Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on November 6th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

Blind Spot Truck Accidents

MO Truck Accident Attorneys

Posted on November 6th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

A truck’s blind spots, referred to as no zones, are areas around a truck where truck drivers have limited or no visibility. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), one third of crashes between trucks and cars occur in a blind spot. All motor vehicles have blind spots, but trucks’ blind spots are larger because of their sizes, making them more difficult to clear. Commercial drivers have extensive training in navigating including blind spots and utilization of mirrors.

Truckers, their employers, and insurance companies may try to blame other motor vehicle drivers when accidents occur in truck blind spots. Yet, inattentive and distracted truck drivers who don’t clear their blind spots can cause dangerous and fatal truck accidents. A loaded semi-truck weighs between 20 and 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, which is why truck accidents are among the most dangerous of all traffic crashes. They frequently result in severe injuries and fatalities, an0d this is why truckers and trucking companies face more stringent regulations and licensing requirements than drivers of passenger vehicles.

Being involved in a truck accident can be a life-changing event that devastates victims and their families, as physical, emotional, and financial consequences ripple through their lives. We have provided the following guide so you can learn how to avoid causing a blind spot accident and suffering injuries when inattentive truck drivers cause a blind spot truck accident.

Where Are a Truck’s Blind Spots?

All vehicles have blind spots, but truck blind spots are larger than all others. Before truckers turn or change lanes, they need to clear their blind spots—making sure no vehicles are in them by leaning forward and back, left and right, to get the full view their mirrors can provide.

Avoiding inattentive truckers before turning or changing lanes, however, begins with knowing where those blind spots are in the area around a truck.

The exact size of truck blind spots and their location will vary with the size of a truck. The following is a complete description of blind spots around a standard size tractor-trailer, which includes a standard 53 foot trailer plus the length of the cab. In total, the entire length of a tractor-trailer falls between 70 and 80 feet.

  • In front of the cab, a truck’s blind spot extends forward approximately 20 feet.
  • Behind the trailer, a truck’s blind spot extends backward about 30 feet.
  • On the driver’s side, the blind spot begins below the driver’s window and extends backward to the end of the trailer.
  • Trucker drivers have the least amount of visibility on the passenger side, where the blind spot starts below the passenger window and extends back diagonally across two lanes of traffic to the rear of the trailer.

Experienced truck drivers and those who prioritize safety make sure to clear their blind spots when they maneuver their trucks. Yet, even experienced and safe drivers get distracted and cause severe blind spot truck accidents from time-to-time.

How Do Blind Spot Truck Accidents Occur?

Blind spot truck accidents occur for many reasons, including when cars follow semis too closely or trucks follow cars too closely. Yet, most blind spot truck accidents result from simple inattentive driving. When inattentive truckers don’t clear their blind spots, the consequences can be deadly. Below are some common scenarios involving inattentive driving that might lead to severe and/or fatal blind spot truck accidents.

Distracted Driving

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the U.S. agency that regulates the trucking industry, has implemented safety measures to prevent truck drivers from getting distracted by cell phones. Any driver who holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is forbidden to use a cell phone while driving for texting, emailing, or surfing the internet. Truckers can use their cell phones to talk, as long as it’s a hands-free device. The law permits a driver to push one button to initiate a call, but otherwise truckers must use hands-free features like voice-activated calling.

Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off driving can constitute inattention, and most of them are not illegal, though all of them can result in serious accidents. Some examples include:

  • Adjusting a CB radio, a GPS, or climate controls
  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Reaching for something on the passenger seat or the floor
  • Tending to pets (some long-haul truck drivers travel with small dogs)
  • Chatting with a passenger
  • Looking for unfamiliar pickup and delivery locations

Complacency

You might think that more experienced truck drivers are less likely to cause a blind spot truck accident. In many cases, professional drivers are very safety conscious. Yet, as drivers become more familiar with their job and their routes, complacency can set in. Truckers become comfortable with their everyday routine, so they don’t pay as much attention to some aspects of driving. Unlike airplane pilots, who must follow a checklist each time they prepare for flight, truck drivers typically don’t have to follow checklists other than daily inspections. That can cause complacency to set in, leading truckers to cut corners on safety. It only takes one time for a truck driver to forget to clear a blind spot and sideswipe or cut off another vehicle for a fatal collision to happen.

Some companies require mandatory workshops and recurrent training to ensure that experienced truckers maintain safe driving habits. Additionally, the nation’s severe truck driver shortage also creates an environment in which companies struggle to hire and keep drivers and to maintain delivery schedules, and are less likely to require continued learning that could keep drivers off the road.

Daydreaming

Doctors and scientists study different types of daydreaming, but when truckers experience the kind of daydreaming that promotes attention deficits, other motorists face the risk of a severe accident and injury from a blind spot truck accident. As people live their lives, they have personal and professional highs and lows. Perhaps a truck driver just welcomed a new baby into his family, had a fight with his partner, had a death in the family, got in an argument with his boss, or received an award for exceptional performance.

Driving down the road provides people an opportunity to think and reflect about things occurring in their lives, but sometimes it can be at the expense of safe driving. Safely maneuvering a semi-truck, means dedicating 100 percent attention to the task at hand. When drivers cannot focus on their job because they have a variety of things going through their heads, it can lead to mistakes that cause these truck crashes.

What Injuries Do Blind Spot Truck Accident Victims Suffer?

Lessons about Newton’s Laws of Motion begin in elementary school science classes, even if at a rudimentary level. The Second Law states that force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma), which tells us that the force of impact in a traffic accident will increase as mass and speed increase. Large semi-trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.

In comparison, most passenger vehicles don’t weigh more than 5,000 pounds. The incredible mass of a truck creates an incredible force of impact that results in increased property damage, more severe injuries, and a higher likelihood of fatality when a truck accident occurs. Those lucky enough to live through a blind spot truck accident might suffer some of the following debilitating injuries:

  • Multiple fractures and broken bones
  • Deep cuts that can leave scars
  • Neck injuries including whiplash and fractured or herniated vertebrae
  • Head injuries that can result in severe traumatic brain injuries and contusions, which might require surgery and result in lifelong complications
  • Spinal cord injuries that can result in permanent paralysis throughout some or all of the body
  • Back injuries including cracked, bulged, and fractured vertebrae, often resulting in lifelong chronic pain even after one or more corrective surgeries
  • Organ damage and internal bleeding, which can be fatal when not treated immediately
  • Crushed limbs from impact, which might need amputation in some situations
  • Excruciatingly painful and damaging burns from a fire or explosion, especially when a truck is carrying hazardous materials

Accidents That Might Occur From a Blind Spot Truck Collision

Types of truck accidents don’t differ much from car accidents. Yet, when blind spots are involved, certain types of truck accidents are more likely to occur. They include:

Rollover Accidents

If an inattentive truck driver fails to clear his blind spots when changing lanes on a multi-lane highway or interstate, he can hit another vehicle causing either vehicle (or both of them) to leave the roadway and roll over. This is especially more likely when a car goes into a deep ravine or median. If the trucker loses control of his truck, he can also roll over on or off the highway. Any motorist traveling near a truck who has a rollover accident faces risk for severe injury or harm if they cannot avoid the accident.

Sideswipe Accidents

Like rollover accidents, sideswipe accidents can occur on multi-lane roads when drivers change lanes without clearing blind spots. When a truck sideswipes another car, the force can create a multi-car accident or lead to a rollover.

Underride Accidents

An underride collision refers to what happens when a passenger vehicle gets lodged under the trailer of a semi-truck and gets dragged as the truck continues to move. They can happen on any type of roadway. Depending on whether the truck is turning or changing lanes and which one of the truck’s blind spots the vehicle is in will depend on the exact position of the underride accident. It can take a trucker some time to realize what happened, making underride accidents among the most dangerous and deadly of all blind spot truck accidents. If a truck drags a small car for any distance, it’s possible that no survivors will emerge from the vehicle. Likewise, a common crash is when a passenger vehicle rear-ends a semi-truck and becomes lodged under the truck.  A truck driver has little control when another vehicle rear-ends their truck.

Recovering Damages in a Blind Spot Truck Accident

If you have suffered harm in a blind spot truck accident because of an inattentive truck driver, Missouri law entitles you to seek compensation for damages related to your accident and injuries in civil court. If your truck accident lawyer negotiates a settlement on your behalf or the court finds a verdict in your favor, you might receive compensation for some or all of the following:

  • Medical costs including ambulance and emergency services, hospital stay, surgery, diagnostic imaging, follow-up doctor visits, and prescription medicine
  • Future medical expenses when a blind spot truck accident leads to a catastrophic injury or permanent disability that requires lifelong healthcare
  • Rehabilitation costs including visits to one or more specialists, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapists, who help accident injury victims regain lost functions and learn new ways to do daily tasks if they have a disability
  • Assistive device costs for wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, crutches, walkers, canes, etc.
  • Home modification costs to make a victim’s primary residence more accessible, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or handrails, or building a main floor addition
  • Lost wages for time away from work due to a truck accident, hospitalization, and recovery
  • Lost earning capacity when a severe blind spot truck accident prevents an injured person from returning partially or fully to their previous job, or requires them to change careers because of a disability
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium with a partner
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Other applicable non-economic losses

If you lost a family member in a blind spot truck crash, you might be eligible for compensation based on your relationship with the victim. Eligible family members might recover some of the previously listed damages as well as funeral expenses and burial costs. An experienced Missouri truck accident attorney can advise you on your eligibility and help determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Get the Legal Help You Need After a Blind Spot Truck Accident

Truck accidents are notoriously complex because of large amounts of property damage and injury, high dollar insurance policies, and multiple defendants including the driver, the trucking company, and their insurance carriers. The best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve after a blind spot truck accident is to let an experienced Missouri truck accident attorney handle the details of your case and advocate for you, so the defense takes your claim seriously.