Each year, over 100,000 truck accidents injure and kill thousands.
The death toll is significantly higher when a truck crashes with a smaller vehicle. Generally, heavier and bigger vehicles have better crash protection than smaller cars. The massive size difference between trucks and passenger vehicles causes these crashes to have more significant consequences than a collision between similar-size cars.
Trucks usually weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. When the two collide, the smaller car takes all the weight from the impact, resulting in severe damage. According to crash statistics, most of the fatalities in truck accidents involve passenger vehicle occupants.
However, no two truck accidents are the same. The degree of the damage varies depending on the impact and type of the accident.
This article describes various kinds of truck accidents, their causes, and resulting injuries. If a truck collision caused your injuries, read on to the end of the article to learn about what kinds of damages you may claim.
Usually, insurance companies contest truck accident claims due to their grievousness and the resulting hefty damages. For this reason, we will also discuss the importance of hiring an attorney to help you prove the liability of the at-fault party or parties.
Types of Truck Accidents
Types of truck accidents vary depending on the circumstances. The size and make of the truck may also affect the resulting crash. For instance, if a passenger vehicle rear-ends a big rig with high ground clearance, it may result in an underride situation, further increasing the severity of the impact.
Below are common kinds of truck accidents.
#1. Head-On Collision
A head-on collision is among the most devastating kinds of truck accidents. Since the vehicles travel in the opposite direction and, in most cases, at high speed, the resulting impact on the passenger vehicle is usually immense.
Factors contributing to head-on collisions may include passing the yellow line, poor weather, or distracted driving. The high-impact collision may throw the driver out of the windshield, leading to death or grievous injuries such as spinal cord damage, severe traumatic brain injury, and broken bones.
#2. Rear-End Collision
If a truck suddenly brakes, a vehicle trailing behind it might rear-end it. If the vehicles were traveling at high speed and the truck had high ground clearance, the passenger vehicle could even slide underneath the back of the truck. The impact would shear the top off of the passenger car. This is called an underride accident and almost always causes death or grievous injury.
Rear-end collisions can also occur the other way around, i.e., the passenger vehicle in front braking suddenly and the truck ramming into it. In the same way, an override accident could result from a high-impact rear-end collision, particularly if the big rig was speeding.
A moving vehicle may ram into a stationary one in other rear-end collisions. In this case, the resulting impact may vary depending on the moving vehicle’s speed and weight.
Various factors like mechanical failure, driver fatigue, speeding, driving under the influence, tailgating, poor weather conditions, and distracted driving can cause rear-end collisions. Injuries can be severe or mild depending on the crash and may range from cuts and bruises to whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, loss of limb, and spinal cord damage.
#3. T-Bone Accidents
Also known as side-impact accidents, T-bone crashes occur when the front-end of one vehicle strikes the side of another, such as a passenger vehicle crashing into a truck or vice versa.
Usually, due to their weight, trucks present increased maneuverability challenges, especially when braking. For instance, if a truck driver fails to brake at a safe distance in an intersection, they may ram into other motorists.
Possible causes of side-impact collisions include mechanical failure, speeding, distracted driving, and poor weather conditions. The resulting accident may cause traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal organ damage, and spinal cord injuries.
#4. Tire Blowout Accidents
A tire blowout may also cause a crash. For instance, a blowout could force a driver to swerve into other lanes. The truck may roll over or jackknife, hitting other vehicles or causing cars to crash into it.
Tire blowouts may result from lack of maintenance, overinflated tires, hazardous road conditions, or worn-out tires. Injuries from tire blowout accidents vary depending on the type and impact of the collision.
#5. Override Accidents
Override accidents mainly occur in high-impact rear-end collisions where a truck strikes a passenger car. Due to the resulting force, the big rig may crash the car or rip off its top.
The most common causes of overrides include:
- Mechanical failure (defective brakes, poor maintenance).
- Sleeping at the wheel.
- Distracted driving.
- Driving in poor weather conditions.
- Drunk driving.
Override accidents are among the most severe truck crashes that could result in the death of the passenger vehicle occupants, especially those at the back seat. Other injuries could include brain and spinal cord damage, broken bones, internal bleeding, and soft tissue injuries.
#6. Underride Accidents
Like the override collisions, underride accidents are often deadly. This type of accident occurs when a passenger vehicle slides under a truck. Usually, the truck rips off the car’s roof.
While most trucks have a metal guard to keep smaller cars from sliding underneath, the barrier may fail in a high-impact collision.
Underride accidents are often fatal. They may also cause severe brain and spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, broken bones, or neck injuries.
#7. Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife crashes are among the most common types of truck accidents. The accident derives its name from its resemblance to a jackknife—the cab and trailer fold, forming a 90-degree angle. The danger heightens if there is oncoming traffic when the truck jackknifes.
Emergency braking commonly causes jackknife accidents. When the truck driver emergency brakes, the cab stops, but the trailer continues moving and swings to the side. Other causes of jackknifing include wet road surfaces, brake failure, and improper cargo loading.
#8. Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipe collisions occur when vehicles strike each other on the sides. The accidents are common because big rigs have large blind spots, preventing truck drivers from spotting motorists in the next lane.
In a sideswipe accident, the truck may push the other vehicle off the road or into oncoming traffic, causing further crashes.
#9. Squeeze Plays
Trucks require a wide turning radius: before a big rig turns right, it may need to swing out to the left to execute the turn. If the driver forgets to signal and another motorist assumes the truck is turning left, the other motorist may continue traveling forward. They will get trapped when the big rig finally makes the right turn, resulting in a squeeze play accident.
#10. Blind Spot Accidents
Blind spot truck accidents are also common. Trucks have many blind spots, including the immediate front and behind and the sides.
Several mishaps can happen when passenger vehicles drive in the truck’s blind spots. For instance, if the driver brakes suddenly, accelerates, or changes lanes, then rear-end collisions could occur. Other causes of blind spot accidents may include distracted driving, wet road surfaces, and poor weather conditions.
#11. Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents may involve single vehicles. Or, multiple vehicles can get involved when a truck rolls and crashes into other motorists or oncoming motorists ram into the overturned truck. Generally, trucks have a high center of gravity, which requires slowing down when navigating curves and poor road conditions. Failure to do so increases the risk of rolling over.
#12. Runaway Trailer Accidents
Runaway trailer accidents occur when the truck trailer detaches from the cab. In most cases, this arises from speeding, when the trailer gains more speed than the cab, and the driver loses control of the truck. Other causes include sudden braking, poor road conditions, improper maintenance, and overloading.
Damages Awarded in Truck Accident Claim
After sustaining injuries in a truck accident caused by the negligent acts of another person, you may qualify for damages. However, this depends on who is at fault for the accident.
You may be partially liable in some crashes, like blind-spot collisions. In these situations, your ability to recover damages depends on your state’s negligence laws. Some states apply the pure contributory negligence rule, which denies claimant damages even if they were 1 percent at fault for the accident. Other states adhere to the comparative negligence rule where your percentage of negligence reduces your compensation.
Some states also have no-fault rules, which require motorists to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which allows them to claim damages from their insurer in the event of an accident. The insurer pays the claim then pursues the at-fault driver’s insurance provider to recover their loss. However, you may claim damages directly from the at-fault party in fault states.
No matter the situation, if you have a valid claim, you might recover damages such as:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
If a loved one passed away in a big rig crash caused by another person’s negligence, you might also recover wrongful death damages, including:
- Medical expenses before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost support and guidance
- Pain and suffering
- Lost companionship
Do You Need a Lawyer in a Truck Accident Claim?
A lawyer can back you up as you seek compensation if you sustain damages in an accident.
The trucking companies and their insurers contest truck accidents since so much money is at stake—especially when the claim involves serious injuries or death.
Proving liability of the driver, the trucking company, or a manufacturer requires an in-depth investigation and detailed evidence.
Among other things, a lawyer can help you identify the relevant federal and state laws to establish liability, retrieve information from the company’s digital tracking system, and gather eyewitness testimony. A lawyer can also arrange for expert witness statements, compute fair damages, file a claim, and represent you in negotiations or a lawsuit if necessary. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to discuss your case.