With the prevalence of large trucks—including big rigs and 18-wheelers—on Alberta roadways comes the possibility of serious crashes. When a large truck collides with a much smaller passenger vehicle, especially at a high rate of speed, the consequences can be devastating and sometimes deadly for a driver and their passengers. What happens if an accident occurs with an uninsured truck driver? For more information, please reach out to a truck accident lawyer.
Further complications arise when truck drivers are uninsured or underinsured. Even though truck drivers must maintain insurance coverage on their vehicles—or through their employers—sadly, that does not always happen. The good news is that the accident victim may have several legal options available under those circumstances.
If you or a person you love has suffered injuries in a truck accident that resulted from negligence, a knowledgeable Alberta truck accident lawyer in your area can explore your legal options with you. Your lawyer can then help you file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim seeking the monetary compensation you deserve.
Ways that Truck Accidents Occur Around Alberta
Far too many truck accidents in Alberta happen because of driver negligence.
The most common types of truck driver errors include:
- Failing to inspect and maintain their vehicles regularly.
- Violating rules of the road.
- Engaging in distracted or intoxicated driving.
Sometimes though, truck accidents happen because of a manufacturing defect or negligent repair work.
Failing to inspect and maintain the truck properly – Truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them have a duty to inspect their vehicles regularly and ensure proper maintenance. Specifically, drivers should determine that their turn signals, overhead lights, and undercarriage lights are working before starting another leg of their road trip.
In addition, they must follow all state and federal motor carrier regulations regarding weight limits and adequately secure cargo to their truck’s bed. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow these regulations, cargo can slide into the road, causing an accident.
Violating Alberta road rules – Just like anyone else, truck drivers must follow all roadway traffic signs and laws. When they fail to comply with all applicable traffic rules, serious collisions can happen. Some common causes of truck accidents are weaving in and out of traffic, exceeding posted truck speed limits, failing to use turn signals, tailgating other vehicles, and failing to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate times, including at traffic intersections.
Distracted truck operation – Truck operators also must pay attention to the road when they operate their vehicles and refrain from distracted driving. Distracted driving means ignoring the road, such as by talking on a cellular phone without Bluetooth capabilities, programming a GPS device, or listening to loud music while driving. All of these activities can prove distracting and can significantly divert a truck driver’s attention away from the road, causing a collision.
Intoxicated truck operation – Drivers of passenger vehicles who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are legally intoxicated. However, the drivers of big rigs and tractor-trailers must follow stricter standards. In most instances, a commercial truck driver who operates a vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 percent or higher is intoxicated. Alberta imposes administrative sanctions if the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher. Even with a lower BAC, the driver might still experience the adverse effects of alcohol impairment and cause an accident.
Alcohol is a depressant and slows down a driver’s thinking and reaction time. It can also bring about physical symptoms, including blurred vision. Therefore, a truck driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs is far more likely than a sober driver to cause a crash.
Truck part defects – Manufacturers of truck parts, including steering and braking components, must manufacture their products from a safe design. When a part malfunctions—such as when the truck’s brakes give out—the defect might stem from negligence on the manufacturer or designer’s part.
Negligent truck repair work – Truck repair facilities must perform their work properly and with the greatest care. If an accident victim can show, through expert testimony, that a repair facility acted unreasonably when performing repair work, they can hold the facility liable for any malfunction that causes a truck accident.
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Types of Accidents That Negligent Truck Drivers Cause
When truck drivers operate their vehicles negligently, they can cause accidents. Those accidents often leave other drivers and their passengers severely injured.
Some of the most common truck accidents in Alberta include head-on impacts, jackknife accidents, rear-end collisions, broadside collisions, and sideswipe accidents.
- Head-on collisions – A head-on collision occurs when the front of a truck or tractor-trailer collides with the front of another vehicle moving in the opposite direction. These accidents commonly occur on roadways with one travel lane in each direction. An intoxicated or inattentive truck driver might cause their vehicle to cross the centerline or median strip, colliding with an oncoming vehicle. When these accidents occur at high speeds, a fatality can even result.
- Jackknife accidents – Truck jackknife accidents happen when a tractor and trailer fold in towards one another, resembling the shape of a jackknife. These accidents can occur when large trucks speed or go around sharp turns too quickly. When a large truck jackknifes, it can skid down the roadway, causing a chain-reaction collision that harms many other drivers and their passengers.
- Rear-end collisions – A rear-end crash occurs when the front of a truck strikes the rear of another vehicle. The force of a rear-end impact might cause the vehicle occupants on the receiving end to endure whiplash injuries and other soft tissue contusions. In addition, the significance of the impact might cause a part of the accident victim’s body to strike something in the vehicle, like the headrest, door frame, or window, resulting in a severe injury.
- Broadside collisions – Truck broadside accidents, or T-bone collisions, happen when the front of a truck contacts the side of a vehicle moving in an adjacent direction. These accidents usually occur at traffic intersections, even when a stop sign or traffic control device is present. The truck driver might hurry through the intersection and run a red light, colliding with a vehicle that legally entered the intersection. The force of a broadside collision might cause a vehicle to spin around rapidly or even overturn, bringing about serious injuries.
- Sideswipe accidents – Sideswipe accidents happen when the front or side of a truck strikes the side of another vehicle moving in the same direction. Sideswipe collisions happen on busy, multilane roadways and often result from distracted or intoxicated driving. For example, a distracted truck driver who is not paying attention to the road might cause their vehicle to negligently move into another travel lane, causing a collision.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident where the driver was uninsured, your lawyer can help you file the appropriate claim with the insurance company and pursue the damages that you deserve—either through settlement or litigating your case in Alberta courts.
Common Injuries That Accident Victims Suffer in Truck Crashes
In crashes that involve large trucks and passenger vehicles, it is almost always the passenger vehicle occupants who suffer the most severe injuries. This is especially true in high-speed collisions when the truck driver is not paying attention to the road.
The injuries that a truck accident victim suffers will depend upon how their body moves in the vehicle, the vehicle speeds, and the type of collision. Common truck accident injuries include soft tissue contusions, cuts and abrasions, bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a truck collision, seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible—and follow up with a primary care doctor if you have one. You should also attend physical therapy sessions if a healthcare provider recommends it. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your lawyer can begin to gather all of your medical documentation, investigation reports, and lost wage statements to begin assembling a settlement demand package.
While you focus on keeping up with your treatment plan to maximize your physical recovery, your lawyer can start negotiating with the appropriate insurance company and pursue the damages that you deserve for your injuries.
Uninsured Truck Drivers
Although truck drivers and trucking companies are supposed to maintain insurance on their vehicles, that does not always happen. When an uninsured truck driver causes a collision with another car or pedestrian, serious complications can arise. Accident victims in those circumstances can turn to their own insurance company and file an uninsured motorist claim. The Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund also exists for claims against uninsured motorists.
As part of an uninsured motorist—or UM—claim, the accident victim’s insurance company might have to supply the necessary coverage if the at-fault driver did not have coverage in place.
An uninsured motorist claim proceeds in much the same way as any other car or truck accident case, except that there is a breach of contract component. An accident victim can recover damages in an uninsured truck accident claim much as in a third-party lawsuit, where the accident victim sues the at-fault driver.
Underinsured Truck Drivers
In some instances, truck drivers have insufficient insurance coverage. When that happens, the accident victim can file a claim against the at-fault truck driver’s insurer for the total limits of their policy coverage. They can then turn to their own insurance company and pursue additional compensation via an underinsured motorist claim.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can help you determine if you are in a position to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company based on the circumstances of your truck accident.
Available Damages in an Uninsured Truck Accident Claim
The potential damages that a truck accident victim can recover as part of an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim are essentially the same as in a third-party liability claim.
The total recoverable damages will depend on an accident victim’s injuries and treatment and permanency. For example, truck accident victims sometimes suffer injuries that prevent them from returning to work or from participating in activities they once enjoyed. All of these damages are legally compensable.
Truck accident victims can first claim lost wages if they had to miss time from work after their accident. Some accident victims need this time to treat, while others cannot work due to their injuries. If an accident victim has to switch careers following their accident, they can claim loss of earning capacity. This is especially true if their new position pays less than their former position.
In addition, truck accident victims can seek damages for their mental distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of use of a body part, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of spousal companionship, as part of their uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer near you can review your eligibility for these damages and fight for your right to recover the compensation you deserve.
Talk With a Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
If you or a person you love has suffered injuries in a recent truck accident, having experienced legal representation on your side is a must. A skilled truck accident lawyer in your area can investigate the circumstances of your accident, evaluate your case’s strengths and weaknesses, and file a claim on your behalf. While you can try to represent yourself in a claim, it is rarely a good idea.
Your lawyer can then negotiate the claim with an insurance company adjuster and, if necessary, litigate your case in the Alberta court system. Whether your lawyer obtains an insurance settlement or an award through litigation, it can get your life back on track. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.