Even when you feel confident driving next to a large commercial truck on the highway, there’s no guarantee that an unexpected collision won’t occur. Commercial truck accidents can be devastating– oftentimes more devastating than a crash between two smaller passenger vehicles. Collisions involving big rigs often result in catastrophic injuries and multiple-vehicle pileups due to how much weight and force a semi-truck packed with cargo carries.
When negligence causes a truck accident to happen, innocent victims can sustain severe injuries or even lose their lives. If you’re in this predicament, you should know that you may have legal options. A dependable Little Rock truck accident lawyer from McMath Woods P.A. will stand by your side to defend your rights and seek justice. Our law firm’s attorneys have been looking out for the people of Arkansas for years.
We understand how a serious accident can completely upend your life. When you’re balancing recovery, bills, and insurance claims, it can all easily become too much to handle. If you’re in a situation where you’re offered a settlement that’s less than you need to move forward and less than you’re entitled to, our personal injury lawyers will do everything we can to get you the compensation you deserve.
How Often Do Semi-Truck Accidents Occur?
Big rig accidents easily cause injuries and fatalities because of their size and weight. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tractor-trailer wrecks have caused the following in 2016:
- 4,564 fatalities occurred in 4,079 truck and bus accidents.
- 51 percent of the crashes involved large semi-trailers or buses.
- About 39 percent of people in fatal commercial truck crashes weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
Semi-truck collisions harm a large number of people every year. There’s a reason why most major commercial truck accidents make headlines. This is because the resulting injuries are unavoidable, while the collisions themselves most often are avoidable.
How Do Arkansas Big Rig Collisions Happen?
Truck wrecks can happen for a number of reasons, but one thing that unifies them is that most are actually preventable. Legally, when a preventable collision or incident happens, we often say it was because of negligence. When a driver makes an avoidable mistake because of a distraction, for example, this counts as an instance of negligence.
All drivers, including truckers, have a legal duty to act in order to protect others around them when it’s reasonably safe to do so while behind the wheel. When truckers neglect their duty, our lawyers call a resulting incident one of negligence. All it takes is for someone to make a single risky decision and the result could be injuring someone else in a collision.
Here are some of the most common causes of trucking accidents here in Little Rock, throughout Arkansas, and nationwide:
- Weight Exceeds Limitations. Semi-trailers can bear a certain amount of weight. If the cargo exceeds that weight, it would put too much stress on the axles. It could cause something to weaken or break and cause an accident.
- Improper Distribution. Distributing cargo evenly is important. Having too much weight up front or in the back could throw the vehicle off balance and the driver could lose control while on the road.
- Driver Fatigue. Commercial truck drivers often drive long hours for days on end. While they’re supposed to take breaks to sleep, they may choose to adhere to their schedule than rest. Exhausted commercial drivers can fall asleep at the wheel and drift into other lanes or run off the road.
- Driver Error. Driving a semi-trailer takes skill and practice. An untrained or inattentive driver may not give themselves and other drivers enough time to signal a turn or a lane change or may try to maneuver when they’re going too fast.
- Distracted Driving. This mistake isn’t unique to truck drivers. Many people drive while they’re distracted and cause accidents. Typical distractions include using cell phones to make phone calls, text, or check social media. The driver could also lose focus on the road if they’re changing the radio station or trying to eat and drink while driving.
- Reckless Driving. No matter if the truck driver is new or experienced, they can still choose to make unsafe driving decisions. Speeding and tailgating are always dangerous, but even more so with a big rig because it takes longer for them to slow down or stop.
- Inclement Weather. Drivers need to drive cautiously when the road conditions aren’t perfect. Driving in snow and rain requires more care and slowing down. Drivers should also look out for ice or blizzard warnings, in which case it’s probably safer to not drive.
- Mechanical Failure. Trucking companies must regularly inspect their vehicles to make sure they’re safe to drive. Failing to do so could mean putting a semi-trailer with faulty brakes, a bad engine, or broken steering wheel on the road. There’s also a chance that the manufacturer of an auto part made a defective product that broke while the truck was being driven.
- Road Debris. Objects or other forms of debris in the road is dangerous for anyone to drive over. A commercial big rig driver could either get in a wreck because they swerved to try and avoid the debris or ran over it and lost traction with the road.
Jackknifing: The Danger of 18-Wheelers
18-wheelers can pose a unique threat on the road when they jackknife. A jackknife happens when a tractor loses control of the trailer, and the trailer swings forward to form an angle. The truck will be stuck in the shape of an L or a V. Cars can get trapped in the collision course and the trailer’s broadside can hit them. These accidents can quickly turn fatal.
Jackknifing happens for a number of reasons. The trailer can skid out when the roads are slippery and the trucker is going too fast. There can also be situations where the trailer’s brakes lock because the driver isn’t using the brakes properly. A truck needs to slowly decelerate—slamming on the brakes isn’t effective or safe. In some cases, the jackknife may not be the cause of a collision, but the result of one. An accident that happens for another reason could lead to a jackknife and cause further injuries.
Additional Tractor-Trailer Accident Types
While jackknifing accidents are a serious concern, there are a number of other truck accidents that you should be aware of. When truckers and drivers of passenger vehicles are aware of the dangers, accidents are preventable. If you’re uncertain as to what type of accident you were in, your lawyer can investigate the crash and determine the type for you.
- Blind Spot Accidents. Tractor-trailers have blind spots on all four sides. When a trucker is changing lanes or turning, they risk getting into an accident if they’re unaware of the vehicles around them.
- Truck Rollovers. It’s important that commercial vehicles are properly loaded. When a truck isn’t, there’s a risk for a rollover accident. This happens when the cargo is improperly balanced. It can also happen if a trucker is speeding and takes a turn too quickly. If this happens on a busy highway, a multi-vehicle pileup is possible.
- Wide Turn Collisions. Depending on the turn, a truck driver may need to swing to the left in order to make a right turn. As a result, they could collide with the vehicles to their right.
- Override Accidents. An override accident occurs when a tractor-trailer drives overtop the vehicle in front of them. The fatality rate is high for these accidents. They tend to happen when smaller vehicles pass and move back to the right lane too quickly, or when a trucker is speeding and loses control.
- Underride Accidents. Just like override crashes, underride accidents are just as fatal. When a truck stops short and the car behind is too close, the smaller vehicle may be unable to stop in time. As a result, the car may end up colliding with the rear-end of the truck. Because the truck is so much larger, the car may wedge underneath the trailer.
How Severe Are Truck Accident Injuries?
Commercial trucks are much heavier than cars and tend to cause more serious injuries. Some of the injuries can be catastrophic, which are debilitating injuries that can last for the rest of the person’s life. Here are just some of the injuries which may result after a serious commercial wreck:
- Traumatic Brain/Head Injuries. The impact of a truck accident can potentially cause brain damage or head injuries that could affect cognition or memory. These injuries usually need medical attention and could take a long time to heal.
- Neck/Spinal Cord Injuries. These injuries can cause permanent damage to the area below the injury site. Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis or issues with mobility.
- Loss of Limb. People can lose arms or legs during the accident or have so much damage that doctors have to remove it later.
- Broken Bones. While these injuries aren’t as severe, a broken bone can take a long time to heal and prevent people from working.
- Burn Injuries. An accident involving an 18-wheeler can cause painful burn injuries. While injuries to the first and second layers of skin can hurt and may require medical attention, severe burns can cause nerve damage and will need immediate medical attention.
- Fatalities. It’s possible for tractor-trailer collisions to cause fatalities.
All these injuries could leave you with massive medical bills, the inability to work for a long time, chronic pain, and/or the requirement of medical equipment or long-term medication. If your collision was the result of negligence, our Little Rock truck accident lawyers are ready to hold the right people accountable and help you get through this.
Compensation for Truck Accidents in Arkansas
If you decide to hire a truck accident lawyer to represent your best interests after you or someone you love was in a trucking wreck, your legal team will investigate why the accident occurred and what could have been done to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Your Arkansas truck accident attorney will also determine how it affected you. We will examine the medical records that detail your diagnosis and any tests, treatments, or medication you’ve needed as part of your recovery. We will also calculate the care you’ll need in the future.
In Arkansas, there are certain types of damages you may be eligible for after a truck accident. The most common include property damages, medical damages, lost wages, mental pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Your lawyer will work to ensure your settlement offer is fair.
Property damages refer to the damages done to your car or other property. Medical expenses include the hospital bills you incurred for treatment at the time of the accident, in addition to future care. Lost wages refer to the money you lost because of time away from work to recover. Mental pain and suffering, which is difficult to calculate, is for the emotional pain related to the accident. Punitive damages are only awarded in the event the driver of the other vehicle was acting with malice or reckless disregard.
Get Peace of Mind in Little Rock with McMath Woods P.A.
When you’ve been wrongfully injured because of negligence, you may not know where to start when it comes to taking legal action. McMath Woods P.A. will help you through this process and will always answer questions and keep you up to date on your case.
Our Little Rock truck accident lawyers will stand by your side and fight to get you the compensation you need. We’ll do everything to get you a favorable settlement that will help alleviate the costs of medical bills and future medical care, lost wages, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and more.
For a free consultation, get in touch with us today. The sooner you contact us, the sooner you can start taking steps to financial recovery. You’ll be able to rest easy because we’re looking out for your best interests.