Semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers, are massive vehicles that traverse area roadways daily. These vehicles typically travel fast. When a collision occurs between a semi-truck and a smaller car, the smaller vehicle’s occupants usually bear the brunt of the crash.
The force of a semi-truck collision may cause an accident victim’s body to move around violently inside their vehicle, causing severe injuries. These injuries may require the accident victim to undergo significant medical treatments and physical therapy. Accident victims may also experience ongoing or permanent pain and suffering.
When the trucker causes the crash, you can file a claim and seek damages.
How much money can I get from a semi-truck accident? Generally, the money you will recover from a semi-truck accident will correspond to the severity of your injuries. Injuries that require you to lose income while you rest at home instead of going to work or that cause severe pain and suffering will generally result in larger settlements or court judgements. Another factor that can influence the final dollar figure of a claim is what the trucker did at the time of the crash—speeding, texting, drinking, or falling asleep from spending too much time on the job can all increase the amount of money you recover. Finally, if a trucker worked for a trucking company, you can file a claim with their employer’s insurance company, too, and recover compensation from them, too.
If you or a person you love suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident that resulted from a semi-truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you have legal options to recover that compensation from the liable parties’ insurance companies.
A knowledgeable Edmonton truck accident lawyer in your area can first meet with you to discuss your accident, the injuries you received, and the medical treatment you underwent. If you can file a claim for damages, your lawyer can assist you during the claims-filing process and negotiate with the insurance company adjuster. Finally, if the adjuster will not compensate you reasonably for your accident-related injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to an efficient resolution.
Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Semi-truck accidents usually happen when truck drivers and trucking companies commit negligent acts. Truck driver error is one of the most common causes of crashes.
Truck driver negligence can take various forms, but it usually involves traffic law violations, road rage, motor carrier violations, distracted driving, intoxicated driving, and driver fatigue.
Like all other motor vehicle operators, truck drivers have a duty to drive safely and carefully at all times. This means they must follow all applicable traffic laws, including speed limits and right-of-way laws. When truck drivers violate these laws, they are more likely to cause serious accidents with other vehicles and pedestrians.
Road rage is another common cause of truck crashes. Many truck drivers hurry to reach their final destination and become frustrated when other drivers operate their vehicles too slowly. As a result, some truck drivers resort to speeding, failing to use turn signals, weaving in and out of heavy traffic, and tailgating slower-moving vehicles. These drivers may then cause a serious crash with another vehicle.
Other truck accidents result from motor carrier rule violations. The primary purpose of national motor carrier regulations is to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. These regulations pertain to vehicle load limits, loading and unloading truck cargo, and securing cargo properly to a truck bed.
When semi-truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them violate these regulations, the truck’s center of gravity may become offset while it is in motion, causing it to overturn. Moreover, improperly loaded cargo can fall into the road and cause a massive, multi-vehicle pile-up or collision.
In addition to motor carrier rule violations, some semi-truck accidents result from distracted driving. Truck drivers are distracted when they fail to watch the road and pay attention. Instead of watching traffic and using their rearview and side view mirrors, they might be texting on a cellular phone or tablet, listening to loud music in their vehicle, or fiddling with a GPS navigation device. Unfortunately, these activities can divert a truck driver’s attention away from the road, causing them to miss seeing an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian and leading to severe accidents and injuries.
Intoxicated driving is another common cause of semi-truck accidents. Truck drivers are legally intoxicated if they have any amount of alcohol in their system while behind the wheel. This is because alcohol severely impairs a driver’s vision, slurs their speech, limits their concentration, and delays their reaction time. Consequently, an intoxicated truck driver may not stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
Finally, some truck accidents occur when drivers become fatigued while driving. Trucking companies often incentivize their drivers to operate their vehicles for long hours without stopping. Consequently, truck drivers may resort to stimulant drugs to keep themselves awake for long hours. However, this can sometimes have the opposite effect, causing a truck driver to become fatigued and fall asleep at the wheel. When this happens, the driver may lose control over their vehicle and cause a significant crash. Even if the driver does not fall completely asleep while driving, they may still experience limited concentration that prevents them from operating their truck safely.
In addition to negligent truck drivers, the trucking companies that employ these drivers are sometimes negligent. First, when a truck driver operates their vehicle in a negligent manner while on the job, the trucking company that employs them may automatically share in some or all of the blame for the accident. This is called vicarious liability.
Moreover, trucking companies that hire or retain drivers with poor driving records—or who have a history of moving violations—may be liable for any accidents and injuries that their drivers cause. Finally, trucking companies may be negligent when they fail to supervise their employee truck drivers and ensure that they comply with all ongoing safety protocols and continuing education requirements.
If you suffered injuries in a semi-truck crash that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area can review your accident circumstances with you and determine your legal options for moving forward. Your lawyer can then file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and pursue the total amount of compensation you deserve for your accident-related injuries.
Common Injuries that Semi-Truck Accident Victims Suffer
When a large semi-truck or tractor-trailer hits a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle can suffer severe and sometimes debilitating injuries. The injuries that accident victims suffer in semi-truck accidents depend upon several factors, including the force of the collision, the way their body moves in the vehicle, and whether their body strikes something in the vehicle.
Some of the most common injuries that truck accident victims suffer include traumatic head and brain injuries, internal organ damage, soft tissue injuries, bruises, fractures, abrasions, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis injuries.
As soon as possible after your truck accident, you should follow up at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency facility for treatment. This is true even if you are asymptomatic. This is because minor injuries can become far worse if they remain untreated.
At a hospital emergency room, the doctor can order the necessary MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays to ascertain your medical condition. The provider on duty can also recommend future medical care in case your injury symptoms become worse over time.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can begin advocating for you even while you continue treating your injuries. They can handle all of the legal aspects of your claim so that you can focus your attention on making a full recovery. Once your medical treatment is complete, your lawyer can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company on your behalf and begin negotiating fair settlement compensation for you.
Filing a Claim for Damages
The first step to filing a claim for damages is for your truck accident lawyer to submit the necessary documents to the insurance company. In most instances, this is the insurance company for the at-fault truck driver or trucking company.
Vital documents that may later become evidence in your case include your medical records, lost wage documents, earning statements, photographs of your injuries, pictures of property damage, and a personal statement describing the effects that the accident and injuries have had on your overall life and well-being. The insurance company adjuster will review these documents, and if they accept liability for the accident, may make an initial offer to settle.
In many instances, settlement negotiations can take a significant time. If the parties come to an agreement, the case will settle. However, if that does not happen, your lawyer will file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case through the court system.
How Long Will My Claim or Lawsuit Take?
A semi-truck accident claim or lawsuit can sometimes resolve in a relatively short period of time. However, it may take longer to settle your case in other circumstances. The length of time it will take depends upon a variety of factors, including the extent of your injuries and treatment, the insurance company adjuster with whom you’re dealing, whether a liability dispute exists, and where your case is currently pending.
Generally speaking, the more serious your injuries following a semi-truck accident, the more extensive your medical treatment. In most cases, settlement negotiations cannot begin until all of your medical treatment is complete. If this takes a long time, it can delay the start of settlement negotiations.
Likewise, some insurance companies and their adjusters are more generous when it comes to making settlement offers and resolving cases favourably. However, others are stingier and will not offer favourable settlement compensation immediately. In these circumstances, the parties will need to engage in lengthy negotiations, which can take many weeks or months. Moreover, the accident victim’s lawyer may need to threaten litigation—or actually file a lawsuit in the court system—before the settlement adjuster will finally sit up and take notice.
Moreover, if the insurance company is disputing fault for your accident, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit anyway, further delaying the process. In these instances, the case may need to wind its way through litigation and resolve at the civil jury trial.
Finally, the jurisdiction where your case is pending can affect how fast your case resolves. If your lawyer needs to file a lawsuit in court, the court will typically set dates and deadlines for the case, including a settlement conference date and jury trial date. These dates are often at the court’s discretion, and the court’s calendar will dictate the schedule. Some courts are busier than others, and these courts often schedule later settlement conferences and jury trial dates in personal injury cases.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can help to expedite the settlement and litigation processes and make them as efficient as possible. Your lawyer can file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf and work to negotiate your case to an efficient resolution.
Statute of Limitations Deadline
Truck accident victims only have two years from their accident date in which to file a claim or lawsuit for damages. The statute of limitations clock begins to run on the date of the accident and ends precisely two years later. When an accident victim files their lawsuit belatedly, the court bars them from recovering any monetary damages in their case. Therefore, it is imperative that you retain a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible.
If the statute of limitations period is running short in your case, your lawyer can file a lawsuit promptly, negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf, and work to resolve your case as quickly as possible.
Call a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
If you or a person you love suffered recent injuries in a semi-truck accident, a knowledgeable Edmonton personal injury lawyer in your area can answer all of your questions and help you move forward with your case. Taking on the insurance company alone is never a good idea. They often have vast resources at their disposal. If the insurance company is disputing fault for your accident, your lawyer can begin an investigation and, if necessary, retain an expert who can testify in support of your case.
Your lawyer can also assist you during settlement negotiations with the insurance company and their adjusters and, if necessary, file a lawsuit. Your lawyer will do everything they can to help you recover favourable damages, including compensation for your lost earnings, inconvenience, pain, suffering, and loss of life enjoyment.