Tractor Trailer Accident

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In the United States, tractor trailers and other big trucks account for up to 500,000 traffic accidents each year. Ten percent of all such accidents result in death of at least one person. Eighty percent of the time, the driver of the smaller passenger vehicle is the one who sustains fatal injuries.

A tractor trailer, which is a very large vehicle, consists of the tractor (the engine and the cab) and a trailer (which is towed by the tractor and where the cargo is loaded). A tractor trailer can have a single trailer or can be a multiple tractor trailer having up to three trailers. Thus, a tractor trailer can be as long as 75 feet, with weights in excess of 80,000 pounds.

Tractor-trailers, also known as semi trucks or big rigs, are an essential part of the transport of a vast array of commercial, industrial, and consumer products in the United States. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tractor-trailers on US roadways. Over this same time period, there has also been a significant increase in accidents and fatalities related to these tractor-trailers.

Tractor-trailers can also be involved in rollover or jackknife accidents. These types of accidents are not as common as other types of truck accidents, but they can result in injuries that are more critical to the driver or other motor vehicle operators as well as significantly more damage to the vehicle

Considering these numbers, it becomes easy to understand why tractor trailer accidents can be so deadly, yet in many cases, preventable.

Tractor Trailer Accidents and Under-Rides

A very common type of tractor trailer accident is referred to as an under-ride accident. The trailer of a tractor trailer is usually 45 inches above the ground, whereas the front bumpers of most small vehicles are only about 30-35 inches above ground level. Due to such disparities, in many cases of tractor trailer accidents, a smaller vehicle goes under the rear of the trailer and often gets stuck under it. This is known as an under-ride accident.

In under-ride tractor trailer accidents, it is not uncommon for the entire top of the car to be sliced away, and one can just imagine a similar kind of fate of the driver and any passengers in the vehicle. These types of tractor trailer accidents are almost always fatal, the fatality typically being of the people in the smaller passenger vehicle.

Under-ride accidents do not only occur from the rear of tractor trailers, but also occur from the sides of the truck. A smaller vehicle can as easily go under a tractor trailer from the side as it can from behind.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) now requires all tractor trailers to have rear bumpers that are not more than 22 inches high from ground level. The DOT also requires tractor trailers to have rear and side retro-reflective tape, so as to avoid under-ride accidents. But in spite of all these measures, tractor trailer accidents still occur at alarming frequencies.

The bumper guards do not protect smaller vehicles from sideways under-rides, and even the rear bumpers often do not withstand a severe impact and crumble under such forces, thus still resulting in under-ride accidents.

Recovering Damages

If you, a loved one, or anyone you know has suffered any kind of injuries from a tractor trailer accident, or if an under-ride accident has resulted in the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to receive damages. Consult an experienced accident attorney to know more about your options in case of tractor trailer accidents.


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