Truck  Accidents

Semi truck
Did you know there are over eleven million trucks operating actively across the United States, many with overworked drivers carrying hazardous materials? In 2016 alone, there were 475,000 large truck accidents with human error accounting for roughly ninety percent of them. And while a Harvard study found that about a quarter of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel, 50% of professional truck drivers have reported the same issue.

With so many drivers relying on highways to get to work every day, it takes just one overworked truck driver for your life to change in an instant. After all, trucks weigh 20-30 times more than a typical car, which can seriously amplify the impact and consequences of an accident.
 
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a truck, retaining the services of an attorney becomes vital. Because truck drivers are often insured in the millions and more than one party can be held vicariously responsible for a driver’s negligence, having a attorney at your side as soon as possible will help to ensure your case is handled in the most professional manner. Identifying all the different lines of insurance is difficult in trucking accidents as the truck and trailer are often insured by different companies, with either or both possibly being guilty of negligence.
 
What to Do Following a Truck Accident?

The amount of confusion immediately following a truck crash can be great. You’ll want to make sure the police and any necessary emergency workers are called immediately to assist with any injuries.

The police will take extensive notes, statements from all the involved parties and any witnesses, and take photos as part of their accident report. If possible, you will also want to document as much as you can, including witness statements.

If your phone’s camera is working, be sure to take as many pictures as possible of the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you and any other passengers sustained. Doing so can help you ensure that anything the police missed is still documented.
 
What Are The Leading Causes of Truck Accidents?
 
  • Driver Error - Despite the increased size and impact of truck accidents, truck drivers often drive recklessly. They often drive drowsy to reach mileage goals set by their companies and may be operating their truck while under the influence or while distracted.
  • Poorly Maintained Trucks - Trucks are often driven thousands of miles per week and if they are not properly cared for, they can become dangerous quickly. While worn brake pads or a cracked windshield must be dealt with if they occur on smaller vehicles, they can be the cause of a major traffic accident on a truck.
  • Equipment Failure - Defective parts on a truck may not be the fault of the driver, but they can turn deadly. Your attorney will be able to tell if a trucking company or manufacturer may be liable for your accident in addition to the truck driver.
  • Improperly Loaded Cargo - Loading the beds of commercial trucks must be done carefully and in accordance with the law. If they are loaded improperly, the contents on the truck may spill out onto the road and cause accidents and injuries.

How Truck Accidents Are Different From Car Accidents

Commercial freight trucks (or ‘big rigs’) tend to weigh 80,000 pounds or more, twenty times the weight of passenger cars. Despite regulations that exist to ensure truck drivers do not drive more than ten hours per day, they are often given financial incentives for traveling large distances faster, which can directly impinge upon other drivers’ safety.
 
  • Larger Insurance Policies - Truck drivers’ insurance policies are up to fifty times larger than car accident policies. This often put ls the total value of insurance in the millions, so you can bet that the different insurance carriers named in a lawsuit will do everything in their power to prove they were not liable. Veteran insurance adjusters will be called in and employ intricate tactics, such as offering a seemingly-large payout, when your case might be worth far more. Having a trusted attorney by your side can help make the process considerably less stressful.
  • Increased Property Damage - As noted above, the weight and overall size of an 18-wheeler commercial freight truck are much larger than that of a typical vehicle. That means that any surrounding property is going to be affected much more than in a crash involving two cars.
  • More Serious Injuries - Similarly, the injuries that are common in car accidents are also far more severe and can include intensive medical care and bills. From serious whiplash and broken bones to brain trauma and severe lacerations, injuries following a truck accident are often life-changing.
  • Much Larger Medical Bills - The amount of time spent in a hospital tends to be much longer than car accident-related injuries. Victims of truck accidents are unable to return to work for a prolonged period of time, if at all. By working with an experienced attorney at Daniels & Scriven, P.C., we can more accurately calculate your current and future pain and suffering to obtain the compensation you truly deserve.
  • Greater Chance of Death - An accident with a large commercial truck is far more likely to result in death than a crash between two passenger cars. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are between 3,000 and 5,000 deaths due to truck accidents every year.

Considering the number of variables involved in truck accidents and the considerable resources wielded by the trucking companies and their insurers, getting a no-cost case assessment is a recommended first step when deciding whether to obtain the services of a attorney.
 
Who is Responsible for My Truck Accident?

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, there are a number of parties who may be liable for your losses. It is not uncommon for these parties to deny fault or liability for a crash. The liable parties can include the following:
 
  • Truck driver
  • Truck company
  • Owner of the truck
  • Company leasing the truck
  • Company leasing the trailer
  • Shipper who wanted the load transported
  • Truck, trailer or parts manufacturer

Injuries sustained in truck accidents can be severe, including severe brain trauma, disfigurement, burns, broken bones, lacerations, paralysis, or even death.

What Will My Attorney Do To Help Me?

At Daniels & Scriven, P.C., not only are our truck accident attorneys deeply familiar with the different tactics used by insurance companies to reduce the compensation amount you deserve, but we also boast a deep network of expert witnesses and investigators to investigate every aspect of an accident. Following a crash, the trucking company and their insurance company will start an immediate investigation of the scene. They may record statements from witnesses, take photos of the accident scene, and examine the vehicles to determine the extent of damage caused by the crash. Once you’ve chosen to retain the service of our attorneys, we go right to work examining every aspect of your case.

Our attorneys may record statements from witnesses, take photos of the accident scene, and examine the vehicles to determine the extent of damage caused by the crash. These steps include:
 
  • Review camera footage, if available
  • Interview witnesses
  • Review mandatory police and accident reports
  • Analyze and review medical records
  • Interview medical staff
  • Consult experts to reconstruct the accident scene and recreate the accident
  • Help ensure that important evidence is preserved by the truck company and driver
  • Obtaining alcohol and drug testing from the truck driver
  • Obtain data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM; i.e. “black box”)

Our attorneys will also protect any critical evidence from being corrupted by sending a spoliation and/or preservation letter to the truck company before any crucial evidence is lost or destroyed. After receiving this letter, truck companies legally must retain records of evidence pertinent to the case, such as driver logs and black box information. This must be sent immediately following an accident, however, as truck companies may destroy these records as part of their typical course of business.