Distinct Characteristics of an Accident Involving a Semi-Truck in Indiana

The following is an excerpt from our FREE book about trucking accidents. Click here to download your copy of 10 Critical Questions You Need Answered Before You Sign Anything After a Truck Accident.

Semi-truck 18 wheeler on the highway delivering freightOne factor that makes truck accidents different is that semi-trucks often carry insurance policies for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and for that reason, the insurance company will very aggressively defend these cases and do whatever it can to limit their liability.

Furthermore, a truck accident claim can be complicated because of the various federal truck regulations that apply to truck drivers and companies.

But, the clearest difference between a car accident and a semi-truck accident is that the impact can be much, much more severe solely based on the size and weight of a semi-truck (3,700 pounds of car vs. 80,000 pounds of the truck). Because of this, it takes a semi a lot longer to stop than it does a car, especially if the truck is carrying a heavy load. This can become even more dangerous when a truck is on the highway and traveling at a high rate of speed.

Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck, or a combination of these issues.

Below is a list of problems that can result in serious Indiana truck accidents.

1. Jackknife Accidents

Jackknifing is a term used to describe what happens when the back end or trailer portion of a truck swings around and creates a fold or an angle between the trailer and the front of a truck resulting in the cab of the truck facing in one direction and the trailer facing in a different direction. When a jackknifing incident happens, the swinging of the trailer can easily take other cars into their wake and cause them to be smashed between the cab and trailer. Causes of jackknifing incidents can include brake failure, equipment failure, and icy roadways.

2. Underride Accidents

Trucks are much larger than other vehicles on the roadway. Underride accidents occur when a vehicle is unable to slow down or unable to avoid a truck moving into its path and ends up pinned underneath the truck trailer. Underride accidents can also occur in combination with a jackknifing accident. Fortunately, underride accidents are not common, but when they do happen, they can be fatal.

3. Unsecured Cargo Accidents

A fully loaded semi-truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. If the cargo is not loaded and secured properly, there are two types of accidents that commonly result. First, if the cargo is unsecured, it can fall into the roadway. This can be very dangerous if the truck is carrying hazardous material. Another common accident caused by improperly loaded cargo is overturning. When a truck is attempting to make a turn, it may be thrown off balance by improperly loaded cargo in its trailer.

4. Truck Driver Negligence

Truck drivers spend much of their life on the roadway. Truckers are often under pressure to make deadlines and drive for hours on end. There are many factors that can lead to driver error and negligence. Some of the most common circumstances include aggressive driving, drug or alcohol abuse, inexperience, criminal behavior, speeding, texting while driving, unsafe lane movements, and driver drowsiness. Any of these factors combined with driving an 80,000-pound vehicle can be deadly.

5. Failure to Maintain the Truck

Trucks are driven thousands of miles a week and because of this, it is critical that they are regularly examined and maintained by a trained mechanic. Common problems that can result in serious accidents include brake failure, worn tires, defective truck equipment, improper reflectors, and worn-out locks and load straps. Both the truck driver and the truck maintenance workers are responsible for ensuring that the truck and its components are in good working condition before the truck is driven anywhere.

6. Truck Employer Negligence

Employers of truck drivers have a legal obligation to ensure that their drivers are qualified. This means that they have a duty to perform random testing, conduct background checks, and take measures to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and licensed. Federal and state regulations require that companies annually review each trucker’s driving record which includes checking for any violations of traffic laws in the last 12 months.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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