When truck drivers and trucking companies commit negligent actions and inactions, serious collisions may result. Moreover, when drivers and passengers sustain injuries in truck accidents, they may need to go to the hospital, undergo continuous medical treatment, and attend physical therapy sessions. They may also need to miss time from work and endure pain, suffering, and other symptoms that affect their lives.
If you suffered injuries in a truck crash resulting from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you have legal options. In addition to calling 9-1-1 from the accident scene, speaking with a police officer, and obtaining same-day medical treatment, you should talk with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can discuss the accident circumstances with you, along with your legal options, and help you develop a plan for recovering fair monetary compensation in your case. Your lawyer will be by your side every step and help you pursue the highest compensation available for your lost earnings, pain, suffering, inconvenience, and mental distress.
Truck Accident Injuries
When a sizable big rig, tractor-trailer, or 18-wheeler strikes a much smaller vehicle, the driver and passengers in the smaller vehicle usually suffer more severe injuries. The injuries that a truck accident victim suffers depend upon the force of the collision and how their body moves in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Sometimes, the wreck is so forceful that it causes a part of the accident victim’s body to hit something in their vehicle, like the steering wheel, headrest, door frame, or dashboard, resulting in serious injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that truck crash victims suffer include cuts, abrasions, bruises, soft tissue contusions, fractures, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, and full or partial paralysis. Correcting these injuries often requires extensive medical treatment and procedures including surgeries.
Types of Truck Crashes
If a truck driver or trucking company is negligent, they may cause several types of accidents, depending upon the circumstances involved.
Some of the most common truck accidents include:
- Rear-end truck collisions, where the front of a large truck or tractor-trailer hits the back of another vehicle
- Sideswipe accidents, where the side of a large truck and another vehicle collide.
- Head-on collisions, where the front of a large truck strikes the front of another vehicle moving in the opposite direction
- T-bone accidents, or broadside collisions, where the front of a large truck strikes the side of an adjacent vehicle
In any of these accidents, an individual may suffer serious injuries that require prompt medical treatment. Moreover, accident victims may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit with the insurer for the at-fault truck driver or trucking company.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the accident and your injuries. Your lawyer can then determine your eligibility for filing a truck accident claim or lawsuit. If you are eligible, your lawyer can promptly help you file the claim with the appropriate insurance company. Your lawyer can then negotiate settlement compensation on your behalf or file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
How Truck Accidents Happen
Large truck accidents sometimes result from improper maintenance, negligent
repair work, and defective truck parts including braking components and steering mechanisms. However, in most truck accident cases, negligent drivers and trucking companies are to blame.
Truck drivers are negligent when they deviate from the standard of care and act unreasonably under the circumstances. Some of the most common types of truck driver negligence that cause serious accidents include road rage, road rule violations, motor carrier violations, intoxicated driving, distracted driving, and fatigued driving.
Road rage occurs when a truck driver reacts inappropriately to a roadway situation that arises. Many truck drivers are in a big hurry to arrive at their final destination. This is because trucking companies frequently offer their drivers financial incentives for delivering their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Therefore, truck drivers may resort to virtually any driving maneuver to try and get ahead of other traffic.
They may speed, aggressively weave in and out of traffic, and tailgate other vehicles. When other drivers drive too slowly, truck operators may become upset and drive aggressively. Unfortunately, these drivers may inadvertently cause an accident with another vehicle when they operate their large truck or tractor-trailer recklessly or carelessly.
At other times, truck accidents happen when drivers violate the rules of the road. Just like passenger vehicle drivers, truck drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and follow all road rules, including speed limits. They must also yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians at the appropriate times and refrain from aggressive driving maneuvers. When truck drivers violate road rules, they significantly increase their chances of causing an accident.
Truck drivers and the companies that employ them are also responsible for following all applicable state and federal motor carrier regulations. These regulations set load limits for large trucks and tractor-trailers and regulate how drivers load and unload their cargo. They also prescribe methods for safely securing cargo to the truck bed.
When truck drivers and trucking companies violate these regulations, the truck’s center of balance may become offset, especially when traveling at high speed. As a result, the truck may overturn while on the roadway, causing a severe accident. Moreover, if the truck driver fails to properly secure their cargo to the truck bed, the shipment may slide off the truck while it is in motion. As a result, a severe chain-reaction collision and multi-vehicle pile-up may result.
Intoxicated driving is another common cause of truck accidents. Passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if they operate their vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. However, commercial vehicle drivers, including truck operators, must follow stricter legal standards. These drivers are legally intoxicated with a BAC of at least 0.04 percent.
Truck drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated may face severe criminal penalties upon conviction. Moreover, if they caused a traffic accident that led to injuries, they and their insurance companies may be liable for paying civil damages.
Alcohol significantly impairs a truck driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Since alcohol is a depressant, it may slow down their reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. Moreover, intoxicated truck drivers may experience blurred vision and limited concentration, preventing them from seeing another vehicle or a pedestrian in the vicinity.
Another common cause of truck accidents is distracted driving. Electronic devices in a truck cab, including cellular phones, tablets, and GPS navigation devices, sometimes distract drivers. Moreover, when truck drivers fail to observe the road, look down, or turn their heads to the side, they may fail to see an approaching vehicle, causing a severe accident.
Finally, some truck drivers cause crashes when they become fatigued while driving. Many truck drivers attempt to drive for long hours and may resort to drugs to try and keep themselves awake. However, these drugs sometimes have the opposite effect and make a driver feel tired while behind the wheel. If a driver falls utterly asleep at the wheel, they will lose control of their vehicle, likely causing a severe crash. Even if they do not fall completely asleep, they may experience delayed reaction time or limited concentration, preventing them from operating their truck safely.
In addition to negligent truck drivers, trucking companies may also be fully or partially responsible for an accident that occurs. Sometimes, trucking companies are vicariously liable for the negligent actions and inactions that truck drivers commit while on the job.
At other times, trucking companies are negligent in hiring or retaining a known problem driver with prior traffic citations, moving violations, or drunk driving convictions. Finally, trucking companies who fail to properly supervise their drivers and ensure they complete all continuing education requirements may be liable if an accident occurs.
If you suffered injuries in a truck collision that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, your lawyer can review your legal options with you and help you decide on the best course of action for your personal injury case. Your lawyer can then file the necessary claim or lawsuit on your behalf and begin advocating for your legal interests during settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
If you can do so, you should contact 911 immediately after your truck accident. This will immediately dispatch a police officer and ambulance service to the accident scene. Regardless of whether or not you have symptoms, it is a good idea to go to the hospital in an ambulance or have someone drive you there so that a medical provider can thoroughly examine and diagnose you.
Obtain Driver’s Contact Information
In addition to calling a police officer and ambulance to the accident scene, you should obtain contact information from all other involved drivers, including the negligent truck driver. You should get their name, address, contact information, and insurance information. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you for a recorded statement, you should never agree to provide one. This is because insurance companies only request recorded statements if there is a liability concern or to see if they can catch you off guard and get you to say something damaging to your personal injury claim.
If possible, you should also take photographs at the accident scene, including pictures of the scene itself, the vehicles involved, vehicle positions, property damage, and injuries. These photographs may become substantial evidence if your case ultimately goes to trial.
Speak to the Responding Police Officer
If you or someone else calls 911 immediately after your accident, a police officer will come to the scene. You should clearly describe your version of events to the police officer and your pain and other symptoms. You should also request a copy of the police report that the officer prepares. This report may become necessary evidence should your case proceed to a civil jury trial.
Seek Follow-up Medical Care
As soon as possible after your truck accident, and preferably on the same day, you should seek follow-up medical care at a local emergency facility. The medical provider on duty can take the necessary imaging studies, including X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans, to diagnose your condition. The provider can also render emergency assistance, if necessary, and make recommendations for follow-up treatment in case your symptoms get worse.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area
Trucking companies must have insurance, and it likely has insurance through a large insurance provider. These providers are often large companies with vast resources. It’s a certainty that the insurance company has a qualified lawyer representing its interests; you should have one too.
A truck accident lawyer in your area can represent you from the beginning of your claim until the very end. First, your lawyer can assist you with gathering the necessary claim documents, filing your claim, and negotiating with the insurance company adjuster.
During settlement negotiations, your lawyer can highlight the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses. Finally, if the insurance company adjuster refuses to offer you the fair monetary damages you deserve, your lawyer can litigate your case in the court system and, if necessary, take it to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
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