Large trucks are often involved in some form of automobile accident. In 2018 alone, 59,933 trucks were involved in crashes resulting in injuries, and 4,862 trucks were in fatal crashes.
Needless to say, big rigs and 18-wheelers can be a cause for concern for all kinds of motorists on the road. Being involved in a trucking accident can be especially scary when you consider the fact that big trucking companies with a lot of money can get involved in an automobile accident lawsuit.
What Is Considered a Truck Accident?
A trucking accident is defined as a vehicle collision involving large commercial trucks, such as tractor trailers, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles that cause property damage or personal injury as the result of the collision.
Trucking accidents and the way the accident occurs depends on the type of truck involved in the accident.
Types of vehicles that can fall under the category of trucking accidents include:
- Cargo trucks
- Big rigs
- Coal trucks
- Fuel trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Commercial buses
- Construction trucks
- Tow trucks
- Fire trucks
- Tractor trailers
- Moving trucks
- Semi trucks
- Logging trucks
- Concrete trucks
Needless to say, there are plenty of large commercial vehicles on the road that, when driven with negligence, can cause severe crashes.
The Most Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Here are five common causes of truck accidents:
Most truck drivers drive very long distances for many hours with little to no rest in between stops. Overworked drivers are a danger to others on the road because they can become severely fatigued.
Fatigue reduces a driver's attention span and responsiveness, which can result in them falling asleep behind the wheel or losing reaction time in trying to prevent a collision.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Some truck drivers have been found guilty of taking illegal substances while on the job and abusing alcohol at stops before driving. Their ability to drive becomes impaired by these substances, which often leads to dangerous road accidents.
Truck drivers usually need to reach specific destinations within a specific time period. Truckers may get delayed due to weather and traffic conditions that make it difficult to reach their desired destination on time. When faced with a strict deadline, they often speed to make up for lost time.
Speeding reduces reaction time and often causes accidents when the truck cannot slow down fast enough to avoid another vehicle.
Poor Truck Maintenance and Driver Training
Truck owners are required to make sure that their trucks are in top condition before they can go out on the road. Although maintaining commercial trucks is required by law, some owners do not take the time to properly maintain their trucks.
Truck drivers are required to put in a certain amount of training hours before they are allowed to drive large commercial trucks. Not all truck drivers meet these requirements. This results in inexperienced truck drivers operating poorly maintained trucks, which is one of the biggest causes of trucking accidents.
Distractions, such as texting, viewing social media sites, eating, or changing the car radio station, have been attributed to taking attention away from drivers, which can often cause accidents. Even a short second when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road can cause an accident.
How Trucking Accidents Differ from Other Automobile Accidents
Trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle on roadways. This is the main reason why accidents involving trucks and other vehicles are amplified and often carry serious consequences. Although trucking accidents account for a small portion of the accidents that occur on highways, because of their size, commercial-class vehicles can cause substantial damage to the other vehicle.
To illustrate, 77 percent of those injured in trucking accidents are the drivers or passengers of the smaller automobiles involved in the commercial truck crash.
Here are some more reasons that further explain how trucking accidents differ from other automobile accidents on the road.
Larger Insurance Payouts
Trucking companies typically have large insurance policies that amount to millions of dollars to cover truck damage. The average truck accident involving one person can cost about $140,000. Severe truck accidents can cost up to $7 million dollars.
Since insurance companies must pay out so much more for trucking accidents, they often try to find ways not to pay you.
More Serious Injuries
Truck accidents are more dangerous than standard automobile accidents. Some of the injuries you are more likely to sustain in a truck accident include:
- Major whiplash
- Head trauma
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
Trucks are also dangerous because of the different ways you can end up in a truck accident. Some examples of truck accident types include:
- Jackknife: This occurs when a truck folds at a 90-degree angle, causing the driver to lose control.
- Wide turns: Drivers can hit pedestrians or other vehicles if they can’t see the right side of their vehicle when they maneuver left to make a wide right turn.
- T-bone: If a driver runs a red light, they run the risk of hitting another vehicle at a perpendicular angle.
- Under ride: Motorists can sometimes become trapped underneath a truck's trailer if they hit it from behind.
- Rollovers: This happens when the truck rolls over and skids across the road, causing other motorists to hit them.
Bigger Medical Bills
Truck accidents often result in serious injuries, and you may incur additional costs for long-term recovery care. You may also end up with more injuries, longer hospital stays, and greater mental and emotional trauma compared to other motor accidents.
All of these costs add up over time, and they come with a hefty price tag. In addition to these costs, serious injuries may result in missed work that cause long-term financial problems.
Commercial truck drivers have additional safety rules and federal regulations that they must adhere to. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides the following standards that truck drivers must abide by:
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Keeping logs
- Routine employee evaluations
- Regulated hours
- Yearly inspections
- Regular maintenance
- Obtaining a commercial driver’s license
Some of these regulations can make it more difficult to determine who is liable for the accident.
What to Do Immediately after a Truck Accident
Truck accidents are scary situations that can leave you in shock and at a loss for what you should do next. Here are a few tips to guide you through what to do after a truck accident.
Report the Crash.
Make sure you are safe and remove your car from the road, if you are able to. If someone is injured or has died in the accident, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, you can call the police or state highway patrol. Once they get there, they will assess the accident, fill out a report, and let you know what to do next.
Request a copy of the report for your records.
Seek Medical Treatment.
Whether you are obviously injured or not, you should seek medical attention. The adrenaline you experience during a crash can keep you from feeling the pain caused by an injury.
If you don’t seek medical attention, it could interfere with your ability to seek compensation for damages.
Identify Other Parties Involved and Exchange Information.
Identify the other parties involved, including any defining marks the truck has, such as a company logo. This information helps to identify the responsible parties for their role in the accident.
Exchange information with other parties while you are at the scene of the accident.
The information you need includes:
- Their name, address, phone number, and email address
- Their insurance company and policy information
- The driver’s license number of the truck driver
- Name and contact information for the truck driver’s employer
Take Notes of the Scene.
Take photos of the scene if you have access to your phone to document your vehicle damage, your injuries, and where the accident occurred. These photos can be used to build a case against the at-fault party.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney.
Contact a personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation for injuries or damages that were the result of the truck accident. They can help you to maximize the compensation you receive from the truck driver’s insurance.
How Fault Is Determined in a Semi-Truck Accident
It is not always clear who bears responsibility for a truck accident. You must prove that the truck driver, the truck company, or others were at fault for the accident you were involved in.
Your lawyer will establish some parameters for duty of care to demonstrate a breach of duty that led to your accident injuries and other damages.
Some of the liable parties in a truck accident include:
- The truck company
- The owner of the truck
- The truck driver
- The company leasing the truck
- The company leasing the trailer
- The truck, trailer, or parts manufacturer
- The shipper who loaded the transport
The Most Common Types of Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents can be caused by a variety of different factors. Here are some of the most common types of truck accidents:
- Negligent maintenance truck accidents
- Intoxicated or impaired truck driving accidents
- Speeding truck accidents
- Improperly loaded truck accidents
- Vicarious liability for truck accidents
- Negligent hiring or selection of incompetent motor carriers
- Semi-truck accidents
- Wrongful death
The Cost of Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
How much it costs to hire a truck accident attorney depends on the law firm you choose.
Most truck accident or personal injury attorneys typically charge on a contingency fee basis to take on your case. This means that the law firm collects a portion of the compensation they recover for you.
Sometimes, attorneys use a sliding scale for their contingency fee that changes based on the tasks they complete for you. Usually, you can expect to pay about 33 to 40 percent of your payout costs on behalf of your attorney for handling your case.
If you want more specific or accurate information about a lawyer’s contingency fee structure for a truck accident claim, contact a local attorney and schedule a consultation.
The Value of Winning a Truck Accident Lawsuit
There is no real average settlement amount for trucking accidents. However, trucking accidents usually result in higher settlements than average automobile collisions.
With typical collisions, you can expect compensation that is equal to about three times your medical expenses.
The amount you receive in compensation for a truck accident lawsuit varies greatly, depending on the severity of your injuries, your emotional trauma, and the financial harm the accident caused you.
How Compensation Is Determined for Trucking Accidents
Compensation for truck accidents is determined in a similar way to other personal injury claims. It is broken down into two parts: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic truck accident damages cover monetary costs, such as:
- Current Medical Expenses: This includes any fees incurred due to emergency room visits, hospital care, assistive devices, doctor’s appointments, surgery, and rehabilitation costs.
- Future Medical Expenses: Compensation for extended medical attention and care.
- Lost Wages: The compensation owed to the victim due to missed work.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: If the victim can no longer earn their typical living wages because of their injuries, they are entitled to pay based on what they would have earned.
Non-economic damages that compensate for intangible losses can include:
- Pain and Suffering: This covers physical pain and how long the victim must suffer.
- Mental Distress: Emotional pain caused by the truck accident can include anxiety, PTSD, embarrassment, grief, and other forms of mental and emotional stress.
- Loss of Consortium: Compensation related to familial or marital issues arising from the accident.
Punitive damages may also be considered in a trucking accident case if the at-fault party's actions were determined to be caused by malicious intent.
Your Next Steps for Your Truck Accident Lawsuit
Hiring a truck accident lawyer is a big decision. Make sure you prepare well by adopting the following tips:
- Consider more than one lawyer.
- Conduct thorough research on law firms.
- Compile all necessary evidence and medical bills.
- Make sure you understand what you’re paying for.
- Have realistic payment expectations.
When to Look for a Good Truck Accident Law Firm
If you have suffered an injury or have lost a loved one in a truck accident, it is best to search for and contact an attorney as soon as possible. Some aspects of your truck accident case are time sensitive, and an experienced attorney will need to advise you on how to handle time sensitive issues properly.
For instance, all legal claims have a statute of limitations of about two years, so your injury and collection of evidence is time-sensitive. Evidence is your key to building a strong case, so it is best to hire an attorney soon after your accident.
Your lawyer can handle collecting evidence and putting together a case while you recover.
What to Look for When You Choose a Truck Accident Attorney
Here are 10 factors to consider when you are choosing a truck accident attorney:
- Firm size and resources
- Firm location
- Previous results in settlement cases and trials similar to yours
- Client reviews
- Your level of comfort with the attorney assigned to your case
- Awards and recognition
- Years of experience
- Practice focus
- Experience handling truck accident claims
Questions to Ask Truck Accident Lawyers
Be prepared with a list of questions to ask your attorney so you can ensure you are hiring the best lawyers for your case.
Here are some standard questions to ask a lawyer about your truck accident case:
- Have you worked on truck crash cases before?
- What damages can I recover?
- Who is at fault for the crash?
- Do you have experience facing corporate legal teams like trucking companies, etc?
- How do you plan to get me compensation?
- What is your fee structure?
- How will you be involved in my case?
Get Started with the Best Florida Truck Accident Lawyers
The compassionate and highly skilled attorneys at Lowman Law Firm can help you or someone you love receive compensatory damages for a truck accident. Lowman offers free comprehensive case consultations on all personal injury matters, and clients only pay fees or costs if the case is won. With Lowman, you will be treated with the utmost care and professionalism.Our lawyers provide statewide representation, handling personal injury cases in 34 Florida counties, including Hernando, Citrus, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas. We also manage cases in several other states.