To understand semi-trucks and the accidents they cause, it is a good idea to first know exactly what a semi is. A semi-truck is the part of the truck that actually contains the engine, and does not include the big trailer that is pulled behind it. An 18-wheeler refers to the combination of a semi-truck and its trailer, which when combined, typically have eighteen wheels. Another name for an 18-wheeler is tractor trailer. The legal weight for an 18-wheeler is 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons, and with special permits can weigh even more. In comparison, the average automobile weighs approximately 5,000 pounds, or 2.5 tons. The amount of time needed to stop an 18-wheeler is 40 times greater than for a car. A loaded 18-wheeler going 55 mph will need about two football fields of road to come to a complete stop.
How do 18-Wheelers Cause Life-Changing Accidents?
Fatalities due to accidents involving tractor trailers total over 4,000 annually on average, with the majority of those fatalities suffered by occupants of passenger vehicles that collided with an 18-wheeler or semi-truck. There are many reasons why these catastrophic accidents can occur, including:
- Driver fatigue
- Overweight loads
- Cell phones and text messaging
- Licensing issues and lack of proper training
- Reckless driving
- Mechanical malfunctions and improper maintenance
- Hazardous cargoes and spills
- Truck driver drug and alcohol use
Who Takes Responsibility in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Because Georgia is considered an at-fault state, the individual that is deemed to be the cause of an accident will likely be held accountable for damages and injuries that they caused in the accident. In some situations, there can be multiple parties at fault when an accident involving an 18-wheeler occurs. Semi accidents often have more factors to consider, which can also result in multiple parties having liability in the accident. Here are some of the various parties that could be held responsible in an accident involving an 18-wheeler or semi-truck:
- The truck driver: If the driver is an owner-operator, there is no separate employer to sue and the driver may be held fully liable.
- The trucking company: If the driver was driving responsibly and performing his or her duties correctly and did not intentionally do anything to result in an accident, the trucking company may be held liable instead of the driver.
- The truck owner: If an 18-wheeler is owned by someone other than the driver, the owner of the truck can hold responsibility for accidents involving their vehicle.
- The parts manufacturer: If an accident was caused by vehicle failure that was not the fault of the driver or the trucking company, the parts manufacturer may be held liable.
- The maintenance provider: In many situations, mistakes or a lack of proper maintenance by the maintenance provider can lead to their responsibility in the event of an accident.
- The loader or shipper of the cargo in the truck: Loading an 18-wheeler correctly is crucial in the overall safety and control of the vehicle. If improper loading and weight distribution of the truck put the truck at risk for an accident, the responsible party may be held liable for the accident.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. The attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law can help you understand if you are able to receive compensation or what your legal options may be. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.