsible for any damages caused by a wreck that occurred due to improper loading.

If a truck driver relies on them to do their job, then that truck driver could also be responsible for not ensuring it was done right. In some cases, cargo loaders aren't aware of how poorly a company stacks its products and aren't doing it on purpose.

How Does a Trucking Accident Lawyer Determine Liability in A Truck Accident?

Usually, more than one party is responsible when a truck accident occurs. In most cases, there are three parties:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The driver of the other vehicle

How does a trucking accident lawyer determine who will be responsible for paying your medical expenses, funeral costs, punitive damages, or other non-economic damages associated with your injury?

That depends on what caused the truck accident. In some cases, it's easy to figure out liability. For example, if you rear-ended another car, it's clear that you were negligent (you should have been paying attention) and are therefore liable.

But if more than two parties are involved (e.g., a truck driver rear-ends another car which then hits a third car), figuring out liability can get tricky. With an experienced Houston truck accident lawyer, you can hold the liable parties responsible during your claims process.

As a result, you will receive fair compensation for your mental anguish, physical injuries, medical cost, or any other types of damage including property damage.

Contact a Trucking Accident Lawyer for Help

If you've been involved in a truck wreck, you may be entitled to compensation during this difficult time. You may file a claim against any number of parties, including a trucking company, its owner, and its driver or dispatcher. Contact a Houston truck accident lawyer today to discuss your case.

Don't let anyone pressure you into accepting anything less than you deserve—especially after an accident that proper safety measures could have prevented.

At Calhoun Meredith, we have personal injury lawyers who have handled numerous cases involving commercial truck accidents and can help you figure out who is liable and how to hold them accountable. Contact us today at 855-664-0273.

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