Types of Truck Accidents in Brooklyn

Each year, trucks travel hundreds of millions of miles of America’s highways, interstates, roads, and streets. We rely on trucks to deliver raw materials from mines and forests to factories. Trucks also carry finished products from docks to stores and other businesses. As a consumer culture, we need trucks to keep things running smoothly. From food to computer components and oil field equipment to the fuel we put in our cars.

With so many trucks on the roads at any given moment, there are several ways you might find yourself involved in an accident with a truck. The results are often catastrophic. Trucks are usually involved in accidents with other motor vehicles and cause some severe damage in accidents against structures such as buildings or bridges.

Since trucks haul raw materials such as lumber, fuel, or chemicals, accidents involving hazardous waste spills are also common. In recent studies, trucks accounted for 2,214 truck accidents in Brooklyn alone, resulting in 502 reported injuries and seven deaths. Out of those accidents, a whopping 1,705 resulted in property damage.

You may have sustained some severe injuries if you have been involved in a truck accident. With the expense of doctor’s bills, property damage, and the time it takes to recover from these damages, you need a truck accident attorney at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP to help you.

Anatomy of a truck

Even though trucks share the same roads we use for our cars, they are different in more ways than similar. They are built to haul incredible amounts of weight and even large components on oversized trailers such as flatbeds. Trucks come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Garbage trucks, cement trucks, delivery trucks, and water trucks are all smaller in size and may have only two or three sets of axles. They are fairly easy to maneuver for deliveries, services, or utilities. However, they still share the same disadvantages as larger trucks: reduced visibility, heavier loads, and longer stopping distances.

Larger trucks, such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other heavy-haul trucks, use a tractor attached to a trailer. The tractor is the part of the truck where the motor, driver, and steering are found and can attach to an interchangeable trailer at a pivoting point called a hitch. The brakes, safety signals, and hydraulics/pneumatics are powered by the tractor and controlled by the driver. A trailer has at least one set of axles, usually with dual sets of truck tires to help displace the weight of the load for travel and stability.

Wheels, a motor, and steering wheels are just some basics similar to the car you drive. Trucks are much different than your car because they are built to handle incredible amounts of weight over extended periods.

Powerful diesel motors can haul hundreds of thousands of pounds of freight and require hundreds of gallons of fuel to operate over the thousands of miles they travel. Trucks are high-profile vehicles, which allow drivers excellent visibility for far-off distances, but create blind spots in their immediate vicinity.

Trucks have complex braking systems to help them stop while carrying a load, but they don’t allow them to stop the way a mini-van or sedan would in normal conditions. The way that trucks are built gives them advantages when hauling their freight, but they have many disadvantages when it comes to maneuverability or responding to other drivers.

10 Different types of truck accidents in Brooklyn

Some of these factors contribute to accidents, mostly due to the vehicle’s design or the road’s conditions.

Here’s some of what you can expect from different types of truck accidents.

  1. Head-on truck accidents: A truck veering into oncoming traffic at high speeds is the stuff of nightmares. The force this can create during a collision is almost unimaginable. Head-on accidents often result in loss of life, permanent disabilities for the survivors, and significant damage to any vehicles involved.
  2. Fires: Trucks run for many, many hours, carry hundreds of pounds of fuel, and more often than not haul inflammable loads in tanker trailers. From hot brakes to malfunctioning equipment, many trucks each year burst into flames or get involved in accidents where their load catches fire. These fires can spread to other vehicles, causing damage to occupants and vehicles alike.
  3. Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions are bad enough, but being rear-ended by a truck is a harrowing experience many don’t live to tell about later. Trucks have a limited capacity to make sudden stops, and if a car finds itself making a sudden stop, the truck behind it might not have anywhere to go, much less slow down in that short amount of time. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and glass smashing into your car’s rear end will cause significant damage and injuries.
  4. Underride truck accidents: Trucks stand higher than most other vehicles on the road, and a gap of several feet is present between the road and the underside of the vehicle. Though this is useful to allow large tires to haul heavy loads, it can pose a serious threat to any vehicle in this space. Underride accidents often result from sudden lane change accidents, where a car is in the driver’s blind spot, and the trailer overtakes the car. A sudden stop can also lead to a car rear-ending a truck and passing under the trailer from behind. These types of accidents are severe. Federal mandates have required underride bars on all tractor trailers for years, but so far, only on the rear of the trailer.
  5. T-bone accidents: In Brooklyn especially, t-bone accidents are common. This is when two vehicles collide in an intersection, usually because one vehicle has run a red light and hits traffic that has the right of way. This could happen with a truck that could not stop in time, due to road conditions, or even due to the driver not paying attention or being impaired. T-bone accidents are almost always serious, since less protection is afforded to the driver or passengers from the sides of the vehicle than the front or rear.
  6. Jack-knife accidents: When the truck passes beyond an angle allowed at the hitch where truck and trailer pivot, this is called a jack-knife, for its resemblance to a folding pocket knife. These accidents can result in load spillage, loss of control of the truck, and even a sudden roadblock, leading to underride accidents with neighboring vehicles.
  7. Rollover truck accidents: When trucks roll over, they have almost no control over where they will end up. In these accidents, trucks usually dump over on their sides and slide until enough friction with the vehicle causes them to stop. These may result from tire blowouts or sudden veering to avoid hitting an object on the road, such as an animal, pedestrian, or vehicle. This might cause the truck to lose its trailer and any load it was carrying. At the very least, a rollover could result in the mass of the truck falling onto a neighboring vehicle or pedestrians.
  8. Load-related accidents: There is a careful art to how trucks are loaded. Too much weight at the front of the trailer or too much weight at the back can affect how the trailer rides behind the tractor. Even distribution and limiting any shift in the weight as it travels is crucial. Sometimes loads shift, however, resulting in sudden jerking across traffic as the trailer “walks” into other lanes. Sometimes loads can become detached through faulty cables and tie-downs or even impact from other vehicles. If this happens, the load can become a projectile, moving at the same speed the truck was traveling. Anything from sand to logs to scrap metal or toxic chemicals will be spilled onto the highway at high speeds.
  9. Truck vs. structure accidents: Any number of reasons can result in a truck hitting a structure. In the case of a car or motorcycle hitting a bridge or building, there is no question that the structure will be relatively unscathed, but a truck will challenge the structural integrity of a building and cause a lot of damage. Trucks have been known to demolish buildings, bridges, tunnels, and overpasses in collisions, resulting in injuries to the people both inside and around the structure.
  10. Truck vs. train accidents: In Brooklyn, trucks can find themselves facing down a train, especially if caught at a railroad crossing in heavy traffic. The resulting impact can shred a truck and damage the surrounding vehicles. The train might also drag the truck for miles until it stops, resulting in fuel or hazardous materials spills, fires, or flying debris. Drivers are expected to know their vehicle’s limitations and how to properly consider potential hazards such as train crossings and drive accordingly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens.

Driver error

The truck driver is the weakest link in the relationship between man and machine on the highway. Drivers are only human and must rely on their judgment, training, experience, and sometimes their reflexes to navigate any situation in traffic. Unfortunately, drivers often succumb to the same factors that affect everyone on the road. Fatigue, zoning out, and other mistakes are common, but the difference between a truck driver making a mistake and someone else on the road can be very different.

Truck drivers often use performance-enhancing medications to help them stay alert on the road. Though caffeine is legal, using methamphetamine or other stimulants is prohibited. Drivers on substances are often involved in accidents since drugs affect a driver’s judgment and perception and sometimes may cause hallucinations. By Federal regulation, drivers are limited to the hours they can drive their trucks, and log books checked regularly at port of entry facilities help monitor this. Drivers are required to rest after several hours, including sleep. Sometimes drivers take medications to help them sleep, which can also affect their driving.

In most cases, drivers feel pressured to push the limits of their performance in these ways to make deadlines, reach destinations on schedule, and to simply deal with the monotony and fatigue of the open road. Companies that put these pressures on their drivers are simply more interested in optimizing their profits than the general safety of their drivers or the public. In other words, they ride their drivers hard to make money at the expense of everyone else sharing the road.

Types of Injuries

Accidents with trucks are severe and often result in serious injuries and even death. Due to the sheer weight of the vehicle involved and the location of any protective structures, such as underride bars or bumpers, trucks can cut through just about any other vehicle on the road. Here are some of the injuries you can expect from just about any truck collision.

Due to the severity of these injuries, recovery is often long, expensive, and may result in extensive time lost at work, permanent disabilities, and a need for long-term care or vocational training to help victims of truck accidents start their lives over again.

Contact a Brooklyn truck accident lawyer today

If a Brooklyn truck accident injured you, you need all the help you can get. Truck accidents usually result in serious injuries, many of which are permanent, if not fatal. While you are trying to put your life together, dealing with the trauma of broken bones, potential brain damage, paralysis, burns, or disfigurement, you will go up against insurance companies that are only looking out for their best interests.

Chances are the at-fault party could have avoided injuring you, but either through faulty equipment or poor driver judgment, insufficient training, and cutting corners to save a buck, they hurt you instead.

With the impending deadlines, negotiations with insurance companies, and recovery, an attorney can be your best ally. Many factors could have contributed to the truck accident you survived. An attorney can take any information collected and put the facts together for the negotiation table or a court of law for a jury trial if necessary.

Look for a truck accident law firm that has successfully taken on big corporations, trucking companies, governmental entities, and other challengers for decades. That will take the legal stress off you while you focus on your physical recovery.