In Minnesota, semis, or tractor-trailers, also known as commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are annually involved in over 5,000 traffic crashes.
Semis can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. As a result, any accident involving such a truck tends to result in severe and, all too often, catastrophic outcomes. While the heavier vehicle clearly has the advantage in any collision, the driver of the semi may be injured as well as the other drivers involved on the roadway.
Drivers of surrounding cars may not understand the time it takes to slow a semi truck; they may cut in front of the truck in heavy traffic. Truck accidents often occur during the work week and during daytime work hours. Traffic congestion, high speeds, intersections, and weather are potent conditions for highway fatalities. The most severe truck accidents oftentimes occur in rural areas. Driver error, truck driver fatigue, or inattentiveness also contribute to high injury and death rates.
Accidents involving a semi-truck present unique legal issues. Commercial truck drivers must meet higher safety standards than other drivers. State and federal regulations require extensive documentation related to the safety of both the driver and the truck. Any litigation against a truck-driver most often involves the truck-driver’s employer. Therefore, it is important to engage attorneys with experience specifically in truck accidents.
If you or a family member has been injured in a crash involving a semi-truck, your first priority should be to obtain proper medical care. Your next step should be to contact an experienced truck accident attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at Suk Law Firm have represented numerous truck crash victims and their families for over 40 years. We have won large verdicts and settlements of over one million dollars for truck crash victims. We also routinely handle much smaller cases involving lesser injuries. If you have been injured in a truck crash, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, impairment, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
Depending on the facts of the case, the statute of limitations — the time during which you must file a claim — for a motor vehicle accident may be anywhere between two and six years, longer if a minor is involved. It is critical that you take action as soon as possible so as to preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and ensure that your rights are protected.
Tips for Truck Drivers
- Always maintain your truck. Inspect your vehicle before each trip. Learn how to inspect your brakes as brake defects are the most frequently cited out-of-service inspection violation.
- Don’t drive when drowsy. Be sure to get full rest before getting behind the wheel. Take extra care when starting a new medication, be sure to ask your physician about possible side effects.
- Drive defensively. Avoid aggressive drivers and maintain a safe speed.
- Pay careful attention to your blind spots. Other motorists are often unaware of the large blind spots of trucks and may drive in them for long periods.
- Keep your distance from other vehicles. Take advantage of your truck height and anticipate potential braking situations.
- Avoid distractions. Try to avoid or limit eating or drinking, changing radio stations, or making other adjustments while driving.
Tips for Motorists
- Avoid semi-truck blind spots. If you can’t see the truck’s side-mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.
- Give semi-trucks extra space. Do not cut in front of a semi as they require longer distances to slow down or stop. Do not tailgate a semi. Give a semi extra space to maneuver at a traffic light, particularly if it is attempting to complete a right turn.
- Use proper procedure when passing on a two-lane road. Accelerate slightly and maintain a consistent speed while passing. Wait until you can see the entire cab of the truck in your rear-view mirror before signaling and pulling in front of the semi.
- Call authorities if you see unsafe driving.