The majority of the time a tractor trailer is involved in a multi-vehicle accident, it is the fault of the other driver, but approximately 16% of the time the truck driver is responsible. The United States Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Administration announced that latest highway fatality numbers involving trucks in North Dakota have decreased but still claimed 138 lives between 2014 to 2018, and combination trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 5.8 percent. A  truck accident attorney can  counsel  a victim on best actions after an accident with a truck.

After a tractor trailer accident in North Dakota, a driver should:

  1. Check on the condition of the people involved in the accident;
  2. Call the police or emergency responders if needed;
  3. Get a written accident report;
  4. Remain at the accident scene;
  5. Exchange driver and insurance information;
  6. Get witness contact information;
  7. Call your insurance company to set up a claim;
  8. Do not make any statements regarding the fault or liability at the scene or when making a complaint;
  9. Call an accident attorney.

Insurance requirements.

North Dakota and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have specific insurance requirements for semis. If you have your own authority, some coverages are mandatory, like primary liability. If you are leased to a motor carrier, you may be looking for physical damage truck insurance, bobtail coverage, and non-trucking liability.  North Dakota requires local truck drivers and new ventures to maintain liability insurance at $750,000 for general freight; $1,000,000 for oil transport;  $5,000,000 for Hazmat; $300.000 for household goods, and if a truck crosses state lines they must carry the insurance as above and in addition meet federal liability limits of $750.000 to $1,000.000 in compliance with FMCSA.

At fault state.

North Dakota is an at-fault state, meaning drivers face financial liability after an accident if it is determined they are to blame. According to the North Dakota Insurance Commission, all drivers are state mandated to carry a certain amount of vehicle insurance in the event of an accident. If you are involved in an accident where the at fault driver is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover the cost of your injuries, your own insurance may be able to help.

The pros in an “at-fault” insurance state include:

  • reckless drivers are held accountable for their actions, and
  • prevention of insurance premiums increasing when drivers are involved in accidents where they are not to blame.

The cons of an “at-fault” insurance state include:

  • the amount of time spent determining liability after an accident may delay settlement and funding necessary for certain treatments in personal injury and car replacement, and
  • compensation for damages and injuries may be limited if the other driver is under-insured or not insured at all.

Possible parties to legal action.

A truck driver, trucking company, parts manufacturer, mechanic shop or governing agencies that upkeep the highways can be sued for damages in some cases, especially if the accident was impacted by:

  1. Improper maintenance
  2. Driver fatigue
  3. Distracted driving
  4. Commercial company negligence
  5. Unsecured loads
  6. Driving in extreme weather
  7. Poor roadway conditions or construction

Damages.

The two types of damages that victims can sue for include:

1) compensatory damages – economic (loss of wages, medical bills, and property damage) and non-economic loss to victim (pain and suffering); and

2) punitive damages meant to punish the persons being sued (Defendants).

Hire an attorney.

Hiring a legal profession to assist with the burden of collecting and analyzing the data that will determine fault is very important. Seek effective legal counsel who have experience in truck accident cases to get the proper attention to your case, and a settlement that covers all damages.

Sources:

https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesCrashesAndAllVictims.aspx

https://www.truckinfo.net/trucking/stats.htm

https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Vehicles/VehiclesAllVehicles.aspx