Steps To Take After a Truck Accident
Truck drivers who operate their vehicles carelessly and negligently can cause crashes that lead to severe injuries for other drivers and their passengers. In some instances, trucking companies, negligent repair facilities, and truck part manufacturers are fully or partially to blame for a truck accident.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a truck accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment. Moreover, you should contact a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer who can help you pursue the monetary compensation you deserve from the insurance company.
Your lawyer can investigate your truck accident and determine your claim eligibility. If you are eligible to pursue monetary compensation, your lawyer can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and work to recover the damages you need.
How Truck Accidents Occur
Truck accidents usually happen because of someone else’s negligence. In many instances, the truck driver is the negligent party.
Some of the most common types of truck driver negligence that lead to accidents include:
Traffic Violations – Just like passenger vehicle operators, truck drivers must operate their vehicles safely and carefully and follow all traffic laws and regulations. Truck drivers who do not obey these laws significantly increase their chances of causing a crash.
Common road rule violations that can lead to truck accidents include speeding, failing to use turn signals, failing to yield the right of way to other vehicles at the proper times, and tailgating.
Motor Carrier Violations – In addition to safe driving, truck drivers and trucking companies must follow all applicable motor carrier regulations at both the provincial and federal levels. This includes abiding by load limits and adequately securing cargo to the truck bed before departing on a trip.
When truck drivers fail to follow these regulations, cargo can fall off the truck and into the roadway, causing a devastating crash. In addition, truck drivers and trucking companies must ensure that all overhead and undercarriage lights work. When lights on the tractor and trailer do not work correctly, another driver might not see the vehicle, resulting in a severe crash.
Fatigue – Many drivers operate their trucks for hours without taking breaks. Consequently, they can become fatigued. Trucking companies sometimes compensate their drivers if they get their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Therefore, trucking companies incentivize drivers to speed and not take breaks, even when tired.
Fatigued truck drivers sometimes also resort to drugs to try and stay awake for long periods. However, these drugs often have the opposite effect and can tire a driver. Truck drivers may experience a lack of concentration and delayed reaction time when they feel fatigued. Therefore, they might be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
Intoxicated Driving – All drivers must operate their vehicles carefully and safely. This includes refraining from operating their vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant significantly slowing down a driver’s central nervous system. As a result, the driver might experience blurred vision, delayed reaction time, and an inability to concentrate their attention fully on the road. Consequently, they might cause their vehicle to swerve off the road or directly into the path of another vehicle, causing a crash.
Most drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, truck drivers must follow stricter legal standards.
When a Breathalyzer device determines that a truck driver’s BAC exceeds the applicable legal limit and the driver sustains a DUI conviction, they can ultimately face severe criminal penalties, like jail time and fines. In addition, if they cause an accident with another vehicle, they and their insurance company can incur civil liability.
Distracted Driving – Truck drivers must always pay careful attention to the road. When drivers become distracted, they cannot operate their vehicles safely and are more likely to cause an accident. Potential distractions include GPS systems, cellular phones, tablets, and loud music playing in the vehicle.
A driver who turns their head or looks down, even for a second or two, might miss an approaching vehicle, negligently striking it and causing the occupants to suffer serious injuries.
Aggressive Driving – Many truck operators are in a hurry to reach their final destination. Consequently, they may resort to speeding and aggressive driving maneuvers to try and get ahead in traffic.
Aggressive driving maneuvers include:
- Failing to use turn signals.
- Zealously weaving in and out of busy highway traffic.
- Tailgating other vehicles.
A truck driver who acts aggressively might be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. Alternatively, they might cut off another vehicle attempting to merge onto a highway, causing an accident.
In addition to truck driver negligence, other individuals and entities may cause a truck accident. Some of those potential accident causes include:
Trucking Company Negligence – In some instances, a trucking company that employs a negligent driver is responsible for that driver’s reckless actions or inactions.
In addition, trucking companies are responsible for hiring and retaining only capable drivers. Therefore, you can hold the trucking company accountable when they hire a driver with a prior record of infractions and that driver causes an accident that leads to injuries.
Also, when a trucking company fails to supervise a driver, and that driver behaves negligently and causes an accident, you can hold the trucking company partially responsible.
Repair Facility Negligence – Some trucking accidents happen when facilities perform negligent repair work. They may not carefully perform the job or may make a mistake when completing the work. In either case, if defective repair work causes or contributes to a truck accident, the accident victim can pursue a claim or lawsuit against the responsible repair facility.
You have legal options if you suffered injuries in a truck accident that resulted from a person or entity’s negligent act. In addition to investigating the circumstances of your crash, your lawyer can help you file a claim or lawsuit that seeks money damages for your accident-related injuries.
Injuries that Truck Accident Victims Suffer
Trucks and tractor-trailers are much larger than passenger vehicles. Consequently, when a large truck strikes a much smaller car, the car occupants usually suffer more severe injuries. The impact force may cause the accident victim’s body to move around inside the vehicle. This is especially true if the crash happens at high speed.
In addition, a part of the accident victim’s body might strike the steering wheel, headrest, door frame, window, console, or dashboard inside their vehicle, resulting in a severe injury.
Truck accident victims’ common injuries include internal injuries, bone fractures, cuts, bruises, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and traumatic head and brain injuries. If you suffered any of these injuries in your truck accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment immediately. You should then contact a lawyer about your accident and your legal options at that time.
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Steps You Should Take Immediately After Your Truck Accident
As soon as possible after your truck accident, there are specific steps you should take. These steps will safeguard your legal rights and increase your chances of recovering the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
Speak to Police Officers at the Crash Scene
If an individual calls 9-1-1 from the crash scene, a police officer will respond. When the police officer arrives on the scene, you should speak with them and explain your version of what occurred. In addition, you should insist that the officer prepare a police report and that you obtain a copy of the report. Police reports become essential in truck accident cases where a truck driver or trucking company disputes fault for the crash.
In a police report, the officer typically provides a narrative description of what happened and determines which driver caused the crash. In addition, most police reports indicate whether or not the officer issued a citation to the at-fault driver and, if so, what the citation was for.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer can subpoena the police officer to testify on the witness stand and authenticate the police report they prepared following the crash. When an insurance company disputes liability, a favorable police report and the police officer’s testimony can help your case.
Talk with Eyewitnesses at the Accident Scene
In addition to speaking with the police officer, you should speak with any eyewitnesses who come forward at the crash scene. Talk to them about what happened and obtain their names and contact information.
As with the police report, eyewitnesses and their testimony become very important in truck accident cases where the trucking company’s insurer disputes fault for the collision. If your case goes to a jury trial, your lawyer can subpoena an eyewitness to testify and provide their version of events to support your claim.
Obtain Contact and Insurance Information from Every Involved Driver
Moreover, you should obtain contact and insurance information from all other involved drivers at the crash scene. Obtain this information from the at-fault truck driver.
While at the accident scene, photograph any visible property damage. This includes property damage to your vehicle and property damage to the truck and any other involved vehicles in the crash. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene that show the positions of the involved vehicles immediately following the crash.
If you sustained visible injuries in the crash, you should also take pictures of those injuries. Potential crash scene injuries typically include bruises, such as from seatbelts or airbag deployment, as well as cuts, scrapes, and lacerations.
Get Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
One of the most critical steps you should take after your accident is to seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries. You should follow up at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center even if you don’t know if you suffered an injury. This is because untreated injuries can become much more severe as time progresses.
A healthcare provider can order the necessary imaging studies and determine the extent of your injuries. Moreover, if you require medical treatment, the provider can refer you to a specialist, physical therapist, family doctor, or another provider.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer
Never try to take on a large trucking company or the company that insures them by yourself. They have vast resources to fight their legal battles. If you suffered an injury in an accident involving a commercial truck, focus on recovering from your injuries while you let your lawyer handle your legal battles.
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment for your injuries, you should talk with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. While you complete your treatment, your lawyer can start gathering your medical documentation, lost wage statements, impact statements, photographs, and other documents necessary to prepare your settlement demand package.
Once you complete your treatment, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement for you.
If the insurance company refuses to compensate you adequately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a prompt conclusion.
Your lawyer can help you maximize the compensation you recover for all of your truck accident injuries.