WHAT MAKES A TRUCK ACCIDENT DIFFERENT?
Tractor trailer drivers are professionals who must follow a distinct set of rules and regulations regarding their driving. There are regulations regarding the qualifications, screening and training companies must follow where hiring a truck driver. This is to be expected, as a tractor-trailer combination can weigh over 80,000 pounds at cause severe and disabling injuries, or even death if involved in a crash. The greater mass and momentum of the truck increases the danger to all other drivers should a truck driver violate the safety rules which are in place to protect us all from harm.
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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DANGERS OF DRIVING AROUND LARGE TRACTOR-TRAILER TRUCKS ON THE HIGHWAY?
There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t crowd a tractor-trailer while driving down the highway. Being close to a semi is a dangerous place to be. Some of the reasons why include:
Have you ever noticed on the roadway that there are large chunks of rubber are overall over the highways as we travel? Often, the rubber is from a blow out of the tire on a big rig. The loaded trucks can legally weigh 80,000 pounds or more. That amount of weight puts a lot of stress on the tires and often they result in a blowout.
Trucks are like sailboats, there are pushed by the wind. The length of the truck and trailer create a huge amount of wind surface and effectively turn the trailer almost into a “sail”. An 18-wheeler can get blown out of its lane, or blown over into the ditch, during a storm and can this can be done with straight line winds.
Your car as blind spots. However, the number of blind spots on a tractor-trailer is large. There are blind spots immediately behind the trailer, and off to the sides of the trailer as it joins the tractor. Well-trained truck drivers do not make quick lane changes due to this large number of blind spots. However, it is a good practice to try to stay away from the blind spot areas on the trucks in order to protect yourself and your family should a truck driver try to change Lanes.
You may have noticed in your travels that there is often a sticker on the back of a trailer to let drivers know that “this truck makes wide turns”. This is particularly true of right turns. When a trucker begins his right turn, it’s not unusual for him to begin to swing slightly to the left in order to be able to make it around the corner. When they move slightly to the left, the risk is the auto driver will take up space immediately to the right of their vehicle and be and the “blind spot” such that the truck driver cannot see the car there. This is a frequent cause of collisions in urban areas where space is at a premium.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SEVERE INJURIES YOU SEE RESULTING IN ACCIDENTS INVOLVING THESE VEHICLES?
The mass and momentum of a tractor-trailer are large and can cause great harm to the Roby and the mind of the victim of the driver’s carelessness. Injuries run the full range from bruising, sprains and strains of the neck, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and knees to torn ligaments and tendons in the neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees.
Many times injuries that were originally diagnosed as “soft tissue” type injuries, (sprains and strains, etc.) are later diagnosed as injuries to the discs in the neck or back of a person involved in a crash. This type of diagnosis takes a more sophisticated test, such as an MRI, to get a full and complete picture of the injury to the vertebrae or the discs in the spinal column. If those discs are pinching or impinging on the spinal cord, or on nerves that are exiting the spinal cord in that area, the injured person may experience pain, numbness or both.
Sometimes these injuries can be successfully treated with therapy and perhaps even injections to reduce the inflammation in the area. Unfortunately, some discs are so injured that surgery may be the only option to relieve the pain and impairment. You may have heard of the term “pinched nerve”. What this may be is an in injury to the disc between the spinal vertebrae, known as a “herniated disc”.
Another type of injury that often goes undiagnosed in these types of crashes are “traumatic brain injury” or “TBI”. Often people can lose consciousness in a collision due to striking their head on something inside the car, such as the side door pillar, the window glass or even the steering wheel. Sometimes objects flying around inside the car can strike a person causing a concussion. If you feel that you lost consciousness following the collision, be sure and tell your medical providers so it can be addressed. Also, don’t diminish the diagnosis of a concussion. While it is true that a mild concussion will often resolve over time, many people who have TBI injuries don’t get the treatment they need early enough because they hope “it will get better after a few days”. A “mild TBI” can be anything but mild; it can have a long-standing impact on your ability to concentrate, remember and reason.
Of course, it is not uncommon for the injuries from a tractor-trailer crash to result in death. That is why it is so important to do an adequate investigation after the wreck before the vehicles can be moved or altered, if possible. If may additionally be necessary to have an autopsy done to determine the exact cause of death in some situations.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN INVESTIGATING AN ACCIDENT WITH A TRACTOR TRAILER?
If there are significant injuries or death, law enforcement is generally required by state law to do a crash report that includes a basic crash investigation. However, if there is a significant injury or death, securing the scene and evidence is crucial. There are instances where it may be necessary to download the data on the onboard computer systems that are in place on most trucks today. It may be necessary to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) to allow the inspection, photos, and download of information before the truck is altered, repaired or destroyed after a wreck.
Identifying witnesses and securing statements from them is very helpful and necessary in the early hours and days after a collision. Sometimes official police reports do not reflect all the actual witnesses to a wreck or their versions of how the collision occurred. Once again, it is critical that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately to do this type of investigation.
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