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Perhaps the most common excuse proffered after a vehicle collision is that the at-fault driver “didn’t see the other vehicle.” While this excuse may be true, it does not justify a driver’s failure to check their blind spot before passing, turning, or merging into an active driving lane. Given the massive weight of 18-wheelers, they possess a greater potential for catastrophic damage than ordinary passenger vehicles. Blind spots accidents can lead to plaintiffs incurring large costs, ranging from property damage, medical expenses, lost income, and psychological pain and suffering.
If the negligence of a truck driver caused your accident or if you are dealing with an insurance company after being injured in a wreck with a truck driver, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced truck accident lawyers.
Where are a Truck’s Blind Spots?
Blind spots refer to the zones surrounding a vehicle that are not visible to the driver, in the neutral-forward facing position, or in the driver’s mirrors. Every vehicle has blind spots, and the size of a vehicle’s blind spots are correlated with their length. If you’re driving a Suburban, your blind spot is going to be larger than if you were driving a Prius, and the same principle applies to large commercial vehicles.
Large commercial vehicles, semi’s, and 18 wheelers have four areas surrounding the truck where other motorists or pedestrians may not be visible to the driver. These areas, or “blind spots,” can be found in front, behind, and on either side of the vehicle.
Front Blind Spot
The blind spot in the front of a large truck is perhaps the smallest of its four blind spots. Truck drivers generally cannot see the 20 feet immediately in front of the truck’s cab. This area is obstructed from the driver’s view by the engine and the hood of the truck. Some modern bus designs, which place the engine underneath the bus or in the rear of the bus, have done so in an attempt to further decrease the front blind spot in major urban areas. The key to avoiding accidents with trucks in their front blind spot is to not merge into their travel lane too early. Although you can see the truck, that does not mean that the truck driver can see you. Some drivers’ education manuals recommend that the passing vehicles do not merge in front of 18-wheelers until the truck’s headlights or the truck driver, themself, is visible in the driver’s rearview mirror.
Back Blind Spot
As with the front blind spot, the truck driver generally cannot see anything immediately behind their truck and trailer. A trucker’s blind spot can be as large as 30 feet directly behind the vehicle. Drivers should maintain at least three to four car lengths behind the semi/18-wheeler, in order for the truck driver to see you and to provide you with ample time and space to react to sudden braking.
Side Blind Spots
The side blind spots of commercial vehicles are the largest and most challenging of the four areas. The blind spot opposite the driver’s side (i.e. right side) will always be larger than the side closest to them (i.e. left side), but each side poses different challenges for the truck driver.
Checking the left-side blind spot of an ordinary passenger vehicle is generally considered more difficult than checking the right side because it requires drivers to look over their shoulder and through the narrow gap between their seat and the part of the frame of the vehicle, separating the driver’s door and the backseat’s door. In contrast, checking the left-side blind spot is easier for commercial vehicles than checking their right-side blind spot because the left side blind spot is smaller, the areas surrounding the blind spot are more visible in the truck’s rear-view mirrors, and it also has the benefit of being closer to the truck driver (thereby honking horns on the left-hand side of the truck are more audible than those on the right).
Large commercial vehicles do not have back seat windows and must instead rely on their mirrors and sensors alone. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends that vehicles passing on the right-hand side of 18-wheelers do so with extreme caution. They further recommend that passing vehicles do so as quickly as practicable to minimize their time in the blind spot.
Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by Blind Spots?
The fault for accidents involving vehicles’ blind spots depends on the scenario of the accident. Generally, every driver has a responsibility to check their mirrors and physically turn their heads to double-check their blind spots. Therefore, the fault for a blind spot accident most often falls on the driver who merged into another lane without checking that their corresponding blind spot was clear.
Plaintiffs injured in a trucking accident can usually hold both the truck driver and their employer responsible for the accident. Through the doctrine of respondeat superior, the law holds employers liable for accidents caused by their employees or their agents while performing their work. Given that truck drivers are performing their work while driving, plaintiffs injured on the road can generally impute the negligence of the truck driver to their employer, the trucking company, for the purposes of compensation.
When do these Accidents Happen?
Accidents in blind spots generally occur when a vehicle is alongside the other vehicle. Rearview mirrors were designed to monitor vehicles behind you while your eyes are focused on the vehicles in front of you. Rearview mirrors, unless they have an additional mirror or sensor targeted at the blind spot, cannot alert a driver to objects that are not in their field of view. Additionally, the blind spot can also vary from driver to driver, based on their height or the type of vehicle they are driving. In trucking accident cases, the most common maneuvers that result in blind spot collisions are from passing or turning.
Passing an 18-wheeler takes more time than a passenger vehicle and, depending on which side of the 18-wheeler the driver is passing, the blind spot could be larger. Passing an 18-wheeler on its right-hand side is more dangerous than passing on the left-hand side because the blind spot on the right is larger. Many drivers do not consider how a truck’s blind spot will change while they are marking a turn. Large commercial vehicles need to be given a wider berth when they make a turn as the driver needs to accommodate the pivoting trailer/freight. Further, the immense weight of a fully-loaded commercial vehicle requires the truck to turn at a much slower speed than normal passenger vehicles, for fear of the truck flipping over or the cargo shifting.
For these reasons, fellow motorists should be extremely cautious when they encounter a truck that is turning or when they wish to pass a truck on the highway. A safe rule of thumb for all drivers is that if you cannot see the truck driver, either directly or in the truck’s rearview mirrors, then the truck driver cannot see you. If you’re in a situation where you cannot see the truck driver, either slow down or speed up to minimize your time in their blind spots.
Read More: Improperly Loaded Semi Trucks
Our blind spot accident Lawyers MAY Help You After a Blind Spot Accident
At Zinda Law Group, our truck blind spot accident lawyers have helped many accident survivors and their families get their lives back on track after suffering injuries and financial losses. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for any associated medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and all the other costs the accident has caused.
Our firm believes that victims should not have to worry about their ability to afford high-quality legal representation. This is why we offer 100% free consultations. Zinda Law Group operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck driving accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our trucking accident attorneys.
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