Common Truck Accident Injuries

Posted: December 8, 2023

According to some sources, a fully loaded 18-wheeler legally can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. 

Which is to say a car doesn’t stand much chance against one. Drivers of passenger vehicles that tangle with 18-wheelers often suffer serious or permanently disabling injuries, or worse. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 11 percent of all motor-vehicle accident fatalities in 2018 occurred because of crashes involving large trucks.  

The dangers of sharing the road with 18-wheelers go beyond their size, weight, and momentum. Compounding the risk are the perilous and often unpredictable ways in which a fully loaded 18-wheeler responds to the unique forces pulling at its segmented body when its driver loses the battle with the laws of physics. 

 

Common injuries suffered in accidents involving 18-wheelers 

Semi-truck accidents usually are more severe than car-on-car crashes. In 2017, almost 4,800 people were killed in crashes involving semi-trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Thousands more were seriously injured. 

Among the injuries commonly suffered in accidents involving 18-wheelers are those to soft tissue, such as whiplash, those to the head, chest, arms, or legs, and those affecting the back, neck, or shoulders.  

Injuries needn’t be visible to be serious. Some of the more worrisome or painful head and chest injuries, such as those involving brain tissue, blood vessels, or the ribs, are internal. So too, often, are the broken bones that are more common in 18-wheeler accidents. The impact also can damage joints, muscles, tendons, or the spinal cord. Injuries to the spinal cord can be devastating and lead to paralysis. 

Here are some symptoms of common injuries suffered in accidents involving an 18-wheeler. 

 

  • Concussion
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness  
  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Nausea 
  • Light or noise sensitivity 
  • Changes in mood, sleep patterns, or appetite 
  • Sensitivity to noise and/or light and mood, sleep or appetite changes. 
  • Whiplash
  • Fatigue 
  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Pain in the neck, head, or shoulder 
  • Stiff or sore muscles 
  • Restricted range of motion. 
  • PTSD and other mental health issues

 

Not all of the damage wrought in a semi-truck accident is physical. Mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder also can arise. Symptoms of PTSD or other emotional issues may include: 

 

  • Flashbacks 
  • Nightmares 
  • Distressing memories of the accident 
  • Anxiety caused by things that remind you of the accident.  
  • Changes in mood, appetite, or sleep 
  • General anxiety or depression 

 

Common kinds of accidents involving 18-wheelers 

Among the more common causes and kinds of 18-wheeler accidents are: 

  • Rollovers 

Because of their size and weight, 18-wheelers that roll over endanger not only their own drivers but also other motorists. 

What causes an 18-wheeler rollover? According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucks roll over because of curves taken too fast, the nature of their loads, the condition of their brakes, the surface of the roads they travel, and the kinds of intersections they navigate.  

  • Wide turns 

18-wheelers are large. Maneuvering one takes great care and skill. Turning, especially to the right, is especially challenging for several reasons including:  

 

  • Blocked mirror view. When an 18-wheeler makes a right turn, the driver may struggle to see the convex mirror. 
  • Trailer off-tracking. The trailer of a tractor-trailer turning right doesn’t follow the same path as the tractor pulling it, so the driver must turn wide to keep the back tires of the rig from rolling over the curb. Wide right turns into oncoming traffic can result in serious collisions with other vehicles if truckers don’t signal or check their blind spots. 
  • Blown tires 

 

Tire blowouts on 18-wheelers can endanger not only the drivers of those trucks but also occupants of other vehicles on the road.   

One reason for this is that truckers ask a lot of their tires; a driver logs hundreds of miles per day. Truckers also drive on a wide variety of roads, in a lot of different traffic and weather conditions, and carry heavy loads – all of which affect the life of a tire.  

In fact, the hard life of a truck tire is why 18-wheelers have, well, 18 wheels – or 10, or 26, or 34. All that weight distributed over so many tires is easier for each wheel to bear and helps prevent blowouts. And, if a tire does blow out, there’s another right beside it to help hobble the truck to safety.  

 

  • Underrides 

 

Because the trailer of an 18-wheeler sits higher off the ground than a passenger vehicle, a car can run underneath it. When this happens, the car sometimes gets trapped under or run over by the truck or has its roof sheared off. This is called an underride accident.  

For the driver of the car, the consequences of an underride can be severe. Motorcyclists, too, are at risk of under-riding 18-wheelers. Survivors of those killed in such accidents have lobbied for side guards, or truck lateral protective devices, to be made mandatory on 18-wheelers. (Tractor-trailers have rear underride guards.) The NHTSA has compiled extensive research on the effectiveness of side guards.  

 

  • Lost-cargo or -load crashes 

 

Shifting or falling cargo in a tractor-trailer is another cause of heavy truck accidents. 

Trucks transport tons of goods at high speeds over long distances. While many trucking and loading companies must follow certain regulations for securing cargo, these accidents still occur, primarily on highways. Shifting cargo, speeding, systems failures, or poor road conditions that cause a truck driver to lose control figure into 29 percent of 18-wheeler accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 

Falling cargo, too, can cause a driver to lose control, but the bigger danger might be to other motorists. A load that falls from a truck can land on a smaller vehicle or spill out onto the roadway, leaving debris that can cause a serious accident.  

If you’ve been injured in a lost cargo truck crash, you may be entitled to compensation. The truck driver, trucking company, or loader could be responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.  

 

  • Jackknife accidents 

 

One dangerous type of truck accident is “jackknifing,” so called because the trailer of the 18-wheeler swings around toward the cab at a shrinking angle like the blade of a folding knife.  

The jackknifing of an 18-wheeler that’s the result of one accident can become the cause others if the trailer, as it sweeps around, traps, crushes, or collides with other vehicles. Due to a commercial truck’s weight and length, jackknifing can cause a multi-vehicle crash. According to the National Safety Council, fatalities and injuries caused in accidents with large trucks have been on the rise in recent years. 

Many 18-wheelers that jackknife do so when the driver brakes hard, causing the trailer to lose traction and swing. Common factors include speed (such accidents occur most often on fast highways), weather, wet or icy roads, fast acceleration, and mechanical issues. 

Among the more common causes of 18-wheeler jackknife accidents are: 

 

  • Inexperienced or untrained driver 
  • Shifting cargo 
  • Sudden braking 

 

Precautions to avoid involvement in an 18-wheeler jackknife accident 

A trucker must obey the rules of the road and drive reasonably under the circumstances. Motorists sharing the road can drive defensively by   

  • Beware of blind spots. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reminds drivers that semis have large blind spots. If you’re driving behind a semi and you can’t see their side mirrors, there is a possibility the truck driver can’t see you. 
  • Avoid distractions. It can be difficult to drive defensively when you are distracted. Texting is a leading cause of driver distraction, but other tasks can take your eyes and attention off the road. Eating, drinking, and drowsiness can also result in distracted driving, depending on the circumstances. 

 

No matter how careful you are, you could still be in an accident with an 18-wheeler, whose driver must always follow the rules of the road.  

Things to consider after a semi-truck jackknife accident 

 If you’re injured in a truck crash in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. Here are some steps you may want to consider after a semi-truck accident: 

 

  • Seek medical attention. If you suspect injury, you should see a doctor to identify the extent of your injuries. If you weren’t transported to the ER after the crash, it is generally advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you wait too long, that will delay you from getting the medical treatment you need and the insurance company may question if you are really injured.
  • Get a copy of the accident report. You may not remember all the details of the crash. The accident report has information that you and the insurance companies will need.
  • Consult with a semi-truck accident attorney. Any crash that involves a semi-truck has the potential to become complex. These accidents may involve multiple vehicles and the trucking company and its driver may argue over which party is liable. If you were hurt and are considering making a claim for pain and suffering, you can protect your legal rights and best interests by speaking with an attorney.  

 

Hurt in an accident involving an 18-wheeler? Call William Mattar, P.C. 

If the semi-truck driver or another party is responsible for the crash, you may be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering and other damages. Give us a call today, at 844-444-4444, or contact us online.

Semi-trucks are a staple of America’s roadways, and they’re very common on the streets of Albany and along bustling Interstate 90. Semi-truck accidents in Albany have a variety of causes. Determining responsibility after a truck crash can be complex. An experienced personal injury lawyer like William Mattar can help protect your rights.

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