Truck accidents usually result from driver negligence. However, there are other potential causes. Regardless of who caused the accident, whenever a large truck, big rig, or tractor-trailer strikes a smaller vehicle, it is typically the occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer more serious injuries.
If you or someone you care about suffered an injury in a truck accident, you have legal options. In addition to seeking same-day medical treatment at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room, you should talk with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible. If the insurance company disputes fault for the accident, your lawyer can obtain an accident reconstructionist or another expert who can figure out exactly how the accident occurred.
In addition, your lawyer can file a truck accident claim on your behalf and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in court. Your lawyer will do everything possible to safeguard your legal rights and pursue the full amount of monetary compensation you deserve.
Liable Parties in Truck Accident Claims
Depending on the cause of your crash, different parties might share liability for your injuries and losses.
Some common liable parties in truck accident claims include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Cargo-loading crews
- Repair facilities
- Truck manufacturers
You need a truck accident lawyer to investigate your accident and determine which parties should be responsible and which insurance claims you need to file.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents usually occur because of driver negligence. However, there are other potential causes.
Some of the most common causes of these accidents include:
- Failing to follow road rules – Negligent truck drivers cause accidents when they fail to follow the rules of the road. For example, they may weave in and out of busy highway traffic without using a turn signal, speed, or fail to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle, such as at a traffic intersection or on a merge lane. In addition, some truck drivers and trucking companies violate state and federal motor carrier regulations. They may do this by exceeding the weight limit for their vehicle or failing to properly secure cargo to the bed of their truck, causing an accident.
- Road rage – At other times, truck accidents happen when a driver engages in road rage. Road rage refers to how a driver responds to a real or perceived circumstance on the road. For example, a truck driver in a hurry might become angry when another vehicle is proceeding too slowly. When that occurs, the truck driver may try to pass the driver to get ahead. However, in the process, the driver might negligently cause a collision, leading to numerous injuries for other drivers and their passengers.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving means failing to watch the road. A driver may divert their attention away from the road when they fiddle with a GPS device or another electronic device, like a cellular phone or tablet, while driving. At other times, the driver might have their head turned for one reason or another, or they may fail to use their side view mirrors at the appropriate times. Even when a truck driver diverts their attention for a second or two, that can be sufficient time for a crash.
- Intoxicated driving – All drivers must operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. Part of this duty of care is refraining from drinking and driving. A passenger vehicle operator is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, commercial truck drivers must follow a stricter standard. In most jurisdictions, a commercial truck driver with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher is legally intoxicated. Drunk driving is so dangerous because an intoxicated driver experiences many physical limitations. The driver’s vision might blur, and they may not react quickly enough to an emergency. Furthermore, a drunk driver may experience an extreme lack of focus and concentration.
- Defective truck parts – Truck part manufacturers must construct and design their products properly, including braking systems and steering mechanisms. They must also take reasonable care to test their products before selling them to the public. When a defective truck part causes or contributes to an accident, the accident victim can hold the manufacturer, designer, or some other entity in the chain of product distribution responsible.
- Defective truck repair work – Repair facilities must always perform their work carefully. When a repair facility is negligent in that regard, and a truck malfunctions out on the road causing an accident, the accident victim can hold a repair facility liable.
You are not alone if you suffered injuries in a truck accident resulting from one of these circumstances. A skilled truck accident attorney in your area can explain your legal rights and file the appropriate claim on your behalf. Your lawyer can then start negotiating the claim with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf.
Types of Truck Accidents
When truck drivers, trucking companies, and others are negligent, serious accidents can happen.
Some of the most common truck accidents that occur include:
- Rear-end collisions, where the front of the truck strikes the back of another vehicle, often result in whiplash injuries and head injuries, such as concussions.
- Broadside impacts, where the front of a truck strikes the side of a vehicle traveling in an adjacent direction, sometimes causing the vehicle on the receiving end to spin around rapidly or overturn completely
- Sideswipe collisions, where the sides of two vehicles brush against one another, usually in heavy highway traffic
- Truck jackknife accidents, where the tractor and trailer of a big rig or 18-wheeler fold inward toward one another, resembling the shape of a jackknife, and often sliding down the road and impacting other vehicles in its path
- Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles strike one another when traveling in opposite directions, sometimes lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
If you suffered injuries in one of these truck accidents, your lawyer can fight for your right to recover the settlement compensation you deserve. If the insurance company does not award you appropriate damages, your lawyer can litigate your truck accident claim in court.
What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Truck accidents can cause debilitating injuries, depending upon the force of the impact, how the accident victim’s body moves inside their vehicle, and whether they strike a body part on something in the vehicle at the time of impact. For example, the impact force might cause an accident victim to strike the headrest, door frame, window, or steering wheel, resulting in a serious injury.
Common truck accident injuries include broken bones, traumatic head injuries, soft tissue injuries, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and death.
If you suffered one or more of these injuries in your truck accident, you should immediately seek treatment at an emergency room or urgent care center. While you are there, the provider can physically examine you, order the necessary imaging studies, and recommend follow-up treatment.
While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your lawyer can begin advocating for you. Specifically, your lawyer can gather up your medical records, medical bills, lost wage documents, photographs of injuries, photographs of property damage, and a victim impact statement to forward to the insurance company adjuster once you complete your treatment.
Potential Damages in a Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit
Victims of truck accidents may be eligible to recover various damages for their injuries. Every truck accident is different, and accident victims’ injuries vary from case to case. Some accident victims wind up in wheelchairs, while others escape with minor cuts, bruises, and soft tissue injuries.
Moreover, the medical treatment an accident victim undergoes differs in every case. All of these factors weigh into the types and amounts of damages that accident victims recover via their injury settlements or lawsuits.
Many truck accident victims suffer serious injuries that prevent them from working. They may need to switch to light duty work, or they may not work at all, given their pain and suffering. Moreover, some accident victims must take off work to attend medical appointments and physical therapy sessions. Victims can recover compensation for their lost wages whenever they have to miss work time. However, they will need to present evidence from their employer, which states the number of days they missed from work—and the amount of money they lost each day.
In addition, a healthcare provider might advise an accident victim to remain off work for a certain period. The provider must state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that they cannot work due to their accident-related injuries.
Some accident victims suffer such serious injuries that they have to switch jobs, or even whole careers, due to their accident-related injuries. If their new job pays less than their old one, they can claim a loss of earning capacity.
In addition, accident victims can recover compensation for their past and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Past pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for everything they experienced between the date of their accident and the present. Future pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for their anticipated symptoms going forward.
At other times, accident victims can no longer use a body part due to their injuries. For example, if the accident victim suffers a spinal cord injury, they may lose the ability to use their hands, arms, feet, or legs for the remainder of their life. When that happens, they can pursue a claim for loss of use.
In addition, accident victims can recover monetary compensation for loss of life enjoyment. These damages are available when an accident victim’s quality of life goes downhill due to their injuries. For example, the accident victim might not spend as much time with family, or participate in sports and other recreational activities, as they did before the crash. Accident victims can also pursue damages for loss of spousal care and companionship.
Your lawyer can review the circumstances of your truck accident with you and determine which of these damages you may be eligible to recover. Your lawyer can help you recover the compensation you need via a truck accident settlement or litigation.
How to Prove Your Injury Claim?
Victims of truck accidents have the legal burden of proof in any injury case they file.
To recover damages, they must establish each legal element. Accident victims must show that:
- A truck driver, trucking company, or some other person or entity behaved negligently under the circumstances
- That this standard-of-care violation caused the truck accident
- That the accident victim suffered at least one injury as a direct consequence of their truck accident
To prove these elements, a truck accident lawyer in your area can retain an expert to testify in your case—at a deposition or on the witness stand at your jury trial. An accident reconstructionist can help you demonstrate that the truck driver negligently caused your accident. A medical expert, on the other hand, can establish a causal relationship between the truck accident and your claimed injuries. They might also establish that you suffered a permanent injury in your truck accident.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Near Your Today
An experienced personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable help during the claims-filing and litigation processes in your truck accident case. First, your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company versus filing a lawsuit and taking your case to court.
If you choose to litigate your case, your lawyer will be with you every step of the way. Specifically, your lawyer can help you answer written interrogatories, and they will be by your side during discovery depositions. Your lawyer can also represent you at other court proceedings, including settlement conferences and a jury trial. Throughout the process, your lawyer will work hard to maximize the total monetary recovery you ultimately recover for your injuries. Contact a lawyer today to get your consultation.