Types of Truck Accidents in Queens

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that regulates the trucking industry, approximately 110,000 truck accidents occur on the nation’s roads and highways each year, including close to 5,000 fatal truck accidents. Unfortunately, some of these severe and fatal crashes occur throughout Queens and New York City’s other boroughs. In fact, as one of Queens’ main thoroughfares, Jamaica Avenue sees many traffic crashes each year, including truck accidents.

Truck accidents are often more dangerous and more likely to be fatal than other traffic collisions because of trucks’ size and weight. Semi-trucks are the heaviest and largest, but other types of trucks are also prone to accidents under certain conditions. The majority of truck accidents in Queens are preventable and usually result from negligent driving behaviors or negligent actions of trucking companies.

If you suffered injuries in a Queens truck accident, consult an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you seek compensation for damage related to your injuries and associated losses. Learning about the different types of truck accidents can help you understand how your truck accident occurred and who might face legal liability for the damages you suffered. Additionally, knowledge of types of truck accidents and how they occur could save your life by preventing future accidents.

Head-on Truck Collisions in Queens

Whether heading to and from JFK, driving on Queens Boulevard, or running errands in Forest Hills or Astoria, motorists face a risk of suffering injuries in a truck accident. Head-on crashes occur when a truck swerves into oncoming traffic. A driver might swerve because he is drunk, tired, distracted, or having a medical emergency. Tire blowouts, steering issues, and other mechanical breakdowns can also cause a truck driver to lose control of his truck and strike an oncoming vehicle head-on. Turning the wrong way down a one-way street can also lead to head-on collisions.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to avoid a head-on truck accident. Truck drivers rarely drive into oncoming traffic on purpose, so these accidents typically happen because the driver has either lost control of his truck or has made a terrible mistake. The best way to avoid a head-on collision with a truck is always to drive attentively. The sooner you see a truck coming your way, the better chance you have of avoiding an accident.

Rear-end Truck Crashes in Queens

When a truck driver rear-ends another vehicle, the consequences can be fatal. Even those lucky enough to walk away from a rear-end truck accident often sustain serious injuries. Trucks need extra time and distance to slow down or stop in traffic because of their weight. Don’t be fooled by smaller commercial trucks like garbage trucks and dump trucks. They are also heavy and can cause major damage if they rear-end a vehicle.

In September 2020, a cement truck rear-ended a small sedan at 232nd Street and South Conduit Avenue in Laurelton. The car lost control and ran into a pole. The driver died, and his passenger suffered chest and back injuries.

Truck drivers who crash into the rear of other vehicles are following too closely, driving too fast for conditions, or they could be distracted or impaired. You cannot control the actions of the truck driver behind you. However, you can do your part to avoid a rear-end collision. Avoid sudden stops and quick maneuvers, so you give trucks behind you enough time and distance to react. Also, if you notice a truck following your vehicle too closely, it’s best to pull over and let the driver pass you.

Underride Collisions in Queens

An underride collision is a type of crash that usually happens between a large truck and a smaller vehicle. These dangerous crashes are often fatal. They typically occur when a vehicle rear-ends a truck or a truck changes lanes and strikes a vehicle in the lane next to it.

When tractor-trailers collide with small cars, sometimes cars get stuck under the trailer. If the truck driver does not immediately notice the crash and keeps driving, the truck can drag the vehicle, causing massive property damage and a high likelihood of death. The longer the “ride,” the greater the damage. Distracted, drowsy, and impaired truckers can cause an underride collision. Sometimes underride accidents occur because drivers do not clear their blind spots when changing lanes.

One of the easiest ways to avoid an underride collision is to avoid driving near semi-trucks, especially on the interstate, whenever you can. Semi-trucks have large blind spots that extend to the front, rear, and each side of the truck and trailer. Always leave a healthy gap between the front of your car and the rear of a tractor-trailer. Also, try to avoid lingering in blind spots on the side of a semi. Quickly pass or hold back until you can safely pass. This way, you won’t fall victim to a negligent trucker who does not clear blind spots.

T-Bone Truck Accidents in Queens

T-bone accidents, sometimes referred to as side-impact, angle, or broadside collisions, do not happen as often with trucks as they do with other types of motor vehicles. T-bones typically occur at intersections. Many trucks must stop far before an intersection and take a lot of time to leave an intersection after a complete stop. This prevents them from trying to beat a yellow light or sliding into the middle of an intersection. It’s more likely a vehicle will crash into a truck in an intersection.

However, trucks can cause t-bone accidents, many of which are deadly. When the full force of a semi or other heavy truck hits the side of a vehicle, drivers and passengers are fortunate to survive. Distracted truck drivers create extreme risk for others in an intersection.

This guide about types of truck accidents in Queens primarily focuses on accidents between trucks and motor vehicles. Yet others who share the road with truck drivers, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, also face the risk of accident and injury. For example, an NYC sanitation truck struck a woman and her 10-year-old son. The truck pulled out of a driveway onto 57th Street in Corona and ran into the mother and son who were walking on 57th street. The mother survived and her son tragically died.

You can avoid T-bone truck accidents by carefully approaching intersections. Never try to beat a yellow light at controlled intersections and always look both ways before you proceed through an intersection, even if you have the right of way. Using caution means you will not have to worry about a truck plowing into your vehicle in a busy intersection.

Jackknife Accidents in Queens

Semi-trucks have a cab and a trailer that connects with a hitch. A hitch is a moveable mechanism that pivots when a truck turns, working similar to a hinge. The cab turns, and the trailer follows. Jackknife accidents happen when a trailer continues to pivot on the hitch and swings towards the truck’s cab. The motion is similar to folding a pocket knife, giving these treacherous events their name.

Jackknifes can happen under various conditions, such as heavy traffic, wet roads, and icy roads. Typically, they occur because the truck driver improperly brakes, such as when the driver applies brakes too quickly or uses his engine brake in poor weather conditions. Jackknifes aren’t always dangerous in and of themselves. Truckers have the protection of their rig if they slide into a median or a ditch. However, Queens isn’t exactly a rural area. A jackknifing big rig in Queens will likely strike other vehicles and cause severe property damage.

A variety of scenarios can lead to accidents and injuries for vehicles in the vicinity of a semi-truck that jackknifes.

They include:

  • The tractor-trailer skids into one or more vehicles in oncoming traffic.
  • Vehicles come upon the jackknife accident and cannot avoid crashing into the truck or trailer.
  • The jackknife begins a chain reaction that creates and dangerous, potentially deadly, multi-car pileup.

Jackknife accidents are another crucial reason for motorists to avoid driving too close to a semi, especially in rainy or snowy weather. If a truck driver loses control of his big rig and jackknifes his trailer, you face far less risk for accident and injury when you are not near the truck.

Rollover Truck Accidents in Queens

Rollover truck accidents often have serious, and even fatal, consequences for truck drivers and others involved. Rollovers are even more dangerous when they involve trucks carrying hazardous materials.

In December 2020, a flatbed truck carrying almost 300 propane tanks rolled over in the exit lanes of Queens Boulevard on the Long Island Expressway. The propane tanks exploded into a fireball, leaving firefighters to put out flames and clean up the tanks for hours. Fortunately, the truck driver and no others suffered injuries. Yet, these types of dangerous rollovers occur more often than they should.

Rollover truck accidents can occur for several reasons, but truck drivers risk a rollover anytime they lose control of their vehicles. Research shows that tire blowouts are the most common cause of truck rollover accidents.

Driver impairment, weight and balance issues, medical emergencies, and mechanical issues also sometimes lead to truck rollovers. Top-heavy trucks like garbage trucks, cement trucks, and dump trucks are more vulnerable to rollover accidents, especially when going around curves or making turns. Too much speed while navigating corners and curves and drivers cannot control their trucks.

Like underride collisions and jackknife accidents, the best way to avoid suffering injuries when a truck rollover occurs is to keep your distance when sharing the road. Keep at least two car lengths behind or in front of a truck, and do not drive next to them. Sometimes heavy traffic makes it difficult, but you should do your best to quickly pass a truck or let them pass you.

Truck Cargo Accidents in Queens

Trucking companies and truck drivers have a legal duty to secure their cargo properly. Similarly, those responsible for weight and balance issues with a truck’s cargo must appropriately distribute the weight of a load and not overload the truck. A wide range of accidents can occur when truck drivers and trucking companies do not properly handle, load, and secure cargo. Uneven loading can lead to rollovers, but in many other cases, the greatest risk for accidents and injuries comes from load spillage.

Open trailers like those on flatbed trucks are especially dangerous when cargo comes loose, but even closed semis could spill their cargo under certain conditions. As shown by the propane tank example above, hazardous material spillage can lead to fires, explosions, and toxic chemical exposure. Tanker trunks that carry gasoline, grain alcohol, and other flammable liquids also pose external dangers.

Personal injury attorney Andrew Finkelstein managing partner of Jacoby and Meyers LLP

Andrew G. Finkelstein, Truck Accident Attorney

Cargo spills do not always include hazardous substances, but even seemingly harmless cargo can cause serious damage and dangerous accidents that lead to injury and death. Any time cargo falls from a truck, nearby vehicles risk running into the cargo. In some cases, one vehicle running into a spilled load begins a chain reaction that leads to a multi-vehicle accident. Liquid cargo like oil, milk, and alcohol can cause vehicles to slide or hydroplane and force them off the road or into other vehicles.

Truck accidents are dangerous and costly, and put other motorists at risk for serious and fatal injuries. When impaired or distracted truck drivers make poor choices behind the wheel, others who share the road face often suffer the most severe consequences.

Do your best to share the roads and highways in Queens safely with truck drivers. If you suffer injuries in a Queens truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the facts of your truck accident, determine if you have a viable claim, and discuss your legal options.