Many Dangers of Big Tractor Trailers
November 30, 2021 | Truck Accidents
Tractor-trailers, including 18-wheelers and big rigs, are among the largest motor vehicles on St. Louis and Metro East highways and roads. These vehicles commonly traverse major interstate highways, including I-64, I-70, I-55, and I-44.
When these large vehicles move at a fast rate of speed and collide with a much smaller vehicle, serious accidents and injuries can happen. Even relatively slow-speed tractor-trailer accidents can still result in the driver and occupants of a smaller vehicle suffering extremely serious injuries that require extensive medical care and treatment.
Many motor vehicles collisions that involve tractor-trailers result from negligent, careless, and reckless driving by truck drivers. At other times, the trucking companies that employ these negligent drivers are fully or partially to blame for the accident and the resulting injuries.
If you or a person you care about was injured in a motor vehicle collision involving a tractor-trailer, you need knowledgeable legal counsel representing you from the beginning of your case through to the end. When it comes to negotiating settlement offers back-and-forth, insurance companies will not do you any favors. Insurance companies and their adjusters will do everything possible to undervalue your claim and limit the monetary compensation that you recover for your injuries.
A knowledgeable St. Louis and Metro East truck accident attorney will file a personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf against the negligent truck driver or the trucking company that employs the negligent driver. In addition, if you need to file a lawsuit in your truck accident case, your attorney will zealously advocate for all of your legal interests and work to recover the compensation that you need for your injuries.
Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents in St. Louis and the Metro East
Truck driver error is one of the most common causes of tractor-trailer accidents in St. Louis and through the Metro East. The law holds truck drivers to the standard of care of a hypothetical reasonable and prudent commercial driver operating a vehicle under the same or similar circumstances. Since commercial truck drivers operate large vehicles for a living, the law generally holds them to a higher standard of care than non-commercial passenger vehicle drivers.
As part of their duty of care, commercial truck drivers must follow all state laws, road rules, and trucking regulations, including both state and federal motor carrier regulations.
For example, truck drivers must maintain the speed limit, yield the right-of-way when necessary (especially at traffic intersections and merge lanes), use turn signals, and stay in a lane (especially in busy highway traffic). When truck drivers violate one or more of these rules of the road, they significantly increase the chances that they will cause a serious collision with another vehicle.
In addition, tractor-trailer drivers must refrain from distracted driving at all times. Distracted driving means paying attention to a cellular phone, tablet, or another electronic device in the vehicle or otherwise diverting one’s attention away from the road while driving.
Truck operators must constantly monitor the road in front of them, as well as their mirrors, to ensure that they do not collide with another vehicle. When a truck driver diverts their attention away from the roadway, especially during bad weather or heavy traffic conditions, the chances are good that a serious motor vehicle crash will occur.
Finally, tractor-trailer drivers must not operate their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The standard of care applicable to a tractor-trailer and other commercial vehicle drivers in this regard is much higher than it is for non-commercial drivers because tractor-trailer drivers operate large vehicles for a living.
Drugged driving is also sometimes a problem for tractor-trailer operators, as they will often operate their vehicles for hours and hours on end without stopping. Drivers take these actions because trucking companies will sometimes offer incentives to drivers if they get their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. However, drivers will sometimes consume various drugs to try and stay awake for long hours.
Such drugs can have the opposite effect and make a driver tired, or they can alter the driver’s perception, resulting in a serious accident. In the case of tractor-trailer driver intoxication by drugs, trucking companies can be partially to blame for any accident that occurs as a result.
If you received an injury in a tractor-trailer accident in the St. Louis or Metro East region, contact a knowledgeable and experienced truck accident attorney as soon as you possibly can.
Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of the collision and can help you gather the necessary documentation, including a copy of the police report and any witness statements. Your lawyer can also help you file a claim with the at-fault tractor-trailer driver’s insurance company or with the trucking company’s insurer.
Common Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Tractor-trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers are extremely large vehicles, and when they are involved in an accident with a smaller motor vehicle, the result can be catastrophic. At other times, such as in the case of tractor-trailer rollover accidents, massive motor vehicle pile-ups can occur on roadways, resulting in numerous drivers and passengers becoming injured in the collision (or series of collisions).
One common type of tractor-trailer accident is a rear-end collision. These collisions happen when the tractor collides with the rear of a motor vehicle in front of it. The sheer force of a rear-end impact can result in the accident victim’s body jerking forward and backward – or from side to side in the impact. Whiplash-type neck and back injuries are especially common in rear-end collisions where a tractor-trailer driver was at fault.
Another common type of tractor-trailer accident is a T-bone accident, where the tractor collides with the side of another motor vehicle that is usually moving in an adjacent direction. These types of accidents are especially common at four-way traffic intersections – even those controlled by traffic signals.
For example, the tractor-trailer driver might be trying to beat a yellow or red light, colliding with an oncoming vehicle moving in the opposite direction, usually in the middle of the intersection. Depending upon the speed of the tractor-trailer, the other vehicle might spin around or even turn over as a result of the collision force.
Other tractor-trailer accidents are head-on collisions. These collisions happen when the front of the tractor collides with the front of an oncoming motor vehicle usually, one moving in the opposite direction. Although these accidents can occur anywhere, they are especially common on dual-lane roadways and highways with one or two travel lanes in each direction and no median strip in the middle. These collisions are sometimes fatal for one or both of the drivers, depending upon the speeds of the respective vehicles.
In addition, sideswipe collisions can occur when a tractor-trailer brushes up against the front or side of a motor vehicle traveling in the same direction in an adjacent lane. These accidents can occur on busy highways and are common when a tractor-trailer driver is distracted and is not paying attention to the road. They can also happen when a tractor-trailer driver fails to use their turn signal when executing a lane change on a busy highway or road.
Finally, tractor-trailer accidents involving rollovers can happen when a truck is moving too fast for the roadway or weather conditions and the vehicle becomes top-heavy, causing it to roll over in the middle of a roadway or intersection. When a rollover happens, a pile-up involving several motor vehicles can occur.
These accidents can also happen when a truck’s brakes give out, usually because they received improper maintenance. When the cause of a tractor-trailer accident stems from truck brake failure, a repair facility or maintenance shop can be fully or partially to blame for the accident that resulted.
If you or a person you care about has suffered injuries in one of these types of tractor-trailer accidents, a knowledgeable St. Louis and Metro East tractor-trailer accident attorney can assist. Your lawyer can investigate to determine fault for your accident and can help you pursue a claim against the appropriate insurance company.
Injuries Suffered in a Motor Vehicle Crash Caused by a Tractor-Trailer
Motor vehicle collisions involving tractor-trailers, especially those where the involved vehicles are moving at high rates of speed, can lead to numerous injuries. These injuries can happen when an accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle or just from the abrupt movement that is often associated with a forceful motor vehicle collision.
Common injuries that victims of Louis and Metro East tractor-trailer accidents may sustain include:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Cuts, scrapes
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
If you suffer any of these injuries in a tractor-trailer accident, the first step that you should always take is to seek emergency medical treatment at a local medical facility. In addition to ascertaining your medical condition, the physician or nurse on duty can perform the necessary imaging studies and direct you for further treatment.
For example, the attending doctor or nurse might recommend that you seek treatment with your primary care doctor or with a specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor. You might also need to have a surgical procedure performed, especially if you broke a bone in the accident. Likewise, physical therapy treatment might become necessary for you to return to your pre-accident medical condition.
No matter the circumstances, follow-up treatment as soon as you possibly can after your tractor-trailer accident. If you fail to do so, any injury that you suffered in the accident can become significantly worse from non-treatment. In addition, the insurance company might become skeptical of your injuries and assume that you were not all that seriously injured in the accident if you delay your treatment. Similarly, continue treating until a medical provider formally discharges you from care. Refrain from discharging yourself and attend all scheduled medical appointments.
If you have suffered any of these injuries in a tractor-trailer accident, a knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis and Metro East tractor-trailer accident attorney can handle the legal components of your claim while you focus your care and attention on getting better and recovering from your injuries.
Pursuing Compensation for a Tractor-Trailer Accident
If you sustained an injury in a tractor-trailer accident because of someone else’s negligence, you might recover damages through a settlement or jury verdict.
The amounts and types of damages that you can recover as part of your truck accident case will depend on how severely you were injured, the nature and extent of your medical treatment, the cost of your medical treatment, and the geographic area where your treatment occurred.
Generally speaking, the more significant and extensive your medical treatment, the higher the damages that you may recover in your truck accident case.
In a tractor-trailer accident case, you might be eligible to pursue and recover your medical expenses as well as lost wage compensation and other out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, you can make a claim for mental distress, emotional anguish, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life. If a permanent disability prevents you from using a specific body part, you can claim that, too.
A knowledgeable St. Louis accident attorney can pursue the damages that you need and will zealously advocate for your right to recover monetary compensation in your case.