7 Common Types of Semi-Truck Accidents

When someone tells the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers that they were in a semi-truck accident, we can often guess how it happened. Certain types of truck accidents are all too common on California’s roads.

Most semi-truck accidents fall into one of the following seven categories. Of course, every accident is unique, so if you need insight into your specific situation, contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

Head-on Collisions with Semi Trucks

You’ll be lucky to survive a head-on collision with a semi-truck. These accidents are among the most catastrophic that can ever happen.

Big rigs weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds and can travel up to 65 miles per hour in California. Truckers are supposed to be some of the most skillful and careful drivers on the road, but they still cause plenty of accidents.

Head-on semi collisions usually occur when the truck driver is too drowsy, drunk, drugged, or distracted to control their vehicle. Suddenly, they swerve directly into oncoming traffic and create unavoidable crashes.

Rear-end Collisions with Semi-Trucks

It’s terrifying to be rear-ended by a semi-truck. You’re waiting at the end of a slow line of highway traffic or sitting at a stoplight and BAM! A truck smashes into you from behind.

Truckers heighten the danger of rear-end collisions when they have a habit of following too closely behind other vehicles. With too little space to stop, any interruption in the flow of traffic can set off a rear-end collision.

Under California law, all drivers are supposed to maintain three seconds of space between themselves and other vehicles. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cautions that it takes a fully loaded semi-truck almost two football fields of space to come to a complete stop — which is at least five to six seconds of driving time.

Semi-Truck Jackknife Collisions

A semi-truck’s body design lends itself to jackknife collisions. A pivoting hinge point located between the cab and the trailer allows it to make smooth turns, but this pivot point is also a weakness in traffic collisions. 

Imagine a highway collision where a semi-truck approaching stopped traffic brakes too late and starts to skid. As the trucker swerves to avoid hitting cars, its momentum makes its trailer swing around in a powerful 90-degree slide toward the cab. 

The result is a folded-up semi-truck position commonly called a jackknife. In a steep jackknife accident, the trucker’s cab is looking almost directly back into its trailer.

Jackknife collisions trigger immense impacts, crushing vehicles and causing injuries and deaths. Plus, they create enormous blockages that close highways for hours as emergency workers try to help injured people and clear the scene.

Blind Spot Semi-Truck Collisions

Have you ever noticed one of those signs on the back of a semi-truck that says, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”? That’s because semis have huge blind spots.

The sheer size of a big rig creates large blind spots around the sides and rear of the vehicle. If you’re driving a small car near a truck on a multi-lane road, you’re probably invisible to the truck driver.

Of course, on a busy California highway, you’ll enter a trucker’s blind spot at some point. Try to escape these dangerous zones as quickly and safely as possible.

Semi-Truck Rollover Accidents

Rollovers are considered the most dangerous and deadly accidents for truck drivers. In a rollover, the truck goes into a sideways barrel roll, potentially crushing the driver and anyone else in the truck’s path of destruction.

These accidents commonly happen when truck drivers lose control due to speeding and abrupt turns. Top-heavy and overloaded cargo trailers can also be hidden culprits in these accidents. Awkward, wobbly loads are accidents waiting to happen.

In a worst-case rollover scenario, a semi-trailer suddenly loses its entire load, and it lands directly on another vehicle. Not only will the trucker fly into a deadly rollover crash, but the other vehicle’s driver is also at immediate risk of a deadly impact.

Semi-Truck Underride Accidents

Semi-truck underride accidents involve severe crushing and shearing impacts where a truck and car become wedged together. In a typical underride accident, a vehicle rear-ends a semi, slides underneath it, and becomes lodged under the trailer’s body. Both vehicles may swerve and spin wildly.

In some cases, it takes a little time before the trucker realizes what’s happening and comes to a stop. Meanwhile, the other driver suffers severe and life-threatening injuries.

Semi-Truck Blowouts and Mechanical Failures

Finally, we’d like to touch on the issue of truck equipment and mechanical failures that lead to dangerous California accidents. Tire blowouts are some of the most common causes of truck breakdowns and chain-reaction traffic collisions.

Head-on and rear-end collisions can also occur due to truck mechanical failures. For example, a semi-truck navigating along a winding California canyon road could experience a brake failure and careen into oncoming traffic.

It’s frustrating that many of these accidents could be avoided through proper routine truck maintenance. After a crash due to equipment failure, the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers requests trucking maintenance records that show whether the trucking company has been doing its duty to keep safe trucks on the roads.

Struggling After a Semi-Truck Accident? We Can Help!

An accident with a semi-truck is extremely traumatic. In the hours after the accident, there’s so much stressful interaction with EMTs, police, doctors, car mechanics, insurance companies … It’s so overwhelming.

We’ll ease your stress and alleviate your legal woes after a semi-truck accident. When you hire us, you can rest assured that you have our sympathy as well as our legal expertise!

We Handle Your Accident Claim so You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of personal injury claims, including semi-truck accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. 

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

Accident Client

I worked with Sally and her team a few years back when I had an accident on the 405. They are INCREDIBLY responsive, professional, and great to work with. Getting into an accident can be a physically and emotionally painful experience. SO thankful for people like Sally who care so much about their clients.

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We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible