Because of their size, commercial trucks have the potential to cause truly catastrophic accidents. These truck accidents come in many different types, each of which can have specific effects on the severity of the injuries they cause.
No matter what type of truck accident caused your injuries, turn to the trusted lawyers of Arrington Schelin for help. We have represented injury victims across the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than 40 years. We are committed to providing our clients with compassionate service and aggressive advocacy.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We will discuss the details of your crash and explain your legal options for demanding the financial recovery you deserve.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
Types of truck accident cases that our firm commonly handles include:
A sideswipe accident occurs when a truck’s sideswipes the side of another vehicle. These accidents most frequently occur on the highway due to unsafe lane changes or failure to yield when merging.
In a T-bone truck accident, the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle at a perpendicular angle, so that the two vehicles form a “T” at impact. T-bone accidents typically occur at intersections, usually because one of the drivers is running a red light or stop sign or has otherwise failed to yield the right of way. T-bone accidents can prove particularly catastrophic for the “T-boned” vehicle, as the sides of many passenger vehicles have less crash protection than they have in the front or the rear.
In a rear-end truck accident, an 18-wheeler crashes into the back of the vehicle in front of it. Rear-end collisions usually occur due to a truck driver speeding or tailgating another vehicle, or driving while distracted, fatigued, or under the influence. Rear-end accidents often cause injuries to the face, head, neck, and back, including whiplash.
In an underride accident, a smaller passenger vehicle gets caught underneath a truck trailer, usually under the rear overhang of the trailer but sometimes also along the side of the trailer. This usually happens either due to the smaller vehicle rear-ending the truck or due to a sideswipe accident. Depending on the relative heights of the trailer and passenger vehicle, an underride accident can put the occupants of the passenger vehicle at risk of head, spine, and traumatic brain injuries.
Head-on truck collisions are among the most deadly motor vehicle accidents due to the violent forces that they involve. Head-on collisions typically occur when a driver drifts across the center dividing line or median into the oncoming lanes or otherwise travels in the opposite direction of traffic.
On narrower streets, large trucks pose a risk of causing a right-turn accident because of their wider turning radius in this direction. A right-turn accident may involve a truck driver crashing into a vehicle or bicycle approaching on the truck’s right, or colliding with a vehicle on the truck’s left as its driver swings wide to make the right turn. These situations can also lead to a head-on collision with oncoming traffic when the driver makes a right turn into the opposing lane.
In a jackknife accident, the truck’s trailer swings forward at an acute angle toward the tractor cab, causing the vehicle’s two elements to fold up like a pocketknife. When a truck jackknifes, its driver can quickly lose control of the vehicle, which may then veer wildly across the roadway. Jackknife accidents usually occur due to improper braking on the part of the truck’s driver, such as braking too hard, braking in slippery conditions, or braking on a downhill or curve. Improperly loaded cargo can also lead to a jackknife crash.
A rollover accident involves a truck and/or trailer tipping over onto its side or roof or, in more serious wrecks, overturning multiple times. A rollover accident may be triggered by an unbalanced cargo load or by a tire blowout or tread separation.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Virginia
Some of the most frequent causes of semi-truck accidents in Virginia include:
- Speeding – Truck drivers sometimes speed or drive too fast for conditions in an attempt to meet strict delivery deadlines or make up time after being slowed due to traffic or weather. But as their speed increases, their ability to react to changing road conditions decreases, with potentially disastrous results.
- Distracted driving – Operating a truck places many demands on a driver’s attention, including navigating the route, talking on the radio, and monitoring their vehicle’s condition — not to mention actually driving the truck. But truck drivers may also be tempted by other distractions, including cellphones, eating and drinking, or simply daydreaming.
- Drowsy driving – Truck drivers spend many hours a day on the road, often for several days at a time. This can easily lead to fatigue. The risk of becoming fatigued or drowsy behind the wheel greatly increases when drivers exceed the hours-of-service limitations imposed on them by law. Drowsy or fatigued driving impairs reaction times and puts truck drivers at risk of engaging in microsleep (momentary periods of unconsciousness) — or of falling asleep altogether.
- Driving under the influence – Unfortunately, some truck drivers turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the long hours and isolation of their job. When a truck driver is under the influence, they put the public at risk of an accident due to their inability to safely operate a vehicle as large and as complex as a commercial truck.
- Inexperienced drivers – To safely operate a commercial truck, drivers need to undergo training and gain experience maneuvering such a large and heavy vehicle. However, some trucking companies put inexperienced drivers behind the wheel of vehicles they lack the ability to properly handle, creating a significant risk of an accident.
- Unfamiliarity with routes – A truck driver attempting to navigate a new route is at a higher risk of causing an accident. They might get lost and end up on a road that’s not safe for a large truck to drive on. They may become distracted trying to read a map or navigation device. Or they may make sudden maneuvers as they attempt to navigate an unexpected on- or off-ramp.
- Wrong-way driving – Truck drivers who get lost, become distracted, or drive while drunk or fatigued are at greater risk of driving into oncoming traffic. This could result in a head-on collision, one of the most devastating types of crashes.
- Unsecured load or improperly loaded cargo – If a truck is overloaded with cargo or if the cargo load is not properly balanced or secured, the driver may have trouble properly controlling the vehicle. In particularly severe cases, the unpredictable shifting of cargo can cause the trailer to pitch and even overturn.
- Improper maintenance – Trucking companies are required to keep detailed inspection and maintenance records. However, some companies may defer necessary or required maintenance due to oversight or to cut costs. Even when maintenance is performed regularly, negligence by the mechanics may lead to problems. This creates a risk that a truck may suffer a mechanical failure on the road, which may lead to an accident.
- Defective parts – Defectively designed or manufactured truck parts can fail while on the road, potentially triggering an accident.
How a Lawyer Can Help after a Truck Accident
Facing big trucking corporations and their insurance companies on your own is a battle you’re going to lose. Let an attorney from Arrington Schelin help you pursue your case by:
- Performing a thorough investigation of the truck accident, reviewing all potentially relevant evidence, including truck driver logs, electronic data recorder logs, load manifests, and truck inspection/maintenance records
- Identifying the party or parties liable for the accident and all possible sources of compensation
- Documenting your losses to make sure we pursue full compensation on your behalf
- Filing your claims with the trucking companies and insurers and aggressively pursuing a fair settlement
- Taking your case to trial if that offers the best chance of securing the results you want and deserve
If you have been injured in a truck accident, reach out to us online or call Arrington Schelin today for a free, no-obligation case review. Our Virginia truck accident attorneys have a long track record of holding trucking companies accountable for the harm and loss that they cause.