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Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

Surprising Semi-Truck Problems & Accidents on Philadelphia Streets


Compared to the average 2.5 ton car, semi-trucks weigh an average of 40 tons. This vulnerability of smaller vehicles makes it no surprise that when a semi-truck and automobile collide, severe injuries and fatalities occur. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2019 occurred in large truck crashes. However, that still means over 4,000 people lost their lives in 2019 due to a collision involving a large tuck. Semi-truck accidents may not be as common as your regular car on car collision, but they still contribute to thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

The purpose of this article is to first discuss the underlying problems and causes of these horrific accidents, and then we will dive into the specific types of semi-truck accidents.

What Causes a Semi-Truck Accident?

Before we look into the specific types of semi-truck accidents, it’s important to be educated on the underlying problems and causes of these accidents. You might think that weather plays a large role in the frequency of these accidents, but approximately 70% of semi-truck accidents take place in ideal weather conditions. The majority of these accidents are in fact due to human error and mechanical or equipment failure.

Accidents Caused By Human Error

When it comes to semi-truck accidents resulting from human error, large truck operators are often found to be at fault for one of the following:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver inexperience or lack of training
  • Improper loading
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • High speeds
  • Violation of trucking laws and regulations

Lawmakers on both the federal and state level have put numerous regulations in place in an effort to make the trucking industry safer. However, insufficient training by trucking corporations and driver recklessness remain the leading causes of semi-truck accidents. 

Accidents Caused By Mechanical or Equipment Failure

In the event an accident takes place and it’s not a result of human error, there’s a chance that a mechanical or equipment failure occurred in the vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) a few years back, finding that 10 percent of all trucking accidents actually resulted from mechanical failure. Reported issues were most commonly brake problems, tire problems, and cargo shifts. If you or a loved one is involved in a trucking accident, let our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm Philadelphia, a team of Philadelphia truck accident lawyers, fight for you.

Unusual Types of Semi-Truck Accidents

Now that we have discussed the potential causes of semi-truck accidents, it’s time to dive into the types of crashes. Similar to car on car collisions, common types include head on collisions, rear endings, and t-bone collisions. However, there are additional types of accidents that are specific to semi-trucks or accidents involving semi-trucks. For anyone involved in such incidents, consulting a car accident lawyer can provide crucial guidance and support in navigating the complexities of these cases.

Underride Semi-Truck Accidents

Underride accidents are similar or related to rear end collisions, but the results are far more dangerous. This type of accident occurs when a vehicle rear ends a truck, not the other way around, and the smaller vehicle ends up beneath the semi-truck. This can be caused by various distracted driving, driver fatigue, and other impairments. The reason why this type of accident is more serious and dangerous than a regular rear end collision is because the smaller vehicle can become lodged and remain stuck under the semi-truck until the truck driver stops. 

Jackknife Semi-Truck Accidents

Jackknife accidents are specific to semi-trucks and are generally caused by the person operating the truck. A combination of speeding and distracted driving often leads to this type of accident when a truck driver attempts to avoid a wreck and brakes abruptly. But in semi-trucks, abrupt braking can cause the trailer to swing towards the cab and the truck looks as if it is folding like a jackknife (hence the name jackknife accident). This type of accident is rarely dangerous to the truck driver, but is extremely dangerous for surrounding vehicles. A swinging trailer can clip or collide with nearby traffic. In addition, the weight and size of the trailer can result in multiple vehicles being involved.

Cargo-Related Semi-Truck Accidents

Every once in a while, you’ll see a story on the news about a truck that flipped and resulted in hundreds of pounds of chicken nuggets on the interstate (or something like that). It’s entertaining and somewhat humorous, but these types of accidents can be dangerous and even fatal depending on the cargo and severity of the crash. These types of accidents become more so dangerous when the cargo contains hazardous gas or chemicals. And in addition, these accidents are generally a combination of sorts. In other words, a jackknife accident or t-bone collision can turn into a cargo-related accident. Factors that can result in a cargo-related accident aside from driver error include improper loading. If the cargo is not properly loaded or secured, the chances of a cargo-related accident increase.

Contact Us Today

Determining the cause of a trucking accident is the hardest part of a personal injury case, yet it is critical. It determines the outcome, who should be held accountable, and how much you are entitled to recover. If you or a loved one is involved in a trucking accident, let our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm Philadelphia fight for you. We will explore every avenue available and get you the compensation you deserve.

During this time, The Cochran Firm Philadelphia is continuing to take our own precautionary measures amidst COVID-19, but do not fear – we are still here for you. We will review your case and proceed if we feel we can obtain a favorable outcome, while keeping the health and wellbeing of everyone a priority. We will ensure your case remains on track and keep you in the loop throughout the entire process. 

The injury attorneys at our Philadelphia office have secured numerous multimillion-dollar awards for victims of serious injury and many have even been recognized as Super Lawyers for their personal injury successes. 

When you are the victim of serious injury or illness, you deserve someone on your side who is both intimately familiar with state and federal laws, and fully devoted to helping you get maximum compensation. Call us today to schedule your FREE case evaluation at 1-800-THE-FIRM.