Big Rigs like semi-trucks, tankers and large box vans are essential to our nation’s economy. Packages get picked and delivered and trucks back up to business to load and unload their goods. All this has them traveling the streets of Louisville on a daily basis.
As needed as they are, they also create increased risks for cyclists as they ride around the city. A typical large commercial truck can outweigh a cyclist by as much as 400 times, so even a small bump can dislodge a rider from the bike and send them to the pavement.
Large Trucks and Cyclist Fatalities
According to a report from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, around, 4,000 people die each year across the U.S., in large truck accidents 16 percent, or roughly 650, were cyclists and pedestrians, and Louisville gets its fair share of those. A good question is, how do these accidents happen?
In the trucking industry, blind spots are often called “no zones” and if those zones are checked, then the driver shouldn’t “go” until it’s safe. The bigger the truck, the bigger the zones and the more difficult this is to do.
Cyclists sometimes think that with all those mirrors, the driver is bound to see them. However, not all mirrors can be viewed at once as the driver has to move around to check all of its blind spots. The rule of thumb is, “if you can’t see the eyes of driver, he can’t see you.”
The Right Hook
One of the dangers of blind spots is that they contribute to a devastating type of accident that cause injury to many cyclists. It’s the right hook, and it’s as bad as it sounds. This happens when a vehicle takes a right-hand turn in front of a bike not giving the rider time to react. When the vehicle is a big rig truck, the results can be serious and even fatal.
The most common scenario for a right hook is when a large truck has a cyclist on its left and then makes a right-hand turn into the path of the unseen cyclist. Many times, the cyclist is unable to react and gets hit by the truck.
In another less common but more deadly scenario, a semi-truck or tractor trailer is making a right-hand turn at an intersection and swings out to the left so its back wheels will clear the curb. Then it turns suddenly to the right and hits a cyclist who moved up thinking the truck was going to go left, not right. Many times, the result of this right hook is deadly as the back tires roll over the cyclist.
Commercial Big Rig Liability
Truck drivers are either employees or independent contractors, and for each, there are insurance requirements set by both federal and state laws. Federal law requires big commercial trucks to have a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage to cover any accident damages.
When that driver is an independent contractor, he or she can’t operate without that insurance. If the driver is an employee, then the company’s insurance will pay for all damages. Most companies carry a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage.
What Should I do if I get hit by a Large Truck?
Large truck and bicycle accidents can be severe, and if you are injured by one, you should talk to an attorney who knows the laws of trucking, cycling and insurance. At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, the attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in all of these areas, and the firm offers a free consultation so you can make an informed decision.
Even if you don’t hire the attorney, you owe it to yourself to talk to a Louisville Bicycle Accident Attorney that knows insurance law and can evaluate your specific case.