What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?

What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are among the most devastating types of motor vehicle collisions. When a massive 18-wheeler or semi-truck crashes into a much smaller passenger vehicle, the results are often catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crashes involving large trucks claimed the lives of 4,714 people in a recent year. Occupants of passenger vehicles constituted 68% of those deaths and pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists 15%.

If an accident with a large commercial truck injured you or a loved one, a lawyer who understands the common types of truck accidents and their causes can protect your legal rights and obtain fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

At Rothenberg Law Firm LLP, our experienced truck accident attorneys serve clients throughout New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. We have extensive knowledge of the complex federal and state regulations governing the trucking industry and a proven track record of successfully holding negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable.

The Most Common Types of Truck Accidents

While every truck crash is unique, several types of collisions occur most frequently. Knowing these common truck accident scenarios can help drivers of passenger vehicles take precautions to stay safe on the road.

Types of Truck Accidents I Jackknife

1. Jackknife Accidents

A jackknife accident occurs when the cab and trailer portions of a large truck fold in on each other at a 90-degree angle, resembling a folding pocket knife. This extremely dangerous type of crash often happens when a truck driver brakes suddenly, and the trailer swings out to the side, potentially hitting multiple vehicles across several lanes of traffic.

Common causes of jackknife accidents include:

  • Speeding, especially around curves or in slippery road conditions
  • Improper braking techniques
  • Faulty or poorly maintained brakes
  • Improperly loaded or overloaded trailer
  • Inexperienced or inadequately trained truck driver

2. Rollover Accidents

Large trucks have a higher center of gravity than passenger vehicles, making them more susceptible to rolling over, especially when turning. A truck rollover can crush smaller vehicles and scatter cargo across the roadway, causing a multi-vehicle pileup.

Factors that increase the risk of a truck rollover include:

  • Speeding through curves or turns
  • Hitting a curb, pothole, or uneven pavement
  • Swerving to avoid another vehicle or obstacle
  • Improperly loaded cargo that shifts weight to one side
  • Underinflated or worn tires that reduce stability
  • Inclement weather conditions like high winds

3. Rear-End Collisions

Trucks require significantly more time and distance to come to a complete stop compared to passenger vehicles. If a truck driver is speeding, distracted, fatigued, or following too closely behind another vehicle, they may not brake in time to avoid a rear-end collision.

The massive size and weight of a large truck striking a smaller vehicle from behind often result in severe or fatal injuries to occupants of the passenger vehicle.

Common Types of Truck Accidents I Tire Blowouts

4. Tire Blowouts

The tires on large commercial trucks are under immense pressure from supporting heavy loads over long distances. If a truck tire blows out, the driver can easily lose control of the vehicle, swerving into other lanes or off the road entirely.

Tire blowouts are often the result of improper tire maintenance, such as:

  • Failure to regularly inspect tires for wear and damage
  • Driving on underinflated or overinflated tires
  • Exceeding a tire’s maximum weight capacity
  • Using mismatched or the wrong size tires
  • Allowing tires to deteriorate from age or exposure to the elements

5. Blind Spot Accidents

Large trucks have significant blind spots on all four sides, which are often referred to as no-zones. If a truck driver fails to check their blind spots before changing lanes or merging, they can easily sideswipe or run a smaller vehicle off the road.

Truck drivers must be aware of their blind spots and use their mirrors diligently. Passenger vehicle drivers should also avoid lingering in a truck’s blind spots whenever possible.

6. Wide Turn Crashes

Making a right turn in a large truck requires the driver to swing wide to the left first to clear the curb. If a truck driver misjudges the space needed for a wide turn or fails to signal their intentions, they can trap a smaller vehicle between the truck and the curb or strike pedestrians or bicyclists. Truck drivers must be extremely cautious when executing wide turns, especially in urban areas with heavier traffic.

Types of Truck Accidents I Underride Accidents

7. Underride Accidents

An underride accident happens when a passenger vehicle slides underneath the trailer of a large truck, often shearing off the roof of the smaller vehicle. These crashes often kill occupants of the passenger vehicle.

Underride accidents typically occur due to:

  • A truck driver slamming on the brakes, causing the trailer to jackknife across the roadway
  • A passenger vehicle rear-ending a truck that has slowed or stopped unexpectedly
  • A truck crossing into oncoming traffic or pulling into the path of an oncoming vehicle
  • A truck not having proper underride guards installed

8. Lost Load Accidents

A lost load accident occurs when cargo falls off a truck due to improper loading or securing. Debris scattered across the roadway can cause serious crashes as drivers swerve to avoid obstacles.

Oversized or heavy cargo that comes loose from a moving truck can crush smaller vehicles. These catastrophic accidents often result from negligent truck drivers or trucking companies failing to adhere to strict regulations for properly loading and securing cargo.

Common Injuries in Truck Accidents

Due to the massive size and weight of fully loaded trucks, crashes involving these large commercial vehicles often result in devastating injuries for occupants of passenger vehicles.

Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:

The medical expenses associated with treating catastrophic truck accident injuries can easily reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars over a victim’s lifetime. If an accident with a large commercial truck seriously injured you, you should not have to bear these costs on your own.

Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Determining liability in a truck accident case can involve multiple parties who may share fault, including:

  • The truck driver, if their negligence (such as speeding, distracted driving, drowsy driving, etc.) caused the crash
  • The trucking company that owns the vehicle, if they failed to properly maintain the truck, hired an unqualified driver, or encouraged the driver to break hours-of-service rules
  • The cargo company responsible for loading the truck if they negligently secured the load
  • The truck or parts manufacturer, if a faulty vehicle or defective part (such as bad brakes) contributed to the accident
  • Another third party, such as the company responsible for truck maintenance

Proving liability requires an in-depth investigation into the cause of the crash and the potential role each party played. Trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers ready to dispute fault and limit payouts to accident victims.

That’s why you need an experienced truck accident attorney on your side who knows what evidence to look for, which experts to consult, and how to build a strong case against all liable parties.

Should I Accept the First Offer From the Insurance Company?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident, you are likely facing extensive medical bills and other losses. An offer of compensation from the insurance company may seem like a relief. But, you should generally not accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company after a truck accident without first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Here’s why:

  • Initial offers are often lowball: Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying out large settlements. Their first offer is often much lower than what your claim is actually worth, in hopes that you’ll accept a quick payout without realizing the full extent of your losses.
  • You may not know the full extent of your injuries: Some truck accident injuries, such as brain trauma or spinal cord damage, may not show symptoms until weeks or months after the crash. If you settle too quickly, you may not receive compensation for the full extent of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
  • You may recover more types of damages: Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident, you may recover compensation beyond just medical bills and property damage, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or punitive damages. An attorney can help you identify all potential avenues for recovery.
  • Multiple parties may be liable: Truck accident cases are complex because multiple parties could share liability, such as the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, or vehicle manufacturer. An attorney can investigate and identify all potentially liable parties to maximize your compensation.
  • You have limited time to file a lawsuit: If you accept a settlement offer, you typically must sign a release waiving your right to sue for further compensation. However, if you later discover that the settlement was inadequate, you may have lost your chance to file a lawsuit, as every state has strict deadlines for taking legal action.

Before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company, consult a knowledgeable truck accident attorney. A skilled lawyer can evaluate the strength of your case, estimate the full value of your claim, and negotiate with insurers on your behalf to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

Most reputable personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t owe any upfront costs, and you only pay the lawyer if they recover money for you.

What is the Deadline for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit

What is the Deadline for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is the deadline by which an injured party must file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their damages. If you miss this deadline, you lose your right to pursue your claim in court, so acting quickly after a truck accident is crucial. However, the statute of limitations varies depending on the state where the accident occurred.

Here are the statutes of limitations for filing a truck accident lawsuit in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania:

  • New York: In New York, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits, including truck accident cases, is three years from the accident. However, if the accident resulted in a wrongful death, the deadline to file a lawsuit is two years from the date of the person’s death.
  • New Jersey: The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a truck accident in New Jersey is two years from the accident. If the accident resulted in a wrongful death, the deadline to file a lawsuit is also two years, but the clock starts running from the date of the person’s death.
  • Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits, including those involving truck accidents, is two years from the accident. If the accident led to a wrongful death, the deadline to file a lawsuit is also two years from the date of the person’s death.

Certain exceptions may extend or shorten the standard statute of limitations in each state. For example, if you sue a government entity, you may need to follow a special claims process and meet shorter notice deadlines.

Additionally, the discovery rule may extend the filing deadline in cases where the victim could not have reasonably discovered their injuries right away.

To ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines, consult an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate your case, identify all potentially liable parties, and take swift action to preserve your right to seek compensation.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a large truck, the skilled personal injury lawyers at Rothenberg Law Firm LLP are here to help.

We have been fighting for the rights of truck accident victims in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia for over 50 years. Our attorneys have the knowledge, resources, and trial experience to take on big trucking companies and their insurers.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations to discuss the details of your case and advise you of your legal options. You won’t owe us any fees unless and until we recover compensation for you. Contact us today at (800) 624-8888 or through our online form for your free consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

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