Driving down the road, your focus usually remains toward the front of your vehicle. You must face the road to steer your vehicle and keep up with any traffic coming toward you.
Sometimes, however, you may need to look toward the side or rear of your vehicle, particularly when changing lanes, backing up, or making a complicated turn. You want to make sure that you have a clear view of everything around you before you try to execute that maneuver. Unfortunately, blind spots can make that incredibly difficult.
Vehicle Sizes and Blind Spots
The size of a vehicle can have a substantial impact on the size of its blind spot. Small passenger vehicles, for example, may have relatively small blind spots, overall. For the most part, they can see other passenger vehicles around them, though they may have trouble locating a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian that pulls into a blind spot and hovers there.
Larger passenger vehicles, on the other hand, have significant blind spots large enough for them to lose the presence of a smaller passenger vehicle. SUVs, vans, and larger personal trucks may have enough room in their blind spots for a small car to go completely unnoticed, especially if the driver hovers in that area for a long time.
Big trucks have perhaps the largest and most dangerous blind spots. Big truck drivers have massive blind spots down both sides of their vehicle and at the front and in the rear. In short, if a passenger vehicle gets too close to a big truck, the possibility exists that the driver will never notice its presence. Monitoring those blind spots can take substantial dedication and determination.
Most truck drivers pay careful attention to the road around them. On modern vehicles, truck drivers may even have cameras or alert systems installed that will notify them of vehicles in their blind spots, especially if they try to shift lanes at any point while someone else remains in the next lane. Warning indicators can also let truck drivers know if, for example, a pedestrian has walked too close in front of the truck, where the driver cannot see him.
Types of Blind Spot Accidents
Blind spot accidents most often occur because a smaller vehicle has slipped into a larger vehicle’s blind spot. Most often, the driver who loses track of the smaller vehicle fails to see the traffic around him. The driver who moves out of his current lane, causing a blind spot accident, most often bears liability for the accident.
In a sideswipe collision, one vehicle moves out of its lane and swipes the vehicle in the adjacent lane. Most often, sideswipe collisions result in substantial damage to the vehicle on the side where the accident occurred. In some minor cases, a sideswipe collision might just take out the side mirror of the victim’s vehicle. In other cases, however, sideswipe collisions can put the liable driver’s vehicle right in the victim’s door, or even push the victim out of his own lane of traffic, resulting in severe damage to all vehicles around him.
Sideswipe collisions occur frequently when merging since many drivers have their eyes focused on the traffic ahead and have little opportunity to look at the other vehicles around them. They may also occur when changing lanes: a difficult maneuver that requires awareness of everything around the vehicle. Aggressive driving, especially aggressive driving that expects other drivers to pay attention and move out of the way, has a much higher risk of resulting in a sideswipe collision while changing lanes.
Right Turn Accidents
Big trucks need a great deal of space to navigate turns, especially right turns. They may signal well in advance of the turn and even navigate a little left to help avoid potential accidents. Unfortunately, not all drivers exercise the care they need to avoid accidents. They may drive up on top of the big truck, where the driver cannot see them.
As the driver moves through the turn, the truck may strike the vehicle sitting in that blind spot, where the driver cannot see it. Many truck drivers clearly post right turn warnings on their trucks, directing other drivers to stay back when they signal that they need to complete a right turn. Frequently, however, drivers fail to take those necessary precautions.
Because of the immense size of big trucks, they may experience rear-end collisions as a driver speeds up behind them, into their blind spots. Big trucks may not recognize the presence of that driver, so they may not have a chance to prevent accidents, which may result in severe injuries. With large, lifted trucks, the rear vehicle may actually slide up under the back of the truck, shearing off the top of the vehicle. These accidents can cause severe injury or even death.
In a head-on collision, the driver strikes something directly to the front of the vehicle. Most smaller passenger vehicles do not have blind spots in these areas. However, big trucks have large blind spots that cover the front of the vehicle, where the driver cannot look directly over the vehicle and see everything in front of him. Pedestrians, cyclists, and even motorcyclists can all fit into that blind spot without the driver ever recognizing their presence, which may result in severe injuries. On tight streets with heavy pedestrian traffic, pedestrians must remain constantly aware of big trucks and never inadvertently step in front of one. Since big trucks have such mass, they can severely injure people even in low-speed collisions.
Collisions While Reversing
Most drivers do not have the same visibility when looking out the rear window of their vehicles that they have when pulling forward. The rear window sits further away and may have a smaller profile than the front window. Anyone hauling cargo or a trailer may have relatively limited visibility behind the vehicle at all.
Drivers may have several reasons to put their vehicles in reverse. They may need to back up to adjust the vehicle’s position, especially if they need to pull up to a loading dock or other highly specific location. They may need to get the vehicle into a tight parking space. They may simply need to back out of a tight parking space. While most drivers exercise caution while in reverse, many may not realize the full size of that blind spot to the vehicle’s rear. If a smaller vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist sits behind the vehicle for too long, the driver may not see it and cause serious injuries while reversing.
Sometimes, vehicles may cut directly from a truck’s blind spot to the area in front of the truck. This fast maneuver can cause serious injury in a T-bone collision, when the big truck strikes directly in the side of the damaged vehicle. In these rare cases, the reckless driver may bear liability for the accident, since he pulled over in front of the truck.
Who Bears Liability for Blind Spot Collisions?
Most of the time, the driver who commits an error that results in a blind spot collision, generally the driver who has another vehicle drift into his blind spot without noticing the presence of that driver, will bear liability for the blind spot collision. Drivers bear a strong duty of care to others they share the road with, and they must exercise care and caution to ensure that they do not inadvertently cause an accident by changing lanes on top of another driver or completing a turn directly into that driver. Regardless of who bears liability for the accident, blind-spot collisions can cause severe injuries, so drivers should always exercise caution when moving through blind spots.
What to Do After a Blind Spot Collision
Despite your best efforts, you ended up in another driver’s blind spot. You may even have attempted to signal the driver that they had tried to change on top of you, but received no response.
Step One: Always report the accident to the police.
The driver that hits you may not want to report the accident to the police. (This is often especially true if that driver suffers no damage to his vehicle.) Reporting an accident means points on the liable driver’s record and potential fines, especially if the accident occurred at a high rate of speed or the driver failed to check his blind spot because of distraction, fatigue, or inebriation.
Failure to report the accident to the police, however, can result in even more serious consequences. If you do not report the accident, you may not have adequate evidence to file a personal injury claim against the driver, which may make it very difficult for you to get the compensation you deserve for injuries sustained in the accident.
Step Two: Take photos of the accident scene, if you can safely move around it.
Some states may require you to move damaged but drivable vehicles away from the immediate scene of the accident and get them out of the flow of traffic. If you can safely get out of your vehicle and take photos of the accident, however, you may want to snap a few quick pictures before either vehicle moves out of that initial position.
Those photos may include:
- Photos of the positions of the vehicles
- Photos of the liable driver’s license plate
- Photos of the damage to the vehicles
Once you pull off to a safe location you can also get a photo of the liable driver’s license and insurance information, since those photos will help you keep all information and evidence related to the accident in one easy-to-access location.
Step Three: Seek medical attention for your injuries.
If anyone suffers serious injuries in the accident, a call to 911 will summon medical assistance and the police. However, sometimes, after a blind spot accident, you may not realize that you sustained serious injuries immediately. You may, for example, think that you simply feel disoriented from the adrenaline and fear from the accident. Later, you may discover that you suffered a traumatic brain injury in the collision or might have broken bones that you failed to recognize because you did not feel pain at the time of the accident.
Go to the hospital or an urgent care center. Allow a doctor to evaluate any potential injuries and recommend a course of treatment, even if you do not think that you suffered any severe injuries in the accident. Without prompt medical attention, you may inadvertently worsen your injuries. Worse, you may struggle to prove that those injuries occurred at the time of the accident, which can make it difficult for you to seek compensation through a personal injury claim later.
Step Four: Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Anytime you suffer serious injuries in an accident, you should contact an attorney to learn more about your right to compensation. An attorney can give you more information about your rights after a blind spot accident, from the compensation you should expect for your injuries to the process for filing a personal injury claim.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a blind spot collision? An experienced truck accident attorney can help you learn more about your right to compensation. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible.