Highway Trucking Crashes Resulting from Semi Trailer “Off-tracking”
It goes without saying that even under the best of circumstances, such as at low speeds on a lightly-traveled roadway, that being involved in a traffic accident with a large commercial motor vehicle (CMV) can be a frightening experience, if not a potentially dangerous one. Yet, here in the Baltimore area, as in other cities and towns throughout the state, many trucking-related road accidents are far from what anyone would term "minor incidents."
Even a close call with a large CMV can be an eye-opening experience for any motorist. These vehicles are a handful to operate even in the best situations, which makes driving next to one in heavy traffic -- especially at beltway or expressway speeds -- all the more unnerving for the average passenger car driver. If one is near a semi tractor-trailer, large box truck or fuel tanker when it experiences a sudden mechanical problem, even the most seasoned motorist can be caught off guard.
Similarly, even though commercial truck drivers are specially trained to operate these massive vehicles, situations can develop that may exceed the capabilities of even the best, most experienced trucker. Mixing a serious control-related issue while driving an 18-wheel tractor-trailer with Maryland's often heavy traffic volume and you can have a recipe for disaster. As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, has the training and skills to assist victims of commercial trucking accidents in recovering damages associated with bodily injury.
As drivers ourselves, there is much to be said about maintaining a healthy respect for -- and a safe distance from -- these massive motor vehicles. But not all drivers understand the inherent risk of being near a big rig 18-wheeler on the beltway or interstate. Not understanding the true destructive potential of these machines is an invitation to possible tragedy. Regardless of the type of truck -- be it an 18-wheeled moving van, car hauler, flatbed or gasoline tanker -- when an accident crops up, the occupants in any nearby cars have a very good chance of being sent to the hospital with severe bodily injuries.
While tailgating, abrupt lane-changing, speeding and driver distraction can all lead to a sudden crash between a large CMV and one or more other vehicles, there are some kinds of driving situations that aren't well-understood as potentially dangerous accident scenarios. In particular, the so-called trailer off-tracking is one such situation that can catch passenger car drivers unaware.
Off-Tracking is a condition that takes place when the wheels of the trailer of a typical semi tractor-trailer combination do not follow the same path as those of the tractor portion. This is a well-known phenomenon, which is most pronounced in tight, low-speed turns and can result in a collision with either oncoming vehicles or those traveling alongside the truck. In either case, truck drivers are required to avoid potential collisions with other cars, trucks, motorcycles and even pedestrians; however, despite being trained to avoid such instances, truck drivers can sometimes eschew safety in favor of expediency, which means that off-tracking-related accidents still happen quite frequently and can lead to injuries and death.
On the topic of off-tracking, the Commercial Driver License Manual explains that when a large truck navigates a corner, the rear wheels will typically follow a different path than the front wheels. Also referred to as "cheating," off-tracking is described as a potential cause of accidents with other vehicles and pedestrians. According to the CDL manual, wide turning and off-tracking can lead to a large truck hitting other vehicles or objects during turns.
In right-hand turns, the manual advises drivers to turn slowly and avoid making what is known as a "jug handle," which describes the act of briefly turning the vehicle left, into oncoming traffic in order to negotiate a tight right-hand turn. Truckers are also advised to keep the vehicle close to the curb, thus discouraging other drivers from trying to pass on the inside of the turn, which can result in a crash.
In left turns, off-tracking can cause problems as well; according to the CDL manual, in such instances it is advisable for truckers to drive into the center of an intersection before beginning the left turn. Turning too soon, it reminds, can cause the left side of the truck to hit another vehicle due to the effects of off-tracking. When there are two or more left-hand turn lanes at an intersection, the manual recommends that the driver choose the right-most lane to avoid a collision with another vehicle while making the turn.
The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have the legal background and litigation experience to help victims recover damages following severe trucking-related personal injury accidents. Because commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to maintain safe operation of their vehicles at all times, if an injury occurs due to negligent actions on the driver's part, the victim may have valid grounds for a personal injury claim.
There is no reason why the victim of any traffic accident caused by carelessness or negligence on the part of another individual should be expected to shoulder the burden of medical expenses by himself. If you or someone you love has been serious hurt in a tucking-related traffic collision, we recommend that you discuss your case with a qualified legal professional. Always choose a lawyer based on his or her abilities, and remember that personal injury cases stemming from a commercial vehicle are very different that those involving passenger cars alone.
Our legal staff believes that thorough preparation is the bedrock of a successful personal injury case or wrongful death claim. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we perform a systematic investigation of all the facts as we prepare each client's lawsuit. As experienced trial attorneys, our trucking accident experts will fight to ensure that past, present and future medical treatment, as well as rehabilitation costs and nursing expenses will be included in your injury claim. Feel free to contact us at our toll-free number -- (800) 654-1949 -- or email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation.