Understanding Virginia Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Commercial truck accidents are some of the most deadly that can occur. The massive size of these vehicles makes it almost impossible for occupants in the other vehicle to walk away without suffering serious to catastrophic injuries.

There are several different types of large and heavy commercial trucks on the road, but the terms describing these vehicles can sometimes be confusing. Knowing these terms can help victims and their families understand the case their Virginia truck accident attorney is building against those parties who are liable for the crash.

  • Trailer – The trailer holds the cargo. It is able to stand on its own, however, it cannot move without being attached to a vehicle. There is no cab for a driver to sit in or engine. The trailer is attached to the actual vehicle that will do the transporting.
  • Semi-trailer – A semi-trailer is a trailer that cannot stand on its own. There are no wheels on the front. It is attached to the vehicle via a hitch.
  • Tractor – This is the actual vehicle that contains the engine that pulls the trailer or the semi-trailer that contains the cargo. It is often referred to as a semi or a semi-truck.

A combination of a trailer (motorized vehicle) and the trailer once they are hooked together is referred to as a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or a big rig. If there are two trailers being pulled by the tractor, this is referred to as a tandem or double. Tractor trailers are capable of transporting up to 80,000 pounds of cargo.

The Most Common Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

There are several different types of tractor-trailer crashes that are the most common. All are dangerous and can result in fatalities and severe injuries.

  • Rollover Accident – In a rollover accident, the truck driver loses control of the vehicle, causing the trailer to fall over on its side.
  • Jackknife Accident – When the truck driver fails to maintain coordination between the moving tractor and the trailer, this will result in the trailer failing to align with the tractor and enters another lane perpendicular to the trailer. This type of crash gets its name because, at that moment, the tractor-trailer looks like an opened jackknife.
  • Underride Accident – This is also referred to as a rear-end crash. One of the most frequent causes of underride crashes is when a truck driver suddenly slams their brakes, causing the vehicle behind them to hit the back of the truck and slide under the trailer. These accidents are often fatal.
  • Brake or Tire Failure – It is critical for trucking companies to conduct regular inspections of their vehicles and make any repairs needed. Failure to provide regular maintenance to their fleet can result in mechanical malfunctioning or failure. Two of the most common of these failures involve the brakes and the tires.
  • Blind Spot Accident – A very serious issue that truck drivers deal with that many passenger vehicle drivers may not realize is that there are multiple blind spots when operating a tractor-trailer, despite the mirrors and sensors the driver uses. If a driver is traveling in the truck’s blind spot and the truck driver suddenly moves into that spot because he or she doesn’t see the vehicle, the outcome can be tragic.

Experienced Legal Help

A concerted commitment is what you expect and deserve from your legal counsel. The legal team from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is made up of seasoned attorneys you can trust and who will work diligently to get you the damages you deserve.

Going forward with a case where you have been injured in an accident involving a truck may mean going up against a business — possibly a large corporate trucking company with significant resources. This is why is it so important that you have an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney on your side, looking out for your best interests. Contact our office to set up a free case evaluation and find out what type of financial compensation you may be entitled to.


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