While tractor-trailers transport goods and services all over the country, getting into an accident with one can completely change the course of your life. From the injuries to the associated losses and more, a semi crash victim deserves strong legal representation. If you’ve been hurt, a truck accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices is prepared to help you take action.
Accident victims have the right to pursue injury claims when someone else’s negligence contributed to their crash. Depending on who the at-fault party is, the claim can be complicated. Fortunately, our attorneys are well aware of the best practices for seeking compensation for our clients. In order to get an idea of what the claims process could look like for you, let’s start by going over the trucking industry in the United States.
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The Trucking Industry in the United States
Nearly every good purchased in the United States is put on a tractor-trailer at some point. According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry hauled 72.5% of all freight transported in the United States in 2019—which equaled nearly 12 billion tons. Overall, the industry is worth nearly $800 billion.
An accident between a semi and a passenger vehicle is much different than a crash between two passenger vehicles for a number of reasons. First, commercial freight trucks are upwards of 80,000 pounds or more, which is twenty times a car’s weight. Because of that, the severity of the injuries is likely to be worse. In addition to that, the property damage is likely to be more severe. As a result, the victim could experience higher medical bills, more time away from work, and expensive property losses.
Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
While there are some similarities between the types of car accidents and tractor-trailer crashes, some accidents are unique to trucks because of their size. We’ve had clients come to us after a variety of accidents, including the following:
- Jackknife. A jackknife accident happens when a trucker loses control of their vehicle and the trailer swings up in front of the cab to form a V or L shape. These most often happen when a driver brakes hard and quickly, but it can also happen if cargo has been improperly loaded.
- Rollover. Large trucks have a higher center of gravity, which makes them more susceptible to tipping over. When a rollover happens on a busy highway, multiple vehicles could be involved. The situation can become even more dangerous if the truck is hauling hazardous chemicals.
- Blind Spot. Because of their size, commercial vehicles have blind spots in front of them, behind them, and on each side. Both truckers and drivers need to be aware of the vehicles around them. If a truck is unaware of a vehicle in its blind spot and attempts to merge, the two vehicles could strike each other from the side.
- Wide Turn. If you’ve ever noticed uneven turning lanes, those have to do with making sure truck drivers have enough space at intersections to turn safely. When a truck driver isn’t paying attention to the road or simply expects other smaller vehicles to get out of the way, they are more likely to cause an accident while they’re turning—regardless of how fast they’re traveling.
- Underride/Override. Underride and override accidents are among the deadliest truck crashes. An underride accident happens when a vehicle hits the rear of a truck and gets stuck under the back. With an override, the tractor-trailer essentially drives over the top of the vehicle in front of it.
No matter what type of accident you’ve been involved in, our attorneys are here for you and ready to help you pursue a claim.
Who Do You Hold Accountable for a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a tractor-trailer crash and are looking to pursue compensation for losses that you know were not your fault, you have the right to file a claim. When you do so, you’ll need to have compelling evidence of fault. While every situation is different, you may be pursuing a claim against the truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer.
The Truck Driver
When you initially pursue a personal injury claim after a truck accident, the first party you’ll investigate when determining fault is the truck driver. Some of the most common reasons for truck accidents include the following:
- Distracted Driving. If a truck driver is in an unfamiliar area and is more focused on their GPS or cellphone than what’s happening around them, they run the risk of getting into an accident.
- Driving Under the Influence. Commercial truck drivers are not supposed to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but unfortunately, incidents happen. Substances distort the mind’s ability to properly perceive one’s surroundings, which is how accidents occur.
- Fatigued Driving. Truckers are often on the road for long periods of time. There are, however, limits to how long a driver can be on the road. If that’s not followed, fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
- Speeding. Boredom, distraction, and tight deadlines contribute to truck drivers speeding. Because of the size of tractor-trailers, truckers are more at risk of losing control when traveling at high speeds.
In the event another negligent action contributed to your crash, our lawyers can investigate to determine what happened and how to prove you’re owed compensation.
The Trucking Company
While truckers are responsible for ensuring they operate commercial vehicles safely, the trucking companies are responsible for putting the right drivers behind the wheel and maintaining their vehicles.
Companies are supposed to abide by certain hiring practices when it comes to age, driving record, and experience. If a company tries to hire someone who is underqualified in order to pay them less and that driver gets into an accident, the company can be held accountable.
In addition to hiring the right truck drivers, trucking companies are supposed to maintain their vehicles. This means ensuring all components are working properly and any issues are addressed as quickly as possible. Bald tires, a broken steering mechanism, or improperly loaded cargo can quickly cause a crash—especially if a driver doesn’t know how to correct the big rig before colliding with another vehicle.
The Auto Parts Manufacturer
Companies that create the parts that make a tractor-trailer are supposed to ensure the auto parts they release are up to the expected quality. This means that they won’t wear down before they’re expected to or unexpectedly fail. Some negligent companies, however, may try to cut corners to save money.
To prove a defective product was the result of your truck accident, your lawyer will need to get to the root of the cause of your crash and trace the product back to its original designer, manufacturer, and seller. Then, they will be able to determine at what stage the defect occurred.
Maximize Your Compensation After a Semi Wreck
The compensation you’re eligible for after a crash depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, your ability to return to work, the mental anguish you’ve endured, and the factors related to your crash.
When your lawyer is valuing your case, the first thing they will look at is your economic losses. Those are directly calculable, as they’re based on real numbers. Your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage are included. In some instances, your lawyer can determine what you’re owed for future medical bills or, if you can’t return to work, diminished earning capacity.
Once your lawyer has determined your economic losses, they can work on figuring out what you’re owed in terms of non-economic losses. Non-economic damages are harder to calculate, as they’re based on more subjective forms of suffering. If your injuries have completely upended your life, for example, you’d be eligible for greater non-economic damages than someone whose recovery only took a matter of weeks.
Thomas Law Offices Can Help
Tractor-trailer accidents can result in serious or even fatal injuries. At Thomas Law Offices, we believe victims deserve the chance at full and fair compensation. That’s why, if you’ve been involved in a crash, you need help from a truck accident lawyer.
When we start evaluating your situation, we’ll tell you honestly if we think you have a valid claim. If you do and you decide to proceed, we’ll guide you through the process and fight for your rights to a fair settlement. If need be, we won’t hesitate to take your case to court. To learn more, contact us today.