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In collisions with large commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, the occupants of passenger vehicles typically bear the brunt of the collision. Often, truck drivers escape with no injuries, while passenger vehicle occupants are seriously injured or killed. If you have been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you need the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled cases against semi-truck companies.
At We Win Injury Lawyers, we are here and ready to help you recover. These cases can be difficult, lengthy and expensive to litigate. Our attorneys have the skills and resources necessary to get the best possible results for you and your family. We handle all truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee for our services unless we win. Call today for a free and confidential case evaluation.
How Are Truck Accidents Different From Passenger Vehicle Accidents?
Commercial truck accidents are generally more catastrophic than a traditional motor vehicle accident between two personal-use vehicles. This is because a commercial truck’s size and weight is substantially more than a passenger vehicle, and the operating height is significantly higher. The weight disparity alone, combined with the size of a big rig truck often results in serious injuries or death, as the risk of a truck riding over a passenger vehicle in an accident is higher.
What complicates matters more is that these commercial trucking companies usually have large teams of insurance lawyers who will do everything they can to avoid paying you what you deserve for your injuries. It is important to understand that when you are injured in an accident caused by someone or something else, you will be collecting your compensation from their insurance carrier in most situations. Insurance companies do not work for you, they don’t even work for the trucking companies paying them, they work for profit. Insurance companies increase their profits by putting their claim analysts and attorneys to work to deny whichever claims they can, and to pay as little as possible on those claims that are approved without the need of a court battle.
Additionally, there are normally numerous parties involved in big rig accidents, there are usually complex commercial insurance policies to be dealt with and there are oftentimes state and federal regulations to be dealt with appropriately. To collect the compensation you are entitled to, you’ll need to prove which party or parties were at fault, then convince their insurance companies to pay your damages. This isn’t always possible through a claim alone, and if a lawsuit is necessary, your truck accident lawyer will handle it for you every step of the way, from filing through collecting. Before you can even consider collecting compensation for the damages and costs associated with your injuries, you’ll need to prove that the truck driver or a vehicle malfunction caused the accident.
Causes and dangers of commercial truck accidents
In 2017, of the 34,247 fatal crashes on the Nation’s roadways, 4,455 (13%) involved at least one large truck or bus. In addition, there were an estimated 6,419,000 nonfatal crashes, 507,000 (7.9%) of which involved at least one large truck or bus. Unfortunately, this number continues to increase annually as more and more large trucks are on the roadways delivering e-commerce goods. While commercial truck drivers play an important role in delivering goods across the country and, they are often more careful and observant of road conditions than passenger vehicles, there are natural dangers inherent in semi-truck accidents because of the sheer size and weight of their commercial trucks and the demands that the industry puts on drivers.
Given the increased dangers associated with operating large trucks, the drivers are held to a higher standard of care and safety. To operate commercial trucks and big rigs, a commercial driving license is necessary, which reflects additional training and safety knowledge. In addition to this, the drivers of large trucks must drive safely, attentively, and responsibly while on the road. This does not always happen, brining us to one of the leading causes of truck accidents: distracted driving.
When a truck driver is engaging in distracted driving, they are doing any activity while driving that impairs them mentally, physically, or visually while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration notes that distracted driving endangers not only the drivers, but their passengers, pedestrians, and others on the road. Common examples of distracted driving include eating while driving, talking to a passenger while driving, fiddling with the radio, or talking or texting on a smartphone while driving.
For example, when a driver is texting while driving their hands are off the wheel on their phone which physically impairs them, their mind is on the content of the text mentally impairing them, and their eyes are on the phone, visually impairing them. Distracted driving is illegal, and when a driver is breaking the law while driving and causes an accident, they will be liable for the damages that result.
There are a number of additional characteristics of semi-truck accidents caused by commercial truck drivers, including, the commercial trucking industry compensates faster deliveries and longer consecutive driving than is advised; unrealistic schedules and expectations by the driver’s company to meet deadlines; and because there is a national shortage of available truck drivers, there is often inadequate training provided to new truck drivers. These characteristics create a highly dangerous situation for passenger vehicles when they are involved in an accident involving a commercial truck.
One of the most common causes of accidents involving large trucks and buses is drowsy or fatigued driving. When a driver is drowsy or fatigued, their reaction times are slowed, and their ability to drive safely and attentively is greatly reduced. Given the higher volume of deliveries and faster speed that is increasingly being demanded of truck drivers, there is less time to rest between deliveries and between shifts. Trucking companies are required by law to provide their drivers with sufficient time off between shifts to ensure that they are well-rested, and not drowsy driving. The failure to do so can lead to responsibility for any damages linked to accidents they cause, as we’ll discuss below.
Who is responsible in Truck Accident Cases?
There are usually numerous parties involved in a truck accident case. Determining who is at fault can be complicated. For example, many times, the driver of the semi-truck will be held accountable for his or her negligent operation of the semi-truck. To recover damages in a truck accident, you need to prove that a party that caused the accident was “negligent”, a legal term that is comprised of four parts: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Basically, you’ll need to apply the unique facts and circumstances of your accident to the legal concept of negligence, to determine if:
- The driver owed you some duty of care or responsibility
- The driver violated this duty of care or responsibility
- The driver’s violation of their duty caused the accident
- The accident led to injuries that have associated costs
Effectively determining liability is the first step towards recovering compensation in your truck accident. Knowing how to do this is something that lawyers spend around eight years in school studying, then many years mastering in practice, and can be difficult to do on your own while recovering from your injuries after a truck accident. Working with an attorney eases this burden, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries while your attorney handles the entirety of your claim or case for you.
In addition to the driver, the company for whom the driver was hauling could also be found liable if they failed to do certain things like inspect the truck, maintain the truck or even keep proper logs regarding where the truck and driver have been. Sufficient time off between shifts is also required. Even the mechanic who last worked on the truck could be found responsible if it is determined work was done negligently or if it is determined work should have been done but was ignored. There may also be a company that leased the truck and hired their own driver in order to haul a particular product who could be responsible.
In some situations, equipment or vehicle malfunctions can also lead to liability through the legal concept of “strict product liability”. When a product does not function as it was intended and causes injury, the manufacturer or even the retailer that sold the product could be liable for the damages. For example, if you were injured in a truck accident because the brakes on the truck failed, you could be entitled to compensation from the brake manufacturer. Carefully assessing the facts of your accident is essential to determining who might be liable, and your attorney handles this entire process for you.
To ensure you are properly protected and are fighting against all responsible parties, you need to hire an experienced commercial truck accident attorney. We Win Injury Law attorneys will help you determine all parties who are responsible for your injuries and will fight to hold each and every responsible party accountable.
No Win, No Fees Guarantee
Our promise to you is that we guarantee that you won’t pay us a dime until we settle your commercial truck accident case or receive a jury verdict. Your initial intake consultation is free, and if we take your case, we only collect compensation if we win, out of a portion of the earnings we generate that we’ll agree upon before getting started. Schedule a consultation or call (877) 939-4646 to discuss options.