When a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, or pedestrian is involved in an accident with an enormous 18-wheel semi truck, the results can be catastrophic. These huge trucks usually weigh in the neighborhood of 80,000 pounds when loaded, so they can cause serious damage.
Recognizing their potential to do harm, federal regulations require the big-rigs to carry large liability insurance policies, allowing victims of large truck accidents to make claims to recover compensation for their losses.
Kinds of large truck accidents
Large tractor-trailer trucks are prone to certain types of serious accidents, including jackknifes, rollovers, tire blowouts, and underride accidents.
A jackknife is an accident in which the tractor’s drive axle brakes locks and the trailer continues moving forward until it stops at a 90 degree angle with the tractor, often causing the rig to roll over.
A rollover usually happens on a hill when a truck is traveling at a high speed around a curve and its wheels run off the road or hit an object or a curb.
Tire accidents occur when tires blow out or lose their treads, causing the driver to lose control.
Underride accidents happen when a large truck stops suddenly and a smaller vehicle behind it drives under the trailer.
Hazmat releases may include oil, gases, or other toxic materials being spilled and causing a health hazard or fire.
Why large truck accidents occur
Truck accidents are typically caused by driver error or unsafe equipment. Drivers may not have the required training and qualifications, or they may be pressured to maintain unrealistic schedules and adhere to rigid deadlines. Drivers may become fatigued from driving for long hours without rest, frequently resorting to stimulant drugs to stay awake. Or, some drivers may drink on the job.
Trucks are sometimes overloaded, beyond their maximum legal capacity. Conversely, tanks sometimes carry too little liquid to maintain stability; when they carry a liquid load less than three-fourths of capacity, the fluid sloshes around, making it difficult for the driver to control the truck.
Some trucking companies are lax about performing required safety inspections, and trucks may be allowed on the road with defective brakes or other mechanical problems.
Making a claim for compensation following a truck accident
Anyone who has been injured or the survivors of someone who has been killed in a crash with an 18-wheeler should consult an attorney familiar with federal and state trucking regulations. This type of accident requires immediate action to investigate the circumstances of the crash while the evidence is fresh. An experienced truck accident lawyer will often engage traffic safety experts to reconstruct the accident to determine how the trucking company or the driver was negligent in causing the accident. The investigation will include an examination of the trucking company’s compliance with safety regulations and inspections, the driver’s driving history, and whether the driver was impaired by drugs, alcohol, fatigue, or distraction.
If you’ve been injured or lost a family member in a truck accident in Washington, you need expert representation. The truck accident attorneys at Wattel and York in Seattle, Washington have the experience, knowledge, and dedication to fight on your behalf for the recovery you deserve. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and case analysis. We accept cases on a contingency fee arrangement, which means you pay nothing up front, and nothing ever unless we win money for you.