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The Ultimate Guide to Truck Accidents: Winning Your Case

Learn What to Do After an Accident & How to Get Legal Help

Your actions in the immediate aftermath of an accident with a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle will significantly impact your case. If you or someone you know suffers injuries in a truck accident, an expert lawyer will help you pursue damages to cover medical costs, lost income, and other expenses.

Large semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles pose a serious threat to drivers in normal passenger vehicles. A collision with a multi-ton truck can inflict severe injuries on the victims of driver mistakes, improper maintenance, or faulty manufacturing.

Across the country, states and local jurisdictions and increasing their regulation of the trucking industry due to high incidences of accidents and other issues. Companies are pushing their drivers for too many hours on the road or putting too much weight on vehicles to try and earn more money per trip.

Logging more miles in shorter hours is a recipe for disaster, especially when driving a large truck with one or more trailers. A wrong move of feet and inches can mean someone’s death or lifelong disability.

Knowing what to do after an accident will help you build a case and hold the trucking company, drivers, and any other liable parties responsible.

Different Commercial Trucks on the Road

Anyone driving on today’s highways knows just how prevalent commercial trucks are. Whether you’re driving in the early morning or the middle of the night, you’ll see trucks scattered across the country’s roadways.

Not all trucks are the same, and the rules and regulations are often specific to the type of truck and what they are carrying. Here are some of the commercial trucks you’ll see.

Tractor-Trailers

These are some of the most common large trucks on the road. Usually, 18-wheelers are used to carry groceries, consumer goods, and other supplies to logistics centers around the country. From there, the goods are sorted and put into smaller delivery trucks. Tractor-trailers are the heaviest trucks moving inventories.

Delivery Trucks/Vans

Smaller trucks pick up packages from logistics centers or warehouses and bring them to small stores, businesses, and houses. These are typically medium-weight trucks. These days, we see more delivery trucks on the road due to increased online shopping demand.

Construction Vehicles

Dump trucks, cranes, cement trucks, and other construction vehicles are also a significant safety risk because of their size and weight.

Buses

Whether it’s school buses, public buses, or private commercial charter buses, these are large vehicles that usually must adhere to strict guidelines to safely operate on the road.

Truck Accidents Vs. Passenger Vehicle Accidents

It’s normal for victims and their families to think that commercial trucks are treated the same as passenger cars when an accident happens.

That, however, is not the case. The prevalence of trucks and the risks involved in heavy vehicles means the law treats them very differently. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations govern a wide array of maintenance, size, speed, and other rules regarding truck safety.

Trucks, in general, must follow a library of regulations to be considered road-worthy. If not, they face heightened liability in the form of fines and other penalties. If a non-compliant truck is involved in an accident, they typically have to pay more in damages and potentially face criminal penalties.

Having an expert truck accident lawyer on your side to pursue compensation and prove negligence is vital to the success of your case.

Why Drivers & Trucking Companies Push the Envelope

Commercial trucking tries to keep up with the speed of business. Currently and for the past several years, trucking owners and truck companies have been under increased pressure to deliver. There are several contributing factors, including:

Lack of Certified Drivers – If you scan the news, you’ll see mountains of reporting over the past year about how few commercial drivers are available. Companies need drivers, and the lack of available candidates is putting a crunch on ground transport and logistics.

When that happens, more inexperienced drivers are on the road and in charge of massive trucks. They may not have the training or hours on the road required to react to poor road conditions or prevent dangerous scenarios.

Higher Gas Prices – The high cost of gas puts more pressure on trucks to make every trip count. Some companies may be inclined to put too much weight on trailers which makes the truck more dangerous.

High Consumer Demand – Covid-19 and the years of lockdowns and remote working made people buy more goods online than anytime before. As a result, trucks have been tracking back and forth between states to meet delivery deadlines. When drivers log more hours, bad things happen.

Bored or Sleepy Drivers – When you spend weeks at a time on the road, it’s easy to become complacent. Plenty of commercial truck accidents in Florida and elsewhere happen because a driver is texting, talking on the phone, watching videos, or trying to look at their maps to find a faster way to their destination. Obviously, distracted driving is a major cause of accidents. Many drivers and the companies they work for exceed the maximum road time and fail to keep accurate logs (some actually create fake logs to cover their tracks).  That way they can travel further and make more money….with the price being human safety.

There are many ways that truck accidents can cause injury and death. Here are a few.

Commercial Driving Limits

Commercial drivers now have limits on how many hours they can drive per day. Currently, drivers can:

  • Work no more than 14 hours per day, of which 11 can be spent actively driving
  • Property-carrying truck drivers who work 7 consecutive days can only work 60 hours
  • Property-carrying truck drivers working 8 consecutive days can only work 70 hours
  • Commercial buses designed to carry passengers are limited to 15 hours per day, of which 10 can be behind the wheel
  • Drivers must take at least a 30-minute break for every 8 hours spent driving

As you can see, even with the rules, drivers are working long hours. Every year, many accidents happen because the truck driver started to doze off and veered into another lane.  And many do not adhere to the regulations.

Mistakes Drivers & Trucking Companies Make

Whether the truck is owned by a trucking company, a large conglomerate, or a small owner-operator, each owner must maintain the truck and keep its records up to date. Skipping oil checks, keeping old tires on for too long, not keeping the oil fresh, checking valves, and more are ways that people save money and pad profits.

However, these are all incredibly risky. Drivers need trucks that can respond when they need them the most. A truck that can’t maneuver through tight turns, keep tracking in wet conditions, and maintain high speeds for hours is more likely to encounter problems that pose risks to the drivers around them.

Here are some common causes of semi-truck and truck accidents:

  • Missed or Casual Inspections
  • Poor Driver Training
  • Improper Loading Practices
  • Speeding
  • Shifting Loads
  • Aggressive Driving

Both the trucks and the drivers need to be on point to avoid unnecessary risks on the road.

Truck Accidents Lead to Serious Injuries

With truck accidents, the stakes are high. If you are in a sedan, driving on a motorcycle, colliding with a loaded delivery van, or worse, a tractor-trailer can be incredibly dangerous. Small mistakes have outsized outcomes.

When people get in accidents with heavy trucks, they can experience some of the following injuries:

  • Burns
  • Broken Bones
  • Damaged Nerves
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Significant Blood Loss

Severe injuries are life-changing. A small mistake by a truck driver or truck owner can ruin a family’s life forever. It can stop people from working jobs, costing them millions of dollars in future income. One minute, you’re driving and minding your business, and the next, you’re in the back of an ambulance.

High Costs Related to Truck Accident Injuries

The pain and suffering of injuries are big consequences of any truck accident. However, there’s more to it than that. Frequently, truck accidents put victims and their families in precarious financial situations.

When people can’t work, they struggle to pay for the normal cost of living. Everything, from gas to a trip to the grocery store, becomes stressful. It’s easy for the trauma of a truck accident to be compounded by the financial impact after the fact.

In addition to the lost income, families face high costs of medical care as they deal with the effects of truck accidents and truck driver mistakes. There is the initial emergency room visit, surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy, medications, long-term hospital stays, and more.

In some cases, insurance can cover some or all of the costs. Most of the time people are left with no other realistic option other than to pursue a personal injury case to seek damages for their injuries.

Your Guide: What You Should Do After a Truck Accident

Part of getting help from an expert lawyer is knowing what to do and what to say. They guide you in everything from where to get medical help and how you communicate with the truck driving company, their lawyers, and their insurance providers.

Unfortunately, most victims hire an experienced truck accident attorney only after the accident is over. Here, though, we offer some tips on what you should do if you ever get into an accident with a commercial vehicle.

Step 1 – Call 911

Before anything else, call for emergency responder support. You or someone else at the scene may be injured. Surprisingly, many drivers who experience severe injuries don’t notice them immediately because of the adrenaline involved after an intense experience. If you feel any pain or lack of mobility, stay still and wait for the ambulance.

Step 2 – Try to Gather Any Evidence

If you or any other passengers are able, do what you can of the following to gather evidence for your case:

  • Take pictures
  • Gather witness information
  • Ask for truck driver information & company details
  • Ask for the police report
  • Look for any street cameras

Proving your case won’t happen overnight, but any detail will help your lawyer build a strong mountain of evidence against the at-fault parties.

Step 3 – Hire an Expert Truck Accident Lawyer…quickly

The right lawyer will be critical to your case’s success. Typically, you can avail yourself of free consultations in-person or over the phone (ex., If you’re in the hospital and can’t make it to the lawyer’s office).

An experienced attorney can guide you to good medical resources, help with paperwork related to your case, manage correspondence between parties, and work to win you damages for your injuries.

Typically, lawyers will work for you and will ultimately take their fee out of any settlement or judgment you win. This type of payment agreement encourages victims to hire the best attorney they can find, and one with considerable experience winning significant verdicts for truck accident victims.

You will usually need to sign a written representation agreement to secure your lawyer’s services.

Step 4 – Letters of Preservation & Other Paperwork

When your legal team works on your case, they immediately get started securing the necessary paperwork to prove negligence. Usually, this involves sending letters of preservation to the trucking company that prevents them from disposing of maintenance records, driver records, or any other documents pertaining to your case. These letters also prevent trucking companies from making changes to the truck and other related equipment. They essentially freeze evidence in time.

The other thing that a skilled truck crash lawyer will do is preserve evidence, identify and contact witnesses, and work with their investigators to assemble all evidence and documentation before it is destroyed, recorded over or lost.  Remember, the trucking company’s insurance company has started working on this case from the minute the crash occurred. They are prepared for this and will do everything they can to deflect fault, blame you or someone else for their negligence.  You want to hire a top notch truck crash lawyer as soon as possible so they can get a jump on the truck insurance company investigators and lawyers and protect your rights.

Step 5 – Keep All Documents Related to Your Case

Maintain records, receipts, and any other relevant documents. Any trip to the doctor, emails about changes in your role at work, sessions with therapists, etc., are needed to show your injuries’ current and future costs. Keep everything that you can and give them to your lawyer.

Winning a Truck Accident Personal Injury Case

No two truck accidents are the same. In a case with victims who experience serious injuries, every small detail matters. Small items could impact how the case is decided or the course of any settlement negotiations.

Hiring an expert lawyer is vital to the success of any case. They must show that the driver or some other party (owner, manufacturer, service company, etc.) was negligent and that their negligence led directly to your injuries or the death of a loved one. This typically requires years of experience working on similar cases.

The right lawyer will assess the impact of your injuries and fight aggressively to win suitable damages for now and in the future.

Truck drivers on the road have a duty of care to ensure their rigs are safe and they don’t present unnecessary risks to other drivers around them. Showing a history of careless driving and poor maintenance can establish the track record necessary to win your case. Likewise, a mountain of evidence from the scene, police records, cameras in the area, and more can prove your case definitively.

Deciding on a Settlement Offer

In many instances, trucking companies will offer to settle your case out of court. When a driver or some other defendant is clearly at fault, settlements are a faster, easier way to secure compensation for victims.

The main issue with settlements is knowing when to accept an offer and when to fight for more dollars. Victims may feel pressure to take an early but low offer because of the financial hardships they face. However, an experienced lawyer will know what your case is worth and when the settlement offer is a good one.

Finding The Best Truck Crash lawyer

Look for a lawyer who is a board certified trial lawyer who has handled major truck crash cases. These are complex cases and involve the use of sophisticated experts and engineers to properly handle.  Be sure that the lawyer you choose handles these cases, has a track record with successful outcomes (verdicts and settlements, and is recognized as being at the top of their field.  You want to know that your lawyer understands the area of truck crash litigation.  Is the lawyer and law firm recognized at a top tier lawyer or firm in the area?  Are they recognized by Florida SuperLawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, U.S. News Top Law Firms, or “Florida Legal Elite” by Florida Trend magazine?

Make sure you have a good dialogue with the lawyer and that they answer your questions.  Then you can begin working on your physical recovery while your lawyers and their team work on your legal recovery.

 

 

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