Truck drivers sometimes deviate from their legal duty of care when they get behind the wheel of their tractor-trailer, semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or big rig. They may violate the rules of the road or motor carrier regulations, exhibit road rage, or engage in distracted or intoxicated driving. When truck drivers drive negligently, the trucking companies that employ them may also share some or all of the responsibility for the accident.
When is the trucking company liable? Truck accidents can also lead to debilitating injuries. Suppose you suffered injuries in a recent accident that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence. In that case, you should immediately talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can determine all of your legal options and help you select the best choice for your unique case circumstances.
If you can file a personal injury claim for damages, your lawyer can file the claim with the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer. Furthermore, if the insurance company refuses to offer you reasonable compensation for your injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to trial or arbitration. Reach out to an Edmonton truck accident lawyer.
Types of Truck Accidents that Result from Negligence
When truck drivers and trucking companies act unreasonably under the circumstances, serious accidents may happen.
Some of the most common truck accidents that result from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence include:
- Truck jackknife accidents: A truck jackknife accident happens when the tractor and trailer portions of a large truck fold in on one another, resembling the shape of a jackknife. These accidents typically happen when drivers speed—especially around sharp curves. Jackknife accidents also occur when truck drivers disregard weather and traffic conditions while driving. When a large truck jackknifes, it can skid forward down a hill, hitting multiple vehicles and causing a chain-reaction collision.
- Rear-end accidents: A rear-end truck accident happens when the front of a large truck strikes the back of a smaller vehicle. The force of this collision may cause the vehicle on the receiving end to strike another vehicle, causing a chain-reaction crash. These accidents usually occur when truck drivers fail to watch the road, tailgate other vehicles, or operate their vehicles while intoxicated.
- Head-on collisions: A head-on crash occurs when the front of a large truck strikes the front of an oncoming vehicle. These accidents usually happen on dual-lane highways with a single travel lane in each direction. A truck driver who becomes distracted or intoxicated may negligently cause their vehicle to veer across the center line, striking an oncoming vehicle directly. When these accidents happen at high speeds, they are especially likely to cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.
- T-bone accidents: A truck T-bone accident, or broadside collision, happens when the front of a large truck hits the side of an adjacent vehicle. These accidents are common at traffic intersections, where a truck driver negligently fails to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle. They may also happen at highway merge lanes, where a tractor-trailer operator fails to yield the right-of-way to through-moving traffic. In a truck T-bone accident, the vehicle on the receiving end might overturn or spin around rapidly, causing the occupants to suffer serious injuries.
- Sideswipe accidents: Truck sideswipe accidents happen when the side of a large truck brushes up against the side of another vehicle travelling in the same direction. These crashes usually happen on multi-lane highways and roadways where all the traffic is proceeding in the same direction. A distracted or intoxicated truck driver might negligently cause their vehicle to veer across the lane marking, pushing another vehicle out of their lane—or entirely off the road.
If you suffered injuries in any of these accidents that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, you should talk with an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area right away. Your lawyer can determine if you’re eligible to file a personal injury claim against both the truck driver and the employer trucking company. If so, your lawyer can assist you throughout the process and pursue the monetary compensation you need.
Truck Driver Negligence
When truck drivers operate their vehicles negligently, it is a surefire recipe for disaster. A negligent truck driver deviates from the prevailing standard of care in some way. The most common types of negligence that cause truck accidents include road rule violations, motor carrier violations, driver fatigue, intoxicated driving, distracted driving, and road rage.
Truck drivers, like other motor vehicle operators, must follow all rules of the road. This means that they must obey all posted truck speed limits, refrain from tailgating other vehicles, use their turn signals at the appropriate times, and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles when it’s reasonable to do so. When truckers violate these standard road rules, they increase their chances of causing an accident that leads to severe injuries.
In addition to following all traffic laws, truck drivers and trucking companies have to follow all applicable motor carrier regulations—especially concerning truck load limits, loading and unloading procedures, and securing cargo to trailers. When truck drivers and trucking companies disregard weight limits, the truck’s center of gravity may become offset while the truck is in motion. As a result, the tractor-trailer may tip over or cause a chain-reaction series of collisions. Moreover, when a truck driver fails to properly secure cargo to their truck, it may slide off into the middle of the roadway, causing a severe accident.
Truck drivers also have a duty to remain alert while behind the wheel. Many drivers hurry to arrive at their final destination ahead of schedule. In fact, trucking companies often incentivize their drivers when they deliver their cargo to its final destination early.
As a result, truck drivers may try and stay awake for long hours—and may even resort to drugs to keep themselves awake. However, these “stimulants” sometimes have the opposite effect and make a driver sleepy or severely limit their concentration and reaction time. A tired truck driver might also fall asleep at the wheel, causing their truck to veer off the road or strike a vehicle in another travel lane. In either instance, severe accidents and injuries can result.
Truck accidents can also happen when drivers operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. Passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if chemical testing reveals their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be at least 0.08 percent. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher.
However, commercial truck drivers must not drive with any alcohol in their system. This is because alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate their truck carefully and safely. It can slow their reaction time, blur their vision, and limit their concentration. As a result, drinking and driving is a surefire way for a truck operator to cause a severe accident.
Distracted driving, or failing to observe the road, can also cause serious truck crashes. Potential distractions in large trucks include loud music playing in the cab and electronic devices, including tablets, cellular phones, and GPS navigation devices. When truck drivers pay attention to these devices instead of the road, they may not see a nearby vehicle or pedestrian, causing an accident that leads to debilitating injuries.
Finally, some truck accidents result from road rage. Essentially, road rage is a truck driver’s angry response to a real or imagined roadway scenario.
Truck drivers are frequently in a hurry, so they may resort to aggressive driving maneuvers to try and get ahead of other vehicles. They may also resent other drivers who operate their vehicles too slowly. When a truck driver recklessly weaves in and out of heavy traffic, tailgates other vehicles, and fails to use turn signals appropriately, they may inadvertently cause a severe accident.
If you suffered injuries in a truck crash resulting from one or more types of driver negligence, you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area immediately. Your lawyer can discuss the accident with you, investigate the accident circumstances, and help you develop a plan for moving forward with a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Trucking Company Negligence
In addition to truck drivers, the trucking companies that employ these drivers may also act unreasonably under the circumstances. When a trucking company is negligent, it may share in some or all of the liability for the accident.
When truck drivers break the law or otherwise deviate from the standard of care while on the job—and while working within the scope of their employment—the trucking company that employs them may also share in fault for the accident. This is called vicarious liability.
Trucking companies are also responsible for hiring and retaining competent drivers with good driving records who consistently follow the prevailing road rules and motor carrier regulations. When a trucking company negligently employs or retains a problem driver with a bad driving record—and an accident occurs—the trucking company may be on the line for negligent hiring or retention practices.
Furthermore, trucking companies have to supervise their employee drivers and ensure that they regularly comply with all continuing education requirements. When trucking companies fail to supervise their drivers, and a subsequent accident occurs, they may share in the liability.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can determine if you can file a claim against the employer trucking company in your accident case. Your lawyer can help you identify all potentially responsible parties, maximizing your chances of recovering the favourable monetary compensation you need.
Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
When truck drivers and trucking companies cause accidents, the affected accident victims often suffer serious injuries. The injuries that accident victims ultimately suffer vary from case to case, depending upon both the collision force and the accident victim’s movements in the vehicle.
Some of the most common injuries that truck accident victims sustain include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Severe head injuries
- Soft tissue contusions
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord complications
If you suffered any of these injuries in your truck accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment right away. While you complete your treatment, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can begin advocating for you and handling the legal aspects of your claim.
Pursuing Damages Following a Truck Accident
When truck drivers and employer trucking companies behave negligently—and an accident occurs—injured accident victims may recover various monetary damages. Potential damages usually depend upon the extent of an accident victim’s injuries, their medical treatment, and their lost earnings.
Truck accident victims may recover compensation for their:
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity, if their injuries prevent them from working at their prior job
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Mental distress and emotional anguish stemming from the accident
- Loss of the ability to use a particular body part
- Loss of life enjoyment, including the ability to spend time with friends and family because of accident-related injuries
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
A skilled truck accident lawyer in your area can let you know which of these damages you are eligible to recover based on the facts and circumstances of your specific accident. Your lawyer can then file a claim or lawsuit and pursue the highest amount of monetary damages available to you.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, you might have a viable legal claim against both the negligent truck driver and the trucking company that employs them. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a lawyer. Your lawyer can investigate your accident circumstances and identify all potentially responsible parties.
If you’re eligible to file a claim, your lawyer can assist you throughout the claims-filing process, help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company adjuster, and, if necessary, litigate your case to a conclusion in the court system. Your Edmonton personal injury lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize your damages—either through settlement or litigation. You can focus on your medical treatment while your lawyer handles the legal process.