Every day, big trucks fill highways across the United States. Many drivers become accustomed to seeing big trucks all around them on their daily commutes. However, those big trucks may pose a substantial danger to others.
After a truck accident, you may need to know several critical things to protect yourself: not just medically, since truck accidents often result in severe injuries, but also financially, as you pursue the compensation you deserve. After your truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
1. You should always report a big truck accident to the police.
Any time you get into an accident involving significant property damage or injury, including big truck accidents, you should report those accidents to the police before leaving the accident scene.
Truck drivers may have any number of reasons why they do not want to report an accident immediately. The truck driver may worry about meeting a deadline, especially if they find themselves on a tight deadline, or a delay could cause them to get bogged down in local rush hour traffic.
The driver may not want the accident on their record, especially if they have already caused severe accidents. However, regardless of the reason, you should always report any serious accident to the police.
Reporting an accident can provide you with vital protections, including a clear record of the accident and any apparent signs of liability related to the accident. The police report can help you establish that the truck driver caused your accident and that, as a result, you may deserve compensation.
2. Truck accident investigations can quickly turn more complicated than you may anticipate.
If you suffer injuries in a car accident, the investigation may look relatively straightforward. A lawyer may want to look at obvious contributing factors, but often, the driver that caused the accident will bear liability for the accident and any injuries that result.
On the other hand, a truck accident may involve a much more complex investigation. A lawyer may have to look at multiple factors to identify every party who contributed to your injuries.
The Truck Driver
Most obviously, the truck driver may bear liability for any decisions made while controlling their vehicle. A truck driver must ultimately decide whether they can safely drive based on the load they need to haul, the truck’s condition, and any other issues that may contribute to their ability or inability to drive, including challenges like inebriation or drowsiness.
An investigation into the driver may include the actions that led to the accident as well as the driver’s record and history. A trucking company that continues to employ a driver who has a long history of causing accidents or has a spotty driving record may bear liability for the accident.
The Driver’s Logs
In addition to looking at the truck driver directly, a lawyer may want to look at the truck driver’s logs.
Driver logs can provide vital insights into the driver’s behavior leading up to the accident, including:
- Whether the driver may have broken the speed limit shortly before the accident, which could mean that speed served as a contributing factor in your accident.
- The last time the driver took a break, including whether the driver adhered to federal standards governing the number of hours they could reasonably spend on the road before taking time away from the wheel.
- Whether the truck driver worked long hours before the accident or tried to shave time off the mandatory rest period before they got back behind the wheel, which could indicate sleep deprivation.
The driver’s logs can help provide essential insights into what likely contributed to the accident. Many trucks now have electronic logs that will keep track of exact start and stop times, making them more accurate than pen and paper logs.
The Truck’s Maintenance Record
Big trucks require a great deal more maintenance than the average passenger vehicle, in part because trucks have so many moving parts. Truck owners, including trucking companies, bear a high duty of care when regularly maintaining those vehicles. A trucking company or owner that fails to properly maintain the vehicle could bear liability for the damages an accident caused.
Proper maintenance includes ensuring that a truck receives all regular maintenance and any repairs it might need. If a mechanic recommends maintenance, including replacing truck parts, and the trucking company chooses not to take care of that maintenance, the trucking company may bear liability for the accident.
In addition, if a trucking company does not take care of its maintenance in-house, an examination of maintenance records could uncover whether the mechanic that did the maintenance cut corners or ignored potential problems with the truck. Such a discovery could leave the mechanic liable for any damage caused by that negligence.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies prove essential for transporting goods across the country, including many goods that most consumers rely on each day. However, trucking companies also bear a duty of care to all the other drivers and passengers who may share the road with their drivers.
When a trucking company fails in its duty of care to the other people on the road, it can bear liability for an accident caused by that negligence.
A lawyer may want to look at several elements of the trucking company to determine whether the trucking company may bear liability for an accident.
- Did the company have dangerous policies or practices, like pushing its drivers to meet too-tight deadlines or to drive even under dangerous conditions, that may have contributed to the accident?
- Did the company ignore a driver’s request to spend time off the road, or push the driver to get behind the wheel despite illness, exhaustion, or inebriation?
- Does the company provide inadequate training for and supervision of its drivers?
- Does the company routinely hire inexperienced drivers but fail to provide them with the support they may need?
A lawyer may need to take a very close look at the trucking company to identify any factors that may have contributed to the accident. If the trucking company does bear liability for the accident, it may increase the compensation you can recover for your injuries.
A truck’s load can increase the risks it poses. A poorly secured load, for example, may fall from the back of a flatbed or even out of the back of a trailer, which may pose an immense danger to drivers who will then need to avoid that load. In some cases, falling loads can cause severe accidents.
Furthermore, shifting loads inside a trailer can raise the risk of jackknife collisions or rollover accidents, posing a substantial danger to the truck driver and others who may share the road with the truck driver.
As they investigate a truck accident, a lawyer may look at what load the truck carried at the time of the accident, who loaded the truck, and how the company secured that load. The lawyer may also ask whether the load posed any increased danger to individuals who may have suffered injuries in an accident, including chemicals carried by tanker trucks.
3. Insurance companies may fight hard to decrease the compensation you can recover after a truck accident.
Truck drivers and trucking companies usually carry extensive insurance policies to protect the company from a serious accident caused by driver or company negligence. Those insurance policies can, in some cases, provide substantial compensation to individuals who may have suffered injuries due to those negligent actions.
However, those insurance companies often have extensive legal teams that may try to reduce the compensation the company has to pay out after a serious truck accident. You may face several challenges that the insurance company may throw in your way as you negotiate your claim.
Denying or Reducing Liability
The insurance company may try to claim that the truck driver did not cause your truck accident, or that you contributed in some way to the accident, which could reduce the compensation you can recover. The insurance company may also try to talk you into accepting at least partial liability for the accident, either directly or by tricking you into accepting liability.
Denying the Extent of Your Injuries
Sometimes, the insurance company may accept liability for the accident but may not accept the extent of your injuries as you report them in your claim.
The insurance company may try to claim that:
- You suffered the injuries that you claim at another time, not during the truck accident.
- You did not need the medical treatments you claim for your injuries.
- Your injuries do not limit you as much as you claim.
If the insurance company denies the full extent of your injuries, you may find yourself struggling to get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills.
Pressuring You to Accept a Low Settlement
In many cases, an insurance company will try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement: one that does not fully reflect the damages you suffered in the accident or the compensation you deserve, according to the terms of the liable party’s insurance policy. Frequently, you will get a low settlement offer soon after the initial accident. Even though you may know that you deserve additional compensation, you may feel heavily pressured to accept an offer fast.
You do not have to accept any settlement offer immediately. Instead, take your claim to a lawyer as soon as possible.
4. You may have the right to recover considerable compensation following a truck accident.
An accident with a big truck driver can leave you with severe injuries. Big trucks weigh considerably more than the average personal vehicle, which means that they often cause more damage to passenger vehicles and the people inside them.
Big trucks may also go into an accident with more force, since it may prove harder to stop a truck once it swings out of control. As a result, you may recover substantial compensation to pay for your injuries.
Compensation for a truck accident may include several essential factors.
- Compensation for your medical costs.
- Payment for wages you lost because of your truck accident injuries and recovery.
- Compensation for the pain and suffering you went through after your truck accident.
A truck accident lawyer cannot guarantee the compensation you can recover for truck accident injuries, but can look closer at the compensation you deserve.
5. A lawyer can manage your truck accident claim.
If you suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, you may need a lawyer on your side.
A lawyer can provide numerous advantages to the truck accident claim process.
- A lawyer can help investigate all the details of your truck accident, including the trucking company, the load, and the driver’s record.
- A lawyer can take a detailed look at the compensation you likely deserve and make sure you understand your rights.
- A lawyer can help negotiate the claim on your behalf, which may increase the odds that you will recover the full compensation you deserve.
After a truck accident, you may have many questions about your legal rights and your next steps. A truck accident lawyer can help answer those questions and provide you with vital support as you manage your claim. Contact a truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to discuss your rights.