Trucks are in many of the same accident types as other vehicles, as they are subject to the same hazards as any other vehicle.
Such accident types include:
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe collision
- Side-impact (or T-bone) collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Rollover collisions
- Single-vehicle accidents
Trucks also have unique features trailers, cargo, and an unusually top-heavy design that lend themselves to similarly unique accident types. And when trucks crash, they can do enormous damage, even causing permanent injuries. Should any of these accidents leave you hurt, call a truck accident lawyer to recover compensation for you.
Common Truck Accident Types
Some of the common truck accident types include:
- Rear-end collisions: Commercial trucks typically weigh tens of thousands of pounds, meaning they take longer to stop than lighter vehicles. If a truck driver is distracted, fails to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them, or fails to slow down in slick driving conditions, they may cause a rear-end collision.
- Head-on collision: A head-on accident can happen when a truck driver veers out of their lane, dangerously merges into a shared turning lane, or drives in the wrong direction. Defects can also cause a head-on collision.
- Jackknife collision: When a truck with a trailer “jackknifes,” the cab and trailer contort unnaturally. This jackknifing motion can cause the trailer to slide into oncoming traffic, and such accidents can have catastrophic results.
- Side-impact collision: A side-impact collision happens when a truck (or another vehicle) strikes another vehicle in a T- or modified T-formation. Motorists and passengers occupying the side of the vehicle that the colliding vehicle strikes are in great danger of serious injury and death.
- Rollover accidents: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls rollover truck accidents “the most harmful” type, at least from a truck driver’s perspective. These accidents can cause a truck to fall on top of other vehicles, block the roadway (and cause subsequent accidents), and cause liquid or solid cargo to spill into the roadway.
- Sideswipe accidents: A sideswipe accident happens when a truck swipes against the side of another vehicle. These accidents are generally less serious than more direct collisions but can still produce serious injuries and property damage.
Trucks can also find themselves in single-vehicle accidents. Because commercial trucks often carry cargo, single-vehicle truck accidents can cause debris and cargo to fall into the roadway, potentially leading to a chain reaction of other collisions.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Fatal truck accidents increased by 31 percent over the last decade, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Who is responsible for this marked uptick in fatal truck accidents and the non-fatal truck accidents that occur daily?
One must analyze each truck accident to determine fault. No two truck accidents are exactly alike, and a lawyer can review any truck accident you have been in to determine liability.
Potentially liable parties in a truck accident case include:
- A truck driver: Truck drivers must be familiar with their vehicle, certain that the vehicle is safe, and extremely cautious in how they drive the truck. If any failure by a truck driver causes an accident, the driver may be personally liable.
- A trucking company: Trucking companies must ensure the safety of vehicles, properly train and monitor their drivers, and prevent drivers from operating in dangerous conditions. Even if a trucking company does not directly contribute to an accident, it may be liable whenever a driver causes a collision.
- A company responsible for loading cargo: If cargo loaders do not properly package or load cargo, they may be legally responsible for a resulting accident. However, it is generally a truck driver’s responsibility to inspect cargo before departing.
- A truck manufacturer: A truck manufacturer that produces a defective vehicle may be financially liable when the defect causes an accident.
- A mechanic: Mechanics whose negligence—poor inspection or work being two examples—causes an accident may be financially responsible for resulting damages.
- A municipality: Municipalities may be responsible for broken traffic lights, unclear or downed signage, uneven or pothole-riddled roads, and other conditions that can lead to truck accidents.
Liability for truck accidents is not always obvious. A lawyer’s experience handling truck accident cases can be valuable in identifying those responsible for your accident and damages.
How Truck Drivers Contribute to Accidents
Most accidents happen because of driver error, and truck accidents are no exception.
Truck drivers increase the risk of causing an accident when they:
- Drive while tired, which is a risk considering that the typical truck driver averages more than 60 hours of work per week
- Drive while injured, as truck drivers face an outsized risk of work-related injury and death
- Drive while emotionally compromised
- Drive while drunk
- Drive while distracted
- Fail to inspect or maintain their vehicle, trailer, or cargo
- Driving in unsafe weather or road conditions
- Engage in any other behavior that might lead to an accident
Truck drivers earn their reputation for being hardworking, but safety must always be paramount. If a truck driver, their employer, or any other party acts unreasonably, leading to an accident, they are responsible for resulting harm to others.
Why Occupants of Passenger Vehicles Are at the Greatest Risk of Injury During a Truck Accident?
Commercial trucks are substantially larger and heavier than the motorcycles, cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks they share the road with. When a commercial truck collides with a smaller, lighter vehicle, the occupants in the smaller vehicle face the greatest risk of injury and death.
A commercial truck poses an even greater danger when fully loaded with cargo. A fully-loaded truck may tip the scales near 80,000 pounds, which is the maximum allowable weight limit for vehicles on America’s roadways.
What Should a Truck Accident Victim Do After Their Collision?
When a truck accident happens, it is a near-certainty that the victim’s vehicle will suffer significant damage.
Therefore, two primary outcomes differentiate truck accidents:
- Non-fatal injuries
- Fatal injuries
How you respond to your truck accident will depend on which of these outcomes you have experienced.
What to Do After a Non-Fatal Truck Accident
You may want to count your luck if you or a loved one suffered non-fatal injuries from a truck accident. Truck accidents pose a real threat of death, and victims should be grateful whenever they emerge alive.
Nevertheless, you may have serious and potentially even disabling injuries.
Such injuries may entitle you to compensation, and your next steps may include:
- Getting medical attention: Truck accident victims cannot receive enough medical attention. You must get a clear diagnosis and treatment plan for all accident-related injuries. Even if you receive medical attention following your accident, it may be time for a follow-up visit with a medical professional.
- Hiring a lawyer: An attorney can handle every aspect of your insurance claim or lawsuit. They will leap into action on your case, working to secure time-sensitive evidence and protect you from potential rights violations.
- Following the doctor’s treatment plan as your lawyer fights for your financial recovery: Once you have received a thorough medical evaluation and hired a lawyer, you can focus fully on your recovery.
Truck accidents often throw victims’ lives into chaos. You may be communicating with your employer, coordinating vehicle repairs, and attempting to manage your daily life. By hiring a lawyer, you ensure that someone is seeking the money you deserve—while protecting yourself from any additional stress.
What to Do After a Fatal Truck Accident
Losing a loved one suddenly is the most tragic experience humans experience. Truck accident lawyers understand the pain caused by fatal truck accidents because they regularly represent the victims.
Hiring a lawyer may be a pressing priority for you. While the grieving process can be all-consuming, you should let a lawyer start your wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible. Once you have retained a trusted attorney, you can continue to work through your loss.
Victims of fatal truck accidents should not wait to hire a lawyer because:
- States typically impose a deadline for filing wrongful death lawsuits, which might be shorter than the window for filing personal injury lawsuits.
- Liable parties may try to dispose of crucial evidence, and a lawyer will work quickly to preserve such evidence.
- The cost of wrongful death can be great, and your lawyer will work to get you financial relief as soon as possible.
Though a wrongful death is devastating, victims are not alone. A lawyer can work to secure the justice that you and your loved one deserve.
How Does a Lawyer Assist a Truck Accident Victim?
Truck accident lawyers have a clear goal: to get the money their client deserves. Though each truck accident case is unique, your lawyer may follow the blueprint that has led to victory in other truck accident cases.
A lawyer’s duties in truck accident cases typically include:
- Filing a letter of spoliation: Preserving evidence will be a top priority for your lawyer. A spoliation letter demands that liable parties (including trucking companies) preserve any potentially useful evidence in their possession.
- Gathering evidence: Your lawyer will collect and protect all useful evidence, including video footage, witness accounts, expert reconstructions, and a police report.
- Documenting the victim’s damages: Medical bills, medical records, employment records, and expert testimony may be among the documentation that helps prove your damages.
- Calculating the cost of damages: A lawyer will consider both existing damages and likely future damages.
- Completing all case-related paperwork: Your attorney will file your initial claim or lawsuit. They will also draft and file all necessary paperwork to complete your case.
- Leading communications: Your lawyer may need to communicate with law enforcement, insurance companies, liable parties, and others involved in your case. An attorney will protect you by ensuring you don’t make any statements unless you absolutely must.
- Negotiating a settlement: While a settlement is not guaranteed, your lawyer will do everything possible to get the money you deserve. Liable parties typically scoff, or at least push back, against giving a truck accident victim the money they deserve. Once your lawyer lays out their case, those parties may offer you a fair settlement.
Your lawyer may take your truck accident case to court if liable parties do not offer a fair settlement. If your lawyer presents a compelling case in settlement negotiations, but liable parties still refuse to cooperate, then your lawyer can make that same case in front of a jury.
How Truck Accident Victims May Identify the Right Attorney for Their Needs?
Truck accident victims who want compensation for their damages may turn to a lawyer for help.
When choosing a lawyer, a truck accident victim should consider:
- Whether the lawyer or firm has won cases for truck accident victims
- The reviews of former clients (good and bad)
- Whether the firm offers a contingency fee, which means the client does not pay upfront or out of their own pocket for legal services
- Whether the law firm answers questions clearly and assuringly during your free consultation
You may also want to consider the size of the law firm. While larger firms may seem to have more resources to use in your case, they might not give your case the full time and attention it deserves. You want to ensure your law firm will give your case due attention.
What Damages Do Truck Accident Victims Get Money For?
Recoverable damages in a truck accident case may include:
- Vehicle repairs
- Lost income and lost earning power
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Temporary transportation
- Any other economic or non-economic harm resulting from the accident
A lawyer can help you identify your damages and calculate their cost, as valuing your losses is central to your lawsuit or insurance claim.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Today to Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
Truck accident victims must act quickly to get justice. You may face a deadline for filing your case, so research and contact a New Port Richey personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
You want to ensure your attorney can send notices to trucking companies demanding they preserve key evidence immediately after the crash.
Do not delay in seeking help today. Taking this step can ease your stress and protect your legal rights and financial future.