A semi-truck is often called a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler or big rig. It is a massive commercial vehicle. The force generated by a semi-trailer or similar large truck in a collision can cause catastrophic injury or death to those in lighter, smaller vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in one recent year, large truck accidents caused 3,921 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. In Florida alone, 149 fatal crashes involved commercial trucks. Seventy-three percent of those who died in truck accidents were in passenger vehicles.
When a truck accident has been caused by the truck driver’s negligence, that trucker and/or the trucking company (carrier) who hired the trucker may be held legally responsible.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a trucking accident, contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. We will work hard to seek the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Semi-truck accidents are different than other types of motor vehicle crashes. This is because of the unique features of semi-trucks. These features include:
- Weight – A semi-truck typically weighs more than 10,000 pounds. When loaded with cargo, the truck may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This is 20 to 30 times heavier than a passenger vehicle. As a result, a passenger vehicle can be crushed in a collision with a truck.
- Height – Semis also sit higher than passenger vehicles. This creates the risk of “underride” in a collision.
- Braking capability – A semi-truck needs a longer distance to stop than what a passenger vehicle requires. If a truck’s brakes are not properly maintained or faulty in some other respect, this creates a dangerous situation. On wet, icy or slippery roads, negligent truckers can get into wrecks if they are speeding or tailgating.
- Rollovers – Due to their height, large trucks also are prone to rolling over. If a truck takes a curve to fast or hits something like the soft shoulder of the road or a high curb or ramp, it “trips” and rolls over. A cargo shift, caused by cargo that is not properly secured, can also cause a rollover.
Semi-Truck Driver Negligence Causes Accidents
A driver’s negligence often is the underlying cause of a semi-truck accident. Examples of negligence are:
- Fatigued driving – Interstate truckers work long hours. This leads to sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep/rest cycles and fatigue. Despite federal regulations that restrict drivers’ hours, surveys show that drivers often violate these rules and fail to record their hours in the logbooks they must keep.
- Speeding – Speeding around a curve or speeding combined with sudden braking can cause a semi to “jackknife.” This is a crash in which the out-of-control cab and trailer of a semi slides toward one another like a folding pocketknife.
- Distracted driving – Federal rules prohibit texting while driving or using hand-held cell phones. Still, truckers frequently use electronic devices while on the road.
- Aggressive driving – Traveling too fast for conditions, tailgating, making illegal maneuvers or failing to look ahead and recognize potential hazards are all types of aggressive driving that lead to semi-truck accidents.
In some cases, the component of the semi may fail such as the brakes, tires or steering. This could be the result of negligent maintenance or a faulty product.
Investigating a Semi-Truck Accident in Orlando
Commercial truck accident cases can be complicated. The wreck itself is likely to involve substantial property damage and personal injury or death. There may be multiple reasons a commercial truck accident occurred. Determining what happened, who is at fault and the extent of damages requires an investigation by a law firm that has the necessary knowledge and skills.
An investigation of a truck accident must take into account the varied and complex state and federal rules and regulations that govern the trucking industry. Investigators must know how semis are designed, how they operate and the common failures that should be examined in a wreck.
At Frank M. Eidson, P.A., we often turn to the expertise of engineers and accident reconstruction specialists. In addition to helping us to determine why a crash occurred, these experts can help us to create diagrams and computer-generated animation that illustrates the crash for a jury.
Contact an Orlando Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a truck crash, Orlando semi truck accident lawyer, Frank M. Eidson, can help. He has experience working with state and federal regulations, truck mechanics, commercial insurance and the many other issues that commonly arise in these cases. To learn more, contact our firm today and receive a free consultation.
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