Tractor Trailer Accidents Are Devastating

Tractor trailer accidents are no joke, but why are they so devastating? Our experts know the reasons. Discover what makes these types of accidents so tragic and what you might be entitled to if you are injured in a tractor trailer accident.

Weight and Size Cause Serious Tractor Trailer Accidents

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, truck crash accidents can be devastating.

  • A tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while a passenger vehicle usually weighs about 3,500 pounds.  That is quite a difference in weight!  In this instance, a maximum weight tractor trailer or other large trucks would weigh up to 23 times more than smaller motor vehicles.  Given this information, it is not surprising that large truck crashes with a car can result in catastrophic injuries.
  • Extra braking distance needed.  Because of its increased weight, the average tractor trailer (and other large trucks) 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. This, of course, leads to an increase in the number rear end collisions caused by large truck crashes resulting in serious injuries.
  • 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. This is obviously one of the leading causes of a truck crash.
  • Some large 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.

tractor trailer on rural road

Other Deadly Factors Involved in Truck Accidents: Truck Drivers Failures

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

  1. Truck Driver Fatigue — Driving while drowsy significantly increases the risk of accidents. See our article on drowsy driving here. This is especially true for a truck accident.  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 federal 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. This is often the cause of fatal crashes involving large trucks.
    • The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration estimates that there are at least 56,000 sleep-related and driver fatigue 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 causing truck accident — In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a study which revealed that at least 7% of all large truck accidents can be attributed to road rage.  The most common form of aggressive driving crashes happened as a result of tailgating.  Depending on the level of aggressive driving involved in a truck accident, 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 the truck driver travels at excessive speeds.  Today, many tractor trailers carry a “black box” onboard the vehicle which stores information, including speed. The data stored in these black boxes can be analyzed in the event of a truck accident to help determine fault and who should be held liable.
  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 a truck accident because of difficulty stopping or steering, tire blowouts, brake failures, and overturning.  Federal regulations require that a tractor trailer not exceed 80,000 pounds in weight. Federal investigators are frequently involved when truck crashes occur to determine of regulations were violated.
  5. Because a large truck poses heightened dangers as a result of its weight and size, large truck drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs are extremely dangerous.  Impaired driving 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 of a truck accident can be devastating. Read our article detailing the testing that takes place after a big truck accident.
  6. Maintaining large trucks and large truck safety is expensive.  As a result of this expense, some companies may try to cut down on expenses by cutting corners on maintenance.  Poor maintenance, though, often costs far more than money as faulty equipment on the roadways can cause a truck accident and can cost lives.
  7. Distracted driving and driver error in a trucking accident.  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 large truck accidents caused by distracted driving. These types of crashes often involve truck drivers running stop signs and red lights and causing serious crashes involving major injury.
    • Driver error — the driver error of a truck driver can also cause significant damage.  Turning too widely, driving too fast, failing to check blind spots for passenger cars, etc. are some of the most common forms of driver errors that can cause a truck accident.  See our article on “What Everyone Should Know About Head-On Truck Crashes.”

Truck driver sleeping

Large Truck Crashes:  Tractor Trailer Accidents

Click here to check out our article on which crashes involving large trucks 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 victims of large truck accidents, 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 because of a trucking accident?  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, injury victims may be able to recover a monetary settlement as a result of truck accidents, if that crash was the fault of the other driver.  Money damages can include compensation or reimbursement from commercial drivers insurance for:

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

Fatal Truck Crashes: Fatal Accident

The vast majority of people share the road with large trucks and other commercial vehicles 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.  Fatal large truck crashes are devastating to the families of those left behind.  See our article on the Rising Numbers of Truck Accidents here.

Truck Accident: 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 for the trucking company will try to call injured parties as soon as the day after truck accidents.  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 tractor trailer accident lawyer for free . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED!!

Whether the insurance company contacts you quickly or not, the faster you seek legal advice from a truck accident lawyer, the better.  With a tractor trailer crash, prompt investigation is critical to successfully recovering money damages in your case.  See our article, “Tractor Trailer Accident? Who’s Responsible?”  Because truck accidents are devastating, making sure that things like skid mark measurements and impact marks are preserved are often essential to a good recovery.

Ritchie Law Firm sign

Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

The five lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm have more 145 years of combined experienced handling truck accident cases.  See our tractor trailer accident Case Results here.  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 truck accidents caused by negligent truck drivers.  Truck accidents 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.

Choose wisely. . . you can talk to us for FREE.

Call today 800-277-6124, fill out the form below or by using our

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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 truck accidents. 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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