Were you injured in a wide-turn truck accident in Wisconsin? Dealing with the aftermath can be stressful and confusing, and you shouldn’t face it alone.
Schwaba Law Firm is dedicated to standing up for the rights of truck accident victims. Andrew Schwaba has extensive experience handling truck accident cases, with a book of business that includes recovering millions of dollars for clients.
Let Andrew handle the legal details of your case so that you can focus on healing from your injuries. Contact Schwaba Law Firm for a free consultation today with a Wisconsin wide-turn truck accident lawyer.
What Is a Wide Turn Truck Accident?
A wide-turn truck accident happens when a commercial truck driver takes a turn too widely and collides with another vehicle, person, or object. These accidents most commonly happen when trucks turn right, but they can also occur with left turns.
Wide-turn accidents can be hazardous due to the large size and weight of commercial trucks compared to other vehicles and road users. These situations have a high potential for significant damage, injury, and even death.
Truck drivers are trained to use specific techniques to make safe wide turns, but accidents can still occur due to driver error, inadequate training, and general negligence.
Why Do Trucks Need to Make Wide Turns?
Trucks must make wide turns for various reasons, particularly tractor-trailers, combination trailers, and other big rigs. The following are the main reasons they need to make these turns:
- Vehicle Length – Trucks are significantly longer than most other vehicles. Their length makes it physically impossible for them to turn sharply as smaller vehicles can, as the turning radius for a tractor-trailer is more extensive. If a trucker attempts a sharp turn, the rear ends of their trailers can strike things like street signs, cars, or people.
- Pivot Points – Semi-trucks have pivot points where their tractors and trailers meet. This means trailers track slightly different paths than their tractors and turn more tightly, a phenomenon known as off-tracking. Drivers in a semi-truck must adjust for this by making wider turns.
- Limited Visibility – Truck drivers have limited visibility on their right sides due to expansive blind spots. When drivers make right-hand turns, they sometimes have to swing out to the left first to see other vehicles, pedestrians, or objects that might be in the way.
- Stability – Large trucks have high centers of gravity, leading to rollovers if drivers take turns too sharply or quickly. Drivers take wide turns to maintain the stability of their vehicles.
What Are the CDL Turning Rules?
The following turning rules from the Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Manual emphasize safety and taking appropriate measures to prevent accidents, given the size and handling characteristics of commercial trucks.
General Turning Rules
Drivers should use their mirrors to avoid hitting other road users or objects while turning. Drivers must also make turns as gently as possible and adjust braking to conditions. Hard braking or using an engine brake or speed retarder can cause skids on slippery surfaces. Drivers must downshift and slow down before turning through curves for stability.
Drivers should signal their intentions well before turning and keep the signals on until the turns are complete. They should also remember to turn off their signals once they have completed their turns.
Making Space for Turns
Wide turning and off-tracking in large vehicles can cause accidents. To prevent this, CDL drivers should turn slowly and keep the rear ends of their vehicles close to the curb to discourage other drivers from attempting to pass.
Making Right Turns
When truck drivers need to swing into other lanes to make right turns, they should turn wide to do so. However, they should not start right-hand turns by swerving too far to the left, as another road user might assume the CDL driver is preparing to turn left. Drivers must watch out for vehicles coming toward them if they need to cross into the oncoming lane to turn.
Making Left Turns
A CDL driver should reach the center of the intersection before starting a left turn to avoid hitting other vehicles due to off-tracking. After completing a left-hand turn, the CDL driver should move into the rightmost traffic lane as soon as it’s clear. CDL drivers should always take the rightmost turning lane if there are two or more turning lanes.
Large trucks must stay in their lanes when approaching roundabouts. For right turns, drivers should keep the tractor to the left of the double white lines and straddle the lines without crossing into the left lane. For left turns, the driver should keep the tractor to the far left side of the left lane and double white lines. For passing straight through, drivers should keep to the left while allowing their trailers to off-track onto truck aprons.
Turning to Avoid Accidents
Stopping isn’t always the safest action in an emergency. CDL drivers sometimes need to avoid obstacles when there isn’t enough room to stop. In such situations, drivers should grip the steering wheel firmly with both hands, avoid applying their brakes while turning, limit their turns as much as possible, and prepare to counter-steer.
Common Causes of Wide Turn Accidents
Wide-turn truck accidents can occur due to a variety of contributing factors. Here are some common examples:
- Inadequate driver training
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Driver error
- Failure to check blind spots
- Failure to use turn signals
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Mechanical failures
- Improperly loaded or overloaded cargo
- Failure to accommodate for off-tracking
- Truck drivers not respecting others’ turning space
- Aggressive driving or road rage
- Inadequate road signage or markings
- Lack of familiarity with roads or routes
- Driver inexperience
- Narrow or poorly-designed roadways
- Inadequate surveillance
- Failure to adjust to road conditions
Injuries Caused by Wide Turn Truck Accidents
Wide-turn truck accidents can result in severe injuries, especially due to the significant size and weight differences between commercial trucks and other vehicles. Possible wide-turn truck accident injuries could include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures or dislocations
- Internal injuries
- Scrapes and lacerations
- Burn injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic amputations
- Soft tissue injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Facial and dental injuries
- Emotional injuries
- Fatal injuries
Who Is Liable for a Wide-Turn Accident?
Determining liability in a wide-turn truck accident can be a complex process, as multiple parties are involved in the operation and maintenance of most commercial trucks. Parties that could be liable in a wide-turn truck accident case include the following:
- Truck Drivers – A driver could be liable if the accident was due to their negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
- Trucking Companies – A trucking company could be liable if it failed to train drivers properly, pressured drivers to break the rules, didn’t maintain vehicles properly, or hired unsuitable drivers.
- Cargo Loading Companies – If the accident was caused by improperly loaded or secured cargo, the company responsible for loading the truck could be liable.
- Truck Owners – If someone other than the driver or trucking company owns the truck, and the accident was due to a lack of maintenance or inspection, the owner could be accountable.
- Truck Manufacturers – A truck or parts manufacturer could be liable if the accident resulted from a defect in the truck’s design or manufacturing or the failure of a part.
- Maintenance Companies – If a separate entity was responsible for maintaining the truck and neglected its duties, it could be liable if a malfunction caused the accident.
- Other Road Users – In some cases, other road users might share liability if their actions contributed to the accident, such as trying to pass a truck unsafely as it is turning.
- Government Entities – A government entity responsible for road conditions could be liable if an accident results from bad road design, lack of proper signage, or poor road maintenance.
What Are Recoverable Damages or Compensation in a Wide Turn Truck Accident in Wisconsin?
If you get hurt in a wide-turn truck accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. Among the losses for which you could seek compensation include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Crash-related, out-of-pocket expenses
- Costs of accessibility modifications
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage
What Should I Do If I Was Injured in a Wide Right Turn Truck Accident?
After a wide-turn truck accident, you should take specific steps to protect your rights and potential recovery. Make sure that you do the following:
- Seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t feel hurt.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and rehabilitation.
- Keep a journal of your physical and emotional recovery following the accident.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident.
- Request a copy of the police report.
- Take photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and visible injuries.
- Gather witness contact information.
- Keep a record of your medical treatments and expenses.
- Keep track of lost time or reduced income from work.
- Save all receipts and documents related to the accident.
- Do not admit fault or provide statements to insurance adjusters without legal advice.
- Contact a Wisconsin personal injury attorney experienced in truck accident cases such as wide-turn collisions.
- Obtain estimates for property damage repairs.
- Avoid discussing the accident on social media.
- Consult your attorney before accepting any settlement offers.
Get in Touch with a Wisconsin Wide Turn Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a wide-turn truck accident, reach out to Andrew Schwaba today for a free initial consultation. You pay nothing unless Andrew recovers compensation for your injuries and losses.