As the demand for consumer goods continues to grow, the number of semi-trucks on the roads rises. Semi-trucks transport everything from building materials to fuel, and even your most recent Amazon delivery. In Manhattan, we see hundreds of trucks on the road every day. Trucks constitute an integral part of our economy and provide ample jobs throughout the city and across the United States.
As the number of semi-trucks on the road increases, so does the number of accidents. When an accident happens, it can have devastating effects on those involved.
If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in a semi-truck accident, you may qualify to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. To learn more about your rights and what steps to take next, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.
5 Types of Semi-Trucks on the Road
Go out for a drive through Manhattan, and you’ll see various types of trucks on the road. Semi-truck designs vary largely depending on what the trucks haul, how far they travel, and other factors. Below, we discuss five different types of semi-trucks that you may see on the road:
When most people think of semi-trucks, they think of a tractor-trailer. Tractor-trailers, also known as big rigs or 18-wheelers, have two main parts: the cab and the trailer. The average trailer extends to 53 feet long, but local laws may restrict trailer length in certain travel areas. Tractor-trailers can serve many purposes but most commonly transport freight products across the United States.
Flatbed trucks consist of a cab and a long, flatbed trailer. The open design allows trucks to haul larger items that would not fit within a typical trailer. This may include construction equipment, building materials, or modular houses. Trucks carrying oversized loads must obtain a traveling permit and follow certain restrictions, which may include the time of travel, flagging, and the use of an escort vehicle. Oversize loads may pose extra risks due to lack of visibility and hauling difficulties.
Tanker trucks resemble tractor-trailers in that they both have a cab and a large enclosed storage area. However, the loads that each carries distinguish these two vehicles. While tractor-trailers typically transport dry goods, tanker trucks transport liquids. This may include water, dairy, alcohol, or gas. Because of the type of cargo that tanker trucks carry, these types of accidents can prove particularly dangerous. Truckers driving a tanker truck must have a tanker truck endorsement to legally operate the vehicle.
While most semi-trucks consist of a cab and a fixed trailer, dump trucks include a hinged open bed. Because these trucks typically haul loose construction material, drivers should use extreme caution and allow distance when traveling around these vehicles.
Car haulers transport passenger vehicles. These trucks may consist of one or two levels and can carry one to nine cars at a time. Though closed trailer car haulers do exist, the majority of car haulers on the road have an open trailer. Drivers must adhere to strict federal standards to properly secure each vehicle that they haul.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
The National Safety Council recently published a report revealing some alarming data involving large trucks. Of the accidents included in the report, large trucks accounted for ten percent (10 percent) of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents. While this number may seem small, consider that semi-trucks account for less than four percent (4 percent) of all highway miles driven.
A variety of factors contribute to these accidents. These include:
- Driver fatigue: Drowsy driving poses a danger to other individuals on the road. Such driving behavior can lead to a lack of focus, result in a delayed reaction time, and can cause the driver to fall asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, driver fatigue is an extremely common problem in the trucking industry. In an extensive study into the causation of large truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration concluded that thirteen percent (13 percent) of all drivers included in the study suffered from fatigue at the time of their crash. Long hours, lack of sleep, and the strenuous nature of the job all contribute to driver fatigue.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving constitutes a growing problem across the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that takes the driver’s attention off the road. Cell phone use constitutes one of the most common causes of distracted driving, but drivers may also become distracted by the radio, eating, or a navigation system. Signs of distracted driving include sudden stopping, slow to start, and drifting in between lanes.
- Speeding: Speeding constitutes one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Speeding reduces a driver’s reaction time, increases stopping distance, and can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Higher speeds also contribute to a higher risk of fatality. Speeding proves especially dangerous for large trucks because of their significant size and the potential for loads to shift within their trailer.
- Mechanical issues: Semi-trucks’ large size can lead to safety issues. Each component of the vehicle contributes to the overall safety of the truck. Because of this, federal regulations mandate regular vehicle inspections, including daily checks. Unfortunately, these don’t always happen, or the driver may check the vehicle but overlook a serious mechanical issue. Common problems that can lead to accidents include tire problems, bad breaks, improperly working or broken safety features, and improperly secured loads.
- Weather: Inclement weather frequently affects New York. Snow, rain, fog, and freezing conditions all pose problems that drivers of trucks and passenger vehicles have to navigate. These issues can lead to poor visibility, slower stopping time, or cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
6 Steps to Take After a Semi-Truck Accident
Any accident can prove scary, but those involving semi-trucks may change a victim’s life forever. After an accident, involved individuals may feel traumatized and uncertain as to what comes next. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you to resources and help you understand what comes next. What you do following an accident not only affects your physical recovery but your financial recovery.
Steps that you should take after an accident include:
- Stay at the scene: New York law requires all drivers to remain at the scene of an accident if it involves any property damage or injuries. Pull over to the side of the road, and check on any occupants in the vehicle. If anyone suffers a serious injury, call 911 right away.
- Exchange information: After an accident, you should exchange personal information with the other driver. At a minimum, make sure to get the driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information (including policyholder and number). You should also write down the driver’s plate number and the name of the driver’s employer.
- Take pictures: He said-she said cases often occur after a motor vehicle accident. It’s amazing how a driver’s interpretation of an accident can change in the days that follow the collision. Pictures can help prove what happened and determine fault. Make sure to include pictures of any damage to both vehicles, as well as photographs that include the whole vehicle. You should also take pictures of the scene, including skid marks, property damage, and any notable landmarks.
- Seek medical attention: In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you should prioritize your safety. You should see a doctor as soon after your accident as possible. Even if you feel fine, you should still get a thorough medical check-up. A healthcare provider can rule out any serious injuries and advise you on how to limit any pain in the days that follow. Make sure to keep a copy of your records and any receipts, as these may prove important for your truck accident case.
- Keep your records: Besides your medical records, you should keep an organized record of all costs you incur as a result of the accident. Keep receipts for things like repairs, over-the-counter medications, and any improvements you had to make for accessibility. Save any correspondence you receive from the other party, the at-fault insurance company, or an at-fault party’s attorney. You should also keep track of mileage to medical appointments and keep a record of all health care providers that you see.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: After any accident, you should talk to an experienced attorney, especially after a semi-truck accident that involves serious injuries and multiple liable parties. You can expect your attorney to talk to the other party, gather evidence, and help you negotiate a fair settlement for your claim.
How Do I Recover Damages After a Semi-Truck Accident?
According to a recent report from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, deaths from semi-truck accidents have increased 31 percent over 10 years. Accidents that don’t result in death can lead to serious injuries. If you or someone you love has died or sustained serious injuries in a semi-truck accident, you need to talk to an experienced attorney.
Personal injury attorneys strive to help their clients negotiate a fair and just settlement. If you suffer an injury, you may struggle to work or even participate in day-to-day activities. In personal injury cases, clients hope to recover costs related to the accident, also known as damages.
Typical damages include:
- Medical costs: In cases that involve serious injuries, medical bills often amount to one of the biggest costs. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can cost over $100,000. After an accident, you should not have to incur such costs. Your truck accident case may cover most medical bills, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and medication. For serious injuries, the insurance company may consider future medical costs.
- Lost wages: If you cannot go to work, you may struggle to pay your bills. When this happens, your attorney can ask for lost wages. Lost wages can cover any time you miss from work as a direct result of the accident. This includes recovery time. Generally, the amount you receive depends on your previous position and wage and the amount of time lost. If you cannot ever return to work, you may receive future lost wages as well.
- Rehabilitation costs: If you sustain a serious injury, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Alternatively, if you cannot return to your previous job, you may need vocational rehabilitation. Your attorney can fight to include both of these costs in your truck accident case.
- Pain and suffering: Following a Manhattan semi-truck accident, victims may endure serious pain—both physical and emotional. Injured individuals may also suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You shouldn’t take this pain lightly, as the insurance company will usually consider it when evaluating your claim. Maintain open communication with your attorney and doctor, and don’t hide any physical pain or emotional stress.
- Wrongful death: Sadly, semi-truck accidents often prove fatal. If someone you love has died in a semi-truck accident, you may have a right to damages. This can vary, but may include medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering on behalf of the decedent.
When it comes to semi-truck accidents, these cases often involve multiple parties, including the driver, the driver’s employer, and potentially the vehicle or parts manufacturer. The level of liability will depend on the actions leading up to and causing the accident. Your attorney can help you pursue damages from all responsible parties.
Don’t Try to Handle Your Manhattan Semi-Truck Accident on Your Own
Following a semi-truck accident in Manhattan, you should contact an attorney to help you understand your legal rights and help you file a claim. You don’t have to pursue compensation on your own. You have resources to help you get back on your feet and move forward. An experienced truck accident attorney can help guide you through the process and provide support through this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. For more information, contact a Manhattan semi-truck attorney today.