Semi-truck drivers are trained to handle their vehicles safely and properly, but unfortunately, their training is not always consistent, or their employers make unlawful demands to keep driving past the federal limit. When truckers are tired, distracted, or under the influence, deadly accidents can and do occur.
If you or a loved one were hurt in a semi-truck crash, connect with a top-rated attorney from LawyerUp today. You can get in touch with a lawyer who has plenty of experience working on cases similar to yours and who has the drive to fight for full compensation.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
Most truck accident attorneys listed on LawyerUp work on a contingency fee. This means that they’ll only be paid if they win your case. If they don’t win, you don’t pay. This way, you can focus on recovering from your injury and your attorney can focus on obtaining full and maximum compensation on your behalf.
What kinds of compensation may I receive?
The term “damages” refers to the financial, mental, and emotional losses that you suffered a direct result of the truck collision. There are two common types of damages that your truck accident lawyer can fight for in your case: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include:
- Medical treatment and hospital stays
- Long-term rehabilitation and therapy costs
- Lost wages from missing work
- Property damage expenses
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Why are semi-truck accidents so dangerous?
It all comes down to simple physics. Passenger vehicles weigh around 3,000 to 5,000 pounds. Semi-trucks, on the other hand, weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. When this massive vehicle hits a much smaller car, it will almost always cause catastrophic damage. That means accidents with semi-trucks can result in terrible and, often, fatal injuries.
In 2014, there were 1,631 vehicles involved in fatal accidents. Of those vehicles, 135 were semi-trucks. Whether a truck accident results in injuries or results in death, victims and their families have legal rights. One such right is being able to seek compensation.
Trucking companies often hire highly experienced lawyers to help them get out of any liability for injuries incurred in a collision. That’s why it’s so important to speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a wreck. Search LawyerUp now to consult an experienced truck accident attorney.
Safety regulations for commercial drivers
Truckers are subject to federal and state safety regulations to help ensure the safety of the roadways for all users. These rules are enforced by various agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Hours of service regulations
These regulations limit a commercial driver’s hours on the road without rest. For example, a driver may not drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Drug and alcohol testing
Truckers are subject to random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up drug and alcohol testing.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
Commercial truck drivers must have a valid CDL to operate commercial motor vehicles. There are different classes of CDLs depending on the type and weight of the vehicle.
Regular vehicle inspections are required to ensure commercial vehicles meet safety standards. This includes regular brake inspections, tire inspections, and overall vehicle maintenance.
Hazardous material regulations
Drivers carrying hazardous materials must follow additional rules, including special endorsements on their CDLs, specific packaging requirements, and routes.
Commercial drivers must undergo regular medical examinations to ensure they are physically capable of safely operating commercial vehicles.
Drivers must keep logs of their service hours, vehicle inspections, and incidents or accidents.
Commercial vehicles must adhere to maximum weight restrictions, which depend on the type and size of the vehicle and the type of roadways being used.
Violations of these regulations can lead to penalties, including fines, CDL suspensions or revocations, and even criminal charges in severe cases. Notably, violations can also be used as evidence of negligence in a truck accident lawsuit.
Common causes of truck accidents
Truck accidents can be caused by the actions of a trucker, the actions of other drivers or, in rare instances, natural causes. When truck drivers themselves cause the accident, they may do so because they were being inattentive, were speeding, had poor training, or they were just tired. Though federal regulations do mandate that drivers rest for a certain amount of time, tight deadlines mean drivers often ignore these rules.
When other drivers cause the accident, it’s very often because they were in the truck’s no-zone. No-zones are the massive blind spots in front, behind and along the sides of the truck. When drivers linger in the no-zones, trucks may brake or change lanes without being able to see the other vehicles near them. Driving too closely in front of a truck or suddenly cutting them off is especially dangerous since big rigs have difficulty stopping quickly due to their weight.
In some cases, weather and road conditions may cause semi trucks to wreck. However, this is much less common than the above causes.
Common truck accident injuries
Common injuries suffered in a truck accident include:
- Head, neck, and spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries (especially if flammable cargo was involved)
Due to their weight and size, trucks can cause serious injuries that often lead to permanent disability and major lifestyle adjustments.
Who’s liable for the crash and my injuries?
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit after a truck accident, you may believe that the truck driver is solely at fault for the wreck. However, there are multiple parties that may be held liable. Through working with your truck accident attorney, you may be able to name multiple defendants in your lawsuit, which may increase your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve.
The driver, of course, could be held liable if they made a mistake that caused the wreck. For instance, if they lost control of their rig because they were driving too fast along a curve, that’s a mistake on their part. The same could be said if they were checking their social media messages while they were driving. If the driver is an employee of a trucking company and not an independent contractor, their employer may also be held liable.
While truck drivers often own their trucks, in some cases, they don’t. The owner of the truck is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle. If the owner did not properly maintain the semi-truck, and that lack of maintenance caused the wreck (such as the brakes failing), the owner may be held liable. The same applies to companies who lease out trucks to drivers and their employers.
Finally, if the truck suffers a mechanical error due to the way it was manufactured, such as a chassis that malfunctions at weights under which it’s rated, the manufacturer could be held liable.
Connect with a trusted truck accident lawyer today
Semi-trucks are not the only commercial vehicles with which you can get into a wreck. However, these accidents often result in the most severe injuries and damage. If you’ve been in a wreck with a big rig, you have legal options. A semi-truck accident attorney can help you figure out what your best next steps are.
After the wreck, you may get a settlement offer from the insurance company. It’s important to know that you don’t have to accept that offer. An experienced lawyer can review your case and help you decide whether it’s worth pursuing further compensation. However, once you accept that offer, you forfeit your right to seek greater damages.
Before accepting any settlement offer you receive, speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer. Use LawyerUp.co’s free directory to find a hardworking truck accident attorney in your city today.