Truck Accident Overview
Commercial truck accidents are typically more catastrophic than other motor vehicle accidents. The sheer size of the commercial vehicle is mostly to blame for this. A fully loaded commercial truck weighs over 25 times as much as a car or SUV.
Due to this weight disparity and the laws of physics, most big rig accidents cause serious, even fatal, injuries.
You can demand compensation if you or a loved one suffers an injury in a tractor-trailer accident. This article will give an overview of semi-truck accident claims. It will also explain how your personal injury attorney will prove fault in your truck accident claim. Finally, we'll describe the damages you can demand in your personal injury claim.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Every traffic accident is unique. Some types of truck accidents are more common than others. For example, news stations carry stories about jackknifed tractor-trailers all the time. There are also stories about truckers whose vehicles get stuck under an overpass.
For truck accidents that involve other vehicles, the most common causes include:
- Driver inexperience
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Carrying too large a load
- Inclement weather
Regardless of the cause, if you suffer severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, you may recover significant compensation. Your personal injury lawyer must prove fault on the truck driver's part. They'll also have to prove your specific injuries and damages. This is why you must contact an attorney for a case evaluation as soon as possible after the crash.
What To Do Immediately After Your Truck Accident
You must take specific steps after your truck accident to protect your legal rights. These steps are like those you must take after any motor vehicle accident.
As long as you follow the below advice, you can protect your legal claim:
- Contact the police — Your attorney needs a copy of the police report to prove your case. The police will come to the accident scene and do a thorough investigation. They'll talk to the drivers involved and get a statement from each one. They'll also take pictures of the accident scene and speak to eyewitnesses.
- Go to the hospital — You must seek medical care, regardless of how minor you think your injuries are. You could have catastrophic injuries and not know it. You may have suffered damage to one of your internal organs. Or you may have internal bleeding. You need to ensure that you're OK. You also need to ensure that your lawyer has a copy of your medical records. That's the best way to prove your injuries.
- Don't discuss your accident with anyone — One of truck accident victims' biggest mistakes is posting about the crash on social media. The defendant will take what you say online and twist it around so they can use it against you.
- Seek legal advice as soon as possible — The trucking company will have an entire legal team in their corner. It would help if you had someone fighting for you, too. This is especially true if you need to file a truck accident lawsuit. Your attorney will work to negotiate a settlement offer with the liable parties to resolve your claim.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
In most truck accidents, the person in the passenger vehicle suffers the brunt of the injuries. This is because the human body can't possibly withstand the impact of an 18-wheeler commercial vehicle.
Some of the more common truck accident injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal bleeding
- Broken bones and fractures
- Facial disfigurement
- Burn injuries
Any one of these injuries can take you out of work for weeks or months. Your attorney will demand that the trucking company compensate you for your diminished earning capacity.
The Unique Dangers of Commercial Truck Accidents
Statistics show truck drivers are much more careful on the road than automobile drivers. Still, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large truck crashes accounted for 5,604 deaths and 19,000 injuries in 2021.
With more people shopping online, more large trucks are on the road today. Unfortunately, this may lead to an increase in the number of truck accidents.
Commercial Truckers Are Subject to Special Rules and Regulations
Besides following local traffic laws, truckers must also abide by the FMCSA regulations. These regulations govern how many hours of service a truck driver may work. The FMCSA also oversees other aspects of the trucking industry.
Many of the regulations deal with truck drivers' hours worked. They also direct commercial truck drivers to log their miles and vehicle maintenance. Also, big truck drivers must stop at weigh stations along their routes to register their loads.
If your attorney can prove that the defendant violated any of these rules and regulations, it will help prove fault in your case.
Proving Your Case
To prove liability in your truck accident case, your attorney must prove several things.
- Your attorney must prove that the trucker was negligent. This could involve anything from speeding to drinking and driving.
- Your personal injury lawyer must prove that the trucker's negligence was responsible for your serious injuries.
- You must show that you suffered injuries and damages.
If you can prove these three things, you should prevail. The jury's verdict will depend on the facts of your case and the strength of your evidence.
To maximize your chances of recovery, your attorney will identify as many potential defendants as possible.
For example, besides the truck driver, you may need to pursue the following parties:
- Trucking companies
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials
Insurance companies may have to compensate you for your injuries as well. Generally, you can't sue the insurance carrier directly. But, they are legally required to represent the truck driver in the event of a personal injury lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Claim?
You will almost always have to file an insurance claim when you suffer injuries in a truck accident. If insurance denies your claim or the commercial truck company's insurance doesn't cover your damages, you may also need to file suit.
When it comes to your insurance claim, there's no clear-cut filing deadline. It all depends on the language of the insurance policy. Typically, these policies state that you must file your claim within a "reasonable" timeframe. To avoid the insurance adjuster denying your claim for timeliness, file it immediately after the crash.
For your personal injury lawsuit, you must file it before the statute of limitations expires. Every state has its own rules when it comes to a filing deadline for civil claims. Generally, you have two years to do this. If you miss the statute of limitations period, the court will dismiss your claim, and you can't sue the trucker or the trucking company.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Truck Accident Claim
Retaining a truck accident attorney to handle your personal injury case sooner rather than later is best. It takes time to prepare these cases. They often involve several defendants. It also takes longer to secure the evidence to prove your case. For example, getting a copy of the black box reports from the commercial trucking company can take months.
You should seek legal representation from an experienced truck accident lawyer. Most law offices offer new clients a free case evaluation.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.