Truck violations may lead to accidents. Commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and big rigs, are large and heavy vehicles that are difficult to maneuver—especially at high speeds. When truck operators violate traffic laws and motor carrier regulations, they may inadvertently cause accidents that lead to serious injuries. If you or a person you care about suffered injuries in a truck accident that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover monetary compensation.
After your accident, you should seek medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or local urgent care center as soon as possible. Next, you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident and determine your eligibility for filing a claim. If you are eligible for monetary compensation, your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and, if necessary, litigate it in court.
Road Rule Violations
The purpose of traffic laws is to keep drivers and their passengers safe. When commercial truck drivers violate these standard road rules, they can cause serious accidents. Most of the time, in a serious truck crash, the smaller vehicle’s occupants sustain injuries. This is especially true if the vehicles are moving at high speeds. Common road rule violations that lead to truck accidents include speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, failing to use turn signals, and failing to yield the right of way.
Motor Carrier Regulations
Motor carrier regulations promote safe truck operation. Both truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them are responsible for following these regulations. When they violate them, serious accidents can happen.
Motor carrier regulations pertain to load limits, overhead and undercarriage lighting on commercial vehicles, and methods of adequately securing cargo to the truck bed. When a truck driver or trucking company fails to load or secure their cargo correctly, the shipment can slide into the middle of the roadway, causing a collision with an oncoming vehicle. In some instances, the fallen load can impale the windshield or window of an oncoming vehicle, causing the occupants to suffer serious injuries or fatalities.
A truck driver is distracted when they fail to watch the road. Distracted drivers may play with a cellular phone, tablet, or GPS device—or listen to loud music—instead of focusing their attention on the road. When a driver takes their eyes off the road for just a second or two, that may be sufficient time for them to miss an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian. They may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash, thereby causing the accident victim serious injuries.
When breathalyzer evidence determines that a truck driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or higher at the time they are driving, they might be subject to arrest for DUI. If they ultimately sustain a conviction, they can be looking at fines, jail time, and other criminal penalties.
DUI is a crime because alcohol severely impairs a truck driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system’s ability to function and causes various physical symptoms, including blurred vision and lack of concentration. An impaired driver may also experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
If a truck driver causes an accident that leads to injuries, the accident victim can bring a claim or file a lawsuit directly against the responsible truck driver—and indirectly against the driver’s insurance company.
Many truck drivers operate their vehicles for hours and hours, hoping to arrive at their final destination sooner than expected. Drivers often do this when their employers offer them financial incentives. However, driving for long hours without stopping can make a truck driver sleepy and impair their ability to concentrate. Even if a truck driver does not fall asleep at the wheel, they may experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from responding to an emergency that arises on the road.
In addition, some truck drivers resort to stimulants and other drugs to keep them awake for long hours. However, these drugs sometimes have the opposite effect, making them sleepy while behind the wheel. When a truck driver experiences limited concentration, they may be unable to operate their vehicle safely, bringing about an accident that leads to injuries.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident where the driver violated a traffic law or motor carrier regulation, you might be eligible to recover various damages. Your lawyer can review the police report, any eyewitness statements, and other documents to determine if you qualify to file a claim. Your lawyer can also retain a qualified accident reconstructionist who can review the evidence and determine how the accident likely occurred.
If you are eligible to file a claim for damages, your lawyer can assist you with every step of the claims-filing process and negotiate with the adjuster handling your claim. If the insurance company does not compensate you appropriately for your injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and pursue the damages you deserve through litigation.
Trucking Company Responsibility for Driver Negligence
Employer trucking companies are sometimes responsible for their drivers’ negligent acts while on the job. In addition, trucking companies must hire and retain only qualified, capable drivers who will operate their vehicles safely. If you can demonstrate that the trucking company knew about a driver’s poor record yet hired or retained them anyway, you can include the trucking company in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Your lawyer can help you identify the responsible parties for your truck accident and file the appropriate claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer can then help you pursue a favorable result via settlement or litigation.
Types of Accidents that Happen When Truck Drivers are Negligent
When truck drivers are negligent, they can cause several types of accidents that lead to injuries.
A rear-end truck accident happens when the front of a large truck strikes the back of another vehicle. These accidents sometimes happen near traffic intersections when drivers misjudge the distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. Traffic may slow down quickly, or the truck driver might follow too closely, causing a rear-end crash.
Negligent truck drivers can also cause sideswipe accidents. A sideswipe accident happens when the side of a truck strikes the side of another vehicle moving in the same direction. These accidents typically occur when truck drivers do not watch the road intently. They might negligently cause their truck to veer over into another travel lane, striking a vehicle and pushing it entirely off the road.
Truck broadside collisions, or T-bone accidents, are common at highway intersections and merge lanes. A broadside accident happens when the front of a truck strikes the side of another vehicle. At traffic intersections, these accidents usually occur when a truck driver is in a hurry to get through a yellow or red light. They might misjudge the distance, inadvertently striking a vehicle moving in the opposite direction that has the green light. A merging truck driver might negligently fail to yield the right-of-way to through-moving traffic on busy highways, striking one or more vehicles broadside.
Finally, head-on truck accidents happen when the front of a large truck strikes the front of an oncoming vehicle. These accidents typically happen on roadways with one travel lane going in each direction. An intoxicated or distracted truck driver might negligently veer across the median strip or double center line, striking an oncoming vehicle. When these accidents happen at high speeds, they can result in severe injuries and even fatalities.
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from a truck driver’s road rule violation, you have legal options open to you. Your lawyer can help you file the necessary claim or lawsuit to recover the full amount of damages you need.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents can lead to severe injuries, mainly when they occur at high speeds. The impact force can move an accident victim’s body around the inside of their vehicle abruptly. For example, their body might thrust forward and backward, or from side to side, striking something in a vehicle—such as a headrest, window, doorframe, or steering wheel.
If their neck moves forward and backward abruptly, they might suffer a whiplash injury or other soft tissue contusion. In addition, if their head strikes the window, steering wheel, or headrest, they may sustain a traumatic head or brain injury.
Other common truck accident injuries include broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and death.
If you suffered any of these injuries in your truck accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment immediately. The medical provider on duty can order the necessary brain scans, MRIs, and X-rays and examine you thoroughly to ascertain your medical condition. The doctor can also make recommendations for follow-up medical care, such as with a neurologist, orthopedic doctor, or physical therapist.
Follow through with this treatment so that you can promptly recover from your injuries. Treating early and often also bodes well for your personal injury claim, as insurance company adjusters are more likely to take your claim seriously—and offer you more money—under those circumstances.
While you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can begin handling the legal aspects of your personal injury claim. First, your lawyer can gather up your medical treatment records, lost wage documents, photographs, and impact statement and assemble a settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review. After you complete your treatment, your lawyer can submit the demand package on your behalf and begin negotiating a favorable settlement of your personal injury claim.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Damages
Following a truck accident, the claims-filing process begins when the accident victim’s lawyer submits a settlement demand package with the insurance company. If the insurance company accepts fault for the accident, the adjuster may make an initial offer to resolve the case through settlement.
First-time settlement offers are usually far below the actual claim value. Insurance companies and their adjusters frequently make these low offers to see if the accident victim is in a rush to settle their case. Since insurance companies are big businesses, they will do everything possible to resolve your case as quickly—and cheaply—as possible. Your lawyer can aggressively negotiate with the adjuster and convince them to increase the pending settlement offer on your claim. If they refuse to increase their offer significantly, you can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Litigation begins when your lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system. However, this does not mean that the negotiation phase of your case is over. Instead, your lawyer may continue negotiating with the insurance company adjuster even while the case is pending.
During litigation, the parties will take part in the discovery process. This typically means that they will exchange documents, answer written questions called interrogatories, and take one another’s depositions. A deposition offers the opposing lawyer an opportunity to learn more about the other side’s version of events.
After litigation, the insurance company may offer additional money to settle the case. If that does not happen, the parties can take their case to a jury trial, where a jury will decide what compensation to award the accident victim.
Alternatively, the parties might decide to pursue mediation or binding arbitration as a means of alternative dispute resolution. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should take your case to trial, pursue alternative dispute resolution, or simply accept a pending settlement offer in your case.
Potential Damages that Truck Accident Victims Can Recover
Victims of severe truck accidents resulting from negligence often have to undergo extensive medical treatment, including surgical procedures and physical therapy. They may also need to miss work time to recover from their injuries and attend their medical appointments. Consequently, these accident victims often sustain tremendous, lifelong damages.
The types and amounts of damages that truck accident victims may recover depend primarily upon the nature and extent of their injuries, whether they missed time from work, and whether they suffered a permanent injury in their truck accident.
Common damages that truck accident victims can recover include compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Mental distress
- Permanent disability and disfigurement
- Pain and sufferingTrcuck
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal consortium and companionship
A skilled truck accident lawyer in your area can review the circumstances of your accident with you and determine which of these damages you can recover in your personal injury case. Your lawyer will negotiate zealously with the adjuster and, if necessary, file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court. Your lawyer will do everything they can to maximize your personal injury claim compensation.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
When truck drivers commit moving violations, serious accidents are inevitable. As soon as possible after your truck accident, you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer near you. Accident victims only have two years from their accident date in which to file a lawsuit for damages. If they fail to do so, they waive their right to monetary recovery. Therefore, the sooner you speak with a knowledgeable lawyer about your truck accident, the better off you will likely be.
Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident, file a claim on your behalf, negotiate the claim, and, if necessary, litigate your case to a conclusion. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should reject or accept a pending settlement offer or file a lawsuit and litigate your case through the court system. Your lawyer will be by your side every step of the way and help you maximize the compensation you recover for your truck accident injuries. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.