Trucks cause almost half of the blind spot accidents in the United States each year. Even advances in truck safety features have not eliminated the risk of blind spot accidents. However, this does not reduce the truck driver’s duty to exercise reasonable care when driving.
While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a driver awareness campaign to demonstrate the danger of truck blind spots, this is no substitute for the care and skill that truck drivers must show on the road. No matter what safety campaigns are out there, they do not overcome dangerous truck designs and inexperienced and careless truck drivers. When they fail to do so, they should pay for all of the damages that you suffer.
The Truck’s Size Makes Blind Spots Far More Dangerous
To understand why there is such a high risk of blind spot accidents, you should know more about the engineering and size of a truck. The average tractor-trailer is 72-feet long. This is quite a long way for a driver to see. Stated simply, they have a large amount of territory to scan frequently on all sides of the vehicle. They must monitor that space to ensure that they are not being a danger to other drivers at all times.
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The Four Blind Spots on a Truck
All large trucks have what are known as no-zones. In reality, these cover a very large swath of the area surrounding the truck. No-zones are essentially the same as blind spots. They are areas where the truck driver might struggle to see.
Here are the no-zones on a semi-truck:
- In front of the truck
- In the back of the truck
- Right behind the cab of the truck on the left side
- Two lanes to the right of the truck
Other drivers often overestimate a truck driver’s ability to see. Truck drivers have difficulty seeing up to 30 feet behind the truck and 20 feet in front of the truck because of the inherent design of a semi-trailer. For a driver, everything is about their sightline. Unfortunately, large trucks are designed more to haul cargo than they are for motorist safety. Nonetheless, the trucking company must answer when their driver causes an accident.
How Truck Blind Spot Accidents Can Occur
Here are some types of accidents that can occur when a trucker cannot see into their blind spot:
- Crashes when a truck driver is changing lanes (including sideswipe accidents and running other drivers off the road
- Accidents when a truck driver is making a right-hand turn (before making any right-hand turn, the truck driver must swing left first)
- Rear-end accidents when a truck driver cannot see a driver in front of them
- Crashes when a truck driver momentarily loses control of their vehicle
Given the sheer size of the truck, each of these accidents is extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Motorists can collide with a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. The sheer force of a collision will cause serious injuries. Even a sideswipe accident will cause a driver to lose control of their car. Most drivers do not walk away from blind spot truck accidents without any injuries whatsoever. On the contrary, many drivers will sustain life-altering injuries if they survive at all.
Truck drivers have the most difficulty seeing in the right-hand blind spot. This is the largest no-zone. Drivers should avoid passing a truck on the right. However, motorists are still in danger, even when they remain in their own lane when the truck driver tries to change lanes. For example, if you are driving on the right-hand side of a truck, and the truck driver is trying to switch from the center lane to the right lane, they can end up in your space and force you off the road.
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Rearview Mirrors Do Not Help Truck Drivers at All
In addition, rearview mirrors will be practically useless on a truck because the driver simply cannot see that far back in the mirror. Therefore, the driver must rely entirely on their side mirrors to avoid blind spot accidents. This takes skill that not all operators have.
Truck drivers need to be experienced and trained to see into their blind spots. This often comes from years of being behind the wheel. However, many truck drivers are either brand new or trucking companies put them on the road without enough training. In many cases, these drivers simply guess, and your health and safety depend on whether they get it right.
Trucking companies simply cannot find enough drivers for their routes. This was a problem years ago, and it is only getting worse after the pandemic. Now, these companies are desperate. They are putting whoever they can get behind the wheel because of their critical needs. The time pressure means that these drivers are often not fully trained and do not have the road time necessary to better guarantee safety.
As in any truck accident, the injuries in a blind spot accident can be severe.
Here are some common injuries in truck blind spot accidents:
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The Causes of Truck Blind Spot Accidents
Truckers must pay very close attention to their surroundings. They must make periodic checks of their blind spots and certainly must do so before they make any lane changes.
However, they do not always do this. Here are some common causes of truck blind spot accidents:
- Truck driver fatigue – The driver violated rules that govern when they must rest or they did not get enough sleep.
- Inebriation – Truckers may have a drink before getting behind the wheel, or their medication may dull their reflexes and vision.
- Inattention – Operators can be daydreaming or zone out during long shifts.
- Distraction – Truck drivers may have less focus because they are texting or eating behind the wheel.
- Inexperience – Newer truck drivers will have a harder time seeing into their blind spots because that is something that many drivers learn over time.
Truck drivers are not automatically liable in blind spot accident cases. They must check their blind spots, but you will need to prove that they failed to do so and that they were responsible for the accident. This involves gathering the evidence necessary to show what happened.
Insurance Companies May Make Truck Blind Spot Accidents Your Fault
Insurance companies may try to pin the blame for a truck blind spot accident on the injured driver. They do this to escape responsibility for paying for the damage caused by their insured. Courts may reduce the amount of recovery if they assign part of the blame to the injured driver. One common argument is that an injured driver spent too much time “hanging out” in the truck’s blind spot.
Knowing what happened is crucial not only to receive a check but also toward maximizing the payment amount. You must prove to the fullest extent possible that the truck driver was entirely to blame. The stronger evidence that you can bring, the less able the insurance company is to cut your check.
An Experienced Attorney to Investigate Your Truck Accident Is Crucial
This is why the truck accident investigation is so important. These investigations are far more complex than a car accident. You must have an attorney with experience in truck accident claims, so they can get to the bottom of what happened. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we have handled numerous complex truck accident claims. We know how to get to work quickly to establish the cause of the accident. This way, when the insurance company tries to point a finger at you, we have the facts we need to challenge its assertions.
In Arizona, the laws allow you to recover for your damages so long as the truck driver bears any part of the blame for the accident. However, the insurance company might try to reduce your damages by the percentage of fault that it claims you bear. Insurance companies like to say that it was possible to avoid the truck’s blind spot to try to minimize your recovery.
The Obligation for Avoiding Accidents Is Not Just On You
Just because drivers know that large trucks are dangerous and truck drivers are under pressure does not shift the burden of reasonable care onto them. Of course, each driver on the road must act reasonably, but truck drivers will still be responsible when they have done something wrong to cause an accident. While drivers must do everything that they can to avoid an accident, they do not have the sole obligation for safety, no matter what the insurance company says.
Trucking Companies Must Pay When Their Drivers Cause a Blind Spot Accident
Trucking companies are legally responsible for the actions of their drivers. When a truck driver sets off on the road, they are an agent of the trucking company. Anything that they do is also an action of the employer. Therefore, the trucking company must pay when their driver is to blame for the accident. It does not make financial sense to sue just the driver because the trucking company is the one with the assets and the insurance coverage.
As an injured motorist, this means that there is potentially a large policy available that can pay for your damages. Just because the policy is there does not mean that the insurance company will willingly write the check. They will try to make it as hard as possible. This is even more the case in a truck accident, considering that these accidents usually have greater damages than an average car accident.
In any truck accident claim, you have the right to receive payment for all of the damages that you suffer when someone else is at fault. This does not just cover damages that have come out of your pocket. It also applies to the experience that you have gone through since your accident.
Here is some of what a trucking company must pay for when their driver has caused an accident:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium for family members
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Many times, people reading this have lost a loved one in a truck accident. When that happens, you can file a lawsuit on behalf of your family to pay for what you have lost when your loved one has passed. You want experienced wrongful death lawyers who are there for families in their time of need.
Truck Accident Claims Are Far from Certain
Even when you can easily prove liability, a truck accident claim is far from easy. They often require extensive negotiation with the insurance company before they can settle. They may even involve a lawsuit in court if your claim receives a denial or you cannot reach a settlement agreement.
Trucking companies may have every incentive to fight your claim. If the damages are large enough, the very survival of the trucking company can be at stake. These companies are legally responsible for your damages when their insurance coverage is insufficient to pay your damages.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a blind spot accident or any other truck accident, you need legal help immediately. You always need to protect your legal rights. A Phoenix truck accident lawyer can help you, just like we have assisted countless injured Arizonans since we started our practice. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation. Cost concerns will not get in your way because we do not receive payment unless you win your case.