Large trucks, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs—it doesn’t matter what people call them. They still pose a significant risk to St. Petersburg motorists and passengers.
Suppose you or someone you love recently experienced the trauma of being involved in one of these accidents. In that case, the St. Petersburg truck accident lawyers at Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers are here for you.
Trucks Are More Prone To Accidents
In one recent year alone, over 5,000 commercial and non-commercial large trucks (those with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds) were involved in fatal crashes in the U.S. This represents a two percent increase from the year prior and a 43 percent upswing since 2010. The involvement rate per 100 million large-truck miles traveled is up 5 percent from 2018 and up 37 percent since 2010. This equates to a five percent increase from 2018 in miles traveled per fatal large truck accident and a 37 percent increase since 2010.
Also, large trucks represented:
- Ten percent of all vehicles in deadly crashes
- Four percent of all vehicles registered in the U.S.
- Seven percent of all vehicle miles traveled
Many inherent qualities in big rigs make them more accident-prone and more prone to causing serious harm when compared to other accidents. Consider:
Semi-trucks frequently outweigh passenger vehicles by 20 to 30 times. A truck accident has a much greater force of impact than accidents involving its smaller counterparts. When the body must absorb more force in an accident, it usually means more severe injury.
Increased Braking Time/Distance
Due to their size and loads, trucks can’t slow down or stop as fast as other vehicles, making it more likely that they will cause accidents. Even worse, when they hit a vehicle, it’s at a higher speed, increasing the injuries and damages that result.
Increased Top Heaviness/Different Center of Gravity
These transport vehicles have increased height to help them carry larger loads, which increases the risk of them being top-heavy. Gravity or high winds can cause them to sway from side to side and fall or roll over on the road or on the vehicles of unassuming drivers. Additionally, cars can accidentally slide underneath trucks, with the undercarriage intruding on the vehicle’s passenger compartments.
Types of Large Truck Accidents
Large truck crashes can occur in various ways, depending on their size and shape, the location of the accident, the other cars involved, and many other factors.
A jackknife crash occurs when a semi travels at high speeds and brakes suddenly without gradually slowing down. As a result, the truck bends at a 90-degree angle and sweeps away objects in its path, including other vehicles. Often, the trailer’s substantial weight propels it forward and can cause it to break away from the cab.
Truck drivers need to make wide turns. Steering becomes quite complicated during this maneuver, and heavy traffic or other problematic traffic conditions can make it even harder. Other motorists, their passengers, and pedestrians are all at risk of wide turn accidents.
Any vehicle can experience a tire blowout. However, tractor-trailers are more prone to them because of the constant wear and tear on their tires. If they don’t inspect and change their tires frequently, the risk of this type of accident increases. Often, inexperienced drivers panic if they have a tire blowout, causing them to lose control of their vehicle and crash into others.
Another cause of big rig crashes is rollovers. These types of accidents usually happen when they are traveling on a curved path with a heavy load of cargo. Speeding or reckless driving can cause the truck to roll, endangering the well-being and lives of many with whom they should be sharing the road.
All vehicles have blind spots that can be problematic. However, this issue is worse for large trucks because their blind spots are larger. Suppose a trucker can’t see cars or motorcycles when changing lanes or turning. In that case, anyone next to them is in significant danger. They can be hit and crashed in only a matter of seconds.
Runaway Trailer Crashes
Sometimes a trailer’s speed can increase, and it becomes faster than that of the truck it’s attached to. In these circumstances, the truck driver will lose control of their vehicle. The vehicle’s brakes might fail, and the truck driver might panic as a result, colliding at high speeds with another vehicle. Other times, the trailer will fully detach from the truck’s cab, resulting in a catastrophic impact on anyone or vehicle in its way.
All semi-trucks should have loads that are secured and properly placed. If they don’t, there is a greater chance of an accident.
Unsecured load accidents can happen due to:
- Failing to use the correct type of truck to deliver a specific type of cargo
- Failing to ensure the proper securement of cargo before transport
- Failing to pressurize liquid cargo such as water, gas, or oil
- Unsuitable use of tiedown straps or other mechanisms to secure cargo loads
- Tiedown strap failure due to wear and tear, improper use, or defects
Underride collisions are incredibly deadly. When a smaller passenger vehicle passes under a large truck, many dangerous situations can occur in a matter of seconds. For example, the truck’s tires can burst, causing the trailer to crush the vehicles beneath it, or a vehicle can lose its top, injuring passengers as it passes below the trailer. No matter the situation, survival chances are usually low.
Federal Trucking Industry Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs the trucking industry.
It regulates, among other things:
- Hiring qualifications
- The frequency of inspections and maintenance
- How many hours drivers must sleep or rest before driving
- How long a driver can drive before they are required to take a break
- How large their loads can be
- Documentation and records
- Data analysis
Commercial motor carriers and their drivers must adhere to these strict regulations. If they don’t, they can face fines or even criminal consequences. Suppose their non-adherence to the laws contributes to an accident. In that case, your St. Petersburg truck accident attorney can use this to maximize your compensation.
Truck Accident FAQs
What Injuries Result From Truck Accidents?
Semi-truck accidents are often severe, causing devastating, life-changing, and even fatal injuries. Their size and the forces involved in these accidents are extreme and no match for the human body.
The following injuries are common in the truck accident victims who turn to us for help:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): These can often turn into lifelong injuries, resulting in difficulty caring for oneself, ongoing seizures, depression, and personality changes.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): Temporary or permanent paralysis can result. Individuals with permanent impairments will need lifelong care and money to pay for its astronomical costs.
- Fractures: All types of bones and even multiple bones can become broken in semi-truck accidents. Legs, arms, ribs, the skull, pelvis, ankles, and knees are commonly fractured areas. Some will require surgery and rehabilitation. Other breaks can be so severe, such as those from a crushing injury, that the only option is amputation.
- Burns: All truck accidents have the potential to cause burn injuries, especially if the truck is carrying flammable materials. Burn injuries can occur anywhere on the body and sometimes all over the body. They can also vary in degree. Victims who suffer extensive burn injuries will need skin grafts, have scarring, and have an increased risk of infection or other complications.
- Internal injuries: These injuries can be fatal, as they don’t always reveal immediate symptoms. Fractured ribs can pierce the lungs, liver, or spleen, resulting in severe bleeding. If medical professionals don’t stop the bleeding, the victim can die within minutes.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Not all truck accident injuries are visible. Some, such as PTSD, remain unseen to many. However, they are no less of an injury. Some truck accident victims will live with horrible nightmares about the accident, anxiety, and depression for years to come. These injuries need treatment, just like physical injuries.
These are only some injuries resulting from big rig accidents. Injuries, even seemingly minor ones, can come with thousands of dollars in medical bills and months or even years of pain and suffering. No matter your injuries or how many you have, our St. Petersburg truck accident attorneys are ready to manage your claim and hold the right parties accountable for what you suffered.
Who is Liable for Your Truck Accident?
One critical piece of your case that your St. Petersburg truck accident attorney will start researching right away is who is liable for your truck accident. In this way, truck accidents can be very complicated. Several parties can be liable, and sometimes multiple parties are to blame.
Your St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure you receive the financial recovery you deserve. One or more of these parties might owe you for your truck crash:
The Truck Driver
A trucker can behave negligently, such as by speeding or fatigued or distracted driving. Truck drivers are also responsible for inspecting their rigs to ensure adequate maintenance or loading of cargo.
The Truck Carrier
A trucking company is responsible for the trucks and truck drivers it places on U.S. roadways. They are accountable for hiring employees and proper training practices. Sometimes a carrier’s records or employee interviews reveal that they encourage drivers to save time and money by cutting corners on FMCSA hours of service (HOS) limits or truck maintenance and inspection requirements.
Cargo Shipper and Loader
Sometimes truck carriers contract to ship cargo for third-party companies. The cargo they transport can remain sealed the entire time they transport it. Each party to such an arrangement, such as the cargo originator, shipper, loader, and transporter, is responsible for applicable federal and state regulations.
They can each bear liability if they caused an accident. Suppose a cargo shift or other difficulties with cargo causes a truck crash. In that case, you will want to subpoena and examine the records from each party in the agreement, including the carrier. Your St. Petersburg truck accident attorney can take these steps on your behalf.
Any third-party vendor can be civilly liable if their negligence contributes to a truck accident.
Many vendors take on outsourced work, such as:
- Administrative work
- Recruiting drivers
- Conducting background checks
- Alcohol and drug tests
- Truck maintenance
- Repair and dispatching work
- Other parts of fleet operations
- Brokers who locate cargo shipments for their trucks
For example, suppose a vendor failed to perform a complete background check. As such, the carrier hired a driver with a history of drunk driving convictions. In that case, they can both be liable.
Truck Manufacturer and Parts Makers
Suppose a truck accident occurs due to the failure of a truck component such as a tire, brakes, or steering. In that case, the truck’s manufacturer or the part manufacturer can be to blame. However, it might also be the truck driver or the carrier due to inadequate maintenance and inspections.
Government Agencies and Contractors
Still, other times road hazards can cause truck accidents. For example, a soft shoulder or broken pavement may cause a rollover accident. In these cases, the local or state government responsible for the roadway may be liable for any resulting damages. In other cases, a negligent maintenance contractor for the government might be liable as well if their work is involved.
Where Do St. Petersburg Truck Accidents Typically Occur?
Big rig accidents can occur anywhere in St. Petersburg. However, they are most likely to occur on interstates and freeways that connect with other federal roadways to help them travel long distances.
Accidents often happen on:
- Interstate 275
- Interstate 175
- Interstate 375
- The Gandy Bridge
- U.S. 19
- SR 687
- US 92/SR 687
- CR 1
- CR 150
- Alt U.S. 19/SR 595
- CR 296
- CR 803
When Should You Contact a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Lawyer?
Contact an experienced St. Petersburg truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your truck accident. Doing so increases your chances of a full and fair recovery.
At Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers, we offer free consultations to review the details of your accident and get you on the road to financial recovery.
Call us at (727) 797-2020 or contact us online for yours today.