A large truck can outweigh a passenger automobile by several tons. Therefore, when a large truck or semi-tractor trailer is involved in a road accident there is a significantly higher probability of serious injury and death.
Truck Accidents in Indiana
Tight deadlines, driver fatigue, heavy cargo and poor weather conditions are all factors that can contribute to an accident involving a large truck. These factors can be compounded by the presence of hazardous cargo, such as flammable liquids or toxic substances.
What Causes Semi-Truck Accidents?
Big-rigs, delivery trucks and other commercial truck accidents can be caused by tired or careless drivers, by poor truck maintenance, or even by other motorists.
In many cases, truck accidents are caused by:
- Inadequate training
- Rushed schedules and employer demands
- Methods of payment that encourage truck drivers to drive too fast or while fatigued
- Driver error
- Equipment failure
- Poor weather conditions
- Improper loading
- Distracted driving
- Drug or alcohol use
- Unfamiliarity with roadways
Crashes Caused by Truck Drivers
Truck drivers themselves cause about 87 percent of semi-truck crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Of those accidents, most are the result of poor decisions behind the wheel.
Those poor decisions can include driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes and misjudging the speed of other vehicles on the road.
In about 28 percent of accidents, the driver is not paying attention; in some cases, he or she is distracted by things inside or outside of the vehicle or somehow fails to observe the situation properly.
Roughly 12 percent of these crashes are due to the driver falling asleep at the wheel or becoming physically impaired by a physical problem (such as a heart attack or seizure).
Around 9 percent of big-rig crashes are the result of the driver panicking, overcompensating or exercising poor directional control, according to the FMCSA.
Accidents Caused by Other Factors
In about 13 percent of truck accidents, the driver is not directly at fault (unless the driver is responsible for vehicle maintenance and fails to do the appropriate checks and services).
These accidents can be the result of sudden brake problems, dangerous roadways and other drivers. For example, if a driver cuts off the truck driver, and the truck driver swerves and hits you, your accident is part of a chain reaction that you couldn’t have prevented.
The Trucking Industry’s Rules
There are regulations defined by state and local governments that dictate the conditions in which commercial carriers are required to maintain their equipment and records, as well as the number of hours their drivers are allowed to operate.
Trucks are also subject to height and weight limits, and in many cases, truck drivers must stick to certain routes to mitigate the risks associated with the loads they carry. For example, trucks carrying hazardous materials must take different routes from those that are carrying other materials. Truck drivers must also have a special license to carry hazardous cargo, and they are held to different standards than other truckers are.
Common Injuries in Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Because they’re so large and carry so much momentum, tractor-trailer accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. When these big trucks hit other cars, pedestrians or even other trucks, the consequences can be tremendous.
Semi-trucks are heavy, and they’ll stop anything in their paths. These sudden stops cause passenger cars to crumble, which often result in broken bones.
Some of the most common broken bone injuries in truck accidents include:
- Comminuted fractures, which is the medical term for bones that have shattered into multiple pieces
- Impacted fractures, which occur when two bones forced into each other
- Spiral fractures, which occur when bones are twisted
The treatment for broken bones after a truck crash varies, depending on the severity and location of the injury. Some victims simply need a cast or splint; others require major surgery that involves using pins or plates.
Whether the truck that caused your accident was carrying toxic chemicals or there was a fire involved in the crash, you could suffer from serious burn injuries that can leave disfiguring scars and make you susceptible to life-threatening infections.
Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries
Many car accidents result in whiplash or other neck injuries. When you’re in any crash, your head typically moves forward (it’s carrying momentum) and then snaps back, which can damage the soft tissues of the neck. Some of the symptoms of a neck injury include:
- Decreased range of motion and tightness in the neck
- Pain with movement
- Headaches of the base of the skull that move toward the forehead
Treatment for whiplash depends on how severe the injury is.
Whiplash may be the neck injury that you are most familiar with, but victims can sustain many other injuries between the shoulders and the base of the skull during the truck accident. Sprains, strains and fractures are common. Torn and ruptured disks in the spine often require surgery, and recovery can be long and painful.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The momentum and severity of a tractor-trailer accident can cause injuries that partially or completely sever the spinal cord. Some spinal cord injuries are severe enough to cause permanent paralysis or death.
Any spinal cord injury is very serious. In some cases, damage to the spine causes swelling – and as a result, swollen tissues can press against the spinal cord, causing damage.
Some symptoms of spinal cord injuries include:
- Pain anywhere between the neck and hips
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of feeling
- Hearing loss
- Blurred vision
- Organ malfunctions
Internal injuries from a truck accident can be incredibly severe. Being forcefully restrained by a seatbelt, hitting the airbag, and being thrown around the interior of the vehicle can cause painful injuries that require immediate medical care, and sometimes surgery.
The most commonly injured internal organs include the lungs, liver and kidneys. Trauma to the abdomen can also cause spleen damage or damage to the pancreas.
Keeping Other Motorists Safe from 18-Wheelers
Many truck drivers are responsible individuals, and many trucking companies stick to the rules of the road. Trucks must bear clear labels that describe the types of chemicals they are carrying, in part so that first responders know how to react, and for the most part, they do.
All of the rules and regulations that affect the trucking industry are there for a reason: to protect other motorists.
Semi-Truck Crashes in Indianapolis
If you have been involved in an accident involving a large truck, we can help. Wilson Kehoe Winingham has a wealth of experience dealing with accidents involving large trucks and semis. We also represent those injured in accidents, collisions or crashes resulting from defective products or design, such as defective seatbelts, tires or gas tanks. Our attorneys will evaluate the circumstances surrounding your accident and discuss your legal options.
In truck accidents, efficient discovery and research is necessary to preserve operational and maintenance records maintained by the carrier. Injuries sustained from truck accidents, such as broken bones, damage to internal organs and spinal cord or brain injuries can require extensive medical care and rehabilitation.
Your ability to recover damages for your injuries may rest on the ability to show that the carrier or the driver failed to follow proper guidelines or exercised some form of negligence. Obtaining an attorney thoroughly familiar with Indiana laws and regulations concerning large trucks is critical to providing a solid case for recovery of damages.
Contact the Indiana Truck Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a truck in the state of Indiana, contact Wilson Kehoe Winingham today to see if you have a legitimate personal injury claim. To claim your free case evaluation, call 317.920.6400 or fill out the brief form on the contact page. We look forward to speaking with you soon.