Top 5 Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Tractor trailers are essential to logistics, delivering consumer goods, food, building material, and more. The trucking industry pulled in $875.5 billion in revenue in 2021, making it a significant and crucial contributor to the economy.

There’s one drawback, however. As the most flexible and economical mode of transport for goods, trucks are clogging America’s roads. Each tractor-trailer brings a whole truckload of safety risks for other drivers from destination to destination.

Large trucks, commercial vehicles, or otherwise, are defined as vehicles with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds.  Due to these vehicles’ considerable weight and size, it is more difficult for truck drivers to stop them in emergencies. The impact and severity of a truck collision are also more significant than smaller vehicles.

In 2020, tractor-trailer accident statistics reported 4,842 large trucks involved in fatal crashes. This accounts for nine percent of all total fatal car accidents. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) reported 107,000 truck accidents resulting in injuries in the same year.

An injury claim for significant truck accidents is likely more complex than a standard car accident claim. These claims involve trucking companies and more substantial property damage, on top of personal injury and other issues. 

To protect you from legal and financial complications after a truck accident, talk with our experienced truck accident lawyers today. Personal injury attorneys are prepared and able to help you file claims for any severe injuries sustained from truck accidents.

Better than dealing with a truck accident claim, however, is preventing a crash in the first place. Watching out for the most common causes of tractor-trailer accidents is the first step.

Securing Compensation in a Tractor Trailer Accident Lawsuit

5 Common Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents

A lot can go wrong when truck drivers operate a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or large truck. The driver may fall asleep, violate transportation laws, or lose control due to bad road conditions. 

Like other vehicle crashes, identifying the causes of truck accidents require a thorough investigation. Some cases are more accessible to prove than others. So it is advisable to contact a lawyer before filing a claim to establish the cause of the accident.

Impaired driving, multiple drivers, motor vehicles, and environmental factors can all contribute to a collision. Here are five of the most common and deadly causes of significant truck accidents. 

1. Driver fatigue and drug use

Impaired driving is the leading cause of many truck accidents. Sleep deprivation and drug and alcohol abuse are the most common situations in this category. 

Driver fatigue causes accidents by negatively impacting a truck driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Truck drivers face long hours, taking truck after truck to destination after destination, with little time for rest in-between trips. 

It can be challenging for truckers to keep their attention on the road and their minds on the environment. When their eyes tire, their minds wander, or sleep completely overtakes them, their trucks become a safety hazard for themselves and other motorists.

Drug and alcohol use can also impair a truck driver’s ability to drive a tractor-trailer safely.  Alcoholic beverages and certain drugs can slow drivers’ reflexes and impair their judgment. This heightens the probability of truck accidents occurring. 

2. Driver error

As with any motor vehicle crash, driver error or negligence is often responsible for many truck accidents. Common driving errors truck drivers may make include the following:

  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Failing to monitor blind spots
  • Taking a curve too fast

Distracted driving or inattention is yet another act of negligence drivers can commit. Distractions reduce the driver’s ability to respond quickly in emergencies, increasing the risk of accidents. Texting, calling, or changing radio stations take the driver’s attention away from the road.

3. Heavy/loose cargo

Large tractor-trailers transport all kinds of goods and freight, such as building materials and groceries. Different trucks are capable of transporting a range of sizes and weights of cargo. 

However, when a truck’s cargo is not correctly loaded or secured, it becomes a safety hazard. Unbalanced or overly heavy cargo makes a truck challenging to operate and may cause it to tip, shift, or rollover.

Loose cargo can fall onto the road, making the roads dangerous for drivers around the truck and possibly causing crashes.

4. Equipment/mechanical failure

Failing to maintain trucking equipment properly can cause large truck accidents. Lack of routine maintenance checks and regular auto care can result in faulty mechanical parts that may give way and cause trucking accidents. 

One of the most common examples of mechanical failure in tractor-trailers is a faulty braking system. Worn brake pads in a large truck may mean that a truck cannot come to a complete stop when approaching intersections or stop signs. 

Mechanical failures are a serious issue and often lead to fatal crashes. More examples of mechanical failures for trucks include the following: 

  • Flat tires and tire blowouts
  • Tires that have lost much of their tread
  • Cracked windshield and windows
  • Lighting system outages, including headlights and taillights;
  • Transmission failure
  • Faulty steering or suspension

5. Weather and road conditions

A tractor-trailer accident is more likely to happen when dangerous weather and road conditions occur. Truckers may have difficulty adjusting the speed of large commercial trucks due to their significant size and weight. 

When hazardous conditions are present, they increase the risks of truck accidents and can lead to serious injuries. Examples of dangerous road and weather conditions for truck drivers and big rigs include the following:

  • Heavy rain
  • Snow/ice
  • Fog, dust, and smoke
  • Strong and fast winds

These are just five of the most common causes of truck accidents. Usually, more than one factor contributes to a truck accident.  Truck accident lawyers can help investigate an accident and protect you and your loved ones from financial and legal trouble. 

What help can a truck accident lawyer provide?

Tractor-trailer accidents often lead to serious injuries or property damage because of the size and weight of the vehicle. Damage to expensive cargo may occur, but the tragedy is the potential injury or death of anyone involved in one. 

Many legal and financial issues may arise regarding trucking companies, insurance companies, and federal regulations. Lawyers play an essential role in the aftermath of each truck or tractor-trailer accident. Besides providing much-needed legal support and advice in difficult situations, a truck accident attorney will do the following:

  • Assess the facts of your tractor-trailer accident
  • Gather and organize all the details and reports on the accident
  • Analyze your potential liability
  • File and pursue a case for personal injury
  • Explain how the claims process works so that you can make the best decisions
  • Determine the responsible parties
  • Choose the best strategy for your claim
  • Increase the strength of your claim

Factors such as fatalities, insurance companies, and federal regulations on commercial trucks can complicate a claim even more. If you or your loved ones have suffered any personal injuries or property damages due to a truck accident, talk to a truck accident lawyer today.

Did you know?

About 70% of all fatalities in large truck accidents in 2020 were people from other vehicles

Connect With the Right Lawyer for Your Tractor-Trailer Accident Case

Many factors cause truck accidents, such as driver fatigue and mechanical failure. These accidents lead to significant personal injury and property damage or even wrongful death.

Find a lawyer if you or a loved one sustained injuries in a commercial truck crash. Legal advice and guidance when claiming compensation are crucial for protecting your rights to compensation.

Top 7 Things To Know Before Filing a Tractor Trailer Accident Lawsuit

The Personal Injury Center has a comprehensive database of competent and reputable truck accident lawyers in your area. They are ready to help you sort through the financial and legal problems caused by a truck accident.

We also have significant resources that truck accident victims can access to better understand their rights in a personal injury case. Explore these related articles from our blog: 

Visit our website today and get a free case evaluation.

Get help after a tractor-trailer accident. Contact The Personal Injury Center to help you find a lawyer to handle your case. 

FAQs on Top 5 Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Depending on the cause of the truck accident, one or more of the following parties may be at fault:

  • Truck manufacturer
  • Cargo owners 
  • Truck drivers 
  • Trucking company
  • Local government or their third-party service providers

Truck accident lawyers can help you determine which parties are liable after an accident.

Some personal injury lawyers charge on contingency, meaning they get a portion of any settlement or awards you get. The contingency fee is typically between 20 and 40 percent, which might seem a lot. The reason is they take on all the risk. You don't have to pay their legal fees if they don't win your claim.

However, you may have out-of-pocket costs, such as court filing fees. Talk with your truck accident lawyer to set your expectations about the costs before asking them to handle your case.

Searching for a reliable, trustworthy truck accident lawyer who will fight for and win your case can be challenging. Before deciding, take advantage of the free consultations many offer. Here are some of the traits you want in a personal injury attorney: 

  • Knows the nuances of driving laws and federal regulations well, especially rules that apply to trucks
  • Have a proven track record of success
  • Friendly and personable
  • Well-connected to a professional network including doctors, other lawyers, insurance companies, and more
  • Honest and punctual