Trucks on Florida’s highways can be dangerous, and when an 18 wheeler, a big rig, or a semi tractor trailer collides with cars on a highway, such as I-4 or I-75, they can cause devastating injuries. When semi tractor trailers are fully-loaded, they sometimes weigh 80,000 pounds or even more. When a vehicle this large collides with a smaller passenger car, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian, the result is often catastrophic injury or death. Because of the potential for very large trucks to do such great damage, federal regulations dictate that they must carry substantial liability insurance policies. A person who has been injured or the survivors of a person who has been killed due to the negligence of an 18 wheeler truck driver may make a claim to recover damages that occurred as a result of the accident.
What are Some Types of Truck Accidents?
Semi trucks, big rigs and 18 wheelers, because of their size, tend to have different types of accidents than ordinary passenger vehicles. These are some examples of the types of serious truck accidents that can cause catastrophic injuries:
Jackknifes: These happen when the tractor’s drive axle brakes lock up, causing the trailer to skid and stop at a right angle with the tractor. When a truck jackknifes it frequently causes the big rig truck to roll over.
Rollovers: These often happen when going up or down steep hills. The semi truck may rollover if the wheels hit a curb or some other object when taking a curve too fast or when the driver tries to return the truck to the road after a tire runs off the pavement.
Tire blowout accidents: Tires often blow out or lose treads (“road alligators,”) causing the driver to lose control of the truck.
Underride accidents: Underride accidents happen when an 18 wheeler truck stops suddenly in traffic and a smaller vehicle behind it continues moving forward, going underneath the truck’s trailer because of how high they sit above the ground.
Hazardous material releases: Oil spills or toxic gases or other poisonous materials can cause injury or death. Inflammable materials can cause fires.
Reasons truck accidents happen
Truck accidents are often a consequence of driver error, or other unsafe equipment. These are some of the reasons truck accidents happen when they shouldn’t:
- Drivers do not have the required training and qualifications.
- Drivers are held to unrealistically tight schedules and deadlines.
- Truck drivers may become fatigued from driving for long hours without rest.
- Some truck drivers use drugs to help stay on the road longer without sleep; others may driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Loads are not secured properly.
- Trucks are loaded in excess of their maximum legal capacity.
- Tankers with liquid loads of less than three quarters maximum capacity, causing the liquid to shift around in the weight in the tank, making the truck hard to control.
- Required safety inspections have not been performed.
- Broken or defective brakes or other equipment.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Seriously Injured in a Collision with an 18 Wheeler Truck?
When you’ve been hurt in a crash with an 18 wheeler truck or big rig truck, it is important to consult an attorney who is familiar with federal and state trucking regulations. Your lawyer will need to initiate the investigation quickly to preserve evidence and engage the services of experts to reconstruct the accident to demonstrate that the trucking company or the driver was at fault. This will include determining if the trucking company failed to comply with safety regulations, if the driver was impaired, and if the truck was properly maintained. The truck accident lawyer will investigate whether the driver’s hours on the road exceeded what is allowed by federal law and if the driver has a record of DUI or drug charges.