Wide-Turn Truck Accidents
Posted on: April 12, 2023
Accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial semi-trucks often result in catastrophic damage and injuries due to the size and weight difference between the two. In the United States, approximately 130,000 people annually are injured in accidents with commercial trucks, with nearly 5,000 deaths. Some of the most dangerous accidents occur when trucks are turning.
Wide-turn accidents frequently result in the passenger car being struck head-on, run over, crushed, trapped, or caught beneath the truck’s trailer, all of which can cause devastating injuries. Wide-turn accidents are common, particularly in rural areas with narrow streets, less turn radius, and more obstacles near roads, such as buildings.
What is a Wide-Turn Truck Accident?
Most streets and intersections are not wide enough to accommodate massive semi-trucks that require a wide-turning radius. A wide-turn truck accident is when a truck driver swings the truck into other lanes in order to complete a turn, which causes a collision with passenger vehicles.
When turning right, commercial trucks need to veer into the lefthand lane to create a wider space to successfully move the trailer through the turn. The same maneuver is needed to execute a lefthand turn as well.
Righthand turns occur less often but can be just as dangerous. While other motorists tend to pay more attention to trucks turning right because they are more visible, they are responsible for a large portion of these accidents by ignoring warning signs and not giving trucks enough space.
Lefthand turn accidents are the most common and frequently have catastrophic outcomes because trucks move into the oncoming traffic lane in order to complete the turn. Because of the danger of lefthand turns, several trucking companies implement strategies and routes that eliminate the need for lefthand turns. United Parcel Service disbanded lefthand turns in the 1970s and continues the practice.
Left-turning truck drivers who misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic or how slowly the trailer must move to keep from tipping over can cause dangerous head-on accidents. Likewise, other motorists not yielding to turning trucks or misjudging the distance between the two vehicles can also cause severe accidents.
What Are the Main Causes of Wide-Turn Truck Accidents?
The sheer size of commercial trucks increases the potential for wide-turn accidents. Nearly 30 times larger than the average passenger vehicle, trucks have a much higher center of gravity which can lead to rollover accidents during sharp turns. Typical commercial trucks need at least 55 feet of space to complete turns, usually requiring drivers to veer into other lanes. It is the driver’s responsibility to complete a safe turn, but several factors can lead to a driver causing an accident, such as:
- Failing to use or defective turn signals
- Entering a right with the trailer too far from the curb
- Swinging too far from the right lane, creating an opening for vehicles
- Failing to use windows and mirrors
- Distracted driver
- Entering the turn lane too quickly
- Backing up to complete a turn
- Missing or defective mirrors
- Lack of experience, qualifications, or training
- Unfamiliar with a new route
- Driver fatigue
- Driving while impaired due to drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy driving
- Low visibility due to bad weather
Who is Liable for a Wide-Turn Truck Accident?
Depending on the circumstances involved, there may be more than one party responsible for the accident, such as the trucking company, truck manufacturer, or private owner.
Drivers of passenger cars are often responsible for accidents with turning trucks, usually due to a lack of attention to the truck or a lack of understanding of how much space a truck needs to turn. To prevent being in an accident with a turning truck:
- Leave plenty of space behind and beside the truck
- Pay extra attention to the truck turn signals when approaching an intersection or turn
- Do not pass the truck on the right if the truck is signaling a right turn – you can become trapped, causing a crushing or run-over accident
- Stay out of their blind spots – if you cannot see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors, the driver cannot see you
- When opposite a truck at an intersection or crossing the street, yield and allow the truck to move first to ensure its turning direction and not become trapped with it head-on in your lane
To prove the driver is liable for the accident, you must be able to show that the driver acted negligently, recklessly, or maliciously, which led to the accident causing you or your family injuries and property damage. Truck drivers are responsible for driving safely and according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations when turning, which state drivers must:
- Check blind spots
- Be aware of long stopping distances Stop slowly and with plenty of space
- Take extra time and space making wide turns
- Buckle up
- Avoid speeding
- Stay focused
- Always use a turn signal
- Maintain vehicle safety and functionality
- Plan ahead for their long trips
- Take special care in work zones
Truck drivers are responsible for making wide turns safely, but accidents can still happen even when the driver is doing everything right and other motorists are reckless. Most trucks are equipped with signs for other drivers on the back, warning how to avoid being struck when the truck is turning. Drivers often use this as a defense against responsibility for the accident and are frequently successful. Ignoring the warnings could be detrimental to your case.
What Compensation Can I Receive Following a Wide-Turn Truck Accident?
If you were in a wide-turn accident with a commercial truck, you are entitled to compensation, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage expenses
- Loss of income
- Loss of future earning capacity and wages if unable to return to the same job or work
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring, disfigurement, or humiliation.
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of consortium with loved ones
- Death benefits for families when the victim is fatally wounded
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After a Wide-Turn Accident?
In New Jersey, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the driver or the trucking company, though the earlier you file, the better. The two-year statute provides a window in case of accident-related injuries that present later. In such instances, you then have two years to file from the date symptoms first present.
What Should I Do if I Am Involved in a Wide-Turn Truck Accident?
Accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks often result in severe injuries requiring immediate medical attention. If your injuries are not severe and you are able, you should take the following steps:
- Report the accident: After any accident, call the police and request emergency medical conditions if anyone involved has injuries.
- Document the scene: Take photos of the scene, including vehicle damage and injuries, and anything else that may have contributed to the accident.
- Gather statements: Gather contact information and statements from any witnesses.
- Seek medical evaluation: Seek medical evaluation within 48 hours, even if your injuries are minor. Many internal injuries do not present immediate symptoms but can be life-threatening if left untreated. Plus, a medical report is a crucial element of your claim.
- Consult an attorney: Contact an attorney as soon as possible. The earlier an attorney can begin investigating your case, the stronger your evidence will be.
New Jersey Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Represent Clients Injured in Wide-Turn Collisions with Commercial Trucks
Injuries sustained in an accident with a commercial semi-truck are frequently life-altering or fatal. When turning, trucks are forced into adjacent lanes or oncoming traffic, increasing the risk of a serious accident with passenger vehicles. If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer, the New Jersey truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and property damage. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.