Parker Waichman LLP

If you or a loved one was recently involved in a truck accident, you may be looking for legal advice and support to get back on your feet. Often, due to the catastrophic nature of tractor-trailer accidents, the damages are significant. You may choose to seek financial compensation for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. 

To help you in your research process and as you evaluate truck accident attorneys and your various options for recovery, the Truck Accidents Law Firm has compiled a list of helpful resources. 

Everything You Need to Know About Truck Accidents

Often, when our clients call us, they’re looking for answers to complex questions. You may be dealing with your first personal injury case and unsure of the best way to proceed. The legal landscape can be confusing, and if you’re going head-to-head against a large insurance company, it may be an unfair fight without legal help. 

Here is some of the following information: 

  • Statistics about truck accidents
  • Common causes of truck accidents
  • Types of truck-related injuries
  • An overview of how a truck accident attorney can help

The Rising Toll of Truck Accidents

The vast expanse of American highways serves as a backbone for commerce and travel, with commercial trucks playing an integral role in transporting goods across the nation. However, the sheer size and weight of these vehicles, coupled with the demands placed on truck drivers, can lead to devastating accidents.

Despite concerted efforts by agencies under the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), to enhance truck safety through research, policy recommendations, regulatory enforcement, and public education, truck accidents remain a significant concern.

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 2015 paints a grim picture:

  • In that year, 4,311 commercial vehicles, including large trucks, were involved in fatal crashes.
  • Between 2009 and 2015, the overall number of injury-causing truck crashes increased by over 60%.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, the number of fatal truck crashes rose by nearly 10%.

These statistics underscore the alarming trend of increasing truck accidents, putting you and your loved ones at greater risk of injury or death. It is crucial to remain vigilant and exercise caution when sharing the road with these large vehicles.

Here are some tips for sharing the road safely with trucks:

  • Maintain a safe distance: Keep a safe distance from trucks, especially when they are changing lanes or merging.
  • Avoid blind spots: Be aware of trucks’ blind spots, which are areas where other vehicles are not visible to the truck driver.
  • Pass with caution: Only pass a truck when it is safe to do so. Be sure to accelerate and pass quickly, and return to your lane as soon as possible.
  • Be extra cautious in poor weather conditions: Trucks are more difficult to control in bad weather, so be extra cautious when sharing the road with them in rain, snow, or fog.

By following these tips and remaining aware of your surroundings, you can help reduce the risk of being involved in a truck accident.

Common Types of Trucking Accidents in the United States

The expansive highway network of the United States is an artery for commerce and travel, with massive commercial trucks playing a crucial role in transporting goods across the country. However, the sheer size and weight of these vehicles, combined with the demands placed on truck drivers, can lead to devastating accidents. Understanding the most common types of trucking accidents can help raise awareness and promote safer driving practices.

Rear-End Collisions: A Tale of Two Vehicles

Rear-end collisions, where a truck fails to stop in time and collides with the vehicle ahead, are unfortunately a common occurrence on American roads. These accidents often result from distracted driving, fatigued truck drivers, or misjudging stopping distances. The impact of a truck colliding with a smaller vehicle can be catastrophic, causing severe injuries or even fatalities.

Jackknife Accidents: When a Truck Takes an Unwanted Turn

Jackknife accidents occur when a truck’s trailer swings out to one side, creating a dangerous “V” shape with the truck cab. This hazardous maneuver can be caused by sudden braking, excessive speed for road conditions, or attempting to make sharp turns. Jackknife accidents often lead to multi-vehicle collisions, posing a significant threat to other motorists.

Rollover Accidents: When Gravity Takes Control

Rollover accidents, where a truck loses control and rolls over onto its side or roof, are among the most severe types of trucking accidents. These incidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including speeding, overloading the truck, or taking turns too quickly. The sheer size and weight of a truck make it more susceptible to rollovers, often resulting in devastating consequences for occupants and nearby vehicles.

Underride Accidents: Trapped Beneath the Truck

Underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the rear or side of a truck and becomes trapped underneath the truck’s trailer. These accidents often result from smaller vehicles being unable to stop in time or misjudging the truck’s stopping distance. The consequences of underride accidents can be grim, with occupants of the smaller vehicle sustaining severe injuries or even death.

Blind Spot Accidents: Hidden Dangers on the Road

Trucks have large blind spots, or “no-zones,” where other vehicles may not be visible to the truck driver. These blind spots can be especially dangerous when a truck driver fails to check their mirrors and signals before changing lanes or making a turn. Blind spot accidents are a common cause of sideswipe collisions and can result in significant damage to both vehicles involved.

Lost Load Accidents: Cargo Gone Rogue

When cargo is not properly secured, it can shift or fall off the truck, causing accidents or hazards on the roadway. Lost load accidents can range from minor inconveniences to catastrophic events, depending on the type of cargo and the situation. Falling debris can damage other vehicles, cause road closures, or even lead to multi-vehicle collisions.

These are just a few examples of the types of trucking accidents that can occur in the United States. When you or a loved one are harmed in a trucking accident, it’s important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you understand your legal options and pursue a claim for compensation.

Common Injuries after a Big Truck Accident

Accidents involving massive semi-trucks can unleash a devastating array of injuries, ranging from mild to life-altering. Big rigs, weighing tens of thousands of pounds, pose a significant threat to smaller passenger cars in the event of a collision. Understanding the potential injuries sustained in such accidents is necessary for victims and healthcare providers.

1. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBIs, caused by violent head impacts or shaking, can have profound and lasting consequences. Symptoms range from mild headaches and dizziness to severe cognitive impairment, memory loss, and even coma.

2. Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

SCIs, resulting from damage to the spinal cord, can lead to partial or complete paralysis, rendering individuals dependent on assistive devices or lifelong care. The severity of the injury determines the extent of motor and sensory loss.

3. Broken Bones

The tremendous force of a truck accident can shatter bones, causing excruciating pain, limited mobility, and even surgical intervention. Common fractures include those in the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.

4. Internal Injuries

Internal organ damage, from lacerations to bleeding, is a serious concern in truck accidents. These injuries may not manifest immediately, making prompt medical attention essential for timely diagnosis and treatment.

5. Burns

Fires or explosions triggered by truck accidents can inflict severe burns, causing scarring, disfigurement, and permanent disability. Skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries may be necessary to address the damage.

6. Whiplash

A common outcome of rear-end collisions, whiplash involves violent snapping of the neck, leading to neck pain, headaches, and other symptoms that can persist for months or even years.

7. Emotional Trauma

The psychological impact of truck accidents can be profound, leading to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Flashbacks, nightmares, and social withdrawal are common manifestations of emotional trauma.

8. Fatalities

The size disparity between passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers often results in fatal accidents. The sheer force of impact can cause severe trauma, leading to tragic loss of life. Seeking medical attention promptly after a truck accident, even if you feel uninjured, is crucial. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, and early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes. 

Navigating the Insurance Landscape for Commercial Trucks: Understanding Coverage Requirements

The vast expanse of American highways traverses diverse state regulations, and the insurance requirements for 18-wheeler trucks reflect this complexity. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes minimum insurance standards for interstate commercial vehicles, individual states may impose additional regulations.

Federal Minimum Insurance Requirements for Big Rigs

The FMCSA mandates specific insurance coverage levels for 18-wheelers based on the type of cargo they transport:

  • General Freight Carriers: For 18-wheelers hauling non-hazardous materials, the minimum liability insurance coverage is set at $750,000.
  • Hazardous Materials Carriers: The required coverage for trucks transporting hazardous materials varies depending on the material’s classification. It ranges from $1 million to $5 million, significantly higher than the standard coverage.

State-Specific Insurance Regulations

It’s vital to note that the FMCSA’s minimum requirements serve as a baseline, and individual states may impose stricter standards. Some states may mandate higher liability coverage levels, particularly for trucks transporting hazardous materials.

Layering Insurance Policies for Enhanced Protection

Many trucking companies choose to exceed the minimum insurance requirements to safeguard their assets and mitigate potential liabilities. They may opt for multiple insurance policies, such as a primary policy and an umbrella policy, to broaden their coverage scope.

What Types of Damages Can Be Sought After a Commercial Truck Accident?

After an injury in a tractor-trailer accident, there are different types of economic and non-economic damages that may be pursued in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. These damages are designed to compensate the victim for the losses and expenses resulting from the accident. Some of the most common damages that may be pursued after a commercial truck accident include:

  • Accident-Related Medical Expenses: This includes the costs of medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Loss of Income: If the victim is unable to work or loses income due to the accident, they may be entitled to monetary compensation for lost wages, including both past and future lost income.
  • Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident.
  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If your vehicle was inoperable after the crash, you may be able to receive compensation for car rentals.
  • Property Damage: This includes the cost of repairing or replacing any property damaged in the accident, such as the victim’s car.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If the victim is unable to enjoy life activities that they enjoyed prior to the accident, such as hobbies or sports, they may be entitled to compensation for this loss.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault party for egregious or intentional conduct and to deter similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are not awarded in all truck accident cases. However, in cases of egregious misconduct, your truck accident attorney may be able to demand punitive damages under state law.

The specific damages that can be pursued in a truck accident case will depend on the circumstances of the truck accident and the extent of the victim’s injuries and losses. It’s important to work with an experienced truck accident attorney who can help assess the damages and build a strong case for maximum compensation.

Why Retain a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with insurance companies and pursuing compensation for your injuries. Retaining the services of a seasoned truck accident lawyer can prove to be a pivotal decision in safeguarding your rights and maximizing your chances of a favorable outcome. Here are the top five reasons why seeking legal counsel is essential:

  1. Expertise
    Truck accident lawyers possess in-depth knowledge and experience specific to truck accident litigation. They are well-versed in the complex laws and regulations governing the trucking industry, enabling them to thoroughly investigate, evaluate, and build a compelling case on your behalf.
  2. Protecting Your Rights
    Truck accident lawyers act as your staunch advocates, ensuring that your legal rights are protected throughout the process. They safeguard your interests by carefully reviewing insurance policies, advocating for fair compensation, and challenging any attempts to minimize your claims.
  3. Navigating Insurance Claims
    Dealing with insurance companies can be a daunting task, especially when they may attempt to limit your compensation or deny your claim altogether. Truck accident lawyers have the expertise to negotiate effectively with insurance providers, ensuring that you receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
  4. Comprehensive Investigations
    Truck accident lawyers conduct thorough investigations to gather evidence and determine the cause of the accident. They review driver logs, maintenance records, witness statements, and accident reconstruction reports to build a strong case that supports your claims.
  5. Experienced Litigation
    In the event that litigation becomes necessary, truck accident lawyers are well-equipped to represent you in court. They have the legal expertise and courtroom experience to present your case effectively and seek the maximum compensation you deserve.

Retaining a truck accident lawyer can help. Their specialized knowledge, advocacy skills, and negotiation expertise can prove invaluable in securing fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

How to Choose a Truck Accident Attorney

Navigating the legal aftermath of a truck accident can be daunting, especially when seeking compensation for your injuries and damages. Choosing the right truck accident attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you find the best legal representation:

  1. Seek Experienced Expertise
    Experience is paramount when selecting a truck accident attorney. Look for one with substantial experience handling truck accident cases specifically. Their familiarity with the complexities of truck accident litigation, including federal and state regulations, will play a crucial role in building a strong case.
  2. Verify Their Reputation
    A good reputation is a hallmark of a trusted attorney. Delve into the attorney’s online reviews, testimonials, and professional affiliations. Check with the state bar association to ensure they are in good standing and have no disciplinary history.
  3. Prioritize Effective Communication
    Clear and prompt communication is essential for a successful attorney-client relationship. Choose an attorney who actively listens to your concerns, responds promptly to your inquiries, and keeps you informed throughout the legal process.
  4. Evaluate Their Resources
    A well-equipped attorney has access to the necessary resources to build a compelling case. Inquire about their network of expert witnesses, investigators, and other professionals who can strengthen your claim.
  5. Understand Their Fee Structure
    Discuss the attorney’s fee structure upfront to avoid any surprises. Many truck accident attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only receive payment if they win your case. This aligns their interests with yours, ensuring they fight vigorously for your compensation.

Remember, choosing the right truck accident attorney is a big decision that can significantly impact the outcome of your case. By carefully evaluating their experience, reputation, communication skills, resources, and fee structure, you can find the best advocate to represent your interests and secure the compensation you deserve.

Statute of Limitations Guidelines 

Each state has a different statute of limitations for bringing truck accident claims. To further complicate matters, there are usually exceptions that apply to the statute of limitations, especially in cases of a wrongful death or a victim who is a minor. 

The important thing to note about the statute of limitations is that if you miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit, your case will almost always be dismissed. 

Video Channel for the Truck Accidents Law Firm 

Here are a few of the videos personally recorded by our attorneys at the Truck Accident Law Firm on topics relevant to truck accident injuries and compensation. 

Access the Truck Accident Law Firm YouTube Channel

Video topics include:

How Do I Choose the Right Truck Accident Attorney for My Case?
How Can I Handle Disputes with Insurance Companies After a Truck Crash?
What is the Importance of Expert Witnesses in Truck Accident Lawsuits?

Need More Info? Request a Free Case Evaluation 

The resources provided above can give you a starting point for understanding how truck accident claims work, but the self-help, DIY approach is never a substitute for experienced legal representation.   

If you’re ready to speak to one of our truck accident attorneys, please feel free to call us at 1-800-LAW-INFO.