Traffic accidents can involve many types of vehicles that share our roads and highways. When a commercial truck driver causes an accident, it often results in severe or fatal injuries. The size and weight of a semi-truck make it a dangerous vehicle to collide with. If you drive a smaller vehicle and an 18-wheeler strikes you, you know you will sustain most of the impact, often leading to life-changing injuries and costly losses.
In this situation, things might seem hopeless, and you might feel alone in your struggles. However, always know that an experienced truck accident attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve when you have suffered a severe injury in a truck accident.
Truck accidents are more common than you think
The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that 4,842 large trucks were in fatal accidents in a recent year, causing the deaths of 4,965 people. This is a 33 percent increase from a decade ago, primarily due to the higher demand for trucks on the roads today.
Truck drivers traveled greater distances with the increased online shopping during the pandemic. The need for truck drivers to deliver cargo was so great that authorities even relaxed some of the hours-of-service regulations.
Even with pandemic restrictions lifted, the trends toward online shopping and more deliveries persist. We will likely continue to see more large trucks on the highways for years, and there is even a truck driver shortage due to high demands. Truck crashes are always a risk, and they happen more than you might imagine.
Causes of truck crashes
Many truck accidents happen due to driver negligence, including the following conduct.
Truck drivers have to travel for extended periods on the highways. As a result, truck drivers might perform dangerous maneuvers to get ahead of slower traffic, resulting in severe accidents. This aggressive driving includes cutting other drivers off and even tailgating behind another driver.
The long periods spent on the highways can also cause truck drivers to become tired. The hours-of-service regulations prohibit truck drivers from driving for more than 11 hours. Even before the DOT relaxed the hours-of-service regulations, truck drivers responsible for transporting cargo still violated those regulations.
A primary reason for many traffic accidents is speeding. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react safely to changes in traffic. Because truck drivers need additional time to brake, they intentionally put themselves and other drivers in danger when they speed.
Truck drivers who transport large amounts of cargo nationwide have specific regulations. There is a particular amount of cargo that a truck driver cannot transport for fear of a tire blowout or other mishaps. When a truck driver carries a large amount of cargo, it can cause the truck to roll over, or the driver might lose control of an off-balanced trailer. If the cargo becomes loose from the truck, it can lead to additional accidents on the road and strike other drivers.
Driving under the influence
Truck drivers may not consume drugs or alcohol before or while operating a commercial truck. Drunk driving can result in sever accidents as well. Still, truck drivers will use and abuse these substances to try and stay awake on the roads. In addition to prescription drugs and alcohol, truck drivers may abuse substances like caffeine and over-the-counter medications to stay alert. In reality, these substances make the truck driver even more tired.
Types of truck accidents
When truck drivers act recklessly, they can cause severe accidents on the highways.
Some common types of truck crashes include:
- Jackknife accidents. This type of accident happens when a truck driver brakes or makes an improper turn unexpectedly, causing the trailer to swing in a 90-degree direction. Jackknife accidents are dangerous because of the possibility of striking other vehicles in the process.
- Wide turn accidents. This type of accident happens when a truck driver is in the process of making a left or right turn. With left turns, truck drivers must prepare ahead of time to make this maneuver safely. Due to the size and weight of the truck, the truck driver has to swing the tractor-trailer in the opposite direction at the right time to avoid hitting other drivers in the next lane. However, some truck drivers take that risk and try to execute a left turn, knowing they do not have the proper space to do so.
- Blind spot accidents. A blind spot accident happens when a truck driver fails to notice the presence of another driver in the next lane and collides with the other vehicle. Blind spot accidents are common with truck drivers because the blind spots of a truck are larger than the average motor vehicle. Drivers still need to check blind spots before making lane changes, but they often fail to do so.
- Underride accidents. An underride accident happens when a truck stops abruptly, and the car following behind it continues to move and becomes stuck underneath the tractor-trailer. Underride accidents are usually fatal because they can rip the top off of the bottom vehicle, instantly decapitating its passengers those in the vehicle.
Catastrophic injuries due to truck accidents
Because of the size and weight of the commercial truck, truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. These catastrophic injuries involve back injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, bone fractures, crushed limbs, and nerve damage. When you suffer a catastrophic injury, you must come to terms with the fact that you will have to live with that injury for the rest of your life. The chances of you recovering from your catastrophic injury are small, and the losses can be overwhelming.
Compensation available for truck accident injuries
When you suffer severe injuries from a truck accident, your medical expenses can become quite costly. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may have to account for services like emergency room treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, pain medications, and medical devices. Because these medical services can rack up over time, you deserve compensation for the effects of your catastrophic injuries in the past and future.
Liability in truck accidents
When you decide to file a claim for your truck accident, you must determine whether you are capable of proving the truck driver's liability. The better you can prove that the truck driver's negligence caused your accident, the greater your chances of receiving the compensation you request.
To prove a truck driver’s negligence, you must prove:
- Duty of care. This element must show that the truck driver owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of duty. This element must prove that the truck driver’s actions violated their duty of care towards you.
- Causation. This element must prove that the truck driver’s breach of duty caused you to experience damages.
- Damages. This element must display the damages caused by the truck driver’s negligent actions. Your catastrophic injuries can be an example of the damages you’ve suffered.
In addition to the truck driver, there are other liable parties you can sue for your injuries. Depending on the nature of your truck accident, you can also file a claim against the trucking company or a truck manufacturer. Trucking companies are legally responsible for the actions of their drivers, even when drivers act recklessly on their own accord. Trucking companies can also practice negligence that can contribute to a truck accident.
Truck drivers can ignore federal regulations, but trucking companies can ignore federal regulations to meet strict deadlines.
Truck manufacturers can also be found liable for your accident. If your truck accident occurs due to a defective part, you can sue the manufacturer for creating a defective product. In some cases, you can also hold the cargo loaders liable for your injuries if their negligence contributed to your accident.
Complex truck accident claims
With a truck accident claim, you will have to pursue compensation from the truck driver or trucking company’s insurance company. Depending on the route that you take with your claim, you have a chance to seek full damages that you deserve from the liable parties. In some cases, the insurance company may offer you a settlement to resolve your claim, but you need to ensure it is the full amount you need to cover your losses. If you and the insurance company cannot agree to seek compensation, your claim can proceed to litigation.
Low settlement offers
While there is nothing wrong with accepting a settlement, sometimes settlement offers are not in your best interest. Because insurance companies know that truck accident victims want to resolve the claim process as soon as possible, they will lowball victims and offer a settlement that is too small even to cover a truck accident victim’s medical bills for a year.
Unfortunately, truck accident victims may not understand their legal rights. They may not know that they do not have to accept the insurance company’s initial offer and have the right to negotiate for a larger settlement. This is one of many reasons why you need a truck accident lawyer’s help for your claim.
What a truck accident lawyer can do for you
One of the ways that you can increase your chances of success in your claim is by seeking the help of a truck accident lawyer right away. After being involved in a truck accident, your injuries require you to take all your time and energy to focus on healing.
Even if you want to pursue legal action against the truck driver or trucking company, you may not know where to start. Insurance adjusters may take advantage of you while recovering and ask questions they can use against you later. A truck accident lawyer can help you avoid these issues and lead the claims process.
After consulting with you, an experienced truck accident lawyer can file your claim. Having a truck accident lawyer file legal paperwork for you ensures that you will meet all deadlines and requirements. One of the most common reasons truck accident claims fail is that the victims missed the statute of limitations and filed their claim when it was too late. A truck accident lawyer can ensure they file your claim promptly and keep up with all necessary paperwork for your claim.
Evaluating your claim
Another way a truck accident lawyer can help is by evaluating the damages in your truck accident claim. The severity of your injuries and the amount of damages you sustain can increase the compensation you deserve. An experienced truck accident lawyer can calculate the costs of your damages and give an accurate picture of what you should pursue from the insurance company.
Truck accident lawyers can also help your claim by negotiating on your behalf with insurance companies. Insurance companies feel confident enough to try specific tactics against truck accident victims when they are by themselves. When lawyers represent them, insurance companies know those tactics will not be as effective. Truck accident lawyers have the proper negotiation skills you need. Truck accident lawyers can also gather the appropriate evidence to prove the truck driver's negligence, leading to negotiating power for a more significant settlement.
Truck accident lawyers can also provide top-notch representation if your claim proceeds to litigation. Although most truck accident claims result in a settlement, some insurance companies will remain headstrong and refuse to agree. When that happens, you have the option of taking your claim to trial.
When your claim proceeds to trial, the truck accident lawyer working on your claim so far can continue to serve your best interests and represent you during the litigation process. Having a lawyer on your side strengthens your position with the insurance company due to the threat of litigation.
Call a truck accident lawyer today
When you have suffered injuries in a truck accident, allow a truck accident lawyer to help. The right truck accident lawyer can lead your claim process while you and your family focus on the healing you need. There is no downside to seeking legal help with your case.