The trucking industry is a vital part of the nationwide economy. We rely on trucks to transport various goods. There is no doubt that truck drivers work hard, long hours and deserve our respect and thanks for the work they do.

Despite how prevalent and necessary they can be, trucks still pose a danger to the public. Trucking accidents can be devastating to victims due to their immense size in comparison to most other motor vehicles. If you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident with a tractor trailer, you likely have questions you want answered. Here are some helpful facts about trucking accidents that can give you more information.

Commercial trucks and the danger they can pose

A commercial truck is a large vehicle used to transport commercial goods or as part of business operations. They are commonly called big rigs, 18-wheelers or semitrucks. They have a dedicated purpose and are much larger than a basic pickup truck. Operators in Tennessee and around the nation need to have a commercial driver’s license to drive them.

Most passenger vehicles weigh around 3,000 pounds. Compare that to a tractor-trailer that can weigh around 80,000 pounds, depending on the cargo and exact dimensions of the vehicle. The higher weight of these trucks means that they exert much more force during a crash and therefore are more likely to cause injury or fatality.

Ways to avoid truck accidents

A combination of factors usually contributes to a crash, including the truck’s inability to accelerate or brake quickly, lowered visibility, and larger blind spots. Other motor vehicles also may not be aware of the limitations of large trucks and not take proper precautions.

You might have heard of the “No-Zone” of a truck. This term is a reference to the areas of a truck where a truck driver may have difficulty seeing another motor vehicle, for example, directly behind a truck, or the left and right back quarter of the truck.

Civil claims and trucking accidents

There are several ways someone could file a civil claim as a result of a truck accident, besides filing one directly against the truck driver. If there is an employment relationship between the driver and the trucking company, the latter could be liable for the truck driver’s actions. If the driver is an independent contractor, the issue could become more complex and depend on what level of supervision the company has over the driver.

If you were hurt by chemicals that spilled from the truck as a result of an accident, the shipper of those chemicals could be held liable. If the shipper of the chemicals did not warn the truck driver or the trucking company about the dangers related to hauling the hazardous materials, that company could be held liable.

You might have heard of “jackknifing” accidents, where the truck bed folds so that it resembles a pocket knife. If you were hurt in this kind of accident, a civil claim could be brought, but jackknifing can occur even when a truck driver has not driven in a negligent way. Sometimes a tractor-trailer will jackknife because of ice or water on the road or in an attempt to avoid a collision, which may make it difficult to prove a civil claim.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with one of these large commercial trucks, and you still have questions, you can consult with a legal expert with experience in these types of civil claims. You have several rights under the law and may be entitled to monetary damages that can be used to offset any costs that you incur as a result of one of these potentially devastating accidents.