The average accident with a semi-truck will cause serious injuries and even death. Few people will walk away from these accidents unharmed. Heavy trucks will crash into other objects with great force, and cars often cannot withstand that sort of impact.
Phoenix sees more than its share of traffic as the hub of the Southwest. Trucks going from Texas to Los Angeles will pass directly through Phoenix on I-10. In addition, many trucks coming to and from the Mexican border will also pass through Phoenix highways. The drivers may even exit onto the local streets to take their federally mandated rest.
Semi-Trucks Are All Over Phoenix Roads
In addition, Phoenix contains numerous large distribution facilities. For example, the largest Walmart warehouse in the entire country is in Casa Grande. This facility, which is a massive 1.5 million square feet, serves over 1,600 Walmart stores throughout the West. Not to be outdone, Amazon is building large distribution centers throughout Phoenix. All of these large warehouses mean a steady stream of trucks.
There are numerous places in the Phoenix area where drivers are at particular risk of suffering injuries in a semi-truck accident. The stretch of I-10 within the city limits is one of the most dangerous highways in the country in terms of traffic accidents and fatalities. The wide road aims to encourage free movement of traffic, but it leads to speeding truckers often executing careless lane changes.
As bad as I-10 is, it does not even approach I-17 in terms of danger. This stretch of road is often the fourth most dangerous highway in the country, and semi-trucks are partially to blame. The road is often curvy and crowded, and semi-truck drivers do not exercise the appropriate care. In one recent accident, an overturned semi-truck shut down most of I-17 in Phoenix for hours. Motorists must navigate between these large trucks when the truck drivers are often driving recklessly or carelessly.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Here are the most common types of crashes involving semi-trucks:
- Jackknife accidents – the semi-truck trailer skids towards the cab at a 90-degree angle, striking cars that are in the vicinity
- Rollover accidents – the rig skids out of control and flips over. This can happen due to the driver’s carelessness or improper loading of the trailer.
- T-bone crashes – the front of the truck crashes into the broadside of the car, either on the driver or passenger side. The car has less protection in these parts, and it will crumple in on the driver or passenger.
- Rear-end crashes – the truck can hit the back of a car, or the car can run into the back of the truck when the driver stops short. Both of these crashes can gravely injure a driver.
- Wide-turn accidents – the driver makes a right turn with too much room between them and the curb, squeezing off another vehicle.
- Head-on accidents – this is by far the most deadly of semi-truck accidents. Drivers stand little chance of walking away from this crash when the full force of the truck hits them.
- Underride accidents – a car goes under the truck after the truck stops in front of them. These crashes can shear off the top of the car.
Companies Are Struggling to Find Semi-Truck Drivers
It is not a stretch to say that we live in one of the most dangerous times for trucking. At the same time that our nation’s roads are aging, more and more inventory moves along them. Cargo deliveries are at an all-time high. More truck traffic crowds the roads, and drivers are left to contend with these hulking vehicles with operators who are not always safe.
At the same time, trucking companies are struggling to keep up with their customers’ demands. They cannot make on-time delivery as volumes are surging. Their biggest problem is that they cannot find enough drivers for their trucks. Companies are trying everything to lure drivers. One recent federal rule change has even allowed trucking companies to put truck drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel for coast-to-coast journeys.
What the truck driver shortage means for you is nothing good.
Some effects include:
- Even though there are qualification standards and tests, some trucking companies may cut corners to get drivers out on the road.
- Trucking companies may not provide drivers with the full training they need because it can slow them down from making deliveries.
- Companies push existing truck drivers harder to make deliveries because trucking companies do not have enough staff.
How Semi-truck Driver Inexperience Makes Things More Dangerous for You
Driver inexperience is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. There is a rush to get new drivers out on the road, and the need is greater than ever. Drivers may participate in some introductory courses, and that is all they get.
Trucking companies may even prefer less experienced drivers these days. Experienced truck drivers can practically name their price, cutting into the trucking company’s profits. Newer drivers earn less, meaning the company makes more.
Common Mistakes that Semi-Truck Drivers Make
Semi-truck drivers can make the following errors that can cause dangerous crashes:
- Speeding to maximize the amount of distance that they can travel before they must stop for a break
- Driving fatigued and without the necessary sleep because they travel at night to deal with the least possible traffic.
- Illegal and dangerous lane turns because they do not check their blind spots before they change lanes.
- Distracted driving because they are checking their phone or eating while they are driving
It is unfair to pin all of the blame for semi-truck accidents on drivers. After all, these people perform a difficult job under pressure. The highways and roads can cause stress and difficulty, especially when truck drivers must deal with other motorists.
Trucking Companies Take Shortcuts that Risk Your Life and Health
Much of the risk of semi-truck accidents comes from the trucking company itself. These companies often place their drivers under pressure, to the point where drivers may ignore their own needs and safety. Trucking companies are about their profits. They want to both keep their customers happy and retain as much of their billings for themselves as possible. Often, their greed comes at the expense of your safety.
Trucking companies may take other shortcuts in getting the truck out on the road.
- Ignoring truck maintenance needs and requirements – trucks are very large and complex vehicles. Even the slightest maintenance failure can cause the driver to lose control of the truck.
- Improperly loading cargo onto trucks – overloaded or unbalanced cargo can cause a truck to roll over or a tire blowout. Proper weight distribution is a must for safety.
- Not providing all staff with the proper training – trucking companies try to cut back wherever they can to maximize profits. Some view training as an expense or a bother, even though it saves lives.
- Fostering a general culture with a lack of respect for compliance – employees will take their cue from management. If they see supervisors and company leaders cutting corners, they will do it too.
Trucking Companies Are Responsible for Damages Caused By their Drivers
In the end, the trucking company will pay for most damages in a semi-truck accident. When the trucking company employs a driver, they are legally responsible for everything the driver does.
The trucking company may take shortcuts, thinking that its insurance company will pay for all the damages caused by its drivers. However, truck accident verdicts can be large enough that they can put an entire trucking company out of business. These are also known as “nuclear verdicts,” and they happen with greater frequency.
While the same legal rules apply to all types of motor vehicle crashes, the legal process for a semi-truck accident will be somewhat different. You will file an insurance claim or lawsuit the same way, but the steps that you take to reach that point differ.
Truck Accident Cases Are Far More Complex
A semi-truck accident investigation is far more involved and complex than what you will need to do after a car accident. Trucking is a very data- and records-driven business. Federal rules impose requirements on trucking companies. These businesses must track their compliance. In addition, the truck will have a black box with data about what the truck did before the crash.
Witness testimony will continue to help you build your case, but so can the data. The trucking company will not just give this to anyone who asks nicely. Accident victims need a tough and smart lawyer who knows how to get information. Aggressive legal action should come in the days after the accident when a lawyer will direct the trucking company to preserve all necessary records in anticipation of litigation. Without this, you may find that key data that you need that the trucking company possessed will conveniently disappear.
Why You May Deserve a Lot of Money
Semi-truck accident claims are usually worth more than the average car accident claim. One reason for this is that truck accident injuries are usually more severe. Trucks weigh at least 25 times more than a fully loaded passenger.
In addition, the trucking company likely has a much larger insurance policy than the average driver. They have too much to lose – namely, their entire business. While car accident financial recoveries can have limits because of the policy maximum, there is far more coverage in a semi-truck accident case. Beyond that, you can always go after the assets of the trucking company if their insurance policy won’t cover your injuries.
Why You Need an Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
The larger dollar values and the need for a more extensive investigation mean that you need a lawyer in any semi-truck accident case. When a trucking company and their insurance carrier realize that they may be legally liable for a large amount of money, they are liable to do anything. The longer you go without a lawyer, the more at risk you are.
Insurance companies are every bit as obsessed with their bottom lines as the trucking companies that they insure. They like to take full advantage of every opportunity to pad their profits. The primary way that they do this is by underpaying on claims. When someone does not have a lawyer, the insurance company likes to make very low settlement offers. They know the exact value of your case, and they are banking on the fact that you may not.
Hiring an attorney will protect you from the insurance company overreach that every lawyer warns you about. We do not just do this to scare you. We see this in our daily practice of law. There is a reason why people who have lawyers do far better financially in their case than those who try to represent themselves (even after paying a percentage of your proceeds to an attorney).
You may not even get to the point where you talk settlement with the insurance company. Without proof and evidence, you may not even sufficiently show that the truck driver caused the accident. The insurance company may deny your claim or blame the accident on you.
A truck accident attorney is here to stand up for you, and this is exactly what our legal team does. Our mission is to get you the most possible compensation when you or a loved one suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident in the Phoenix area.
These claims are often challenging, and the last thing you need to worry about during your injury treatment is communicating and negotiating with the insurance companies. Let a trusted truck accident lawyer handle this for you.