The trucking industry is the backbone of global economies, as it connects far-flung corners of countries, facilitates the delivery of crucial goods and services, and ensures industries run smoothly.
This unsung hero of commerce also has a dark side, though—frequent and sometimes deadly accidents involving trucks. These vehicles’ sheer size and weight can have devastating consequences when accidents occur. In the United States alone, 4,951 fatalities involved large truck crashes in just one year, almost a 1 percent increase from the previous year.
While driver-related errors are a common reason for truck accidents, they’re not the whole story. Many factors contribute to these accidents, including long work hours, tight schedules, driver fatigue, distraction, speeding, reckless driving, improper loading, and poor vehicle maintenance.
After a truck accident, you’ll need to know how a Denver truck accident attorney can help you to get your claim and why getting legal representation is important for securing the compensation you need.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are typically more complex than other types of accidents due to the nature of the vehicle and truck drivers’ enhanced responsibilities. Let’s look more closely at the most common causes of large truck accidents.
Truck drivers often have tight schedules and work long hours, leading to fatigue. This can manifest in drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel, which significantly impairs their driving skills. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the number of hours a driver can be on the road, but drivers sometimes ignore these rules, leading to overwork and exhaustion.
Distracted driving remains a pervasive issue on the roads. Factors such as mobile phones, GPS, and even a hurried snack can divert a driver’s attention, potentially resulting in an accident. A momentary diversion from the road can have catastrophic outcomes, emphasizing the need for heightened awareness and prevention.
Speeding and Reckless Driving
The demands of adhering to delivery schedules can occasionally compel truck drivers to engage in speeding and risky driving behaviors, such as disregarding established safety protocols.
Reckless driving, abrupt lane changes, tailgating, and neglecting traffic signals endanger drivers and pedestrians and can lead to accidents. Reckless conduct warrants vigilant attention and the enforcement of traffic regulations to mitigate potential hazards.
A truck driver must make sure to balance and secure all loads correctly. Poorly executed loading can profoundly alter a truck’s stability and maneuvering capabilities, significantly elevating the risk of accidents.
This underscores the necessity for stringent regulations governing the proper loading and securing of cargo on trucks, with safety as the paramount concern.
Lack of Maintenance
Regular truck maintenance is essential to keep these large vehicles safe. In some instances, however, drivers may overlook truck maintenance due to negligence, cost-saving strategies, or time pressures. This can lead to malfunctions, such as brake failures or tire blowouts, causing serious accidents.
The Effect of Truck Accidents
The wreckage that truck accidents leave behind is far from reminiscent of a minor fender-bender. The fallout of truck accidents can be catastrophic and extend beyond physical damage to include emotional and financial harm.
Truck accidents account for a significant portion of road fatalities and often have devastating consequences for victims. The physical injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe injuries, such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries may require long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation and may lead to permanent disability.
The emotional trauma can be equally devastating. Accident victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Living with constant fear and anxiety following such a traumatic experience can lead to diminished quality of life.
Many victims of truck accidents might struggle to get into their cars for months or years afterward. Driving can become impossible, as it may trigger thoughts of the traumatic incident.
Financially, truck accidents can cause significant hardship. In serious cases, medical bills, loss of income due to inability to work, property damage, and burial costs can quickly add up. Many victims find themselves in a financial crisis after a truck accident, struggling to manage the escalating costs.
Liability in Truck Accident Cases
Determining liability in truck accidents involves various parties, not just the driver. The trucking company, the truck’s owner, loaders, manufacturers of the truck parts, and even entities responsible for road conditions could have a share in the liability.
Establishing liability often requires an accident attorney to prove liability and secure a successful outcome.
Several factors are relevant to establishing liability in a truck accident. These include compliance with safety regulations, driver behavior, the truck’s maintenance and repair records, the manner of loading the cargo, and even the road conditions at the time of the accident.
If a driver was operating beyond the federally regulated hours of service, this could indicate negligence on the part of the driver or the trucking company, thus establishing liability.
In some cases, respondeat superior may apply. This legal principle holds employers liable for their employees’ actions during their employment. This means that the trucking company may be accountable for the truck driver’s actions.
Product liability may come into play. If a defect in the truck or one of its parts caused the truck accident, the manufacturer of the truck or faulty part could be liable. State or local governments may be partly responsible when poorly maintained or designed highways contribute to an accident. Suing a governmental entity, unfortunately, involves a different set of rules and shorter deadlines.
Legal Options After a Truck Accident
You have several legal options if you’ve been in a truck accident. One option is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. In this case, you may claim compensation for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other losses associated with the accident.
Another option if the accident resulted in the death of a loved one is to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This legal action seeks compensation for loss of companionship, loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and any medical expenses incurred before death.
You can file a product liability lawsuit if the accident was due to a defect in the truck or one of its parts. This claim could be against the truck manufacturer or the manufacturer of the faulty part. Each type of claim has different deadlines for filing a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, which vary from state to state.
To make an informed decision on the best legal option for your situation and ensure that you file your claim within the required time limit, talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Your attorney can guide you in the right direction and explain what makes sense for your unique circumstances.
The Importance of Legal Representation After a Truck Accident
Legal representation can make a world of difference when dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident. In times of such crisis, you need someone knowledgeable on your side to navigate the legal landscape.
Truck accidents are complex and have serious consequences, so having the support of a lawyer to guide you through the legal process and deal with the legal intricacies can make all the difference.
A Lawyer Can Deal With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies seek to reduce payouts to keep their profits high and often employ tactics that aim to leave accident victims with the least amount of money possible. They may try to shift blame onto the victim or minimize the extent of the victim’s injuries.
In other cases, they might delay the claim process intentionally, hoping the victim will get desperate and accept a low settlement.
These tactics can leave victims frustrated and confused, unsure of what to do next.
Insurance adjusters may also offer settlements that appear generous but barely cover the victim’s actual expenses. A lawyer understands these strategies and knows how to counter them to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
Lawyers Can Handle the Intricacies of the Court Case and Gathering Evidence
Numerous state and federal regulations govern trucking, and violating these rules can contribute to accidents. A lawyer can sift through these regulations and identify potential violations that may prove the truck driver or trucking company’s liability.
Gathering and preserving evidence can build a strong case. Evidence can include photos from the accident scene, witness testimonies, the truck driver’s logbook, and the truck’s black box data.
A lawyer can thoroughly investigate the accident, examine the crash scene, review security camera footage, analyze medical reports, and speak with accident reconstruction experts. Such meticulous investigation can establish fault and build a solid case against the responsible parties.
A Lawyer Can Secure Maximum Compensation for Your Accident
A truck accident victim may pursue several damages, including compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering.
You’ll need a legal mind to accurately evaluate your case and fight for maximum compensation. A lawyer understands the negotiation process and can effectively deal with opposing lawyers or parties.
The chaos following a truck accident can overwhelm anyone. A lawyer’s guidance can lighten the burden and fight for justice.
Get Legal Representation for Your Truck Accident
Whether due to driver fatigue from long working hours, distractions while driving, speeding and reckless behavior, improper loading of cargo, or poor truck maintenance, truck accidents represent serious failures in adhering to responsible operating standards and practices.
A truck accident can turn your life upside down, leading to serious physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial burdens. Recovering from these disastrous events is about physically healing and overcoming the ensuing financial and emotional turmoil. Having legal representation in the days after a truck accident can make all the difference in how you move forward.
A lawyer can deal with insurance companies, handle the complexities of the court case, collect the necessary evidence, and work to secure maximum compensation for your ordeal.
Contact a personal injury attorney if you’ve been in a truck accident and need legal representation. Preparation and quick action will put you in the best position to secure compensation for your trauma and stress.