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3 Ways a Truck Can Total Your Car

Destroyed windshield and front part of car after accident.18-wheelers weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger car, tipping the scales at a monstrous 80,000 pounds. The trailer hitched to the powerful truck engine measures 54 feet long — compare that to the typical family car which spans less than 16 feet. There are nearly 6 million tractor trailers registered in the U.S., and a third of these are in California, Florida and Texas. The immense size and weight of modern big rigs, coupled with their slow braking abilities, poses a major risk to even the most safety-conscious of motorists.

Whether caused by equipment failure, mechanical malfunction, poor road conditions or human error, truck accidents result in life-threatening injury, loss of life and – in many cases – extensive property damage to all vehicles involved.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, fully loaded 18-wheelers take 30 to 40 percent farther than passenger cars to stop, and this discrepancy is even bigger on icy or wet roads. With this in mind, you can see why smaller vehicles are extremely vulnerable to collateral damage in the event of a collision.

3 truck accidents that cause collateral damage

  • Jacknife dangers –Since 1997, federal authorities have required all commercial trucks to install anti-lock brakes. This safety measure has lowered the rate of jackknife crashes, where the rear wheels freeze up, swinging the trailer around to a 90-degree angle with the cab of the truck. Most jackknife accidents occur when the truck operator slams on the brakes quickly because they were following too closely or failed to take prompt evasive actions . As the trailer slides out to an acute angle, sometimes taking up both lanes, it can smash into other vehicles in its path, giving rise to a domino effect.
  • Truck Rollovers – Federal transportation figures indicate that truck rollovers are among the most dangerous type of 18-wheeler accident, both in terms of personal injury and property damage. Some of the most cited causes of truck rollovers include: unbalanced cargo, overcorrection when steering, speeding, fatigue, driver distraction or sudden lane changes. Vehicles that are caught in the path of an overturning big rig are often completely totaled. If the truck is hauling hazardous or flammable materials, there is also the chance of an explosion or fire.
  • Side/Rear Underride Accidents – Underride collisions represent 25 percent of all fatalities in accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. Side underride collisions, in which a car slides underneath the broad side of a tractor trailer, is the most lethal, accounting for 200 deaths every year. In these gruesome collisions, the top of the vehicle is normally sheered off completely, often killing occupants instantly. Side underride accidents typically occur when the truck driver is trying to complete a U-turn or attempting to cross traffic. Due to low visibility or an absence of lights on the trailer’s side, motorists don’t see the truck until it is too late. Rear underride crashes have the same effects and normally happen when a poorly-marked trailer is moving slowly or parked by the side of the road. Unfortunately, semis are not yet required to add side underride guards, which have been proven to prevent fatal collisions.

Schedule a free legal consultation

Ellis Injury Law has the resources and experience to take on large trucking companies to get clients the compensation they deserve. If you were involved in a collision that caused injury and vehicle damage, speak with a Los Angeles truck accident attorney about protecting your rights. We offer complimentary case reviews to all prospective clients. Dial 1-800-INJURED today.

Additional Resources: 

  1. Cars Direct, How Insurers Determine That a Car is a Totaled Car https://www.carsdirect.com/car-insurance/how-do-they-determine-if-a-car-is-totaled
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Large trucks http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
  3. ABC News, AAA Study: Car-Truck Study http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130212&page=1