Like any other vehicle, a truck may be involved in a head-on, rear-end, side-impact, or sideswipe collision. However, certain types of truck accidents arise from the distinctive features of these vehicles. The height of a truck turns some rear-end collisions into override accidents, in which a truck runs over the rear of a passenger vehicle. This may crush the car or shear the top off the car. The height of a truck also poses a risk of underride accidents, which involve a car sliding under the side or rear of a truck. Another type of collision distinctive to trucks is a squeeze play when a truck makes a right turn. The driver may need to swing the truck to the left before turning back to the right, which can trap another vehicle between the truck and the curb.
Other distinctive features of trucks include their higher center of gravity and the mechanics of towing a trailer. Their higher center of gravity makes trucks more susceptible than passenger vehicles to rollover accidents. In a rollover, a truck flips onto its top or side, potentially striking other vehicles or causing an explosion that injures people in the surrounding area. A jackknife accident may result from a sudden stop, when the trailer continues to be propelled forward as the truck cab slows down. This may cause the trailer to swing to the side at a 90-degree angle. Sometimes a runaway trailer breaks free from a truck and veers out of control, striking other vehicles.
Risks of Accidents Involving Certain Types of Trucks
The structure or function of a specific type of truck also may pose unique risks. For example, tanker trucks may carry flammable or toxic substances. Accidents involving these vehicles can lead to fires, explosions, or spills of hazardous materials. The open sides of flatbed trucks offer a useful way to transport large or unusually shaped loads, but any problems with securing and stabilizing the cargo can lead to falling debris on the road or cause the driver to lose control. Drivers of delivery trucks may stop abruptly at a destination or make a sudden turn to avoid a delay caused by missing the turn. They also may not check the blind spot behind them before backing up in a residential area, or they may not engage the parking brake when making a delivery.
Other types of trucks that may create distinctive hazards include:
Construction trucks: drivers of these vehicles may operate in close proximity to construction workers and other pedestrians, who may be hard to see in a blind spot
Cement trucks: rushing to deliver a cement load before it hardens may cause a driver to speed, which may prevent them from slowing or stopping in time
Garbage trucks: these trucks may stop and start frequently in areas with a high traffic volume, and their drivers may work early in the morning when they are drowsy
Tow trucks: drivers of these vehicles may fail to properly secure a disabled vehicle to a truck or pull the truck off the road while assisting a disabled vehicle
Ambulances and fire trucks: these vehicles travel at high speeds and may not follow traffic rules while responding to emergencies, but drivers still must use appropriate care
Rental trucks: these vehicles may be driven by people who are not professional truck drivers and may not know how to safely load and operate vehicles of this size
Some truck accidents do not involve collisions with other vehicles or people. Single-vehicle truck accidents may involve driver error, but they also may indicate defects in a truck or component, or problems with the design or maintenance of the road where the accident occurred. Dangerous maneuvers by another driver also may cause an accident as a truck driver swerves to avoid them.
Compensation for Truck Accidents
Regardless of the type of truck or the nature of the impact, a victim can recover compensation by showing that someone else was at fault for their injuries. This usually involves proving a lack of reasonable care under the circumstances. Damages in these cases account for financial losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. A victim also can recover damages for their pain and suffering and emotional distress, among other intangible forms of harm. They should assert their legal rights promptly to avoid any problems with obtaining evidence or complying with the statute of limitations, which provides a deadline for filing a formal lawsuit.
Truck accident cases generally involve greater complexities than ordinary car accident cases. This may make it important to retain an attorney who is familiar with the trucking industry and experienced in bringing these lawsuits. A victim can set up free consultations with truck accident lawyers in their area. If they move forward with their case, they probably will not need to pay the attorney for their services until they recover compensation, part of which will be allocated to attorney fees.