With more trucks on the road, and more driving every year, accidents are an unfortunate reality. An accident with a big truck is nothing like being hit by another passenger vehicle. A crash with a big truck can lead to severe injuries or the death of a loved one. People who survive the catastrophic injuries after a truck accident are frequently unable to work for a long period—or even permanently disabled. In the meantime, medical bills and other expenses accumulate during their recovery.
It is important to handle trucking accidents and injury claims promptly. If a personal injury claim is necessary, there are extremely strict deadlines for filing. Please contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION at (813) 575-4100.
Big trucks carry everything from food, medicine and fuel to the thousands of consumer goods we use every day. Many carry hazardous materials. The rise of e-commerce has made trucking an even more important industry, boosted by the pandemic. Whether stocking stores or bringing packages to homes and businesses, big trucks are on every road in the US. Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, every day of the year.
Drivers go many hours over the road through one or more states. Driving over these long distances under a deadline may mean the driver may not get enough sleep in order to make it on time.
The Dangers of Accidents With Big Trucks
Passenger cars weigh, on average, from 2,500 pounds to over 6,500 pounds. Pickup trucks have similar weights. Depending on the model and size, a pickup can go as high as 8,000 pounds.
By comparison, an empty big truck can weigh about 35,000 pounds. But a truck fully loaded with cargo can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Even empty, the truck is dangerous if driven incorrectly. Big trucks need more room to slow down and stop, and have considerable blind spots.
The term “Big Trucks” can also include larger vehicles such as:
Even with safety features and electronic logging, an accident with any type of large commercial vehicle can be much more destructive on impact than a two-car accident. When driving at highway speeds, the crash can happen quickly, with more serious damage and injuries.
Causes Of Big Truck Accidents
Because of their size and weight, big trucks hit a passenger vehicle with the force of 20 or more cars. Even a rear-end collision has the force of multiple smaller vehicles.
Trucking accidents are commonly due to:
Rollovers, caused by improperly packed cargo that unbalances the trailer, or a tire blowout, leaving the driver with an out-of-control vehicle.
Falling freight from an improperly packed trailer.
A detaching trailer caused by a hitch that fails to properly clasp, which may either be defective or damaged during an accident.
Turning accidents—big trucks need a wide space for turning. If a passenger vehicle is on the truck’s right side, it can be damaged, side-swiped, or even crushed in the process.
Jackknifing—if a driver should brake too fast or lose control of the trailer, it can swing out at a 90-degree angle and hit multiple vehicles in the area.
Vehicles that slide or ride underneath the tractor during a side or rear-end collision. Some trucks are equipped with panels to prevent vehicles from becoming wedged underneath the trailer.
Other causes such as
Improperly maintained vehicle
Injuries that result from these types of crashes can be devastating to the driver of the passenger vehicles. More than 100,000 Americans suffer injuries in trucking accidents every year.
Determining Fault In A Trucking Accident
By law, truck drivers and their companies are held to a much higher standard of safety than passenger car drivers. Each journey involves required record keeping, which includes records for repair and maintenance.
Commercial truck operators receive extensive training prior to receiving their CDL (commercial driver’s license.) They have a system of regulations to follow while driving. But because the industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified drivers along with recently mandated electronic logging devices (ELD), drivers operate under even more pressure. Some companies make their already-tired drivers keep going longer, take loads that weigh more, or drive faster for a shipment to reach its destination on time.
A trucking accident can involve multiple parties:
The driver of the truck that collided with the automobile
The company that hired or employed the driver
The owner of the vehicle (the tractor and/or the trailer)
The company and its employees that loaded and secured the cargo
One or more freight shippers, if the driver was transporting “less than truckload” cargo for several companies
Any additional entities involved in the journey, known as “third-party logistics” companies or 3PL
The manufacturer of the truck, or manufacturer of parts on the truck, such as tires or brakes
The municipal entity responsible for road maintenance and repair
Because there are so many parties involved, deciphering fault becomes complicated quickly. A trucking accident attorney can find the true responsible party in the accident, while helping you get the maximum amount of compensation.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
No matter what type of injuries you’ve experienced, it’s vital to seek medical attention immediately. Even if you “feel fine,” you may not realize the extent of your injuries right away. Some injuries may not be completely evident until the next day, like sore muscles after a workout. Getting immediate medical treatment will detect those injuries, and you can begin the treatment to begin healing.
There’s another reason to seek medical attention at once after the crash. From the first doctor visit, you’re also creating documented evidence that you do have injuries from the accident. Continued medical treatment shows that your injuries were as you describe them. The other party’s insurance company will attempt to prove that you were not injured as badly as you claim—or at all. This “paper trail” quickly refutes that defense.
What Kind Of Damages Can You Receive?
Injuries from a big truck accident are usually much more severe than a two-car accident. Catastrophic, disabling injuries are more common, as is death. As the accident victim, you can seek damages after the accident, such as:
Accident related medical bills, current and future
Lost wages/working time
Future earning capacity and loss of career
Permanent injury and disability
Property damages and loss
Modifications for your home and your vehicle, i.e.
Wrongful death (available to surviving spouse or other relative) for accident-related medical bills, funeral and burial costs and other final expenses
Punitive damages are available in some states after a trucking accident. These are damages intended to punish the wrongdoing that led to the accident.
Settlements And Insurance Companies
From the moment a trucking company is notified of an accident, their insurance, legal, and damage control teams are working against you.
Should you receive a phone call or letter from anyone with the trucking company or any of their representatives, it’s important that you DO NOT speak with them or sign anything. The companies have aggressive legal representation and will do anything they can to deny and invalidate your claim.
In fact, the best thing you can do is not say anything about your accident until you’ve spoken to one of our trucking accident attorneys. Anything you say, no matter how benign, can ruin your chances of receiving a fair settlement for your losses and injuries.
The Help You Need After A Trucking Accident
A big trucking accident is much different and more complex than one with another passenger vehicle. Our attorneys understand how to navigate the laws that govern the trucking industry as well as defend you from their insurance companies. You need serious help after a trucking accident, and we’re ready to help.
You can rest easier when you let us handle the investigations, negotiations, settlement discussions, and if necessary, a trial. Call us today at 813-575-4100 or contact us with the button below.