Less than five percent of all registered vehicles nationwide are large trucks. Yet, more than 13 percent of all fatal crashes on U.S. roads involve at least one large commercial truck or bus.
Semi-trucks tower over most other vehicles on the road. Most have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of between 14,000- 33,000 pounds. Even semi-trucks that aren’t carrying loads demand more stopping time than a standard passenger vehicle due to their massive weight. At typical highway speeds of 65 miles per hour, the average-size vehicle can come to a complete stop in about 300 feet. In comparison, a fully loaded semi-truck (weighing up to 80,000) can travel as far as 600 feet before reaching a complete stop. However, their required stopping time and distance can be even further if other conditions, such as rain, ice, or snow, exist.
Considering these facts alone, it’s no wonder that severe accidents involving large trucks can happen, leaving victims with severe or catastrophic injuries and much pain and suffering. The resulting injury cases can also be complicated.
So, if you or someone you love was involved in an accident with a large truck, talk to an experienced Indiana truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
What are No-Zones?
The “no-zone” is the area around large trucks with limited or no visibility. Due to their immense size and height, semi-trucks and buses have several significant blind spots where a car or small vehicle will virtually “disappear” from the driver’s view.
Limited visibility is a common cause of truck accidents, especially those involving big rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has outlined four specific “no-zones” that can be particularly dangerous to motorists. The four areas drivers should avoid are the front, rear, and both sides of the big rig to the front of a large truck or bus. Being in these areas will substantially increase the potential for an accident:
- Side no-zones: Trucks and buses have large no-zones on both their passenger and driver sides. Typically, a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the truck driver’s face in their side-view mirror, the truck driver can’t see you. These blind spots then angle out from the truck. Driving in these no-zones can put a driver in danger of being sideswiped by the truck because the driver can’t see them.
- Rear no-zones: Unlike cars and other smaller vehicles, large trucks and buses have large blind spots directly behind them. These blind spots can be especially dangerous as the truck or bus driver can’t see other motorists, and other motorists can’t see beyond the truck. Motorists should remember that truck drivers don’t have a rear-view mirror to see what’s behind them, so they must rely heavily on their side mirrors. The rear blind spot extends nearly 200 feet from the back of the big rig. Driving in this area may block another motorist’s vision of what’s ahead and can reduce their reaction time if the truck stops suddenly. This situation can be deadly if the truck has to brake suddenly.
- Front no-zones: Rear-end collisions frequently occur when a car driver passes a truck, moves into the lane in front of the big rig, and slows down. This causes trucks and buses to need to brake suddenly. However, since trucks and buses are much heavier than passenger vehicles, they take longer to stop, making a rear-end crash more likely. The front no-zone area extends nearly 20 feet ahead of the truck. It’s even safer if a driver is farther away from the front.
- Wide right turns: The no zone on the right side of a big rig is much larger, stretching from the front of the truck to its rear and three lanes over. If the truck driver must make a wide right turn, a car in the right-side no zone would be directly in its path. Truck drivers must often swerve to the left before and to safely maneuver through a right turn. However, drivers who might be squeezed in behind or beside them run the risk of an accident.
Even though truck mirrors can be up to 25 inches tall and trucks can have cameras installed, it still doesn’t mean the driver can see everything around them, especially if motorists are in a no-zone area.
Who’s to Blame for Your Truck Accident?
Being in a truck accident can come with insurmountable medical bills and physical and emotional challenges. When you don’t bring your injuries upon yourself, you shouldn’t be the one paying for them. It’s the at-fault party’s job to make you whole again as much as they possibly can after an accident. So while they can’t rewind the clock and make it as if your accident never occurred, having the money to pay for medical bills and other necessary expenses can help alleviate your burdens.
The key is to identify the correct at-fault party. In some truck accident cases, this can be tricky as many parties could be liable for your injuries. Sometimes more than one party can share liability.
Potentially liable parties in your truck accident include:
- The truck driver
- The driver’s employer
- The truck’s owner
- The cargo loader due to improper cargo securement
- The truck maintenance provider
- A parts manufacturer
- A third party—such as another driver or a government entity responsible for road or sign maintenance
To receive the compensation you deserve, you need to be able to prove who is liable for your injuries. This can be a challenging task for someone who is recovering from significant injuries and wondering how they will make ends meet. Working with a well-versed Indiana truck accident attorney is essential to help pinpoint who should be held liable under the circumstances of your accident.
What to do After a Truck Accident
Any motor vehicle accident can leave those involved in shock and unsure of what to do. However, what you do within the first hours and days of your accident can significantly impact your health and legal case. Here’s what to do if you are involved in a large truck accident:
- Seek medical attention immediately. Some injuries aren’t always apparent right after an accident. It’s imperative to seek medical attention, even if it doesn’t seem necessary. Not only is this the best course of action for your health and well-being, but also having documentation from a medical professional regarding your injuries is also essential to potential future legal claims.
- As soon as possible after the accident, call the police and ask for an officer to come to the scene. Be sure to give your statement and make a police report if you are physically able. Police reports help when making insurance claims and seeking fair compensation for injuries. For example, suppose the truck driver is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or committed any other crimes related to the accident. In that case, the police might be able to file charges against them. Observing the driver’s behavior right after the accident is critical for these charges.
- Whenever possible, collect any witnesses’ contact information. Anyone who saw your accident might be able to help substantiate a future personal injury claim. Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses of anyone in the area at the time of the accident.
- Take pictures. Although the police may take pictures and collect other evidence of the incident, personal photographs may also be beneficial. Take photos of all vehicles from multiple angles, including tire tracks, broken lights, and other debris in the area. You can also take pictures of your injuries.
- Don’t talk too much. It’s okay to check on the physical well-being of others in the crash. However, avoid any in-depth conversations and never apologize for anything. This will decrease the chances of saying something that could negatively impact a potential future legal case.
- Call a seasoned Indiana truck accident attorney. A lawyer can start examining whether the accident resulted from negligence and if you or other victims deserve compensation from the truck driver or the trucking company they work for. When you hire an attorney, they can also protect you from common insurance company tactics that attempt to devalue or deny your claim.
Injured in a No-Zone or Other Truck Accident? Contact Blackburn Romey Today
At Blackburn Romey, we have the resources and tools to investigate your semi-truck accident while you recover from your injuries. Our Indiana truck accident lawyers have successfully managed numerous types of trucking accidents. You can also count on us to work to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Call us at 833.264.0903 or use our online contact form today to learn more about how we can help.
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