Everyone knows that being involved in an automobile accident can be scary, but things can quickly become much more complicated and dangerous when a semi-truck is involved. Highway accidents involving a semi-truck differ from regular cars in many ways, so it’s important to know what to do if you ever find yourself in this situation.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Bad?
The first thing to understand about semi-trucks is their size and weight. These vehicles are as long as 53 feet and can easily weigh up to 80,000 lbs - that’s around 20 times the weight of an average passenger car! In practical terms, that means that under GOOD conditions, it will take a fully loaded semi more than 200 yards to fully stop!
This sheer size means that the impact of being hit by a semi-truck will likely be much greater than if it were just another car, light-duty truck, or SUV. The force generated by the collision has the potential to cause serious damage both to your vehicle and yourself.
With more than trucks on the road in the United States, most thankfully being driven by well-trained, professional drivers, it is no surprise that there are nearly 400,000 accidents involving 18-wheelers each year - a full 6.5% of all highway crashes!
What To Do If You Are In An Accident With A Truck
For many Americans who commute to work daily, it's a matter of when - rather than if - that they will experience an encounter on the highway that involves a semi-truck. While most of these will be "near misses" as one or both drivers manage to respond quickly to the situation and go on with their journey as normal ... sometimes luck just isn't on your side.
In the unfortunate event of being hit by a semi-truck on the highway, it’s important to remain calm and call 911 immediately – especially if there are any signs of physical injuries or extensive property damage. The initial steps that you need to take when a truck is involved are the same as when you have a crash involving two personal automobiles.
If possible, take pictures at the scene until help arrives so that you have evidence for future legal proceedings.
Similarly, if the vehicles are still operable enough to move to a shoulder area out of the flow of traffic, that is a good idea as well.
Truck Accidents Aren't The Same As Car Crashes
While the initial reaction to the incident follows the same playbook as with smaller vehicles, truck accidents are different in a few different ways.
Catastrophic Damage To The Passenger Vehicle Is Common
As we mentioned above, trucks are really big and really heavy. The speed that they travel on highways results in a huge among of kinetic energy that can completely destroy a car and result in serious damage to both man and machine. If you have a serious injury and there's no immediate threat, such as fire - don't try to move. Squirming and contorting your body can cause additional trauma to your head, back, and neck.
Watch Our For Any Secondary Danger Due To The Truck's Payload
Always keep your distance from the truck and its loads (for instance, the truck may be carrying large amounts of hazardous materials). Even if the payload is inert and non-toxic, damage to the trailer could make the load unstable, so you will want to avoid being anywhere near it.
Truckers Are A Commercial Entity
It is also essential to remember that trucks must comply with certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations while they are on public roads, so make sure you review these rules if you decide to press charges against them later on. For instance, drivers must maintain an accurate logbook tracking their hours of service; they must conduct thorough pre-trip inspections; they must have valid medical certificates confirming adequate physical qualifications; and finally, they are not allowed to drive beyond 14 hours in a single shift without taking a mandatory 10-hour break before continuing again.
Make sure that any details the driver provides conform with all applicable laws regarding cargo information and other safety regulations before filing a claim against them or their insurance company.
Generally speaking, you will not want to communicate directly with the truck driver. Even if it is your fault, let the police do their job and you should consider enlisting the help of a truck accident specialist, for instance, contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine who can help make sure that you have all the resources needed to resolve the situation quickly.
The Law Is Your Friend
When dealing with trucking companies post-accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible who will be able to assess how much compensation you deserve for damages resulting from the incident. An experienced attorney deals with complex issues like regulations on long haul trucking every day, making them better equipped than most individuals would be when going up against a big business enterprise like this one - so don’t hesitate to reach out for help when needed!
Have Patience - The Legal Process Can Take Time
Highway accidents involving semi trucks can be incredibly dangerous due to their weight and size difference compared to personal automobiles. It is essential for those affected by such incidents to know what steps should be taken immediately afterward so we hope this article helps.
The good news is that in most situations that go to court, judges and jurors often have more sympathy for the individual instead of a corporate truck driver. Plus, in the cases where there's an obvious liability on the side of the trucking company or driver - they will often make a settlement offer.
While that isn't going to fully remove your pain and suffering, it can be a great option for those who have less than life-threatening accidents and would rather move on with their lives.
Whatever path you take, remember that you always need to be a safe and diligent driver who is aware of their surroundings and ready to respond when something unexpected happens. That can be the difference between getting to your job on time or spending time sitting uncomfortably on the side of the road ... or worse!