While semi-truck drivers must check and double-check traffic in their blind spots, those driving passenger vehicles must mind the trucker’s blind spots. A truck with a 53-foot trailer has significant blind spots in the front, rear, and on both sides of the truck. In certain cases, the driver of a passenger vehicle has a higher percentage of liability in a blind spot truck accident than in other cases.
A Big Rig’s Blind Spots
Tractor-trailer trucks have large blind spots. Just because the driver sits up high doesn’t mean they can see you. Even when a driver uses his mirrors or turns his head to look behind him, he can’t always see you.
A truck’s blind spots are:
- Front: 20 feet in front of the truck.
- Driver’s Side: From the truck’s door mirror across one full lane and encompassing the lane to about three-quarters of the way to the end of the trailer.
- Passenger Side: From the truck’s front bumper across two lanes. The blind area closest to the truck runs from the front bumper to the end of the tractor. As the blind area reaches the other side of the second lane, the blind space runs diagonally from the truck across both lanes.
- Rear: From the back of the trailer for 30 feet for the entire width of the truck.
Blind Spot Accidents
Types of accidents that happen when someone gets into a trucker’s blind spot include:
- The truck rear-ends a passenger vehicle if the vehicle is in the front blind spot.
- The truck needs to make a wide right turn. The driver has her signals on. A passenger vehicle pulls into the right lane. The truck driver turns and catches the passenger vehicle under the trailer.
- The truck is traveling down the highway. A passenger vehicle pulls into the blind spot on either side of the truck and hangs there. The truck driver looked just seconds before and didn’t see anyone. The truck starts to change lanes and sideswipes the passenger vehicle.
- The truck has to come to a quick stop. A passenger vehicle is tailgating and pushing the truck. The passenger vehicle rams into the rear of the truck. If the passenger vehicle is small enough, it could go under the trailer.
The best way to protect yourself from a blind spot accident is to stay out of a truck’s blind spots. If you must pass a truck in its blind spot, move out of the blind spot as quickly as possible so the truck driver can see you.
When following a truck, remember if you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirrors, they can’t see you.
Causes of Truck Blind Spot Accidents
Sometimes a blind spot accident isn’t the fault of the truck driver or the passenger vehicle driver.
Some examples include:
- A truck driver is traveling in the right lane. A passenger vehicle is passing the truck and not hanging in the truck’s blind spot. A strong gust of wind suddenly causes the trailer to slide into the passenger vehicle.
- A truck driver is traveling in the right lane. A passenger vehicle is passing the truck and not hanging in the truck’s blind spot. Another passenger vehicle driver decides she wants to get off at the upcoming exit and cuts the truck driver off. The trucker slams on his brakes and causes the trailer to jackknife. The trailer sideswipes the passenger vehicle in the blind spot.
- Same scenario. The truck driver is watching his mirrors. Suddenly, a tire on the truck or trailer blows out, causing the trailer to sway into the passing vehicle.
- A passenger vehicle merges too close in front of a big rig and slows down. Big rigs can’t stop on a dime even without carrying a heavy load. This can happen if the passing vehicle is doing 80 m.p.h. to get past the truck, then slows down to the speed limit without ensuring enough space between his vehicle and the truck. Before merging in front of a truck, drivers should be able to see the truck’s front grill in her rearview mirror—not the passenger side door mirror.
Other causes of blind spot accidents include:
- The driver of the passenger vehicle notices that the truck’s turn signal is on. Instead of allowing the truck to merge in front of him, he speeds up so the truck can’t merge. However, the quick burst of speed puts the passenger vehicle in the blind spot just after the driver checks his mirrors, so the truck driver doesn’t see that the passenger vehicle is in his blind spot.
- The passenger vehicle enters the truck’s blind spot, but the truck driver doesn’t double-check her mirrors and merges into the passenger vehicle.
- Poorly maintained roads.
- Quick stops because of the actions of others on the highway or surface street.
- Passenger vehicles hanging in a truck’s blind spot.
Truck Blind Spot Accident Injuries
Because a semi-truck is big and heavy, tangling with one usually causes severe and catastrophic injuries or death. Semis are top-heavy and tip easily. Any quick moves, such as avoiding people in blind spots or those pulling in front of the truck, could cause a jackknife or rollover.
Accidents you might sustain in a semi-truck blind spot accident include:
- Bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and scratches.
- Road rash.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Ear injuries, including deafness, could happen if one of the vehicles explodes.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Thermal and chemical burns.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones and other crush injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
You could also suffer secondary injuries, such as infections from open wounds the accident caused or surgery to repair accident injuries. Additionally, the accident could exacerbate existing injuries. The at-fault driver would have to compensate you for these injuries as you would not have suffered the additional pain and suffering but for the at-fault driver’s negligence.
Why Accident Victims Should Contact a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
Semi-truck wrecks and accidents that involve other commercial vehicles often have more than one defendant. Additionally, severe and catastrophic injuries also make the case complex. You will possibly be dealing with more than one insurance company to recover the compensation you deserve.
When More Than One Defendant is Involved
When you have a case with more than one defendant, you (your attorney) must forward every document to multiple attorneys. Your attorney must also determine the percentage of negligence each defendant owes in a settlement. Should you go to trial, the attorney must be ready to show that each defendant is responsible and by what percentage.
Those that could share responsibility for your injuries include:
- The truck driver: Were they distracted? Driving under the influence? Tired? Driving aggressively or recklessly? Did the driver check to see if the load was properly loaded and strapped down?
- The trucking company: Did the trucking company send the driver out with a known defective truck? Did the trucking company’s inspectors and truck technicians do their jobs properly?
- A third-party truck tech, inspector, or truck loader: Did these people, who are independent contractors or separate companies, do their jobs properly?
- Another driver: Did another driver cause the truck driver to lose control by cutting the trucker off? Did a drunk, fatigued, or distracted driver crash into the truck? Did they get into the truck driver’s blind spot?
- Local, state, or federal road maintenance crews: Did the entity leave a gigantic pothole in the road without marking it? Leave debris in the road that it knew about? Didn’t clean sand or rock off the road that might have caused the truck driver to lose control of the truck?
When You Sustain Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities that you will live with for the rest of your life or cause your death. When an accident causes permanent disabilities, you will most likely have medical expenses for the rest of your life that may or may not include home health care or care in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. Your attorney works with several medical professionals to discuss your injuries and determine an approximate cost for your care.
If you were to guess for yourself, you might undercut yourself. On the other hand, you could overestimate and have the insurance companies deny your claim; then, you might get stuck with an amount below par.
Recovering a Fair and Reasonable Settlement
Your attorney will work with medical professionals and other professionals to determine a fair and reasonable settlement that will cover all of your damages. Without reviewing your medical records and investigating the accident, it is impossible to come up with an accurate estimate of what the wreck will cost you now and in the future.
Damages you recover come in the form of economic damages and non-economic damages. Both are compensatory damages that the law provides in an attempt to make you whole again.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value. Almost all accident victims can recover economic damages, including:
Depending on the accident and other factors, medical expenses might include:
- Surgeries and follow-up appointments.
- Doctors’ appointments.
- Prescriptions and prescribed over-the-counter medications.
- Physical therapy.
- Cognitive therapy.
- Occupational therapy.
- Psychological therapy.
- Home health care.
- Nursing home and/or rehabilitative care expenses.
- Hand controls for your vehicle.
- Ambulatory aids.
- Upgrades to your home, including but not limited to wheelchair ramps, handrails, grab bars, and widened doorways.
You can recover compensation to repair or replace personal property destroyed or damaged in the wreck, including your vehicle and anything of value in the vehicle. Examples include your vehicle, computers, cell phones, or even clothing you just picked up from the dry cleaners.
Accident victims can recover lost wages from the time of the accident through the time of settlement or the conclusion of a jury trial. You can also recover compensation for the loss of future earning capacity if your injuries cause disabilities that prevent you from working.
Additionally, if you lost a loved one in a semi-truck blind spot accident, you could recover the loss of future earning capacity if your spouse worked.
If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you could recover death-related expenses. They include funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, probate attorneys’ fees and costs, and certain probate court costs.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value. Those who suffer catastrophic injuries or lose a loved one in an accident generally collect non-economic damages. If your doctors believe you will fully recover from your accident injuries within months, you will most likely not recover non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make life changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer participate in or enjoy family activities and events.
- Loss of use of a body part such as a hand or leg.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your bladder or eyesight.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, such as grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, house cleaning, and home and garden.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
Contact a semi-truck blind spot accident attorney today for a free case evaluation if you suffered injuries in a truck accident.