Each year, millions of trucks, all ranging in size, travel on U.S. roadways through various states and cities. Whether they are transporting freight, delivering mail, or working to keep the community clean by providing sanitation services, everywhere you look, it is likely you will see some type of truck sharing the roadway with you. While semis and other large trucks play an essential role in our economy as they transport goods and provide services to the community, they also contribute to the serious and fatal truck crashes we hear and read about each and every day. Because of a truck’s size and weight, not to mention the heavy loads they are responsible for transporting, it is no secret as to why accidents involving them tend to be some of the worst.
And that is why anyone who has been involved in an accident with any type of large truck or while driving one needs to retain a trucking accident lawyer immediately following the crash.
The reality is, hundreds of thousands of accidents involving trucks occur each year resulting in multiple parties suffering from severe and fatal injuries. In 2016 alone, 475,000 crashes were reported involving large trucks [Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)]. Some critical issues that are found in the trucking industry that contribute to accidents occurring include:
The FMCSA explicitly states that certain types of truck drivers can only operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours at a time before they have to spend 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truckers must also not operate a commercial vehicle after being on duty, not necessarily driving, for 14 consecutive hours. Drivers who are required to abide by this rule sometimes find themselves faced with the decision to either stop driving or work beyond the legal limit. When a trucker chooses the second option, they often put themselves and others traveling around them in danger as they will likely become fatigued and unable to concentrate on the roadway ahead of them.
Driving while fatigued lowers a driver’s reaction time if they were to have to brake or steer suddenly as well as affects their ability to make good decisions [Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. In fact, drowsy driving was responsible for causing 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013 alone, according to the CDC and “commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses are more likely to drive drowsy” than other types of drivers.
- Driver Distraction
Some of the top distractions truckers allow to interfere with their driving include:
- Texting or talking on their cell phone.
- Programming their GPS system while driving.
- Multi-tasking while driving.
- Looking at scenery or other objects they drive by.
Distracted driving is not only an issue that exists in the trucking industry, but it is also a serious problem for drivers all across the country. In fact, distracted driving has become one of the leading factors that contribute to motor vehicle accidents occurring. In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in a motor vehicle accident that involved a distracted driver and 3,477 were killed [Source: CDC].
- Driver Shortage
When the trucking industry experiences a shortage, those who are working in it tend to feel the pressure. Many drivers are required to work longer hours and feel obligated to work faster rather than more efficiently just so they can get their load of responsibilities accomplished. This can lead to a driver engaging in reckless behavior such as speeding, riding too closely to other vehicles, making abrupt turns, driving on roadways they are not legally permitted to operate on, etc.
- Untrained or Inexperienced Drivers
While some companies will only hire drivers who are qualified and capable of operating a large truck such as an 18-wheeler, tow truck, semi, or garbage truck, other companies will allow individuals to get behind the wheel of these vehicles despite them being untrained, inexperienced, or unlicensed. This increases the level of risk out on the roadways and is yet another reason why truck accidents occur leaving victims severely injured.
If you are the victim of a truck accident that left you suffering from a serious or disabling injury and you are looking to not only hold the driver accountable for your pain and misery but to also recover compensation for all of your damages, the truck accident attorneys USAttorneys.com works with are trained and qualified to provide you with the legal assistance needed to get this accomplished.
Now, unlike car crash cases, it can be especially difficult for a victim or their loved ones to recover compensation for the injuries sustained in a truck accident as these types of cases tend to be much more complex.
What Makes Truck Accident Cases More Complicated than Car Crash Cases?
Accident cases involving large trucks tend to be much more difficult than those involving passenger vehicles for a number of different reasons including:
- There are usually multiple parties involved.
Instead of the wreck involving you and the driver of another passenger vehicle, it was between you and the operator of a large truck. And in most cases, the operator works for a company who is responsible for overseeing the operations of the vehicle. So, while you may have assumed that just because the driver was responsible for hitting your vehicle that your case would only involve the two of you, this is highly unlikely.
You see, not only might the driver be held liable for causing the wreck if you can prove that their negligent behavior is what led to it occurring, but also their employer or the manufacturer who supplied the company with the vehicle. The truth is, having to deal with more than one party can make a case confusing, frustrating, and to be quite frank, a little overwhelming.
That brings us to the next challenge victims are often faced with after engaging in a truck collision.
- Because each party (i.e. the truck driver, their employer, the manufacturer of the vehicle, etc.) may be partially liable for causing the accident, you will need to determine how each contributed to it occurring. And this is something the truck accident lawyers USAttorneys.com can connect you with will help establish.
In order to determine what percentage of fault should be placed on a trucker, you will need to find out whether the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel as a result of them being in violation of the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules or if they were operating their vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner. Perhaps neither of the two were the cause of the accident. Maybe, the truck operator was under the influence of alcohol or was distracted by something inside his/her vehicle? Or, the truck operator wasn’t properly trained or licensed to drive the vehicle that was involved in the accident. The answers to these questions and others will help determine how much liability should be placed on the driver.
As for the truck operator’s employer, you will need to determine how often they had the truck inspected, whether it was properly maintained, or if the company allowed the vehicle to be used despite the poor or unsafe condition it may have been in. Again, the answers to these questions will help our trucking accident attorneys determine how much liability should be placed on the trucker’s employer. In regard to the manufacturer who supplied the truck or certain parts for it, they may be held accountable if they knowingly sold the trucking company a defective part or installed one on the vehicle and didn’t warn the company of this.
Now, determining fault can be rather difficult to do as you will need to gain access to driving records, police reports, company files, etc. That is why you will want to allow USAttorneys.com to help you retain a trucking accident lawyer in your city who can gain access to all of this information and obtain the necessary records that will help build you a solid case against the liable parties.
- You have to determine whether you want to file a claim through the at-fault party’s insurer or if you want to initiate the litigation process and file a personal injury lawsuit.
As we mentioned before, truck accidents tend to result in severe damage and serious injuries, and with this damage and those injuries comes a cost. The cost to have your property repaired as well as the cost for the physical/psychological injuries you sustained. Based on the cost of both of those, you must decide how you want to handle the matter. Do you want to file an insurance claim and collect what you can from the at-fault party’s policy or is it in your best interest to file a lawsuit in an effort to recover more? Perhaps you would like to do both.
But, before you can make an informed decision, you will need to consult with one of our experienced trucking accident attorneys who can provide you with all the facts surrounding both options and estimate what your damages are worth so you can make the best decision.
You may run into problems when trying to recover compensation.
Now, although you know that the trucker was liable for causing the crash and that there may be other parties who are partially responsible for it as well, there is a chance that one or more parties being accused may refute your claims. For instance, if you were to file a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker and their employer, you might find that the trucking company isn’t willing to take the blame for the behavior that was displayed by their employee. When this happens, it can cause your case to delay in being settled as well as reduce the amount of compensation you are seeking.
However, when you are being represented by one of the top truck accident lawyers in the field who has extensive experience in handling these types of cases and isn’t afraid to go to trial, you stand a better chance at fighting back and obtaining an outcome that is in your favor. These are the attorneys USAttorneys.com places you in touch with and the legal representatives you want sitting beside you when you take your case to court.
Now, not only do truck accidents affect passenger vehicle occupants, but also truck operators, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. In 2016, aside from the 2,642 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in truck accidents, 660 truck drivers were also killed in collisions and another 637 motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians died as a result of an accident involving a large truck [Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety].
How can our lawyers help you recover the maximum amount of compensation for your truck accident case?
The truck crash attorneys USAttorneys.com places you in touch with have the resources, accessibility, and knowledge needed to gather all the information and evidence you will need to support your case. That, in turn, will lead to you recovering the maximum amount of compensation your losses, also referred to as damages, entitle you to collect. Some of the losses our truck accident lawyers have helped victims recover compensation for include:
- Pain and Suffering. If the accident left you suffering from an injury, consider how it has impacted your life. Do you constantly suffer from chronic back or neck pain? Are you unable to walk as a result of the collision? Perhaps you can no longer engage in the activities you once enjoyed as the accident has affected your physical abilities. These are only some of the things that are taken into consideration when determining what your pain and suffering is worth.
- Lost Wages. Most truck crashes often result in a victim being unable to work. But just how long has your injury put you out of work? How much have you lost and how much do you anticipate losing as a result of not being able to go back to work? Did your injury result in you losing a promotion or has it caused you to seek employment in an entirely different field that pays far less than what you were bringing in? All of this information will be used to calculate how much you should receive for lost wages.
- Past and Future Medical Expenses. Medical care, whether it includes regular visits to the doctor, visits to the hospital, and even rehabilitation is extremely expensive and it is likely you will soon exhaust your medical care coverage if that is what is being used to pay for your treatments. Now, rather than you being held responsible for paying for your own medical care that is now needed as a result of a truck accident that was caused by a negligent driver, you can demand compensation be paid from the at-fault party to cover these expenses. Some victims accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford had they not fought for it during the litigation process.
Loss of Consortium. When a victim’s injury impacts their relationship with their partner or another family member, that person can demand compensation be paid to them for the loss they have experienced as a result of the wreck. For example, if the spouse of an injured truck accident victim no longer receives the love or companionship they were getting prior to the accident, this would qualify them to request that damages be paid for loss of consortium.
There are a number of other types of losses truck accident lawyers help victims recover compensation for aside from these which is why truck accident victims are encouraged to speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that they can learn more about how much their case is worth. Truck crash lawyers have the ability to assess how a collision has affected each area of a victim’s life along with the accrued expenses they are required to pay to determine a final amount they should pursue the liable parties for.
If you or someone you know was involved in an accident with a large truck such as a semi, tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or tow truck, or you are the operator of one of these vehicles and recently engaged in a crash that was caused by a careless or negligent driver, contact USAttorneys.com to speak with a reputable truck accident lawyer now. Our well-established and experienced truck accident attorneys will guide you down the right path so that justice is served, and you are fairly compensated for your injuries and/or losses.