Operating a commercial truck requires training, skill and care from a truck driver. A truck driver who operates a rig in a negligent or reckless manner can cause a catastrophic accident, resulting in property damage, serious personal injuries – and even loss of life – for other motorists.
At Christensen Law, our truck accident lawyers have seen these causes and types of semi-truck accidents on the roads of Michigan.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Common causes of Michigan truck accidents include:
- Fatigue/drowsy driving – Truck drivers must comply with “hours of service” regulations, which place limits on the number of on-duty or driving hours. When they reach that time limit, they must take a minimum period of off-duty time. Drivers sometimes exceed these limits as they attempt to meet strict delivery deadlines. That extra time behind the wheel can make drivers fatigued or drowsy, leading to slower reactions and impaired judgment.
- Driving under the influence – Similarly, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) can impair a truck driver’s reactions and judgment. Truck drivers may turn to alcohol to cope with long hours on the road or use stimulant drugs to keep themselves awake and alert when they should be resting.
- Speeding – Trucks are heavy and require far more distance to slow down and stop than a typical passenger vehicle. A truck driver who speeds creates a serious risk of an accident when he or she is unable to safely slow down or stop suddenly.
- Failure to check blind spots – Due to their length, commercial trucks, especially semi-trailer trucks, have massive blind spots. Some trucks are equipped with blind-spot mirrors, video cameras or other blind-spot monitoring technology. If a driver fails to use these devices or fails to manually check blind spots before changing lanes or turning, they may end up striking another vehicle, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
- Aggressive driving – Drivers who must meet strict delivery deadlines or who have fallen behind schedule may resort to aggressive driving. That driving includes excessively speeding, tailgating other vehicles or weaving in and out of traffic – all unsafe maneuvers for a large commercial truck to perform.
- Cargo shifting – Some trucks carry an excessive or unproperly secured load. That load can cause a truck driver to lose control when the cargo suddenly shifts. Cargo shifting may occur when the trucker is making a sharp turn or applying the brakes. Sometimes a load is not properly secured in the trailer and can shift causing a loss of control or even a rollover. If the truck driver loses control of a vehicle, a collision with another vehicle or a jackknifing accident can be the result.
- Unfamiliarity with route – Drivers who get lost run the risk of driving on roads they shouldn’t be on. They may drive the wrong way on a one-way road or travel on a road with low bridges or tight turns that the truck cannot navigate. This can lead to the truck colliding with another vehicle, causing property damage, or getting stuck and creating a significant traffic jam.
- Defective truck parts or systems – Defectively designed truck parts or systems can end up failing while the truck is being driven, leading to a driver to lose control and cause an accident.
- Poorly maintained trucks – Some trucking companies will defer or cut corners on maintenance of their vehicles either out of sheer carelessness or to save costs. Inadequate maintenance of a truck can cause a failure on the road and can lead to an accident.
- Poorly maintained roadways – Local and state governments have an obligation to maintain the roads, especially highways and designated roads that commercial trucks use. Broken pavement, potholes or other poor road conditions can easily cause a truck to suffer a tire blowout or brake failure. The driver may lose control and suffer an accident.
Types of Semi-Truck Accidents
Common types of collisions that semi-trucks can have with other vehicles include:
- Rear-end accidents – A truck may rear-end another vehicle when it follows too closely (tailgating) or is speeding. The truck driver is unable to safely slow down and stop when the vehicle in front brakes suddenly.
- Side-impact crashes – A side-impact collision, also called a “T-bone” accident, involves a truck striking the side of another vehicle. These accidents frequently happen when a truck makes an unsafe lane change by failing to signal or check mirrors and blind spots or makes an unsafe turn by failing to signal or yield to traffic.
- Underride accidents – An underride accident involves another vehicle getting trapped under a truck trailer. These accidents can happen when a truck makes an unsafe lane change, trapping a nearby vehicle in the undercarriage of the trailer. It can also occur when a truck driver makes an emergency stop without checking blind spots behind the trailer, causing a vehicle to get trapped under the rear overhang.
- Jackknife accidents – A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer of a vehicle skids, pushing the tractor forward in such a way that the tractor and trailer fold together like a pocketknife. In certain emergency situations, truck drivers may also induce a jackknife to bring the truck to a stop following a brake failure.
- Rollover crashes – Trucks may suffer rollover crashes when drivers speed or when tires or the brake system fail because of defects. Truck rollovers also occur due to poor road conditions or bad weather such as heavy rain, snow or ice. Sometimes a load shift can cause a truck to rollover, as well.
- Load spills – Truckload spills can occur when a truck or trailer is loaded past its capacity or if the load isn’t properly secured. The load may spill when the truck brakes, turns, takes a curve or hits a bump or pothole in the road.
Talk to a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer Now
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries. Damages for your injuries would be sought from the truck driver or trucking company responsible for your accident.
Truck accident claims can involve complex evidence and legal issues, but you don’t have to pursue your claim alone. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today with our Michigan truck accident lawyers. We will discuss the details of your accident while you can learn more about your legal rights and options.