Navigating the Complexities of Truck Accident Claims
We all tense up when we’re passing or being passed by an 18-wheeler. They’re huge pieces of machinery at 50 feet or more, and they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Given their size and weight, when they collide with a passenger car, the results can be catastrophic.
Unlike accidents that involve two passenger cars, the events that unfold after colliding with a semi are more complex. The law is replete with trucking regulations governing hours of service, cargo weight and loading.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that some of the most common causes of truck crashes are:
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers work long hours with few rest breaks.
- Driver Error: There is a significant need for improvement of defensive driving.
- Drug and Alcohol Use: Impaired driving is often investigated as a cause of truck accidents.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
If a person is fortunate enough to survive a truck crash, it’s highly likely that the injuries suffered will be severe. Those injuries might consist of the following:
- Amputations: Both traumatic and surgical amputations are common in truck accidents.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: Whether open or closed, traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent mental deficits.
- Catastrophic Injuries: These might range from paraplegia to quadriplegia with slim hope of returning to normal.
- Multiple fractures: These might consist of fractures to the tibia, fibula, femur, hips, spine, ribs, neck and skull.
- Damage to Vital Organs: A fractured rib might pierce a lung or even the heart, causing a car passenger’s death.
If you’re physically able to do so, call 911 yourself, and advise dispatchers of the accident and injuries. This is of critical importance. Police will document the crash, and paramedics will attend to the injured until they’re transported to a local emergency room for further diagnostics, care and treatment.
Gather the Evidence
After being in an accident with a semi-truck, if you’re capable of doing so, take photos of the location of the crash, all vehicles involved in it, any debris on the roadway and any stationary objects that they might have hit. Save any bloodied or torn clothing, and take photos of any visible injuries.
The Police Report
In the context of liability, this is the single most determinative report that you can have. It will show the damage to the vehicles, the positions of the vehicles before they collided and where they came to rest. It will also contain your narrative and the truck driver’s narrative of what happened, the names and addresses of any independent eyewitnesses, what hospital you were taken to and whether anybody died at the scene.
Documenting Your Injuries
For purposes of filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you must document your injuries. The paramedics and emergency room personnel will take your history, examine you, perform necessary diagnostics and render a diagnosis.
Find a Reputable Trucking Lawyer – Now!
Trucking companies have teams of lawyers that can respond to a collision within hours and begin working on the case immediately. Don’t delay in finding a lawyer because evidence – including data from the truck – can be lost quickly. For purposes of legal representation, it is important to seek out an attorney who has the experience of handling and winning similar cases. A highly skilled truck accident lawyer is advised. The stakes are far too high.
Don’t Give a Statement
It’s not unusual for an adjuster from the truck company’s insurer to contact you soon after an accident, wanting a recorded statement from you “so we can nail down liability.” You might feel threatened or intimidated, but resist their persistence to give a statement. Politely refuse to give any statement and refer that adjuster to the police report and to your attorney, who is skilled at dealing with all of the adjuster’s tactics.
Proving Your Injuries
Your diagnosis will be determined through your subjective symptoms, objective symptoms, radiological studies like X-rays, CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging and doctor’s impressions. These will be contained in your medical records. Your lawyers will obtain copies of these records and bills. Don’t miss any appointments that you might have with doctors or therapists. Missed appointments or gaps in treatment will cause the opposing insurer to argue that you might not be injured to the extent claimed.
You’re required to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means that your interpretation of how the accident occurred and the injuries that you suffered was more likely true than not true. That’s done by proving certain elements. The elements of negligence are as follows:
- The driver of the truck owed you a duty of care.
- There was a breach of that duty.
- The breach of duty caused your accident and injuries.
- As a result of the accident and injuries, you suffered damages.
For purposes of supporting your version of events, witnesses could be necessary. Those eyewitnesses who told investigating police officers what happened might best support your version of events. Dashcams, traffic cameras or even security cameras might even be used to support your version of events. Of course, one of the best witnesses might be the police officer testifying to his or her investigation. Your doctor can also testify to the necessity for care and treatment.
Retaining Expert Witnesses
One or more expert witnesses might be required for you to prevail. They come at a price though. It’s usually your legal choice to retain one or more experts. In a truck crash case, experts might be retained for purposes of testifying to the circumstances surrounding the crash and the medical damages caused by it. Of course, if the defendant retains an expert, you’ll likely want to retain one or more, too.
Truck accidents aren’t like car accidents. If you’re involved in a crash with a semi, make sure you get the compensation that you deserve. Consult with and retain a quality, experienced attorney at Dunnion Law after being involved in any truck accident.