Semi-Truck Lawsuits Over Right Turn Accident Injuries
Truck accidents of any type can be fatal or cause devastating injuries simply because of the size and weight of commercial trucks. An eighteen-wheeler can weigh 40 tons. A light truck, which is a specific truck designation that weighs five tons, is something of a misnomer when it comes to thinking about the weight vis-à-vis a car. Cars weigh about one and a half tons, and a pickup or van weighs just over two tons.
One of the most common types of truck accidents is a wide right turn accident. Careless wide right turn truck accidents can cause severe damage and be especially dangerous as they can result in head-on collisions, side-impact collisions, or even trap cars between the truck and the other side of the lane. Contact a trusted truck accident attorney today to discuss your legal options if you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck-related incident.
What Makes Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Truck accidents are so dangerous because of the size of the vehicles. Once a truck driver loses control of their commercial vehicle, it is hard to regain control. The truck is much larger than other vehicles and can careen into them and the surrounding area, causing widespread devastation. The truck can act like a battering ram, with the drivers around the truck at risk of suffering catastrophic injuries.
More than 4,100 people died in truck accidents nationwide in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available. The overwhelming majority, 68 percent, were in cars or other passenger vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. Seventeen percent of the people killed in these accidents were in trucks, and 14 percent were on foot, motorcycles, or bicycles.
Here’s Why Wide Right Turn Truck Accidents Take Place
One of the times when it is common for truck drivers to lose control of their vehicle is when they need to make a right turn. It’s easy to understand why wide right-turn truck accidents are common if you visualize what a truck has to do to make a right turn.
Both shape and size make a commercial big rig very hard to maneuver in a right-hand turn. A car driver turning a compact shape right is a fairly simple maneuver. A truck, however, can extend for 50 feet or more—much longer than a car, making things much more complicated.
If they do not have the room to maneuver or do not prepare for the turn properly, they could fail to make the right turn safely and crash into objects or vehicles around the turn. Due to the size of the truck, this errant right turn can result in a widespread a devastating impact that could cause property damage, severe injuries, and possibly wrongful death.
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Types of Right Turn Truck Accidents
To make a wide right turn, a driver must first swing the truck to the left. The first type of wide right turn accident occurs if the truck swings too far to the left. It can actually go into the left lane and hit motor vehicles there.
The second type of accident stems from the driver’s not going far enough to the left before making a right. Failure to swing left sufficiently can cause a rollover—another potentially calamitous truck accident in which the vehicle tips over. Rollovers themselves can have devastating consequences, such as spillage of cargo over the roadway or fire, either from flammable cargo or the truck’s large fuel containers. Not swinging left sufficiently can cause the truck to go off the road.
The third type can occur on a road with two right-turn lanes. As the truck turns, it can veer into the second-turn lane. If a car is in that lane, it can be crushed by the turning truck or trapped by it.
Right Turn Accidents Caused By Driver Negligence
The truck’s driver should use a turn signal to indicate an intention to turn right. However, many car drivers don’t fully realize that a right turn on a big rig or tractor-trailer necessitates them to swing left first. As a result, they might not realize the prudence of giving the truck a wide berth.
The possibility of wide right turn accidents can be exacerbated by a trucker not knowing the area well, especially if they are driving on smaller roads rather than highways. Trucks carry up to 80 percent of all the freight moved in the United States, and truckers often drive across states.
The route may be across areas they have never been in. Maps will not always let them know that a relatively wide country road suddenly becomes narrower through a residential or business area. Truckers can find narrow roads very difficult to navigate.
Truck Drivers are Trained to Avoid Right Turn Accidents
Wide right turns are difficult, even for a well-trained and experienced driver. These turns are significantly different than they are for a car, so making them should always be part of obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Drivers receive instruction and training on how to turn a truck right as part of the CDL application in Florida, which requires testing on the contents of the Florida CDL Handbook. Obtaining a CDL license in our state requires the passage of skills testing and a series of hands-on observations of the driver, including testing and observing their right-hand turn proficiency. Therefore, a driver with a CDL should fully understand how to make a wide right-hand turn safely.
Unqualified and Undertrained Truck Drivers Can Cause Right Turn Accidents
Trucking companies are increasingly turning to non-licensed drivers for several reasons. First, there is a nationwide shortage of truck drivers. The industry is currently short 50,000 licensed drivers, and the number will grow in the future.
Companies that can’t find CDL-qualified drivers may turn to drivers who aren’t qualified. Second, some companies may feel they can pay drivers without a CDL less and hire unlicensed drivers for economic reasons.
For both reasons, trucking companies may be trying to make their runs with drivers who are not licensed and not necessarily even experienced in driving a truck. The consequences can be deadly in the ways that trucks differ significantly from cars and other vehicles that the unqualified driver is not prepared for, such as making a right-hand turn and operating a truck’s complicated air brakes. Both can cause wide right-hand turn truck accidents.
Driver Fatigue Can Cause Right-Turn Truck Accidents
One of the most common causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers can work long hours, with some possibly falsifying logs to continue to work past the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulated time of eleven hours. Fatigue and sleepiness can have the same impact on a driver as alcohol can. It can result in reduced reaction time, lack of focus, and impaired decision-making.
When a drowsy commercial driver reaches a right turn, they may misjudge the space between their vehicle and the turn. It can result in them not giving themselves enough space to properly complete the turn, which can cause them to crash into other motor vehicles.
How to Determine Liability in a Wide Right Turn Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a truck accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the harm done. Who would pay the compensation? It depends on who is legally liable for the accident.
In all accidents, liability is determined by who or what caused the accident. If the driver didn’t turn properly, failed to use his right turn signal, didn’t check blind spots appropriately, etc the driver could be responsible. If the driver doesn’t have a CDL, the trucking company could be deemed partly or wholly responsible for not properly screening or training its drivers. They can also be liable for having their truck drivers work longer than the FMCSA-regulated work period.
A manufacturer, designer, or seller of a defective truck part that resulted in the accident can also be liable for a right-turn truck accident. The defective part in question must have been responsible for the truck driver’s inability to make the right turn safely. Victims of right-turn truck accidents can pursue compensation from manufacturers, designers, and sellers in a product liability claim.
The following are some of the elements that can help determine liability in a right-turn truck accident:
Poor Truck Maintenance Can Contribute to a Right-Turn Truck Accident
Wide right turn truck accidents can also result from poor truck maintenance. Trucking companies have a Federal requirement to regularly maintain and inspect their trucks. They need to repair any element needing repair. Failed or inadequate brakes, inadequate tires, or faulty steering mechanisms can all contribute to a right turn accident, as can other inadequate maintenance.
Right-Turn Truck Accidents Caused by Improper Truck Cargo Loading
Trucks also need to be properly loaded, as cargo that is either too heavy for the truck or unbalanced can make the truck very hard to operate and even harder to stop or slow down. Improper loading can contribute to right-hand turn accidents and can also be a cause of rollovers.
If either maintenance or loading caused the accident, the trucking company or subcontractors hired to do maintenance or loading could be responsible for the accident. Accidents can also result from poor design or defects in the elements and components of the truck. Tire blowouts, for example, can be caused by defective tires. If these factors cause accidents, the manufacturer or supplier might be responsible for the accident.
Duty of Care to Prevent Right-Turn Truck Accidents
These parties have what the law terms a duty of care to people on the nation’s roads. A driver’s duty of care is to drive safely at all times, obeying laws and regulations. A company’s duty of care is to operate safe trucks.
They must consistently inspect, maintain, and repair trucks to fulfill their duty of care. A manufacturer’s duty of care is to produce safe and reliable products. A supplier’s duty of care is to supply safe and reliable products.
When these parties don’t fulfill the duty of care, they have legally breached it. If the failure of duty of care caused the accident, they could be legally liable for damages.
What Damages Can You Seek From a Wide Right-Turn Truck Accident?
There are two types of damages you can pursue compensation for in a personal injury claim:
- Economic Damages: These are damages with a bill attached to them. They have an economic value that you can pursue from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Economic damages can include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning potential, and property damage.
- Non-Economic Damages: These damages do not have an obvious economic value attached. Your truck accident lawyer can help determine how you suffered non-economic damages because of the truck driver’s negligence and determine their value. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
You can pursue compensation for any damages not covered by your insurance. A truck accident lawyer can help assess how the truck accident affected your life and what your injuries are worth. They can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to get you a fair settlement or award.
Damages for Severe Truck Accident Injuries
Florida law allows victims with a severe injury to step outside of no-fault and bring a legal claim for both economic damages and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Non-economic damages are not covered under no-fault, and people cannot bring a claim for them unless they have a severe injury as the law defines it and bring a suit.
A severe injury can be at least one of the following:
- Broken or Fractured bone(s)
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of use of a body member or organ
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- An injury causing substantially full disability for 90 days
If you received an injury in a truck accident, retain records of all medical visits related to the accident. These include emergency rooms, ambulance transport, doctor’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies, physical therapy, and more.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Recover Compensation for Damages From a Wide Right Turn Accident?
It will be difficult for you to approach a truck accident claim alone, as you do not have the knowledge and experience in truck accident law to process the claim correctly. It’s vital to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to whom you can entrust the claims process while you handle your medical recovery.
The following are some of the ways a truck accident lawyer can assist with your truck accident claim:
Stepping Outside of No-Fault to Pursue Truck Accident Damages
As most Floridians know, our state covers vehicle accidents with no-fault insurance. The question of responsibility and liability is not significant when using no-fault insurance because your insurance carrier pays for damages under no-fault.
All Florida drivers are mandated to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP). In case of an accident, your insurer reimburses you for economic damages such as medical expenses. If you cannot work due to injuries sustained in the accident, PIP compensates you for lost wages. Florida law also requires drivers to have $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) for damage to their vehicle or other property caused by the accident.
Questions of responsibility and liability become very important if your injuries are severe. Severe injuries can result in medical bills and lost wages much higher than $10,000—and truck accidents often cause much more. A truck accident lawyer can help you file a claim for damages that exceed your insurance coverage to ensure you receive compensation for the full cost of your truck accident injuries.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies for Truck Accident Compensation
As defined above, victims with a severe injury can also choose to bring a third-party claim against the responsible entity’s insurance company. Negotiating with an insurance company can be very difficult in a trucking accident.
First, all insurance companies have a vested interest in paying out as little as possible. They are interested in protecting their insured from liability because doing so maximizes their profits. As a result, insurance companies are very sophisticated at denying and minimizing claims. They may claim that the injured party is wholly or partly responsible, that the accident happened differently than it did, or that the injuries may have occurred but didn’t occur as a result of the accident.
Second, insurance in trucking accidents is often extremely complex. Each potentially responsible party—including the company, subcontractor, manufacturer, and driver—may be insured with a different carrier or a different line of insurance. The terms of each can be very different from the other. It’s as important to have an attorney on your side in negotiating with an insurance company as it is in a court case.
Investigating the Right-Turn Truck Accident and Its Causes
The causes of a truck accident can be especially complex, and it’s often necessary to investigate the causes. Truck accident lawyers frequently have investigators and expert witnesses on call as their team. Investigators can gather records (including those by Federal and state authorities, who frequently investigate truck accidents), such as police reports, interview witnesses, and review the area for any surveillance cameras and obtain footage if it exists.
Truck accident lawyers can speak to expert witnesses to get a qualified opinion on what happened during the truck accident. They can track down an expert in the trucking field to determine how the accident may have happened and if you have a case. Expert witnesses can testify to how accidents occur and the elements involved in an accident.
Truck Accident Lawyers Protect Your Interests
Even though trucks can do devastating damage in accidents, it is still possible for the injured party to be at fault, either wholly or partially, for the accident. Even if you aren’t at fault, both defendants in a court case and insurance companies can try to portray you as at least partially at fault.
Did you suddenly move your vehicle into an area that the driver couldn’t see because of a truck’s large blind spots? Opposing sides can try to argue that the abruptness of the action means you are to blame. In an insurance claim, allegations of victim responsibility can be used to deny or minimize a claim.
Florida utilizes comparative fault, which means any settlement or award will have a percentage dedicated based on the victim’s responsibility for the accident. Your truck accident lawyer can represent your interest in the claim and ensure whatever fault attributed to you is accurate. An insurance company may try to say you deserve to share more fault than you deserve. Your truck accident lawyer can collect evidence, prove the at-fault party’s liability, and get an accurate accounting of how much fault you should share.
Contact Dolman Law Grup for Help With Your Truck Accident Claim Today
At Dolman Law Group, our truck accident lawyers have experience handling wide right-turn accident claims. They can use their experience and expertise in truck accident law to process your claim efficiently and proficiently.
Our truck accident lawyers will keep in constant contact to ensure all your thoughts and concerns are addressed in the negotiation. We will not take the first settlement offer that comes our way to end the process early. We will work diligently until you get the settlement or award you deserve to pay for your truck accident damages.
Dolman Law Group offers legal advice on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t get paid until you do. If you want to hear more about how our personal injury lawyers can help with your truck accident case, contact us for a free consultation at (727) 451-6900 or by leaving a message on our online contact page.
800 N Belcher Rd.
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900