Commercial trucks are the huge vehicles that transport our goods across the United States, bringing supplies to stores and food to markets for our purchase. Thousands of hardworking, specially trained individuals earn commercial driving licenses to drive these trucks. However, big commercial trucks are not always secure or responsibly driven.
Truck drivers often struggle with fatigue, distraction, or other issues that lead them to make mistakes while driving. Big trucks are also challenging to maneuver, and some may suffer from bad brakes or tires that lead to serious accidents on the road.
If you were in a commercial truck accident, do not go through it alone. Seek medical treatment and help from a truck accident lawyer as soon as you can after your accident to start your recovery.
What Causes Commercial Truck Accidents?
Commercial trucks like semi-trucks often weigh about 35,000 pounds without a load. When fully loaded, they may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. With such a large vehicle to maneuver, it’s no wonder that many truck drivers struggle on small roads with sharp turns.
According to data gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, around 141,000 commercial trucks get into accidents during a typical three-month period.
Driver error causes about 87 percent of all crashes.
- Driving impaired (by illness, drugs, alcohol, etc.)
However, in addition to driver error, many commercial truck accidents were caused by other factors such as brake problems, tire problems, or cargo shifts.
Sometimes, however, drivers are not entirely responsible for their own mistakes. This might be the case, for example, if the carrier company overworked a driver.
Who Can Owe Me Compensation for Commercial Truck Accidents?
Federal law regulates how many hours a commercial truck driver is allowed to work without rest. Commercial truck drivers carrying property are not allowed to drive more than 14 hours without at least a 10-hour break in between. Commercial drivers carrying passengers are not allowed to drive more than 10 hours without at least an eight-hour break in between.
If an investigation finds that drivers have been pressured to drive more than they should have and acted unsafely due to fatigue, the motor carrier company that employs them could be held partly responsible for the crash.
In addition, if bad brakes, tires, or some other mechanical malfunction caused the accident, it is possible to hold the truck manufacturer or carrier company at fault. Manufacturers are required to make trucks safe, and all trucks must be maintained and regularly checked for damage. If the manufacturer or carrier company failed to maintain a safe vehicle, they could be held responsible for its malfunction.
What Do I Do if I’m in a Commercial Truck Accident?
After a commercial truck accident, to recover quickly and get back on your feet after the crash, immediately:
- Call an ambulance. You will need to make sure that you and any others who need it get the medical treatment necessary as soon as possible.
- Call the police. Having a report from the police will help determine who caused the accident and will provide a helpful record of the accident scene and witness statements.
- Exchange insurance information. You will need to exchange information with the other driver so you can contact their insurance later.
- Take photos. If you are physically able to, snap pictures of the scene and any injuries or damage you see.
- Talk to witnesses. The police will likely get witness statements, but you should also get statements from them (if possible) or collect their contact information in case you need their testimony later.
- Call your insurance company. Report the accident, but be sure you don’t say anything that could be construed as taking the blame.
- Call a truck accident attorney. An attorney will provide you with further guidance on the next steps you’ll need to take in your truck accident claim.
As you receive medical treatment for your injuries, it’s also essential that you hold on to the records and bills you receive. You will need to provide these as evidence in your truck accident claim. You should also collect bills for property damage or any other costs associated with the accident.
Finally, keep documentation of other things you suffer a lost job, lost life enjoyment, lost relationships, etc. This documentation will help your lawyers calculate the non-economic damages you deserve.
What Damages Can I Collect After a Commercial Truck Accident?
You will be able to collect both economic and non-economic damages after your accident.
- Medical expenses hospital visits, surgeries, medications, ongoing therapy, etc.
- Property damage expenses.
- Lost income from time taken off work to recover and lost earning capacity if you can’t return to work as before.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional trauma and distress.
- Lost life enjoyment.
- Lost consortium.
To calculate these damages, lawyers will look at your bills and receipts and any documentation of lost work or personal pain and suffering. They will then set an amount they believe your claim could be worth in court. Likely, they will also tell you the lowest amount of compensation you should accept in a settlement so you can work on negotiations.
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Help?
After a commercial truck accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong case against those who caused your accident. They will support you and help you gather evidence, they will write and send out a complaint for you, and they will negotiate with the insurance company to be sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency basis, which means they’ll only take payment if they win your case. You can pay them with a percentage of your final settlement, so you won’t have any out-of-pocket costs.