Accidents Involving Tractors Trailers Are Devastating

Weight and Size of Tractor Trailers

When it comes to weight and size, tractor trailers have obvious size difference when compared to the typical passenger car.  In most cases, it is these differences that cause the devastation which occurs when there is a collision between a car and a tractor trailer.  On many occasions, accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating.

  • A tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds weighs 3,500 pounds.  That is quite a difference in weight!  In this instance, a maximum weight tractor trailer would weigh up to 23 times more than the passenger vehicle.  Given this information, it is not surprising that a collision between a tractor trailer and a car can result in catastrophic injuries.
  • Extra braking distance needed.  Because of its increased weight, the average tractor trailer needs about 350 feet to come to a stop if it has been traveling 60 miles per hour.  To better visualize this distance, a football field is around 360 feet long.  So, it will take the average tractor trailer about the length of a football field to stop if it has been going 60 miles per hour.
  • Tractor trailers are long and wide.  This causes problems with maneuverability as truck drivers have a much more difficult time steering their vehicles around accidents and debris.
  • Some trucks carry flammable, explosive or other hazardous materials.  In situations where these cargo vehicles are involved in a crash, a minor incident can often turn devastating.

Other Deadly Factors

While there is no doubt that the size and loads of tractor trailers make them difficult to operate, it is generally the size combined with other factors which work together to cause accidents.  Some of those factors include:

  1. Drowsy driving/Fatigue — Driving while drowsy significantly increases the risk of accidents. See our article on drowsy driving here. This is especially true for tractor trailer accidents.  Usually, drowsy driving among truck drivers results from driver fatigue, which can be caused by driving long hours and not taking enough breaks.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed strict rules on the hours of service that a commercial driver can drive.  To comply with the law, truck drivers must log their driving times into their log books.  But, many truck drivers falsify their logs and drive longer hours than they are allowed.
    • The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration estimates that there are at least 56,000 sleep-related crashes on the roadways every year.  Additionally, the National Traffic Safety Board has reported that more than 50% of long-haul drivers have fallen asleep while driving at some point.
  2. Aggressive driving — In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a study which revealed that at least 7% of all tractor trailer wrecks can be attributed to road rage.  The most common form of aggressive driving seen with tractor trailers is tailgating.  Depending on the level of aggressive driving involved in a crash, the injured person may be entitled to punitive as well as compensatory damages.
  3. Speeding tractor trailers are incredibly dangerous!  Because of large trucks’ increased weights and lengths, they have increased stopping times, which are even greater when traveling at excessive speeds.  Today, many tractor trailers carry a “black box” onboard the vehicle which stores information, including speed.
  4. Unbalanced loads or overloaded trucks make for difficult driving.  If a truck is overloaded in weight or is unbalanced, the tractor trailer drivers frequently experience difficulty stopping or steering, tire blowouts, brake failures, and overturning.  Federal regulations require that a tractor trailer not exceed 80,000 pounds in weight.
  5. Because tractor trailers pose such dangers as a result of their weight and size, truck drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs are extremely dangerous.  Drugs and alcohol can delay reflexes and response times in critical situations. While trucking companies are required to randomly test their drivers, there are times when a driver who is impaired is not chosen for testing.  Impaired truck drivers pose a serious threat to others using the roadway.  The results can be devastating.
  6. Large trucks and tractor trailers are costly to maintain.  As a result of this expense, some companies may try to cut down on expenses by cutting corners on maintenance.  This practice, though, often costs far more than money as faulty equipment on the roadways can cost lives.
  7. Distracted driving and driver error.  We all know that distracted driving causes many accidents each year.  However, when truckers text, eat, or adjust navigation while driving a very large truck, the consequences can be catastrophic.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2017, there were 3,166 deaths nationwide due to distracted driving.
    • Driver error amongst truckers can also cause significant damage.  Turning too widely, driving too fast, failing to check blind spots, etc. are some of the most common forms of driver errors that cause accidents.

Many people share the road with large trucks and tractor trailers on a daily basis.  While most truckers are safe drivers and comply with the rules of the road, sometimes, these encounters can turn deadly when combined with drowsy or aggressive driving, speeding, unbalanced loads, alcohol and drugs, maintenance issues, distracted driving, and driver error.  Accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating.  See our article on the Rising Numbers of Truck Accidents here.

Injuries Caused by Tractor Trailer Accidents

Click here to check out our article on which types of tractor trailer crashes cause the most injuries.

While it does happen, it is rare to be involved in an accident with a tractor trailer and suffer minor injuries.For someone who has been injured as a result of large truck or tractor trailer, you can experience months or even years of pain following the collision.  Along with the pain, these injuries frequently cause frustration and fear for the future.  You may wonder how you are going to pay for your medical bills?  How will you pay your rent or mortgage while you’re out of work?  How do I find the right doctor who can fix my injuries?  What if my doctor says there’s nothing more he or she can do for me?  How much does it cost to hire a lawyer to help me?

In Virginia and West Virginia, you may be able to receive money if you have been injured in a wreck with a large truck or tractor trailer, if that crash was the fault of the other driver.  Money damages can include compensation or reimbursement for:

  • Your medical bills
  • Future medical expenses your doctor thinks you might have
  • Your lost wages
  • Your estimated future lost wages
  • Your inconvenience

Talk to a Lawyer First!

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck or tractor trailer, you might be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance representative very quickly.  Sometimes, insurance companies will try to call you as soon as the day after the accident.  Before you talk to any insurance company, you should get the advice of an experienced truck accident lawyer.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation to talk about what you might be entitled to receive.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, you can talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer for free . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED!!

Whether the insurance company contacts you quickly or not, the faster you seek legal advice from a lawyer who knows truck accidents, the better.  With a tractor trailer crash, prompt investigation is critical to successfully recovering money damages in your case.  Because accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating, making sure that things like skid mark measurements and impact marks are preserved are often essential to a good recovery.

Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

The five lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm have more 145 years of combined experienced handling truck accident cases.  Throughout the nearly half century history of the Ritchie Law Firm, our lawyers have handled thousands of devastating crash cases involving serious and complex injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, multiple bone fractures, and even death.

You should not have to bear the financial burden of a wreck that was caused by a negligent truck driver.  Accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we can help you hold the other driver accountable and help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and recover.

Talk with a Virginia and West Virginia Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a truck or tractor trailer accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.

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