Accidents involving commercial trucks can be particularly devastating since their sheer mass can cause tremendous destruction to everyone and everything in the vicinity. When a truck accident involves a smaller vehicle like a car, SUV, or motorcycle, the consequences can be deadly.
Anyone who has ever been involved in or witnessed a truck accident can attest to the life-altering effects of these all-too-common collisions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, commercial truck accidents result in nearly four thousand fatalities per year. Given the size of 18 wheelers and the momentum they produce at even moderate speeds, it’s no wonder that truck accidents are so often catastrophic.
Sometimes, other drivers also inadvertently contribute to the circumstances that cause an accident.
For example, if the driver of a passenger car cuts in front of a truck, the truck driver might react suddenly, jack-knifing his vehicle.
Additionally, driving on crowded metropolitan highways, through road construction, or in hazardous weather can compound the challenges. Given these factors, it quickly becomes evident why crashes are so commonplace.
Since truck accidents frequently result in severe injuries, trucking companies carry hefty policies, and those insurance companies routinely fight to settle claims for the minimum possible amount.
Hutchison & Stoy has a team of highly knowledgeable and skilled truck accident lawyers. Our team has a thorough understanding of the complexities of personal injury cases and extensive experience in negotiating with insurance firms.
If you or a loved one suffers injuries or death in an accident, a seasoned semi-truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal, physical, financial, and psychological repercussions. Our team will work to uphold your rights and negotiate the settlement you need to deal with medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.
Causes of Truck Accidents
A variety of different factors can cause an accident involving a commercial vehicle, including:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The pressure to reach a destination under a deadline, which results in spending too much time behind the wheel and driving while overly tired
- Driving while distracted by internal factors such as financial or personal problems
- Driving while texting or talking on a cell phone
- Adverse or dangerous weather conditions like strong winds, sleet, snow, or ice
- Road construction, especially construction that forces sudden lane changes or unexpected drop-offs, or creates unusually narrow lanes or sharp turns
- Speeding or driving recklessly
- Failing to see smaller vehicles that are driving alongside the truck or in the driver’s blind spot
- Equipment failure
- Braking suddenly to avoid an obstacle or another car, resulting in jack-knifing the truck
Regardless of the cause, truck accident lawyers specialize in evaluating the circumstances surrounding an accident. They leverage accident reports and other official documentation to demonstrate liability.
Further, they are adept at negotiating settlements to benefit clients who have suffered life-altering consequences of an accident.
Dealing with the Impact of a Trucking Accident
As mentioned above, trucking accidents often result in devastating consequences, including traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, amputation, severe burns, and loss of hearing or vision. Victims commonly face a lengthy recovery that includes long-term hospitalization and rehabilitation, and many never fully recover their physical and cognitive faculties.
Having sustained such catastrophic injuries, accident victims require ongoing treatment and care. They are often unable to work or are forced to curtail their careers and their earning potential.
As a result, they and their families face financial uncertainty and a dramatically different set of opportunities in life.
For example, the children of an accident survivor might be unable to attend college, or a family might be forced to sell their home.
Further, many accident victims experience long-term psychological effects similar to PTSD, which manifest as anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, fear of driving or even being in a car, depression, intrusive thoughts, or a range of other feelings.
As a result, these people must undergo therapy to alleviate disruptive symptoms, re-establish normal emotional responses, and resume their lives.
Additionally, accident victims typically face significant property damage and loss, to include the destruction of their vehicle, as well as items that may have been in the car with them. Laptops, cellphones, and other expensive electronics might be damaged. Similarly, proprietary materials like work-related documents and files, and even irreplaceable things like a beloved pet or personal memento, can all be destroyed in a crash.
Unfortunately, data shows that as of 2017, nearly twenty-eight million Americans lacked health care insurance. Without it, the cost of the physical and emotional treatment they need after a wreck is almost universally astronomical.
For uninsured accident victims, seeking the assistance of a capable tractor-trailer accident lawyer is a crucial step. The professionals at Hutchison & Stoy are well-versed in handling these kinds of situations.
After an Accident: Do’s and Don’ts
If you or a loved one sustain an injury in an accident caused by a negligent commercial truck driver, cooperate fully with local, state, and Federal officials who will investigate the incident.
Additionally, you should report the accident to your insurance company. Provide specific details about the accident, such as when and where it occurred, weather and road conditions at the time, and whether there were any witnesses.
However, you should avoid speaking with representatives of the trucking company or its insurance provider until you’ve discussed your situation with an experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyer. Insurance companies hope to find evidence that they are not responsible for accidents.
Therefore, any statement you make to them might be potentially damaging to your case. Instead, refer any calls, emails, or personal contact to your attorney.
Finally, be sure to request copies of police reports and any reports submitted to your state’s Department of Transportation. Review these carefully to ensure they are complete and correct. Your attorney can assist you in working with law enforcement to address any inaccuracies.
Finding Help: Truck Accident Attorneys
Personal injury lawyers provide essential services and guidance to help truck accident victims and their families re-establish a semblance of normalcy. They serve as a buffer between the victim and other parties like the trucking company, its insurance company, and law enforcement officials.
Additionally, they answer questions and providing support and guidance so that the victim can focus on recovery.
They also work to identify all possible sources of remuneration, including applicable lines of insurance coverage.
For example, it’s not uncommon for one company to own and insure a truck, while another owns and protects the trailer. In such situations, it may be possible to recover partial compensation from both parties, rather than receiving the total settlement from a single entity.
An experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyer will also coordinate the collection of evidence. They work to develop a substantive case that demonstrates the extent of damages caused by the accident, who is responsible, and how far-reaching the impact is likely to be. The effort requires significant expertise, investigative and administrative support, and access to a broad range of information sources – resources which a well-established law firm has at its disposal.
Sources of evidence, documentation, and other information include:
- Dashcam footage
- Photographs of wrecked vehicles, road conditions, or hazards
- Witness statements
- Surveillance video from nearby businesses or traffic cameras
- Police reports
- Department of Transportation or Motor Vehicle Division reports
- Driver phone records
- Truck maintenance records and inspection reports
- Dispatcher records and instructions
- Drug and alcohol screening reports
- Driver personnel records, training outcomes, and employment history
- Driver logbooks
- “Black box” data, including GPS information, accelerations and decelerations, and braking patterns.
Trucking companies are only legally required to preserve evidence for a short time (typically six months).
For this reason, it is vital to begin collecting documentation and evidence as soon as possible after a wreck. Your attorney will send the trucking company and its attorneys a “spoliation letter,” which serves as legal notice of their duty to preserve all potentially relevant information. If the company fails to do so, they may face monetary sanctions, increased settlement amounts, or even criminal charges.
Your trucking accident lawyer will use all available information to demonstrate who was responsible for the accident. They will show that the other driver’s actions caused your injuries, and negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a fair settlement.
If necessary, your attorney will represent your interests in arbitration or at trial, leveraging years of experience and thorough knowledge of jurisdiction-specific statutes to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Overcoming the repercussions of a trucking accident presents severe challenges for anyone, and most people find they can’t do it alone. Recovery requires a health care team, sound financial guidance, the support of loved ones, and the assistance of a legal expert who is prepared to defend your rights and protect your well-being.