Liability Issues in a No-Zone Truck Accident Case

semi-truck no zone crashesAnyone who has taken a drivers’ education course has probably heard the term “no-zones.” The term was developed to educate drivers about the long and dangerous blind spots surrounding 18-wheeler trucks—blind spots which host hundreds of thousands of automobile accidents every year.

Why Do No-Zone Truck Accidents Happen?

Many drivers are aware of the dangers of blind spots in their own vehicles, and routinely turn their heads to check for vehicles that cannot be seen in their mirrors. Unfortunately, the blind spots on a commercial truck can be several yards long, allowing smaller vehicles to disappear from the trucker’s view.

There are four major areas around an 18-wheeler that are considered no-zones, including:

  • Behind the trailer. Truckers do not have standard rearview mirrors that allow them to see vehicles that are following directly behind them. If a driver follows a semi too closely, the driver may slide under the trailer if the trucker hits the brakes, causing an underside accident that is almost always fatal.
  • On either side of the trailer. Trucks are equipped with several mirrors to help the trucker see traffic on all sides. However, these mirrors often do not show the full length of the trailer, making visibility on both the left and right sides extremely poor. Many truck crashes involve the trailer side-swiping a smaller vehicle, sending the car off of the road or into the opposing lane of traffic. For this reason, drivers of smaller cars should only travel directly next to a truck when passing.
  • Inside the truck’s turning radius. From tight turns to increased foot traffic, city streets pose a number of hazards to large trucks. Truckers must swing to the left in order to make a 90-degree right turn, placing smaller cars on both sides at risk of a collision. To make matters worse, a truck’s side mirrors are not angled to see traffic during a turn, increasing the risk that a car, biker, or pedestrian will be caught inside the turn.
  • In front of the cab. The most commonly overlooked no-zone area is at the front of the truck, directly below the driving cab. Since these cabs are elevated several feet above other drivers, the trucker may not see a smaller car traveling immediately in front of him. Drivers should always make sure they can see the entire truck cab in their mirrors before merging in front of a truck, and leave several vehicle lengths of space between the truck and their rear bumper.

Who Is at Fault for a No-Zone Accident?

All drivers are expected to check their blind spots, and that includes truck drivers. A trucker who makes a turn, changes speeds, changes lanes, or merges into traffic without ensuring that there are no obstacles in the way may be held liable for any injuries he causes.

There are also other considerations when it comes to determining fault in a truck crash case. A commercial carrier that fails to equip trucks with running lights and reflective tape to make the sides of the trailer more noticeable at night can be held liable for increasing crash risks. If the trailer was loaded beyond capacity, a victim’s injuries could be much more severe, making the loading company potentially liable.

Truckers and drivers both share a portion of responsibility for avoiding no-zone accidents. However, these accidents overwhelmingly cause severe injuries for the drivers of smaller cars, especially if the trailer is fully-loaded. Common outcomes in truck accidents include:

  • Back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Internal bleeding
  • Crushing or amputation injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Facial lacerations and scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • Hand and wrist injuries
  • Compression injuries
  • Death

If you have been injured in a truck accident, we can listen to your story and explain to you how much your claim may be worth. Contact GriffithLaw today for a free evaluation of your case, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.