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What makes 18-wheelers so dangerous?


We rely on 18-wheelers to transport goods and products across the country, but that doesn't make the thought of getting into a serious accident with a tractor-trailer any less nerve-racking. If you get into a collision involving a large commercial vehicle, you could be severely injured or killed. Moreover, truck accidents on busy highways often involve multiple drivers, cause massive amounts of property damage, and result in traffic delays that last for several hours. Simply put - a crash involving an 18-wheeler can quickly turn into your worst nightmare.

Below, the Wichita truck accident attorneys at Warner Law Offices discuss the most common reasons why 18-wheelers are so dangerous to other drivers. We'll also explain what to do if you're injured in a truck crash.

An 18-wheeler has the size and weight advantage

A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, compared to the average passenger vehicle, which only weighs about 4,000 pounds. That means:

  • A tractor-trailer can cause a lot more damage in a crash. In the event of a collision, an 18-wheeler can destroy everything in its path. That's one reason why there are so many federal rules and regulations trucking companies must follow and why truckers are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Negligence by a trucker or trucking company can have devastating consequences.
  • Large trucks need more time to stop. An 18-wheeler can gain a substantial amount of momentum, especially when it's traveling downhill or on a highway. Speed is a factor in many truck accidents, including rollover, rear-end, and jackknife crashes. Consequently, it doesn't take much for a serious collision to occur if a trucker is driving recklessly or if there's mechanical failure, such as the truck's brakes giving out, due to negligence.

With a trailer attached, an 18-wheeler is up to 70 feet long, more than eight feet wide, and more than 13 feet tall. The overall size of a large commercial vehicle is important to note because:

  • They make wide turns. Tractor-trailers require much more room to make turns compared to other vehicles. As such, a truck driver who is inexperienced, uses poor judgment, or is otherwise being negligent can cut into the adjacent lane when making a turn and cause a collision with another vehicle. This can lead to a dangerous underride accident, which occurs when a smaller vehicle is crushed underneath the side of the truck's trailer.
  • They have more blind spots than cars. Large trucks have blind spots that trucking companies refer to as "no zones." Generally speaking, if you can't see a trucker in their side mirrors, then they probably can't see you. Blind spots exist on all four sides of a large truck and up to two lanes on the left and right side. Even though these areas are referred to as "no zones" by trucking companies, it doesn't give truckers a free pass to recklessly merge, change lanes, or crash into other motorists. Truckers are professional drivers who need to be in control of their vehicles.
  • Jackknife accidents and rollover crashes cause widespread damage. When a large truck loses control, it can cause massive damage. Suppose that a tanker truck carrying hazardous material flips onto its side because a speeding trucker was going too fast around a curve. Along with damage from the crash itself, there may be damage as a result of the hazardous material that's spilled onto the road. Jackknife accidents can be just as destructive. If an 18-wheeler's trailer swings out from the side of the truck's cab at the point of separation, it can smash into other motorists and trigger a chain reaction of serious collisions.

What should I do if I'm injured in a truck accident?

Your health and safety are top priority, so seek immediate medical attention. For those who survive truck crashes, it's common to sustain broken bones, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, brain injuries, crushed limbs, burns, lacerations, internal injuries, or paralysis. Serious injuries need serious attention, and your medical expenses can add up fast. Be sure to document all your doctor visits and keep a record of your pain and symptoms. Take pictures of your visible injuries and save all your doctor bills. Before you talk to the trucking company or their insurance provider, call a lawyer. An attorney can also help you explore your legal options if your loved one died in a fatal truck accident.

Getting appropriate compensation after a truck accident isn't easy. Due to the severity of most truck crashes, there's often a lot of money at stake. To protect their bottom line, some trucking companies try to cover up evidence of negligence. They also send their own investigators to the scene of the crash and have teams of lawyers ready to protect them against potential lawsuits. That's why you need a lawyer on your side to help level the playing field.

With Warner Law Offices in your corner, you can have peace of mind that an experienced truck accident attorney is prepared to fight for your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests. For more than 25 years, our law firm has stood up for injury victims in Wichita and throughout Kansas. We're proud of our client testimonials and stand by our case results, which include a $1 million settlement for a truck vs. car collision.

Attorneys Thomas M. Warner Jr. and Anne H. Pankratz can investigate your crash to find out what happened, gather and preserve evidence, seek out eyewitnesses, and deal with the insurance companies so you don't have to. Considering there are often multiple insurance policies that cover the 18-wheeler's cab, trailer, and cargo, it's critical that you have an experienced lawyer who knows what to do and how to fight for maximum compensation.

Contact us online or call us so we can review the facts of your claim during a free and confidential case evaluation. If you're worried that you can't afford to hire an attorney, don't. We work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don't pay unless we win. If we do make a financial recovery, we receive our fees as a percentage of your final award, so it still doesn't cost you anything out of pocket.

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