What is a Big Rig Accident?

Posted by: Aug 28, 2020Sabbeth Law Blog

Big rig accidents on highways throughout Vermont and New Hampshire can be devastating when one of these crashes results in debilitating or deadly injuries, it is time to seek assistance from an experienced truck accident attorney.

Truck and commercial motor vehicle cases are not the same as car accident cases.  They need to be handled in a unique and precise way right from the beginning.

At Sabbeth Law, we specialize in trucking and commercial motor vehicle cases. We are part of the Association of Truck Accident Attorneys, AAJ Trucking Litigation Group, and recently inducted into National Trial Lawyers Association’s “Top Truck Accident Lawyers.” We get on the scene as soon as possible after a collision, and in significant crashes, we will make sure the insurance company does, too. We use the best experts from throughout the nation, and we have both 8-figure and 7-figure results to show for our clients. We are built for handling these types of cases, and we will go to you.

When it comes to big rig accidents, our big rig accident lawyers want to make sure you understand more about the deadly vehicles involved in these collisions, and what you should do in the event of a big rig accident. 

Understanding Big Rigs Accidents

If you are not part of the trucking industry and do not have any friends or family members in the industry, it can be difficult to understand some of the terminology. A “big rig” is the term to describe a semi-trailer and the tractor (or truck) that is transporting it. You might have also heard a “big rig” being described as a “semi-trailer truck” or an “18-wheeler.” In effect, these are all terms to describe the same thing: a large trailer that is being hauled by a truck. 

As Hot Cars Magazine explains, “a semi-trailer truck is the combination of a tractor unit and one or more semi-trailers to carry freight.” In trucking terminology, “the trailers are called semi-trailers since they are devoid of front wheels and need the support of the semi-tractor to make a move.” Indeed, a semi-trailer “can only roll when it is connected to the tractor,” and a “fifth-wheel coupling or hitch attaches the semi-trailer to the tractor, and much of the trailer’s weight is borne by the tractor.”

In sum, big rigs are essentially made up of two different parts, and together they usually weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Given the enormous weight difference between big rigs and passenger vehicles, and the fact that large trucks have a much higher ground clearance, many collisions prove fatal to occupants of motor vehicles due to the sheer impact of the collision or because of underriding which kills hundreds of people every year. 

How Do Big Rig Accidents Happen?

Semi-truck or big rig accidents can happen for a wide variety of reasons. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a large truck crash causation study that points to a number of common causes for 18-wheeler accidents, which include the following:

  • Truck driver error, including aggressive driving, reckless driving, drowsy or fatigued driving, distracted driving, or intoxicated driving;
  • Mechanical problem with the truck due to poor maintenance;
  • Improperly loaded trailer, which can result in a collision;
  • Defect in the truck or one of its parts, such as defective brakes or a defective steering system;
  • Negligent pre-trip inspections that would have uncovered unsafe defects;
  • Dangerous road conditions; and
  • Inclement weather.

In some big rig collisions, there is more than one cause for the collision. Depending upon the factors that led to the accident, it may be possible for an injured party to file a claim against more than one person or entity.

Who is Liable for a Big Rig Crash?

When large trucks are involved in crashes that result in serious injuries to passenger vehicle occupants, a number of different parties may be liable depending upon the specific facts of the case. The following are examples of parties who could be liable in a big rig accident:

  • Truck driver;
  • Owner of the truck (often distinct from the truck driver);
  • Trucking company that employs the truck driver;
  • Mechanic who worked on the truck;
  • Company responsible for loading the truck;
  • Employees who loaded the truck;
  • Designer of the big rig or one of its parts; or
  • Manufacturer of the big rig or one of its parts.

Seek Advice from Our Trucking Accident Attorneys

If you or someone you love suffered serious or fatal injuries in a big rig accident, it is critical to seek advice from one of our aggressive Vermont and New Hampshire trucking accident attorneys as soon as possible. Our firm specializes in large trucking crash cases, and we can help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. Contact Sabbeth Law today for assistance with your claim.