Trucking accidents are accidents which involve commercial trucks, tractor trailers, and eighteen-wheelers. These automobiles are extremely large, making them more difficult to maneuver. The average consumer vehicle weighs about 3,000 pounds, whereas trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds or more if they are loaded to capacity. This can lead to very dangerous situations for the trucks and other vehicles on the road. An automobile collision involving commercial trucks has the potential to be much more catastrophic than an automobile collision involving two passenger cars.
Why are commercial trucks so dangerous?
In addition to being difficult to maneuver, commercial trucks also pose additional threats depending on the nature of the material that the truck is carrying. If a truck carrying hazardous or flammable materials is involved in an accident, the situation becomes very dangerous and the other people in the accident or within the area are placed at an elevated risk for harm.
Improper truck loading or overloading is a contributing factor to many truck accidents. Equipment defects, such as faulty tires or breaks, are often a cause of major trucking accidents. Weather conditions and defective roadways may also contribute to accidents involving trucks.
Who is at fault?
Liability in most Broward commercial truck accidents is that the driver, trucking company, or business entity is negligent if reasonable care was not exercised and the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of this negligence. One example of negligent behavior is improper maintenance of a truck. This can lead to brake failure or other mechanical problems which increases the probability of a trucking accident.
Another example of negligent behavior involves a truck driver driving too many hours. When truck drivers operate a vehicle for an extended period of time, they can become fatigued and unresponsive to road conditions or the presence of other vehicles. Other examples of negligent behavior include: inadequate driver training, speeding to meet a delivery deadline, aggressive driving, and distractions such as cell phones, radios, or GPS systems
Turning and jackknifing
Two types of commercial truck accidents call for special considerations; turning and jackknifing.
Jackknifing means the folding of an articulated vehicle (such as one towing a trailer) such that it resembles the acute angle of a folding pocket knife. If a vehicle towing a trailer skids, the trailer can push it from behind until it spins around and faces backwards. This may be caused by equipment failure, improper braking, or adverse road conditions such as an icy road surface. In extreme circumstances, a driver may attempt to deliberately jackknife the vehicle in order to halt it following brake failure. This is not considered in itself to be proof of negligence. Jackknifing is a common occurrence in trucking accidents, especially during times of inclement weather.
When an articulated vehicle jackknifes, the cab is facing in the opposite direction to the trailer, making it impossible for the cab (which contains the engine) to move and the vehicle becomes stuck. Since a jackknifed truck is almost always facing sideways across the lanes of a road, and since they can no longer move, these sorts of accidents can cause significant congestion on roads.
Turning accidents are also typically unclear in terms of who is at fault. The length of trucks often makes turning a difficult process which can sometimes require two lanes to make a right turn. However, while it is not a clear case of negligence, a commercial truck that takes up two lanes while turning can be enough to establish that the truck driver is at fault in some states.
Do you need a truck accident lawyer?
The determination of liability in a trucking accident case can be a complex process which typically requires thorough investigation of factors such as the accident site, the vehicles involved, examination of skid marks, points of impact, and vehicle damage. Individuals or parties that may be held liable for a trucking accident and the damages suffered by victims could include the truck driver, tractor trailer owner, and the truck maintenance contractor. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Broward County trucking accident, you should contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer immediately to help you understand your rights and remedies.