Semi-truck accidents differ from automobile accidents in many ways--including insurance policies and regulations.
If you’re like most people, you drive every day. As the number of miles we drive has increased, so has the likelihood of semi-truck accidents in Dallas, GA. For those who drive on the interstate each day, the risk of high-speed wrecks involving huge vehicles like motor coaches and semi-trucks looms large. These wrecks are costly, both in terms of property damage and fatalities.
If you’ve been involved in a wreck with a semi-truck (or you simply want to be prepared for the future), here’s what you should know.
Semi-Trucks Carry Larger Insurance Policies
Semi-trucks with full loads weigh around 80,000 pounds; that’s around 25 times as heavy as the average sedan. So it’s no surprise that semi-trucks cause more damage, injuries, and fatalities than normal automobiles in accidents.
The ability to cause more damage and injury means semi-trucks are required to carry far more insurance than automobiles. The minimum amount of liability insurance required by Georgia law for vehicles over 10,000 GVW is $750,000. Some trucking companies require up to $1 million in insurance to be carried by trucks on the road.
Because the insurance policies are so steep, many semi-truck drivers’ insurance companies will work hard to disprove the liability of their driver in an accident. This tactic is used to minimize payout to accident victims.
Insurance companies may also deny claims outright or offer minimized settlements to victims to try and offset the threat of a more expensive legal case. It can be tempting to accept these settlements, especially for victims with mounting medical debt and missed days of work. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can fight your case and win you the money you need and deserve.
Truck Drivers Are Held To Higher Standards
Truck drivers are not like any other drivers on the road.
In Georgia, truck drivers must pass a medical exam and carry a medical exam certification in their vehicles. Most are required to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Additionally, truck drivers’ driving habits are closely regulated. They are only allowed to drive for a limited number of hours per day. They must do pre-trip and post-trip inspections on their vehicles and keep a log of their activities while driving. They are also required to stop at all weigh stations and inspection stations.
Not following these regulations can lead to catastrophic accidents that cause injury, property damage, disability or death.
Semi-Truck Accident Injuries Are Often More Severe
Victims of accidents caused by semi-trucks often have more expensive and complex medical needs than victims of automobile accidents. Some victims require permanent care following a wreck. Many are left paralyzed. Some are forced to be out of work for months, leading to severe financial hardship and even destitution.
The 3 Biggest Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Big rigs--also known as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or commercial trucks--can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s twenty-six times heavier than the average sedan.
Because of their sheer size, big rigs can cause serious damage and injury to other drivers if they are mishandled or driven by an inexperienced truck driver.
It’s important for drivers of smaller vehicles to understand the risks and use caution when driving near semi-trucks.
Here are the three main causes of semi-truck accidents.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers often work long hours and don’t have comfortable sleeping quarters or a reliable sleep schedule while on the road. This can lead to many drivers not getting high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.
The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Without adequate sleep, a person is less alert and has a slower reaction time.
Lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on reasoning, problem-solving, and logic. There are multiple reports that also say constantly getting less than 6 hours of sleep can have the same effects as not sleeping at all.
Driver fatigue is one of the main causes of semi-truck accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. According to a study by Sleep Help, 1 in 4 truck drivers had fallen asleep while driving during the previous month.
Drivers who are fatigued may display slowed reaction time, erratic driving, drifting between lanes or uneven speed.
If you notice a semi-truck behaving erratically on the road, you should keep your distance and stay out of their blind spots.
Poor Driver Training
Driving a commercial truck is much different than driving a standard-sized car.
For starters, a commercial truck that weighs 80,000 pounds requires nearly twice as much distance to stop as a standard sedan. Truck drivers who aren’t experienced with braking in a commercial truck can cause wrecks with deadly consequences.
The same goes for commercial trucks’ blind spots. Trucks have much larger blind spots than standard sedans. When a truck driver isn’t well-trained, he or she may not be fully aware of these blind spots. This can lead to changing lanes or maneuvering the truck without noticing smaller vehicles.
Additionally, large trucks have a higher center of gravity than smaller vehicles. This makes it much easier for commercial trucks to roll over during maneuvers. A driver who isn’t familiar with a big rig’s center of gravity may take a turn too fast or maneuver too abruptly. This can lead to catastrophic wrecks.
In the state of Georgia, commercial trucks with weights over 10,001 pounds are required to undergo an annual Department of Transportation inspection.
There are six primary levels of annual inspection for a commercial truck. The most common level is Level I, also known as North American Standard Inspection.
A Level I inspection examines the following parts of a semi-truck:
- Steering System
- Fuel System
- Securement of Cargo
- Windshield Wipers
- Electrical Cables
During this inspection, the truck driver is also evaluated. A driver’s medical examiner’s certificate, their commercial driver’s license, and their driving log are examined. The driver is also evaluated for signs of drug or alcohol use.
Only commercial vehicles and drivers that pass both parts of the Level I inspection are allowed to have a CVSA decal on their trucks.
Additionally, commercial truck drivers should inspect their trucks at the end of each day’s work and complete a DVIR (driver vehicle inspection report).
Trucks that are not checked daily for maintenance issues can cause serious car accidents. The most common maintenance issues are faulty brakes and tires.
If you suspect that the commercial truck that caused your car collision had a maintenance issue, it’s important to document those issues in writing and photos, if possible.
Semi-Truck Accidents in Dallas + Injuries
Commercial truck wrecks can cause more serious injuries and worse property damage than wrecks caused by other vehicles.
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident in Georgia, you may be entitled to compensation that outweighs what the insurance company has already offered you.
Only an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney can help you win the money you need and deserve.
Lonati Law Firm of Dallas, Georgia specializes in semi-truck accident injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation.