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What To Do After A Tractor-Trailer Accident?

What Do I Need To Know About Large Truck Accidents?

Big Trucks: Tractor Trailer,

Semi-Truck and 18 Wheeler Accident

Bilingual Spanish Attorney

I am Bay Area serious personal injury and wrongful death attorney Renée Yvonne Gardner.

I am the founder, owner and the attorney at Gardner Law.

When it comes to a crash with a big truck, regular cars (and their occupants) will endure most of the damage. We see big trucks all the time, on the freeways and the regular roads. What you might not know is that you sometimes share the road with big truck drivers who have not slept well and have worked too much.

It's never a good idea to represent yourself in a big truck case. The insurance company will prepare from day one to fight the case and hold on to their money. I can provide the represenatin that you need in your big truck case, so you can focus on healing. I can negotiate for my client and take the case to court if that becomes necessary.

When it comes to big truck accidents, the trucking company will pounce on the case to get ready to fight it. I am here to help people who get injured by big rig accidents. The trucking company insurance is not your friend; they're looking out for the trucking company. Let me look out for you.

Here's some information that I hope will be helpful.

Are Semi-Trucks Important To Our Way Of Life?

A whopping 70% of all goods in the U.S. are delivered by semi-truck. 1 The drivers of these large trucks perform a very important job, which we may not fully appreciate.

But, when their trucks cause an accident, serious personal injury and death can be the consequence. 

What Is A Large Truck?

The NTSA defines a large truck as any medium or heavy truck (but not buses and motor homes) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds, including commercial and non-commercial vehicles. Seventy-nine percent of the large trucks involved in 2017 fatal traffic crashes were heavy large trucks - - GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds. 2

What are some types of large trucks?

  • 18-wheelers (big rigs)
  • Box trucks
  • Cargo trucks
  • Concrete trucks
  • Dump trucks
  • Fuel trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Moving trucks
  • Sweeper trucks
  • Tow trucks

Are Big Rig Accidents On The Rise?

In January 2019, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2017 Traffic Safety Facts. It reported that fatalities involving large trucks had increased for the fourth consecutive year. 3

 What Kinds Of Injuries Do 18 Wheelers Cause?

Aren't Tractor Trailer Accidents Just Like Any Other Car Accident?

No. Semi-truck accidents are more likely to cause very serious injuries and death, versus other car accidents.

Some Bay Area personal injury attorneys may think that these accidents are just another type of car accident.

They may believe that the only difference is that semi-truck accidents victims suffer more significant injuries.

This misunderstanding may result in a serious personal injury semi-truck victim receiving less than the actual value of their case.

Are Large Truck Accidents More Deadly Than Car Accidents?

Yes! Large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multiple vehicle crashes, as opposed to fatal single-vehicle crashes than were passenger vehicles. 4

82% of fatal crashes involving large trucks are multiple-vehicle crashes, compared with 62% for fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles. 5

Can Big Rigs Set Off Deadly Chain Reactions?

Accidents with big rigs can cause violent and deadly pile-ups. All it takes is for one of them to slam into the back of one car. That will set off a chain reaction involving two or more vehicles.

Sometimes, the big rig driver will continue barreling down the freeway, leaving death and destruction in their path.

What Happens When An 18 Wheeler Tips Over?

Sometimes, oversized big rigs tip over, becoming a virtual roadblock. This can cause all lanes of travel to be blocked, like what happens on Highway 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz.

These jack-knifed big rigs can initiate the domino effect of multiple cars crashing into each other. This is because the entire roadway is blocked, there's nowhere to pull over, and the cars can't stop in time.

How Does The Weather Impact Big Rig Accidents?

Weather impacts big rig accidents very negatively.

A few months ago, several people were killed when ten vehicles collided on Highway 99 when it was shrouded in a thick fog on an early Saturday morning.

Read my blog about that Highway 99 wrongful death pileup.

That crash involved at least five big rigs and several other vehicles, which shut down a stretch of highway in Butte County.

What Are The Human Error Causes Of Big Rig Accidents?

The number one cause of 18 wheel truck accidents is driver fatigue. Here are some other human error reasons for big rig accidents:

  • Debris in the road
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs (amphetamines, cocaine)
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Excessive speed
  • Failure to account for blind spots
  • Improper cargo loading (raises the risk of a tip over)
  • Inadequate safety inspections
  • Pressure by the company for whom they work to get to their destination quickly
  • Speeding
  • Tire failure
  • Unfamiliarity with the road
  • Unsecured cargo
  • Violations of hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

What Are The Mechanical Reasons For 18 Wheeler Wccidents?

Some mechanical reasons for big rig accidents include:

  • Failing to maintain the truck.
  • Examples, failing to properly maintain brakes, mechanical parts and tires.

What Do I Need To Do After A Big Truck Accident?


Stay at the accident scene, even if the other party fled. Most car insurance policies require a police report in order to file an uninsured motorist claim, which is the type of claim likely filed if the other person fled.

2.   CALL 911

Call 911 and wait for the police to arrive so they can prepare a police report. Unless an ambulance arrives to bring you to the ER, do not leave the scene until the police get there and take a report.


After calling 911, do all of the below that you can safely, and reasonably, do. Move to a safe place, out of the way of traffic, if it is safe to do so.

Do not interfere with the police investigation nor do anything that puts the safety of you and/or others at risk.


Exchange your “information” with the other party, unless you are rendered unable to do so. [1] 

“Information” means your name, current home address, driver's license number, VIN, current home address of the registered owner, and proof of insurance.


Get the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver's license numbers from all witnesses, but remember to not interfere with the police investigation.

Someone from the trucking company or their insurance company may show up at the accident scene - but you should NOT talk to them!

Anyone who represents the trucking company is not looking out for you. They are looking after number one - the trucking company.


Ask to see the other party's driver's license(s) and vehicle registration(s) and ask them if you can take cell phone photos of these items. 


Take the pictures of the other party/parties if it's safe to do so. When it comes to big truck accident scenes, things can get chaotic, so only take pictures if it's safe to do so.


Take pictures of the accident scene. Capture the nearby street signs if they are visible to you, as well as the traffic controls and visual obstacles, if any.


Take pictures of the big truck, the other cars, including their license plates.

When it comes to the big truck, try to also take a picture of the back of the truck, and a picture of the driver's side door. 


Take pictures of the witnesses, including passengers (if any) in the big truck and the other involved cars. 


If your injuries are visible right now, photograph them carefully and take a head to toe photo, not just your injured area(s).


Send all the above to yourself through regular email (not by saving them to social media).


When the police arrive, tell them what you know happened. But, do not guess! Only tell them what you really do know. If you hit your head, or lost consciousness, be sure to tell the police. If the police don't offer it to you, get the police report number from the officer by having them write it on his or her card.


Seek immediate medical attention at your local emergency room. Some injuries may not be apparent to you, but a doctor can detect them.

Do I Need An Attorney For My Big Truck Accident Case?

Yes. You always need an attorney for a big truck case. These are not cases where you can represent yourself.

My name is Renée Yvonne Gardner. I am the attorney at Gardner Law. I speak Spanish - hablo español.

I will hold these people and companies accountable for your big truck accident losses:

  • big rig driver
  • the owner of the big truck
  • the company for whom the load was being transported
  • the insurance company
  • all other responsible parties.

Please call me at  (408) 214-5555 or contact me before you speak to any trucking company representatives, investigators or their insurance company.

Remember: They want to defeat your claim. I want to maximize your claim.

Where does Gardner Law handle big truck accidents?

I handle big rig accidents throughout California in these 12 California Counties.

If you hire me, I will work on your behalf and fight for maximum payment on your big truck case.

Protect your rights - - talk to an attorney before you do anything besides: call 911 and seek medical care.

I am a tractor-trailer big truck personal injury accident attorney. I have experience with personal injury and wrongful death accident

If were hit by a big truck, contact me at (408) 214-5555 or here: message me here for a free consultation.

If your loved one passed away after an accident with a big truck, please call me about your wrongful death case.

Call Renée Today

I deliver personalized representation in serious personal Injury, wrongful death, death benefits, criminal defense, and post-conviction relief ("cleaning") cases. Please call (408) 214-5555 or fill out my contact form.