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Common Fact Patterns in 18-Wheeler Accidents

Each truck accident case we’ve represented is different; it has its own story, has facts specific to the incident, and each victim has endured their own personal suffering. Nonetheless, after 25 years of litigating truck accident cases, we’ve noticed that most cases fall into certain categories. Below, we’re going to introduce each of those and link to a fuller explanation of what each type of case entails.

It’s important to remember that when an accident first happens you may not know the exact cause of the accident, and therefore, you may not know what type of category it fits in. For example, the police might think the truck driver who hit you was intoxicated, but it later turned out that the driver was sober and an unsecured load was the culprit. Knowing the type of accident is merely the beginning of the litigation process. To get a better grasp of the process involved in a truck accident case, click here for an overview of truck accident cases.


Questions answered on this page:

  • How many different types of truck accidents are there?
  • Are different types of truck accidents handled differently?
  • Is the trucking company ever automatically liable for my accident?
  • Do I need a lawyer after my truck accident?

The most common commercial truck accident scenarios.

Truck accidents are not simple matters. After many of these serious incidents, the people who were present at the scene unfortunately passed away or sustained such traumatic injuries that they cannot recall what happened. Additionally, defendants often either can’t remember the accident or they remember the accident being the victim’s fault; sometimes this might be true, and other times it might be that the defendant has been advised by his or her trucking company’s lawyer on what to say or not say after an accident.

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This is just one small example of how the trucking companies will try to fight you, even if their driver was clearly at fault. Even if the truck driver is innocent, the trucking company may still be at fault for maintenance issues, such as not inspecting their vehicles or knowingly using vehicles they know have mechanical issues. Perhaps the only bit of good news is that it’s the job of a lawyer or investigator to help you find out what happened in your case. At our firm, we’ve found that even though every case is different, there are many common fact patterns, which helped inform the list in this article. That being said, your truck accident case likely shares characteristics with the following:

  • Passengers in 18-wheelers: It’s not just people who drive cars on the same roads with big trucks who can get hurt; those riding with the truckers themselves are sometimes injured when the 18-wheeler is involved in a single or multi-vehicle accident. The passenger is never at fault in an accident because they are literally just along for the ride. The passenger would have a claim against anyone who was at fault in the accident: the trucking company, the driver, another motorist, etc.
  • Accidents with Oilfield Vehicles: Because there are a large amount of oil companies in Texas, we’ve seen an increase of cases involving commercial vehicles (like tractor trailers, dump trucks, tanker trucks) that originate on the oilfield.
  • Fatal Truck Accidents Under Texas Law: Texas has very specific rules about how trucking companies must be insured, how drivers must behave on the road, and who can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the person who passed away. We’ve litigated hundreds of these cases over the years, so we have a lot of experience on how they operate.
  • Rear-end Collisions: There are two types of rear-end collisions, the first being where a tractor-trailer runs into another motorist, and the second, of course, being the other way around. Despite what you might have heard, the law does not declare one party automatically liable in either case.
  • Underride Accidents: Trucks are supposed to have strong “underride”guards to prevent cars from going under the back of a trailer in the event of an accident. When passenger vehicles are able to slide underneath a truck, the results are almost always deadly. This type of case is an example of a case where the trucking company may have some liability, even if the driver of the car is at fault in the accident. For example, if a car hit the back of an 18-wheeler going 30 mph, you wouldn’t expect them to die in the accident. But if a car hit an 18-wheeler without an underride at 30mph and their car goes underneath the truck, it would not be unusual for them to be killed in this instance. In other words, the car may have caused the accident, but the neglect of the trucking company was what actually caused the accident to be fatal.
  • Tire Blowouts: Tires are the only pieces of a truck that connect to the actual road. When a blowout occurs, even the safest driver cannot prevent an accident. Tire blowout accidents may involve claims against any number of potential defendants.
  • Loading Dock Accidents: Not all 18-wheeler accidents happen on the open road. Sometimes, trucks hurt people during the loading and unloading process. If the accident happened at work, the company may be liable for negligence if they failed to address safety concerns at the loading dock.
  • Wrecks with Parked 18-wheelers: Trucks are enormous, and when they’re parked in unsafe places, other motorists get injured. Further, a parked truck, even if legally parked, is a dangerous place for the truckers themselves to be. If a negligent driver runs off the road into a parked truck, the truck driver may be seriously injured or killed.
  • 18-Wheeler and Pedestrian Accidents: When trucks and people get into accidents, the results are almost always fatal. The legal dispute will almost always focus on whether the truck and/or pedestrian was in a place they were supposed to be. This is bad for the deceased pedestrian who isn’t able to defend themselves. While pedestrians have the right of way in most cases, there are a few instances in which they would not.
  • Construction Zone Accidents: Trucks bustle in and out of construction sites all the time. But with all of those trucks, people, and pieces of heavy equipment moving around, if one person makes a reckless move, people can get killed.
  • Hazardous cargo and spills: Federal and state rules are quite specific about how trucking companies can transport hazardous materials. When these and other basic safety rules are violated, the results can be disastrous.
  • Intoxicated Truck Drivers: Every driver knows they’re not supposed to drive under the influence, but time and again we’ve seen “professional” drivers drunk and/or high behind the wheel. But these aren’t typical drunk driving cases. The trucking company could be liable for these accidents if they knew the driver had a past in drunk driving, or if the driver got drunk at a bar, the bar could be held liable.
  • Sideswipe Collisions: Any time a vehicle swerves into the side of another, there will be problems. The obvious difference when 18-wheeler is involved, the dangers increase exponentially. There’s no “law” against sideswiping, rather, courts use a negligence analysis.
  • 18-Wheeler Runs a Red Light: Traffic lights are in place for a reason, and yet some drivers still neglect to heed these signals. When tractor-trailers fail to stop, a deadly accident can result. We see many cases where an 18-wheeler enters or exits an interstate without yielding to the right of way. These cases aren’t as simple as they sound, however.
  • Wrecks Caused by Unsecured Loads: It may have never occurred to you that what’s in the trailer itself could cause an accident. But even the most professional truck driver cannot negotiate roads and highways when the load is unbalanced. The general public AND drivers lose their lives in these cases.

Who will handle your accident case is just as important as finding out what type of case you have.

The wrong lawyer can ruin a case. 18-wheeler accidents require a quick response, thorough investigation, and strong attention to detail. The truck accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have litigated every type of truck accident case. Our lawyers investigate the accident scene, look at police reports, interview witnesses, hire medical experts to look at medical records, get surveillance footage, black box data, and anything else we need so that we can find out exactly what happened and get enough evidence to convince a jury of who was at fault in the accident. We know how to get the best results, and in addition, treat you compassionately along the way. We understand the law and want to explain any detail to you that you may still have questions about; call us now at (855) 326-0000.


Related Articles for Further Reading:

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