Traffic accidents are an unfortunate part of everyday life. Many of these accidents are minor and only cause mild property damage or injuries. However, some accidents can be much more severe.
By nature, accidents that involve 18-wheelers tend to be more destructive and more likely to result in serious injury due to the size and weight of these large vehicles.
In this blog, we discuss some of the most important information about these types of incidents to help you avoid these wrecks and respond correctly if you’re involved in an 18-wheeler accident.
Either Driver Can Be at Fault
In an accident involving a personal vehicle and a large commercial truck, you may assume that the driver or owner of the 18-wheeler is automatically at fault. However, 18-wheeler accidents can result from the action of either driver and, therefore, either driver can be considered at fault under the law depending on the circumstances of the crash.
Most of the statistics currently available on the frequency, type, and severity of 18-wheeler accidents come from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA’s 2010 records. The 2010 statistics suggest that the driver most likely to be at fault differs with the accident type.
For instance, almost 80% of rear-end accidents were the fault of passenger vehicles, but close to 90% of head-on collisions were the fault of the truck driver. Of course, head-on collisions are usually more severe and can cause dramatic injuries.
Most 18-Wheeler Accidents Have the Same Causes
The majority of 18-wheeler accidents happen for one of the three main reasons we discuss below.
1. Driver Error
More than 30% of 18-wheeler accidents in 2010 resulted from a driver error of some kind. The driver error category includes incidents of distracted driving, speeding, and illegal driving maneuvers. One of the most common errors was failure to yield to another driver.
2. Poor Weather Conditions
Low visibility, poor road conditions, and seasonal precipitation have a large impact on how accidents occur. In inclement weather conditions, all drivers should proceed with caution and give themselves greater stopping distance.
In 2010, about 14% of 18-wheeler accidents happened during inclement weather.
Any form of impairment greatly increases the risk of an accident. The 2010 statistics show that 3% of truck drivers in fatal accidents had a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.01 or higher. The FMCSA statistics do not report the percentile of passenger drivers under the influence in 18-wheeler crashes.
This impairment most often stems from alcohol consumption, but can also occur due to prescription or illegal drugs.
Again, it’s important to remember that these issues can affect you just as much as they can affect truck drivers. While you cannot control the behavior of 18-wheeler operators you may encounter on the road, you can pay specific attention to these causes to reduce your risk of an accident.
The Accident Scene Is Processed the Same
An accident with an 18-wheeler is inherently overwhelming. However, the scene of the accident is processed essentially the same as the scene of any other type of accident.
If you sustained injuries in an accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. And, regardless of whether or not you, your passengers, or the driver of the 18-wheeler sustained injuries, you must notify the authorities of the accident.
If you do not need to leave to receive medical attention, follow these guidelines after an 18-wheeler accident:
- Stay on the scene until explicitly told you can leave by law enforcement personnel.
- Contact a car accident lawyer, and then report the accident your insurance company.
- Avoid any conversation that could be seen as an admission of fault.
- Get the information of all involved parties and any bystanders who witnessed the accident.
- Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle.
Record as much information as you can. For example, you may want to take note of the truck’s license plate number, any company logos, and anything you notice about the driver’s behavior.
The Commercial Nature of the Vehicle Can Complicate Matters
The major difference between 18-wheeler accidents and two-car accidents is in determining which entity is at fault. For instance, if the driver was intoxicated or driving recklessly, he or she may be personally responsible for the accident. But if the driver works for a national company, that company may be held responsible for a driver’s actions.
Because so many individual parties may be involved, truck accidents may take longer to resolve than other types of accidents. You will also likely have greater need of legal representation since most trucking companies will try to avoid admitting any fault that could become a matter of public record.
Understanding the distinctions between 18-wheeler collisions and other common types of accidents can help you make informed decisions to prevent such incidents and protect yourself after one occurs.
Have you been involved in an 18-wheeler accident? Schedule a free consultation with the legal experts at AMS Law Group. We have experience with most kinds of vehicle accidents, including incidents involving large commercial vehicles.