Unfortunately, a single driver's actions create a chain reaction in many three-truck accidents. Trucks are colossal vehicles compared to others on the road, and each truck driver should know there is zero room for error. One slight miscalculation or mistake can cause a sizable accident, especially if other big rigs are in the vicinity.
Causes of three-truck accidents include:
- A truck stopped short to avoid another car or because they applied the brake late, causing a chain reaction to pile up.
- One trucker makes a misjudgment and over or understeers, which can cause them to roll or lose control of their truck, collecting or getting entangled with other trucks in the process.
- Cargo from one truck spilled onto the roadway, causing trucks behind them to lose control as they hit or attempted to avoid hitting the spillage.
- A distracted truck driver making a mistake causes chain reactions.
No matter what you believe caused your three-truck collision, always seek a case evaluation from a truck accident attorney and learn about your legal rights and options today.
The Importance of Evidence in Three Truck Accidents
Law enforcement officers show up at the truck accident scene and observe the trucks mangled and damaged and in whatever position they were when they finally rested. At first glance, it might appear impossible to untangle this mess to determine how it happened.
However, the evidence will tell a story about how the accident occurred and what happened in the moments before. It's up to investigators to piece together and decipher that story.
Evidence can include:
- Witnesses who saw what happened
- The black box, which can reveal the direction and speed of each truck before the accident, how the drivers steered their trucks before the accident, when and how forcefully the driver applied the brake, and if one of the drivers was violating hours of service regulations
- The accident scene, such as how the trucks landed, if there were skid marks on the road, the types and severity of each truck's damages
In other truck accident cases, your truck accident attorney may need to put all the pieces together and recreate what happened. Typically, they do this by hiring an expert accident reconstructionist. The determinations that they make can have millions of dollars of financial impact.
The sooner you contact a well-versed truck accident lawyer, the better when preserving evidence. Sometimes essential evidence can become lost, destroyed, or even hidden. If you lack evidence supporting your injury claim, it's unlikely that you will receive full and fair compensation for your truck accident.
Who Must Pay for Your Truck Accident?
One crucial piece of your case that your truck accident attorney will start researching right away is who is liable for your truck accident. In this way, truck accidents can be very complicated. Several parties can be liable, and sometimes multiple parties are to blame.
Your truck accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate to ensure you receive the financial recovery you deserve. One or more of these parties can be accountable:
The Truck Driver
A trucker might have behaved negligently, including speeding, driving while fatigued, or distracted driving. Truckers are also responsible for inspecting their rigs to ensure adequate maintenance or loading of cargo.
The Truck Carrier
A trucking company is responsible for the trucks and truck drivers it places on U.S. roadways. They are accountable for hiring employees and proper training practices. Sometimes a carrier's records or employee interviews reveal that they encourage drivers to save time and money by cutting corners on FMCSA hours of service (HOS) limits or truck maintenance and inspection requirements.
Cargo Shipper and Loader
Sometimes truck carriers contract to ship cargo for third-party companies. The cargo they transport can remain sealed the entire time they transport it. Each party to such an arrangement, such as the cargo originator, shipper, loader, and transporter, is responsible for applicable federal and state regulations. They can each be liable if they are negligent in causing an accident.
If a cargo shift or other difficulties with cargo cause a truck crash, your lawyer can subpoena and examine the records from each party in the agreement, including the carrier. Your truck accident attorney can take these steps on your behalf.
Any third-party vendor can be civilly liable if their negligence contributes to a truck accident.
Many vendors take on outsourced work, such as:
- Repair and dispatching work
- Truck maintenance
- Recruiting drivers
- Administrative work
- Conducting background checks
- Alcohol and drug tests
- Brokers who locate cargo shipments for their trucks
- Other parts of fleet operations
For example, suppose a vendor failed to perform a complete background check. As such, the carrier hired a driver with a history of drunk driving convictions. In that case, they can both be held liable.
Truck Manufacturers and Parts Makers
Suppose a truck accident results from the failure of a truck component such as a tire, brakes, or steering. In that case, the truck's manufacturer or the part manufacturer can be to blame. However, it might also be the truck driver or the carrier due to inadequate maintenance and inspections.
Government Agencies and Contractors
Still, other times road hazards can cause truck accidents. For example, a soft shoulder or broken pavement may cause a rollover accident. In these cases, the local, state, or federal government responsible for the road can be liable for any damages. In other cases, a negligent maintenance contractor for the government might also be liable if their work is involved.
Working with a well-versed truck accident lawyer is imperative to identify who should be liable under your three-truck accident circumstances. Multiple parties will sometimes be responsible, especially if the accident involves more than one big rig.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim
Once your truck accident lawyer has determined which parties are liable in your accident, their next task is to build a case to prove their negligence and recover compensation for your damages.
Proving negligence in a personal injury case, such as a truck accident case, usually involves establishing these four essential points:
- The at-fault parties owed you a duty of care – for example, to drive safely, not overload the vehicle or adhere to local and state laws
- The at-fault parties breached the duty they owed you
- That breach caused your injuries
- Your injuries caused your losses, including medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering
How Can Insurance Coverage Limits Affect My Claim?
In a three-truck crash, there may be insurance coverage limits issues. The policy is typically per-accident when trucking companies and other parties purchase insurance coverage.
If one truck is liable for the damages suffered by the other two trucks, the at-fault driver's trucking company can face substantial liability. Their insurance policy must cover extensive property damage (to the trucks and their cargo), and each of the other truck drivers may have their own personal injury claims.
If there are two claimants, they will both want insurance coverage from the at-fault driver's policy. There's a chance that the responsible party's insurance coverage may not fully cover your and the other driver's damages.
If this is the case, you may need to file a civil lawsuit against the trucking company to recover your total damages not covered by their insurance policy. If you are successful, the trucking company must pay you the shortfall the insurance company did not pay due to exhausting their policy limits. With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you can pursue the trucking company's assets to collect any lawsuit judgment against them.
Your attorney will fight to maximize your financial recovery under the existing insurance policy or policies. If those are exhausted, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf, seeking the remaining compensation you deserve.
Types of Large Truck Accidents
Large truck crashes can occur in various ways, depending on their size and shape, the location of the accident, the other cars involved, and many other factors.
It's common for truck drivers to need to make wide turns. Steering becomes complicated during this maneuver, and heavy traffic or other problematic traffic conditions can make it even harder. Other motorists, their passengers, and pedestrians are all at risk of wide-turn accidents.
A jackknife crash occurs when a semi travels at high speeds and brakes suddenly without gradually slowing down. As a result, the truck bends at a 90-degree angle and sweeps away objects in its path, including other vehicles. Often, the trailer's substantial weight propels it forward and can cause it to break away from the cab.
Any vehicle can experience a tire blowout. However, tractor-trailers are more prone to them because of their tires' continuous wear and tear. If they don't inspect and change their tires frequently, the risk of this type of accident increases. Often, inexperienced drivers panic if they have a tire blowout, causing them to lose control of their vehicle and crash into others.
All vehicles have blind spots that can be problematic. However, this issue is worse for large trucks because their blind spots are larger. Suppose a trucker can't see cars or motorcycles when changing lanes or turning. In that case, anyone next to them is in significant danger. It only takes seconds for a big rig to hit them.
Another cause of big rig crashes is rollovers. These types of accidents usually happen when traveling on a curved path with a heavy cargo load. Speeding or reckless driving can cause the truck to roll, endangering the well-being and lives of many with whom they should share the road.
Runaway Trailer Crashes
Sometimes a trailer's speed can increase, and it becomes faster than the truck it's attached to. In these circumstances, the truck driver will lose control of their vehicle. The vehicle's brakes might fail, and the truck driver might panic, colliding at high speeds with another vehicle. Other times, the trailer will fully detach from the truck's cab, resulting in a catastrophic impact on anyone or vehicle in its way.
Underride collisions are incredibly deadly. Many dangerous situations can occur in seconds when a smaller passenger vehicle passes under a large truck. For example, the truck's tires can burst, causing the trailer to crush the vehicles beneath it, or a vehicle can lose its top, injuring passengers as it passes below the trailer. No matter the situation, survival chances are usually low.
All semi-trucks should have loads that are secured and properly placed. If they don't, there is a greater chance of an accident.
Unsecured load accidents can result from:
- Failing to use the correct type of truck to deliver a specific type of cargo
- Failing to ensure proper cargo securement before transport
- Failing to pressurize liquid cargo such as water, gas, or oil
- Unsuitable use of tiedown straps or other mechanisms to secure cargo loads
- Tiedown strap failure due to wear and tear, improper use, or defects
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Three-Truck Accident? Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Accidents involving even a single semi-truck can be difficult to get to the bottom of. When three trucks are involved in an accident, complexities abound. Suppose you suffered an injury in such an accident. In that case, you must immediately seek representation from a skilled personal injury attorney in San Antonio. There is much at stake, and you want to have your legal rights protected from the beginning.