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A semi-truck smashed into a car driven by a 72-year-old woman at the intersection of Dufort Road and U.S. 95 on Friday afternoon, January 4, 2019. According to the Idaho State Police, the woman was apparently taking a left turn when the semi-truck crashed into her car, and she died at the scene. It’s not clear whether the woman or the semi had the right-of-way as the accident is still under investigation.

Semi-Trucks and Cars

A fully loaded semi-truck with a trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds while the average weight of a sedan is around 4,000 pounds. This difference in weight and the speed and momentum of the semi-truck can cause tremendous damage to the car and serious injury to its occupants.

Though we don’t know what happened in the above-described crash, if a car is in the path of a semi-truck, it has a much-reduced ability to stop or avoid an accident than does a smaller vehicle like a sedan or a minivan.

Even In optimal road conditions, the stopping ability of a fully loaded truck is much lower that a car’s. An 80,000 pound truck going 40 miles per hour will take almost 200 feet to stop while a car can stop in 124 feet. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there are three factors that determine stopping distance of a vehicle. They are:

  • Perception Distance– The distance a vehicle travels while a driver is identifying, predicting and deciding to slow down for a hazard.
  • Reaction Time– The time it takes for a driver to execute a decision once a danger is recognized. The distance your vehicle travels while you react is called a reaction distance.
  • Braking Distance– The distance a vehicle travels from the time a driver begins pressing on the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a stop.

Simply put, even if the perception distance and reaction time are the same, the ability of a semi-truck to come to a stop is far greater and thus there is less of a chance that the truck driver can avoid an accident.

What to do if You’re Hit by a Semi-Truck

As in all types of crashes, the best thing to do right after a crash is to not move. According to the American Auto Association, the safest place to be immediately after a crash is in the vehicle with your seatbelt on. Why? Because there is always a chance of a secondary impact.

Oncoming cars might not be able to stop in time, and secondary crashes are common especially on freeways and urban highway where cars are typically traveling at greater speeds. So unless there is an overriding reason such as a car fire, it’s best to stay strapped into your seat until you are told by the authorities it’s safe to come out.

The next thing to do, once you are safe and are able to do so, is to get information at the scene. Take pictures—most people have a camera with their phone—and get information from the driver or owner of the truck. Don’t assume that the police and traffic investigation team will get the information. There are several reasons why this might not happen. This information can be vital later especially if the insurance company tries to shift blame.

Do I need an Attorney?

You need to at least talk to an attorney that knows the laws regarding commercial trucking and personal injury and can advise you and evaluate your case.  Then if you feel you can go it on your own, then at least you will be informed. If you deice on getting representation, choosing the right attorney is vital to your chances of getting fair compensation. Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., serve clients in Spokane, WA, Coeur d’Alene, ID, and surrounding communities. They can go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and their lawyers to get you fair compensation for your injuries. Call them at (509) 926 4900, or send them a message by clicking here.

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