What to know if you have been involved in a truck accident? Imagine driving alongside an 18-wheeler that you assume will stay in its lane, only for that 18-wheeler to start drifting into your lane and crash into you. That type of traumatic accident is a fear for many drivers. However, it has become a reality for many drivers who share the roads with truck drivers.
We assume truck drivers are in their right mind and following the law while operating large commercial vehicles, but truck drivers can engage in dangerous behaviors that can cause serious harm to other motorists. After you have suffered a severe injury in a truck accident, you have the right to seek compensation from the parties responsible for your injuries.
Seeking compensation is no simple task, and there are some things you should know if you are in a truck accident. The best way to get information about your specific situation is to consult with a truck accident lawyer.
How often do truck accidents happen?
Just like other traffic accidents post-pandemic, the number of truck accidents has increased. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 4,800 fatal truck accidents occurred in a recent year. Many more people suffered injuries in hundreds of thousands of crashes. Passengers of smaller motor vehicles suffer the majority of injuries and often suffer more severe harm from a truck accident than truck drivers.
Causes of truck accidents
There are many reasons why truck accidents happen nationwide. Identifying the cause of your crash is necessary to obtain compensation and justice.
The size and weight of the truck are often reasons that serious truck accidents occur. A commercial truck is already 30 times larger than the average motor vehicle, and a truck’s cargo can add additional weight. Trucking companies and drivers must be sure not to overload a truck, as the extra weight can lead to severe crashes.
The truck’s size also requires the truck driver to brake more frequently and with more room than the average motor vehicle. Truck drivers can easily collide with other vehicles when they fail to accurately judge their distances and stop at appropriate lengths.
Truck drivers can also strike other vehicles when they engage in other acts of negligence, like:
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
- Drinking and driving
- Failing to check blind spots
- Failing to yield
- Aggressive driving
Several parties can be held liable in a truck accident
One thing you want to remember about a truck accident is that several parties can be responsible for your crash and injuries. One of the main parties that are responsible is the truck driver. The truck driver can easily cause a truck accident through several acts of negligence.
However, while most attention immediately goes to the truck driver, other parties can also share liability.
The trucking company
Another possible liable party for your truck accident is the trucking company. The trucking company is legally responsible for employing responsible truck drivers and upholding many federal regulations. Some of these federal regulations include mandatory drug testing for truck drivers and routine truck inspections.
Suppose truck drivers fail a drug test or do not carry specific paperwork while driving. In that case, trucking companies must terminate the truck driver or immediately stop the driver from returning to the roads. Instead, trucking companies allow truck drivers to continue driving and risk the safety of other motorists.
Trucking companies might not be negligent, but they still might share liability. This is because the law holds employers vicariously responsible for the negligence of employees. Your lawyer can examine whether the trucking company is liable for your injuries.
Another liable party in your truck accident can be the truck manufacturer itself. Truck manufacturers are responsible for producing safe vehicle parts for each truck. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When a vehicle part is defective, it can malfunction when the truck is operating and cause a driver to lose control and crash.
In addition to the above parties, others might share liability, including:
- Other drivers, if they caused the truck driver to react and crash
- Cargo loaders for improper loading that shifts and causes the truck to lose balance
- Truck maintenance companies, if they do not conduct proper inspections and repairs
The right to sue for damages
Another fact you want to remember is that you have the right to sue for all the damages you endured from your truck accident. Damages include all the costs of the physical injuries caused by your truck accident and even the property damage caused to your car due to the truck accident.
You will likely face many medical expenses from your truck accident. These expenses include ambulance rides, emergency surgeries, pain medications, wheelchairs and crutches, and possibly in-home medical care. Your medical expenses do not stop after you have received medical assistance for your injuries. You might still need to pay for physical therapy, speech therapy, and in-home attendants for the long term, especially when your injuries are permanent.
Time off from work
Another typical damage that you can list in your truck accident lawsuit is the income you lost from the time that you missed work due to your accident. Your injuries can require you to take time off from work, and there is only so much paid time off and sick leave that you can use to cover your recovery period. You can begin losing income that your household relies on. You also might never return to your previous position and might have to accept a lower-paying position.
Pain and suffering
The physical pain you endured from your truck accident can be another damage in your lawsuit. Many truck accident victims do not know that they can seek compensation for the physical pain that they endured. Because this is intangible damage, some people do not know how to calculate a monetary amount for pain and suffering. Fortunately, an experienced lawyer can calculate this pain and suffering damage using particular methods accepted by insurance companies.
Similar to pain and suffering, you can also list the mental anguish that you experience from your truck accident as legitimate damage in your lawsuit. The mental scars from your truck accident can cause significant harm in the present and future. You can suffer from severe mental disorders like PTSD and depression, affecting your ability to adjust to your new way of life with your catastrophic injuries. The symptoms of these mental disorders can also cause you to experience mood swings and other behavioral issues. An experienced lawyer can also calculate this damage, like pain and suffering.
You can also sue for any property damage caused by your truck accident. The property damage your car can sustain can be so severe that your car gets entirely wrecked by the accident. You may have to pay for a new vehicle, which can also be a significant expense. You can receive compensation for whatever amount of damage that your car sustained from your truck accident.
Evidence needed to prove liability
Another thing you should know is that evidence is necessary to prove liability and damages. Liability is the legal responsibility that the defendant has in your truck accident. To prove the other party is liable for your accident, you must use the most robust evidence possible. You must also provide evidence that supports the extent of your injuries and losses.
Some examples of evidence your lawyer can use to prove your claim include:
- Copies of medical records
- Testimony from medical providers
- Photos of the accident scene
- Testimony from all witnesses present at the scene of the accident
- Photos of your vehicle
- Video evidence of the accident scene
- Copies of police reports
When dealing with an injury, you should not try to gather evidence alone. Enlist the help of a legal professional right away.
What are the elements of negligence?
To prove the other party’s negligence, you will be responsible for proving four legal elements that the defendant committed.
These four elements include:
- Duty of care. You will be responsible for proving that the defendant owed you a specific duty of care.
- Breach of duty of care. You will be responsible for proving that the defendant’s actions violated that duty of care they owed you.
- Causation. You will be responsible for proving how the defendant’s actions directly contributed to the harm that you experienced from your accident.
- Damages. You will be responsible for proving the damages you endured from your accident.
Preparing to fight with insurance companies
At some point, you will have to fight with insurance companies about what you deserve for your lawsuit. Many truck accident lawsuits get resolved through a settlement. Unfortunately, insurers do whatever they can to avoid paying a fair settlement. Insurance companies might either insinuate that you are responsible for your accident or downplay the serious nature of your injuries.
Never try to engage in this fight without help from an experienced truck accident lawyer.
What to look for in a truck accident lawyer
Another thing that you want to keep in mind is that you can increase your chances of winning your lawsuit by reaching out to a truck accident lawyer. The last thing you want to do is stress yourself out while pursuing compensation for your injuries. You also do not want to risk accepting less than you deserve.
While insurance companies should take it easy on you while you are dealing with serious injuries, they will not. They will often stop at nothing to discredit your injuries and prevent you from receiving full compensation. A truck accident lawyer can provide the legal protection you need for your insurance claim or lawsuit.
You want the right lawyer on your side, and here are some criteria you want to use when deciding on a truck accident lawyer.
When hiring a lawyer, you want to consider the truck accident lawyer’s experience handling truck accident cases. It will be better to have representation from someone with a history of successfully handling truck accident cases. You do not want to take your chances with a lawyer who focuses on another area of law.
Another factor you want to consider is how well your truck accident lawyer communicates with you. The better that a truck accident lawyer is at remaining in communication with you, the better your chances of staying organized throughout the process.
Truck accident cases can change at any moment. If a truck accident lawyer is slow at informing you about the new changes throughout the process, it can also affect how quickly your matter ends. It can also leave you stressed and uncertain throughout the process.
Willingness to take your lawsuit to trial
Another factor that you want to keep in mind is whether your truck accident lawyer is willing to take your case to trial or not. While a settlement directly with insurers is preferable in most cases, sometimes it is inadequate to obtain proper compensation. Your lawyer should be willing to take your case to trial and do whatever it takes to reach the desired outcome that you want from your lawsuit.
Speak to a truck accident lawyer today
When seeking compensation for your truck accident lawsuit, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. Do not be intimidated by the process. With an attorney representing your best interests, you are more likely to receive the compensation you deserve.