Truck Accident FAQs
Overwork is a serious problem for truck drivers across the United States. Sometimes the job seems like an impossible task. Imagine someone is driving across the country, on a tight deadline, with 8 tons of heavy machinery hurtling across freeways at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
This is the reality of many truck drivers, and a simple moment of fatigue or negligence mistake can have lasting effects. Truck accidents have 10 times higher rates of fatality than accidents involving just cars. Almost 500,000 accidents in 2016 happened simply because of driver error.
Fortunately, if you or a loved one is harmed by any negligent driver, there is recourse. Keeping the roadways safe should be a driver’s first priority, and litigation can help them realize the error of their ways. These companies also often have large insurance plans that have payouts large enough to pay for not only you and your family’s suffering but also for punitive damages or emotional pain. Holding these companies accountable is an essential part of what we do.
How Are Truck and Car Accidents Different?
While both are undesirable, truck and car accidents are vastly different when it comes to personal injury and the courts. Simply put, trucks are bigger and more dangerous, weighing significantly more and taking up to twenty times more space on the road. Drivers also are often incentivized to participate in risky behaviors, with deadlines that require them to drive longer than their prescribed safe limit of ten hours per workday and at illegal speeds.
While only a limited number of truck accidents involve fatalities, you are still almost seven times more likely to die as a result of a truck accident than that of a regular passenger car. Even if you survive, the damage to yourself and your property can be severe. A truck’s size and weight make it far more likely to cause serious injury.
Truck companies often have insurance policies in the millions of dollars. While this might seem good at first, unfortunately they are very reluctant to pay out large amounts. Without proper legal counsel to help you negotiate, the math can seem confusing, and you can end up with far less than your family deserves.
How is Compensation Determined in a Truck Accident?
A number of complicated factors determine compensation. When filing a lawsuit for wrongful death, there are three different types of damages that can be claimed.
You can claim punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the offending party and hopefully cause them to change their corporate culture that contributed to the wrongful or negligent act. This is particularly relevant in cases where drivers were deliberately reckless or found to be acting out of malice or intent.
You can claim direct financial damages. These are damages for things like medical expenses as a result of the accident. They cover any future treatment or testing needed for injuries or trauma sustained during that accident. You can also claim lost income for any time you spent unable to work due to the injuries or an inability to ever return to your line of work, and permanent loss earnings and permanent loss of earning capacity.
Finally, financial damages for pain and suffering. These are calculated or based upon your experience of the physical pain and mental anguish. Loss of Consortium is also available to compensate for the emotional pain from losing the company, society, or aid of a loved one in close relation (usually a spouse, parent, or child).
How is Negligence Established?
Including, amongst many others:
- Driving times of no more than ten hours in one 24-hour period (or workday)
- Logging hours spent driving each day in the logbook within a reasonable time frame
- Loading truck cargo according to regulation standards and safety laws
- Absolute adherence to the substances ban, including (but not limited to) alcohol and marijuana (regardless of legality by state law)
- Maintaining and caring for the vehicle according to the standards laid out by federal and state regulations
Failure to comply with these or any other regulations can result in negligence. These are not the only rules, there are other obvious negligent acts like texting behind the wheel or eating while driving. Moreover, many large trucking companies publish their own rules. Violations of these re usually acts of negligence.
How Do We Establish Responsibility?
It’s typically quite easy to establish responsibility after a car accident. Truck accidents can be a little more difficult. Because of the complicated nature of truck driving as a business, there can be several parties liable at the same time.
For example, the manufacturer of the trailer may have made a mistake that was unforeseeable by either the driver or their parent company. Also, the trucking company may have established a deadline too tight for the driver to reasonably complete resulting in speeding or driving in hazardous weather conditions. The manufacturer of the products on the truck or the company leasing the truck can also feasibly be liable as well.
As you can see there be many different types of negligent acts, but you will need proof to make these claims. Otherwise, it’s simply an accident, and little to no compensation will be possible.
Also, there may be infighting within the various companies involved in the truck accident. If the truck is found with faulty hardware, the manufacturer may try to claim that it was a lack of care on the side of the driver or their parent company. This kind of infighting can prolong your suit, so the more detail and documentation you can bring about your accident, the better your attorney can mitigate these elements.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
Besides simply being your guide to the ins and outs of personal injury law, a trucking attorney is an essential resource for your protection. Too often, you will be facing a combination of multiple liabilities and their insurance companies. These companies don’t ever want to pay out; that’s how their business models works.
As you’ve seen by some of the materials above, this is a particularly complicated corner of litigation. There are many different factors at play. Trying to navigate this world without a trucking attorney is like trying to swim in hazardous waters at night. You may not see the dangers until it’s too late.
Being a truck driver is a risky business, and unfortunately, simple human error can have tragic and unforeseen consequences. This is an extremely complicated section of personal injury law, and without adequate legal counsel, your claim can sit for years or be dismissed for lack of evidence. Even when you think you’ve compiled every document and checked every box, without a qualified and experienced trucking attorney at your side, you can be gambling with your future.
We know how important it is that this process be as painless as possible. You should know that you can call our office, and our staff will help you schedule a free consultation. Together, we will look at the your case and to help you decide how best to move forward.