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Personal Injury Law: Why Not to Play Chicken With an 18-Wheeler

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There will always be some type of trauma sustained when an automobile collides with a large truck, especially at a high rate of speed. When this type of accident occurs, the people in the passenger vehicle will suffer greater injuries because of the sheer size and weight of its opposing force. And that force is what often makes those injuries permanent or even fatal. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that there were 1,525 vehicle occupants killed in large truck crashes in 2016. 183 of those fatalities were from Georgia.

Who’s Fault is it? Causes of Large Truck and Passenger Vehicles Accidents.

No matter what size, shape, height, or weight a vehicle is, anytime you get behind the wheel there is a potential for danger. And while many time it is assumed that the truck driver is at fault, that isn’t the case. A 2013  study indicated that automobile drivers were at fault 80% of the time, not truck drivers. As a driver of any vehicle, you should know the common causes of accidents so you can avoid becoming part of the statistics. The following is a look at causes of accidents when the large truck is at fault, and when the automobile is at fault.

Truck Driver At Fault: Causes

  • Height & Weight
    • Large trucks can be difficult to maneuver because they are both heavy and tall. Drivers quickly learn to go around the bridge instead of under, or bypass the overpass because the truck is too tall. But when something unexpected happens— like a blown tire— all too often an accident ensues as the driver struggles to regain control and maintain momentum.
  • Failure to Maintain
    • Poor maintenance of a vehicle that drives thousands upon thousands of miles each week might end up being a fatal error. Something as simple as a hairline fracture in your windshield could cause an otherwise avoidable accident. Drivers are responsible for doing checks on the vehicle at the start of each shift.
  • Ice, Rain, & Snow
    • Inclement weather is another reason for collisions. Even the best drivers might have difficulty if they start skidding and are unable to maintain speed while trying to regain control. The excessive weight in the vehicle makes it very difficult for drivers to stop quickly.
  • The Driver
    • This is a big problem in Georgia. Some of the more commonly seen driver errors include fatigue, substance use, being distracted, following too close, not being familiar with the area,  and excessive speed. Many are also not wearing their seatbelts as well.

Automobile Driver at Fault: Causes

  • Tailgating
    • In Georgia, tailgating is an enforceable offense— although a highly subjective one. However, it can be deadly if a car must make a sudden stop because they are following too close, causing a chain reaction for the truck driver behind them, who will also likely not be able to stop in time crashing into the rear end of your car. Trucks are very heavy and can’t brake quickly like passenger cars. If your car tailgating results in a crash, you are at fault.
  • Blind Spots
    • Another way passenger cars are at fault is when they get behind a truck in one of their four blind areas. If you do this, you increase the likelihood of getting hit by a truck.
  • Changing Lanes
    • Cars that fail to use their turn signals or make sudden changes in lanes often cause both side and rear impact collisions. The automobile would be at fault in this type of accident.
  • Not Paying Attention
    • Distractibility is one of the primary reasons automobiles cause accidents. And what is the top reason that drivers become distracted?  Cell phone usage— especially texting— is the main cause of distracted driving and very dangerous. In Georgia, distracted driving is one of the top three killers on the road, along with high speeds and substance use.

Tips on Avoiding a Collision

  • Clearly signal when changing lanes.
  • Avoid blind spots. Remember large trucks have four blind spots, not two like regular automobiles.
  • Cars should make sure to give trucks plenty of space and always use caution when passing.
  • Never pass a truck on the right side.
  • Never stop abruptly in front of a truck.
  • Just let them in. If they are signalling to get over, don’t try to speed up because you don’t want to get “stuck behind a truck”.
  • All drivers should avoid being distracted!
  • All drivers should STAY OFF PHONE!

There are many reasons that cars and large trucks have collisions, most of which are all avoidable. While we can’t control the weather and unforeseen conditions, we can practice defensive driving and cut down on the number of fatalities that happen on the road every day.

What to Do if You Are in an Automobile and Large Truck Collision?

If you are injured in this type of accident, you must consult with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. It is key that you understand your rights so that all of your interests are protected. You may be entitled to collect damages and a lawyer will act as your advocate. You don’t have to be alone in this process and a personal injury attorney will help you navigate through what can be a confusing and emotional process.

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