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semi-truck accidents

Who’s Responsible in a Semi-Truck Accident?

March 16, 2020

UPDATE: Michigan’s New No-Fault Law went into effect July 1, 2020. The information on this page was written prior to the change in the law and may be out of date. Please visit https://callsam.com/no-fault-law/ for updated information on the new No-Fault law in Michigan.  

In the last 10 years, accidents involving semi-trucks have increased by 31%. With the average 18-wheeler weighing in at 80,000 lbs., it’s no wonder so many people are catastrophically injured in semi-truck accidents. In 2018 (the most recent year statistics are available), 4,136 people died in large truck crashes nationwide. In addition, close to 150,000 others were seriously injured. Here are the facts you should know in the event of a semi-truck accident.

What is a semi-truck?

A semi-truck is a large vehicle with one or more semi-trailers attached to the back of a tractor unit, or cabin. Also called semis, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers or “big rigs,” semi-trucks are used to haul various kinds of cargo. Some semi-trucks have sleeping compartments attached to the cabin where drivers can sleep during long hauls.

Why are semi-truck accidents so dangerous?

A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs., while an average passenger car weighs around 4,000 lbs. Therefore, the occupants of an automobile that collides with a truck are more likely to die or suffer severe harm. In addition, when two semi-trucks crash into one another, the drivers are also likely to be killed or severely injured.

Where and when do most semi-truck accidents occur?

In 2018, approximately half of all fatal semi-truck accidents (52%) occurred on major roads between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. One-third (33%) took place on interstates and freeways, while 14% occurred on minor roads.

What are some of the causes of semi-truck accidents?

Semi-truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the truck driver causes the accident. Other times a driver may be trying to avoid a passenger car that suddenly swerved into the wrong lane.

Here are some other causes of semi-truck accidents:

  • Driver fatigue

While driver hours are regulated by federal law, some truckers violate these rules and drive longer than is legal or safe.   

  • Driver error

Most motor vehicle accidents are the result of driver errors, and semi-truck accidents are no exception. Either the truck driver or the person behind the wheel of the passenger car can cause an accident.

  • Truck braking capability

A fully-loaded semi-truck requires 20% – 40% more stopping distance than an automobile. This discrepancy increases when roads are wet or icy. 

  • Poor visibility

Semi-truck drivers must contend with large blind spots in the rear, on the sides and in front of their cabs. Rear blind spots can be 200 feet deep.

  • Faulty equipment or poor maintenance

Large trucks are harder to maneuver, so a driver can lose control when encountering even a minor equipment malfunction. If the brakes are defective, a truck driver has little chance of avoiding a catastrophic accident.

Why is it a good idea to hire a lawyer who specializes in semi-truck accidents?

Because these cases are extremely complex, an experienced lawyer will help you achieve the best financial outcome.

Significant legal expertise is needed for several reasons.

First, the victims of these accidents often sustain devastating injuries. Their compensation may include the cost of extensive or lifelong medical care and assistance. In addition, the victims and their families may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering.

Moreover, multiple parties are often involved in semi-truck accident cases. Many trucking companies are governed by various federal and state regulations. And, in addition to Michigan no-fault insurance, truck drivers may be covered by other insurance policies with varying requirements.

Further, the owner of the semi-truck or trucking company, along with the truck manufacturer, may be included in the lawsuit. And if the accident was caused by faulty maintenance or equipment, the mechanic or parts manufacturer may also be liable.

A lawyer with extensive knowledge of these complicated issues will make sure you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.

Michigan accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Sources:

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks#Comparison-of-large-truck-crashes-and-passenger-vehicle-crashes

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2018_Year-End_for_Web_653222_7.pdf

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