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Large trucks are an essential component in our economy, transporting crucial goods, like food, medicine, and fuel products to communities across the country. However, these vehicles form a significant safety hazard to the average driver of a passenger vehicle.
Even though they only make up four percent of the nation’s 268 million vehicles, large trucks are responsible for thousands of devastating accidents with long-term consequences. These vehicles are implicated in half a million accidents each year and one in every ten deaths on the highway. Injury or death from such an accident occurs in the US approximately every fifteen minutes.
If you have been involved in a truck accident, there are certain questions you will have concerning the legal process of receiving compensation for damage and injuries. Check out the following for frequently asked questions about truck accidents, then contact Kreeger Law to discuss how we can help you with your claim.
I’ve Just Been Involved in a Truck Accident! What Should I Do?
Truck accidents are not only scary and potentially catastrophic; they are confusing and often overwhelming to handle. The first thing you should do in the event of a truck accident is to contact the police to ensure the necessary emergency services will arrive to treat any injuries. Then, if you are able, assist anyone who is injured and requires first aid. Do not move an injured person unless their current position puts them in impending danger.
Stay at the accident scene until professional help arrives, or you could be held liable for a “hit and run.” If your car is blocking traffic or causing other safety concerns and is still drivable, pull over to the roadside and switch on hazard lights to alert other drivers of the crash.
Now that you have completed these safety-related steps, you must gather the important information necessary for your claim. Record the exact location and circumstances of the accident, including the day of the week, time of day, weather conditions, and anything else that may be useful.
Collect the following information:
- Names and addresses of any drivers and passengers
- License plate number of the truck and other identifiers, such as make or model
- License number and employer name of the truck driver
- Insurance company contact information and the truck driver’s policy number
- Names, addresses, and phone number of witnesses
While you wait for the police and emergency services, consider what you might need later. Use your phone to take photos of the scene and resulting damage to your vehicle, as well as injuries sustained by you or any of your passengers. This can serve as vital evidence for your claim and allows you to document anything the police may miss. You can also recount the specifics of the accident while it is fresh in your mind using audio or video footage but be careful you do not assume or admit fault for the crash.
When the police arrive, they will take statements from all parties involved and anyone who witnessed the accident. Ask for a copy of the police report as soon as it is available.
Seek legal assistance from a qualified professional as soon as possible. Truck accident claims are complex and require an attorney with experience in this area. Contact Kreeger Law Firm at (916) 884-6093 for a free initial consultation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Mechanical Defects: According to statistics, the leading cause of truck accidents is mechanical defect, especially involving issues with the truck’s tires or brake system. Steering wheel malfunctions are also prevalent, and the electronic systems that are now included in many large trucks pose another risk for mechanical failure.
Driver Errors: After mechanical issues, the most frequent cause of large truck accidents are the drivers themselves. In most crashes with fatal consequences, driver error is recognized as a contributing factor.
Driver error may take the form of:
- Improper loading of cargo
- Inadequate maintenance of truck
- Driver inexperience or unfamiliarity with a particular route
- Distracted or inattention driving, including interacting with the radio, using a cell phone, looking at a map, or eating
- Aggressive or careless driving
- Failure to yield
- Driving while impaired, meaning under the influence of drugs or alcohol or suffering from an illness or fatigue
How Are Truck Accidents More Serious Than Car Accidents?
Large truck accidents are typically much more serious than passenger car accidents due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles – a large truck with a full cargo load can weigh over 40 tons. These vehicles require greater stopping distances, so they tend to collide with other vehicles at higher speeds and more powerful impacts.
Compared to car accidents, large truck accidents involve:
- Increased damage – A car that collides with a large truck sustains much more significant damage than a car that collides with a similarly-sized vehicle.
- More intense injuries – Such powerful collisions are more likely to result in severe injuries, such as spinal cord damage, brain trauma, paralysis, or amputated limbs. The risk of death is also extremely high in these accidents, with up to 5,000 deaths occurring every year from large truck accidents.
- More expensive medical bills – Because injuries that result from large truck accidents are more severe than those resulting from passenger car accidents, they require more extensive treatment and more time spent in the hospital. This equates to more expensive medical bills and a longer amount of time you have to wait before returning to work if you can return at all.
- Larger Insurance Policies – A truck driver’s insurance policy can be up to fifty times larger than a traditional car accident policy, reaching a value of millions of dollars. The amount of money involved in such a claim means that the insurance company will do everything they can to avoid being held liable, including offering payouts to victims that seem generous but are actually far less than what you could receive with help from an experienced attorney.
Who Is Responsible for My Truck Accident?
To receive the compensation you deserve for your accident, you need to retain the services of a lawyer who will provide negligence on the part of any responsible parties. Several parties may be held liable for a large truck accident, including the truck driver, the owner of the vehicle, the transportation company, the company that leases the truck or trailer, the shipper who ordered the load transportation, and the manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or any associated parts.
To prove that an accident resulted from negligence, your lawyer must establish guidelines for the driver’s duty of care, or the duty to exercise the proper care to protect the safety of other motorists while operating their vehicle. Your lawyer will then show that the truck driver demonstrated a disregard for this duty that led to damage and injury.
How Is Compensation Determined?
Similar to other personal injury claims, compensation is available in the form of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include current medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages between the date of injury and conclusion of the claim and lost earning capacity due to injury. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.
Along with economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages may be pursued if your lawyer can prove that the defendant’s actions that caused the injury were irresponsible, intentionally harmful, or fraudulent.
Choose Kreeger Law for Help with Your Truck Accident
If you have been involved in a large truck accident, it is absolutely critical to choose a law firm that has the knowledge, skill, and resources to navigate such a complex case. At Kreeger Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys work diligently to guide you through every step of the claim process and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. For your free initial consultation, contact us today at (916) 884-6093.