Experienced drivers know the frequent challenges of blind spots. These are the risky and ever-present areas around a vehicle whose driver can’t see in their rearview or side mirrors or without turning his head. Consumer Reports revealed that the average mid-size sedan vehicle, driven by an average height motorist, has a blind spot of around 13 feet.
Unfortunately, the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spots become. If you or a family member were recently involved in a semi-truck accident, don’t hesitate to speak with a skilled truck accident lawyer to find out about your options.
Even though we may know the blind spots on our own vehicles, it’s easy to forget about other vehicles’ blind spots, especially those of big rig semis. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these large trucks can have blind spots up to 30 feet long. Still, every day, drivers make dangerous maneuvers, ignoring these blind spots and putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.
The Location of a Truck’s Blind Spots
One of the best ways to prevent a truck accident is to be cognizant of a truck’s blind spots. It is also essential to understand that most commercial trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than a typical passenger vehicle. As such, a truck traveling at 65 miles per hour will require the length of about two football fields to stop. Suppose the truck is going faster than that or carrying a particularly heavy load. In that case, it will need more distance to come to a complete stop.
Today, most commercial vehicles have warning markings showing a semi truck’s blind spots. Therefore, it’s always imperative to pay attention to these warnings. A general rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors or driver, the driver likely can’t see you.
As a fellow motorist who shares the road with these big rigs, always remember the four major semi-truck blind spots in/on the:
- Front of the truck: The truck cab height makes it challenging for the truck driver to see directly ahead of the vehicle, making it dangerous to cut close in front of a truck. Remember to maintain at least 20 feet between you and a truck traveling behind you whenever possible.
- The rear of the truck: The average eighteen-wheeler is 80 feet long, making it impossible for the semi-trucks mirrors to reach directly behind the truck. Big rigs of this size have a rear blind spot of at least 30 feet. Drivers need to remember this when behind a big rig.
- The left side of the truck: A truck driver’s blind spot can reach from directly behind the cab to the back of the truck. Considering this, it’s typically a good idea to avoid driving directly next to a big rig.
- The right side of the truck: The side opposite the truck driver has the same visual limitations as the left side; however, it may also extend two lanes over. Always stay out of a truck’s blind spot.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Blind Spot Crashes
All motorists have a responsibility to drive safely while out on the road. This is especially true for truck drivers whose extremely large and heavy vehicles have the potential to cause much damage. While some accidents are unavoidable, negligence or dangerous behavior often results in an otherwise preventable accident.
Common causes of blind spot semi-truck accidents include:
- Aggressive driving: Passenger vehicle drivers need to understand that trucks take longer to respond to hazards than they do. Cutting off a truck driver or weaving in and out of traffic is always risky, particularly around these big semi-trucks. Other examples of aggressive driving behaviors that can potentially lead to an accident with a big rig include honking, tapping the brakes, and intentionally blocking a truck from changing lanes.
- Truck driver negligence: Trucker negligence can include speeding, aggressive driving (such as braking suddenly to scare or rattle other motorists), changing lanes, and failing to check their mirrors or clear their blind spots. Sometimes, this negligence results from driver fatigue, drug or alcohol use, lack of experience, poor training, or simple negligence.
- Tailgating: A semi truck’s large load and size makes it take more time to accelerate or drive up a hill and longer to stop. Unfortunately, impatient driving can cause truck drivers to follow too closely the driver in front of them. Whenever possible, give large trucks plenty of room.
- Riding the blind spot: Staying too long in any of a big rig’s four major blind spots puts you at risk for an accident. Consistently driving in one of these areas might cause the trucker to forget you’re there. Limit how long you spend in these areas and avoid traveling on either side of a truck for an extended time.
Common Injuries Resulting from Semi-Truck Accidents
Due to commercial trucks’ incredible weight and size, an accident can result in catastrophic or even fatal injuries and significant property damage. In addition, these accidents have a far greater risk of fatalities. Drivers who survive these accidents often must deal with long-term or even permanent injuries and disabilities.
Common injuries from blind spot truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): These injuries can arise from a hard impact of the head against another object such as the windshield, seat, or even the asphalt. TBIs can lead to sensory impairment, memory loss, headaches, or any other long-term deficits. These severe injuries may be temporary or continue for the rest of the victim’s life.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): Spinal cord injuries are one of the worse injuries a truck accident victim can sustain. They can be permanent or temporary, affecting one or both sides of the body, all four appendages, or just the legs. In addition, someone who suffers an SCI will likely have full or partial paralysis.
- Broken bones: The impact of a truck accident can crush, squeeze, or bend the bones in an unnatural position with extreme force. For some accident victims, the severity of the break may cause chronic pain or can require surgery or amputation.
- Burns: In serious accidents, the force of the collision can cause a fire or an explosion. This can lead to severe burns, often resulting in extreme pain and permanent scars. Many require multiple skin grafts and are at risk of developing an infection.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A semi-truck accident is often a traumatic experience. Individuals involved in a severe accident may suffer from extreme anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic disorder, or mood changes. Often, the trauma is so powerful that the victim has difficulty moving beyond the accident. These victims typically benefit from psychotherapy and medications.
Fault and Liability in Blind Spot Truck Accidents
Multiple parties may be at-fault for a crash when it comes to large truck accidents.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can help determine if you can hold these parties liable for your damages:
- The truck driver: Truckers are responsible for safely driving their vehicle from one location to another. If they don’t obey traffic laws or watch for other cars, they will likely be found liable for any collisions that occur.
- The trucking company: A truck driver’s employer can often be found liable for the negligence of their employees. For example, if a trucker’s employer forced them to work beyond the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) legal limits or failed to provide proper training, they may be partially to blame for any resulting crashes. In these cases, if the truck driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover the cost of your accident, the driver’s employer may cover additional expenses. However, sometimes the truck driver is a contract employee, which can further complicate the matter. This is why it’s best to have a well-versed truck accident lawyer on your side.
- Other drivers: A third-party driver or a government or construction worker may be involved in some cases. For example, suppose a reckless driver cuts off a semi-truck. In that case, the driver may respond by quickly moving to another lane. Unfortunately, this often occurs before the truck driver can check the other lane for oncoming vehicles. In these situations, the third-party driver may be held liable.
Stay Safe on the Road: Prevent Blind Truck Spot Accidents
No matter what drivers do, they can’t always avoid an accident with a big rig. However, recognizing a truck’s blind spots and being respectful of a semi-trucks massive size can save a life.
In addition to understanding where not to drive or hang out on the road, these tips can help you stay safe while sharing the highways with these large trucks:
- Never ride a truck’s blind spots: Sometimes, passing through a truck’s blind spot is unavoidable, but don’t ever continue to travel in their known blind spots. If you must drive into a blind spot, move to where the driver can see you as quickly as you safely can. Remaining in these blind spots can make it impossible for a truck driver to see you when they attempt to change lanes.
- Be smart when passing: Remember that a fully loaded tractor-trailer truck takes much longer and more distance to stop than the average passenger vehicle. It’s never safe to cut in front of a semi-truck. On average, truck drivers can’t see 20 feet in front of their truck cab. When you attempt to pass, clearly signal your intention to change lanes with as much advance notice as possible. Don’t move over until you are at least 20 feet or two to three car lengths ahead of the truck.
- Avoid following too closely: Traveling behind a truck is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do, yet motorists do it every day. If a truck must suddenly stop and you are following too closely, your vehicle may end up riding under the truck, resulting in catastrophic damage. In fact, rear-end accidents with trucks are some of the most dangerous collisions on the road.
- Always remain alert: Even if you think that you aren’t in a truck’s blind spot, the truck driver may have problems visualizing you. Always be vigilant and pay attention to the semi-trucks around you. Prepare yourself for unexpected lane changes. If a truck starts to veer into your lane of travel, honk to let the truck driver know you are there.
Possible Compensation in Truck Blind Spot Accidents
Sadly, blind spot collisions frequently cause serious injuries that need long-term treatment. A personal injury claim can help cover costs associated with the accident. Specific damages awarded vary from one case to the next.
Common factors that influence your potential compensation will include:
- Medical expenses: Typical costs such as doctor visits, surgeries, medical devices (including crutches, wheelchairs, and oxygen tanks), over-the-counter and prescription medication, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation services.
- Loss of earnings: Hours missed at work due to the accident, your recovery, doctor visits, or rehabilitation can significantly impact your finances. A truck accident injury lawyer can help you recover these substantial losses.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering generally refers to harm the victim suffered for which there is no predetermined dollar amount. These claims include physical pain, mental and emotional distress, and physical scarring and disfigurement.
You can also receive compensation for future expected medical expenses and future lost wages if you have not yet fully recovered from your injuries.
Let a Skilled Truck Accident Attorney Help
If you are involved in a truck blind spot crash, it’s imperative to speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Injuries caused by such an accident are often severe. They require professional attention, which can cost thousands, if not millions of dollars.
You shouldn’t have to pay these expenses if you didn’t cause the accident. A seasoned truck accident law firm can help you recover monetary compensation to cover those costs.
Call a truck accident lawyer today to learn more about hodsaw they can help you.