Semi-truck accidents are some of the most dangerous events that can occur on the road in New York State. One could go as far as saying truck accidents are possibly the most dangerous type of motor vehicle accident that can occur. Commercial vehicles like semi-trucks have a propensity for immense size and weight but semi-trucks, or tractor-trailers as they are also known as, take matters to a further level. A semi-truck can weigh between 20,000 pounds and 80,000 pounds. The standard length of semi-trailers are between 28 feet and 53 feet. In some states, semi-trailers can be 57 feet or longer. These dimensions create a very dangerous object that can easily crush and kill anything in its path should something go wrong. Some of the most common ways this can happen include the following.
Common Trucks on New York Roadways
There are many types of commercial trucks on U.S. roadways, each designed to perform a specific task. The most common large truck types and the risk they pose to motorists and pedestrians include:
Dump & Garbage Trucks
Garbage, trash, and other work vehicles such as dump trucks, can be extremely hazardous to those driving, cycling or walking in close proximity. These vehicles are often in residential areas carrying large loads of waste, hot asphalt, dry materials, dirt, demolition debris, gravel, sand and other construction materials. The loads are often top-heavy causing a risk of large blind spots, tip-over, or falling or flying debris.
These cargo-hauling trucks are also known as “semi-trailers,” “big rigs,” or “18-wheelers.” They have considerable blind spots and a high center of gravity that makes them prone to roll overs. Combined with the fact that many tractor trailer drivers are behind the wheel for long stretches of time, tractor-trailers can be extremely dangerous to other drivers.
A tanker truck hauls liquids or gases, many of which are classified hazardous materials. Due to their size and shape, large tankers are prone to rollovers. This can be extremely dangerous if the hauled liquid or gas is flammable, or if toxic substance fumes are released.
Flatbeds have a long open trailer to accommodate loading and unloading cargo. Truck accidents involving flatbed trucks often involve improperly secured cargo that becomes dislodged from the truck, hitting other vehicles and/or causing massive accidents.
Tow trucks are usually run by private operators who inadequately train drivers, these large vehicles weigh more than 10,000 pounds and account for a majority of today’s New York accidents.
Common New York Truck Accidents
Head-On Truck Collisions
Possibly the worst type of truck accident is the head-on collision since it tends to involve the most direct intense forces of any kind of accident. This kind of collision consists of a semi-truck/truck colliding front-first with the front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. The force of all the truck’s weight and speed colliding with another object moving at high speed in the opposite direction is especially violent. Fatalities are very common outcome in a head-on truck collision.
Tractor-Trailer Rollover Accidents
There are certain instances were the immense bulk of a semi-truck loses control in a way that leads it to rollover. When a vehicle of this size and weight does something like this event can result in widespread destruction. They most often occur because a driver loses control of his truck. Semi-trucks have a hard time managing the weight and bulk of a trailer and something as simple as braking or turning incorrectly and/or too abruptly can cause the momentum of a trailer to topple itself over and take out the rest of the vehicle with it. When this happens, motor vehicles that are sharing the road around this truck can end up being crushed underneath the rolled-over truck and other motor vehicles can end up crashing into the result wreckage of a rolled thus creating a pileup. Truck rollovers are also among the most dangerous and deadly accidents for truck drivers. The most common cause of rollover truck accidents in 18-wheelers is a tire blowout.
Semi-Truck Tire Blowouts
A tire blowout on a regular motor vehicle has the potential to be fairly destructive but tire blowouts on semi-trucks are especially dangerous. Tire blowouts can be devastating to the truck driver and nearby drivers if a rollover happens.
Semi-trucks will usually have eight tires but despite their plentifulness, one popping can have disastrous effects. A semi-truck driver can easily lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident if a tire blows out because each one plays a very important role in supporting the immense size and weight of the vehicle. With smaller vehicles, there is a jerking motion in the direction of a blown tire since the support on that part of the vehicle gives out. This jerking motion is intensified with semi-trucks due to their increased weight the tire is supporting. Even just the debris from a blown-out tire can be dangerous and cause an accident if it impacts a car on the roadway.
The typical causes of a tire blowout are potholes, having underinflated tires, heat, overloaded semi-truck, and the tires are worn out over time.
Side-Impact Accident (Blind Spot Accidents)
A truck’s blind spots can be significant, so much that they also have the name: “No Man’s Land.” When a truck driver can’t (or does not) see other vehicles while changing lanes, it puts adjacent vehicles in tremendous danger of being hit, crushed, or forced off the road. These types of accidents are also called angle collisions, T-bones, and broadside collisions, side-impact accidents most often occur at intersections. Fortunately, side-impact crashes don’t occur as frequently with truck accidents as other types of traffic accidents. Yet, when a semi-truck is involved in a side-impact accident, it can result in severe or catastrophic injuries. A truck driver who tries to speed through a red light or drives through a stop sign while distracted might cause a side-impact collision.
Underride Semi-Truck Accidents
There is a space underneath the trailer of a semi-truck that can present a serious hazard for other vehicles. In many cases, this space between the underbelly of a truck trailer and the road is just large enough to fit a car or at least part of one within it. Cars sometimes can be wedged in this under space in what are known as underride accidents. This type of accident occurs when a truck tries to switch lanes and accidentally catches a car in the under space where it can become wedged and drug beneath the trailer or it can be crushed and ran over entirely which result in a catastrophic event.
Underride crashes may involve a potential product liability claims against the trailer’s manufacturer. Because of the risk of a possible underride accident, most trailers incorporate underride guards that are intended to stop these deadly accidents from happening. Unfortunately, those guards can fail to adequately protect other drivers. If that was the case in your accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the underride guard manufacturer.
New York Jackknife Accidents
Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers have two parts: the cab and the trailer. A hitch lies below the forward area of a trailer connects with the cab of the truck. This hitch is a movable joint that pivots whenever a truck makes a turn. A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer continues to move and pivot on the hitch, which acts like a hinge. When the trailer swings towards the cab, the truck looks as if it is folding like a jackknife, giving this dangerous accident its moniker. Many different scenarios might lead to a jackknife accident, but the most common is improper braking. When a truck driver brakes too quickly or uses his engine brake in inclement weather, it often results in a skid, which can lead to a jackknife. Cars are easily hit by jackknifing trailers that can take up several lanes of the road and create a multi-vehicle pileup.
Lost Load Semi-Truck Accidents
Semi-trucks haul massive amounts of products and goods across the country however their cargo also has the potential to cause dangerous accidents. Semi-trucks can haul everything from lumber to food to unstable chemicals. These can all end up becoming dangerous debris and road hazards should they fall from a truck’s trailer.
Unsecured cargo accidents are part of a bigger category of trucking accidents that involve trucking-related debris on the road. You’ve most likely seen boxes, mattresses, lumber and/or other large items littering on the roadway or on the side of the road. Chances are good that this roadside litter is fallen truck cargo that was improperly secured while the trucker or someone else was loading the vehicle.
Some common types of fallen truck cargo include the following:
- Raw materials (lumber, sheet metal)
- Household goods (furniture, mattresses
- Car parts (tires, drive shafts)
An unsecured load may be the result of poor balancing of cargo while loading or improper tie-downs. But other factors can contribute to an unsecured truck load, such as:
- Shifting of the load during travel
- Wear and tear on the ropes, chains or straps
This is why the trucker is responsible to check the cargo’s security at regular intervals. Failing to perform this crucial step may constitute negligence on the part of the truck driver whose unsecured load caused the accident.
The truck driver and/or the trucking company may be held liable for violation of load securement rules depending on their role in the accident. The trucking company may handle the actual loading of the truck and fail to properly secure the cargo, and the truck driver may neglect his/her duty to regularly inspect it to make certain the securing devices are adequately fastened.
Tractor Trailer Rear-End Collisions
Semi-trucks have to take much longer and farther to come to a complete stop. Their momentum carries them farther than smaller vehicles and drivers have to be careful not to break too hard too quickly or they could possibly jackknife. Sometimes a truck driver can misjudge their stopping distance and hit the car in front of them in the rear. A misjudgment by the truck driver could result in a rollover, or a jackknife or in a vehicle pileup. Depending on the nature of the misjudgment, the accident could potentially be very severe with possible catastrophic results.
Wide Turn Semi-Truck Accidents
Trucks need to take their turns much more carefully than other vehicles. Their trailers need to wrap around the entirety of the turn which means that truckers need to take really wide turns. Turning a semi-truck also can increase the risk of the trailer tipping since the force of moving to the side can shift a trailer’s weight to make it possibly rollover or jackknife.
Speak With An Experienced New York Commercial Truck Accident Attorney Today
Recovering compensation after being injured by a commercial motor vehicle is more complex than recovering for traditional motor vehicle accident. Choosing a New York personal injury attorney with experience litigating large truck accidents is vital to recovering needed compensation for life-altering injuries suffered in New York truck accidents. From helping injured people navigate the commercial insurance process to investigating truck owners for possible Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration violations, call the experienced New York truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. for a free consultation at (646)-504-7384 or via our contact page.