For many people, driving alongside or near a semi-truck can be unsettling. A truck's sheer size and weight make a collision with this vehicle potentially deadly. When a collision with a semi-truck is not fatal, it often causes devastating injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that approximately 95,000 people involved in crashes with large trucks are injured yearly. Those injuries are likely to be severe or catastrophic. If you’re hurt in a San Clemente truck accident, you need the skilled personal injury attorney team at Case Barnett Law.
Causes of San Clemente Truck Accidents
A truck accident can happen on any road with a semi or tractor-trailer, but collisions with cars are most likely to occur on a trucker’s “long-haul” trip—any trip over 250 miles. Approximately 65% of all truck crashes that end in a fatality happen when the truck driver has traveled over 50 miles from their base. According to NHTSA, truck accidents often occur on weekdays during daylight hours.
A truck driver can cause an accident with a passenger car in many ways. Fatigue is a primary reason. Truckers on a long-haul trip sometimes average less than five hours of sleep a night. Fatigued driving is similar to impaired driving, and if a driver has only five hours of sleep for two consecutive nights, it can severely impact their driving. If drivers are awake for 24 hours without sleep, they perform as if they have 0.10 blood alcohol content.
Other Causes of Truck Accidents in San Clemente
- Negligent driving. If a trucker fails to show reasonable care when driving or is intentionally careless, they can be considered negligent in a crash. They can be negligent if they do something they should not do, such as running a red light, or if they fail to do something they should have done, such as yielding the right of way or using low-beam headlights when driving in fog. If their behavior behind the wheel causes harm to another person, the trucker could be found negligent.
- Speeding. Because trucks are large and heavy, driving them over the speed limit makes for a dangerous situation. There are certain conditions where it’s advised that truckers slow down and use extreme caution, including entering a curve on the road, driving when the truck is fully loaded, and driving through a construction zone. Because trucks need more stopping distance, a speeding truck often can’t stop in time to prevent a crash. Even a rear-end collision could mean life-changing injuries to the passengers in a car.
- Distracted driving. In California, as in most states, distracted driving is defined as anything that takes your attention off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving. California law prohibits the use of a cellphone while holding it in your hand. You are only allowed to use your phone in a hands-free manner, and drivers under 18 can’t use a cellphone while driving for any reason.
- Aggressive driving. There are many ways a trucker can display aggressive driving. They may tailgate a car to maintain their momentum, not wanting to slow down behind a slower-moving vehicle as they approach a hill; they may cut off a car and quickly move into the passing lane to maintain their speed; and they may run a red light because they don’t have enough time to stop when a green light suddenly turns yellow.
- Hours of service violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours a trucker can drive. These regulations were implemented to prevent fatigue and drowsy driving. However, because some truckers are pressured to meet certain schedules, some truck companies and negligent drivers disregard the rules and falsify their logbooks in order to drive over the number of hours allowed by law.
- Impaired driving. Every state has laws that require drivers to drive sober. But when truckers drive drunk or impaired, their behavior is significantly more dangerous. Truck drivers are given random alcohol and drug screens and are required to take a drug and alcohol test if they’ve been in a crash. Sometimes, truckers may use amphetamines to help them meet demanding schedules.
Truck Crashes Are Deadlier Than Car Crashes
Because a truck needs approximately 40% more stopping distance than a regular vehicle, your car will likely be crushed if you’re in an accident with a tractor-trailer. A personal injury claim for a truck crash differs from a car crash claim because truck crashes are usually more severe and cause more damage.
Why Truck Accidents Cause More Damage
Statistics show that the driver of the car will likely be the person who is severely injured when there is a collision between a passenger car and a semi-truck. Additionally, the large size and height of the truck increase the chance of an underride accident where the top of the passenger vehicle is sheared off, or the car is stuck underneath the truck. Because a truck weighs over 10,000 pounds, your injuries could be catastrophic and require a lifetime of medical treatment.
Possible Life-Changing Injuries in a San Clemente Truck Crash
- Traumatic brain injury. During an accident, the sudden trauma may cause your head to jerk forcefully back and forth. You might also hit your head on the steering wheel. This can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), sometimes causing long-term or permanent cognitive impairment.
- Eye injuries. Debris from inside your vehicle may fly into your eye, and cause damage, or broken glass could imbed itself in your eye, causing you to lose your eye or eyesight entirely.
- Organ damage. The force of trauma in a truck crash can cause internal organ damage, especially to the liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen.
- Burn injuries. If the truck was transporting a flammable liquid, truck crash victims may be burned by an explosion, electricity, or toxic chemicals. High-temperature fires can spread quickly. Additionally, a leaking hose or line can cause a fire.
- Limb amputation. If the vehicle slides under the truck bed, the underride accident can cause limb loss. Often, it’s necessary for medical personnel to remove the limb to save the victim’s life.
- Spinal cord injury. After a crash, damage to the spine can progress quickly, and bone fragments can tear the spinal cord tissue. This can cause severe pain, and you may end up permanently paralyzed.