When a person gets behind the wheel of a large truck, he or she takes on a great deal of responsibility to the other drivers on the road. Tractor trailers and other trucks are massive and very heavy compared to a regular passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, this means that the injuries that can result from an accident with a truck are substantially greater.
Protecting those on the road from truck accident injuries is so important that truck drivers are regulated by state and federal laws that do not apply to ordinary drivers. If a truck driver causes injury to another person and was not following these rules, the victim is entitled to be compensated for their injuries and losses. If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, the team of personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law are standing by to help.
While car accidents and truck accidents both involve motor vehicles, that’s about all they have in common. Truck accident claims, in particular, differ in the way that other motor vehicle claims are handled from a legal standpoint.
Trucking is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, with an entire title in the United States Code of Laws dedicated to regulation of the profession. Truck drivers are subject to laws such as:
Licensing requirements. A standard license is insufficient to operate a large truck. Instead, truck drivers must go through special training to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Alcohol and drugs. While no person is allowed to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, states maintain a small level of blood alcohol content (BAC) that is still legal to drive with. Truck drivers, however, are subject to much more stringent guidelines.
Break requirements. Driver fatigue continues to be one of the top causes of accidents involving trucks. To try to curb this cause, regulations are in place placing a limit on the amount of time that a trucker can drive in a day, and mandate 10 hours off-duty per day.
Truck accidents also differ from ordinary car accidents because of the defendants involved. In a normal car accident, the only person that is generally named as a defendant is the at-fault driver. With a truck accident, however, multiple parties can be named as a defendant—even some that you may have never thought of. Potential defendants in a truck accident claim include:
When seeking out a personal injury attorney to assist you with your truck accident claim, it’s important to select an attorney who has the knowledge and experience necessary to take on such a case. Be very picky when choosing a personal injury attorney to take on your truck accident claim, as these cases are far more complicated and have many more moving parts than an ordinary car accident case.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries in the US. Sadly, trucks rule many roads and their immense size contributes to some of the most severe injuries among auto accident victims.
What are some of the most common truck accident-related physical injuries? See the list below.
Broken bones are often accompanied by pain and swelling. Fractures can take weeks or months to heal, and some result in permanent disability.
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by blows or jolts to the head. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, double vision, and temporary losses of consciousness.
Dislocated joints occur when injuries cause bones to slip out of proper position in the joint. Common locations for dislocation are fingers, shoulders, and hips.
Herniated discs are a condition in which spinal discs extend beyond their natural boundaries. This life-threatening condition can last for months or years, so your personal injury claim should take long-term treatment into account.
Truck accidents can also affect your mental and emotional well-being. Some common psychological injuries are post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Truckers spend long, lonely hours on the road week after week. They may find themselves driving early in the morning or late at night when most people are sleeping. Fatigue is a danger for drivers that results in an estimated 6,400 traffic fatalities every year, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Most states have enacted hands-free laws that prevent drivers from holding their phones while driving. Many motor vehicle accidents occur when motorists disregard these laws. In other cases, truck drivers experience distractions that might take anyone’s attention from the road.
Alcohol abuse was a factor in 28 percent of driving fatalities nationwide in 2019. In many states, the legal blood alcohol content of commercial vehicle drivers is 0.04. Other substances like prescription or illicit drugs can inhibit drivers and contribute to accidents in a similar way.
Mechanical issues account for numerous collisions. Defective parts sometimes fail, or poor maintenance practices cause problems. Truckers should always make sure their rigs are in good running order before getting behind the wheel.
States set weight limits, and trucking companies impose regulations on the type of cargo allowed and how it must be loaded. Improper loading can contribute to serious collisions.
Truck accidents cause severe injuries and fatalities every year. Some common types are listed below.
Jackknife accidents occur when the trailer of a semi-truck forms a 90-degree angle with the cab due to slippery road conditions, brake failures, or other driver errors.
Trucks can rollover due to overloading, reckless driving, mechanical faults, weather conditions or other factors.
Sometimes commercial vehicles swing out to complete a turn. The driver might use a lane to the left of the turn lane or the one for opposing traffic. If truckers fail to see cars in their path or are unable to stop in time, they could cause a wide-turn collision.
When a truck hits a vehicle from behind, it is called a rear-end accident. Head-on accidents are when trucks hit vehicles facing them. These dangerous crashes are often attributed to driver negligence.
Cars, being smaller and shorter than most commercial vehicles, can slide underneath trucks in underride accidents.
If cargo is not loaded and secured properly, catastrophic events can follow. Shifting items can throw the truck off balance, causing it to tip. If objects fall off, they can crush other vehicles or become a road obstacle.
Many motorists prefer to handle matters themselves if no one was hurt in a minor fender-bender. Yet, truck accidents tend to produce more serious damage and injuries than the average car crash.
You should especially consider hiring Fielding Law’s auto accident attorneys in the following scenarios:
If the at-fault party is uncooperative or insurers reject your claim, our legal professionals can defend your rights.
Are you wondering if it’s worth it to hire a lawyer? Fielding Law’s auto accident attorneys can help you by:
Pursuing justice in court. Going to court is sometimes the only way to ensure you are treated fairly. Our experienced lawyers are prepared to build you a strong case and represent you in the courtroom.
The catastrophic damage caused by truck accidents is undeniable. Some of these accidents are a direct result of driver mistakes or negligence. Yet, are truck drivers always to blame?
You might be surprised to learn that many truck accidents are not the fault of the drivers. Experienced attorneys leave no stone unturned, to make sure you get all the compensation you are entitled to receive.
For example, Fielding Law’s attorneys can investigate the roles of:
The parties mentioned above must perform a number of duties to keep truck drivers and other motorists safe. For instance, a trucking business must make sure schedules allow truckers sufficient time for rest and meals. The company would also need to hire qualified drivers capable of performing tasks well.
Many factors and decisions outside of a trucker’s control could influence the likelihood of an accident. Knowing who is at fault is important because injured parties could be entitled to significant compensation. Experienced lawyers can help accident victims and truckers determine who is at fault for a truck accident.
When a truck accident occurs, the at-fault party is liable for paying damages to the victims. Taking legal action against the wrong party is a waste of time that could cause you to miss out on the compensation you are due.
Determining fault, therefore, is an essential first step of a truck accident case. Yet, how is fault determined? At Fielding Law, we realize that this question requires investigation and skill to answer.
First, our capable lawyers examine the details. Perhaps the accident happened because someone failed to act in a reasonably safe way. In many cases, more than one party contributes to a collision, from manufacturers to loaders.
We might also interview eyewitnesses, consult police reports, and take other measures to gather as much information about your accident as possible. Insurers make similar inquiries, but you cannot count on them to protect your interests.
Your lawyers, on the other hand, can help you gather clear evidence to ensure that you do not lose out on the compensation you are due. For example, depending on the state you’re in, you might need to prove that another party was more than 50 or 51 percent responsible for the crash.
Truck accidents may involve multiple liable parties, depending on the contributing factors to the incident. Evidence will need to be collected and reviewed to investigate who shares fault for the incident. If a truck driver’s negligent actions contributed to the accident, then he or she could be held responsible for the damages incurred.
Determining who is responsible will depend on whether the driver was an independent contractor or an employee of the trucking company. Generally, truck drivers and the company they drive for have an insurance policy to cover liability in the event of a collision. When a driver is assigned fault for causing harm to another person, his or her insurance policy would normally cover the cost of damages.
Truck drivers can be held responsible for damages when they act carelessly by failing to carry out their duties properly. All drivers must abide by traffic laws and follow the required procedures for transporting goods, including getting enough rest.
If it is proven the truck driver failed to carry out his or her duty of care, that person could be held responsible for the incident. To prove negligence, several elements must be established to proceed with the case. An experienced lawyer can gather the necessary evidence to prove negligence and hold the responsible parties accountable.
Like all motorists, truck drivers have a responsibility to drive in a way that does not put others in danger. Yet, truckers carry a heavier responsibility than the average driver, so there are much more extensive laws they must follow when transporting goods. These laws may vary depending on the type, weight, and size of the cargo a driver carries.
Most commercial truck drivers are required by law to:
Getting enough rest is essential for truck drivers to carry out their duties properly. In fact, it is a legal requirement. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations which define the maximum amount of time a driver is permitted to be on duty. This time limit includes driving time and specifies the number and length of rest periods to ensure that the driver stays awake and alert.
Truckers must be aware of and adhere to the commercial truck driving regulations of any state they drive through. Pre-trip inspections must be performed before a truck hits the road to ensure the vehicle is road-safe.
Truck stops can have multiple commercial trucks parked at any given time. As one driver moves out, another truck driver will move in and take the spot. Pedestrians and car drivers may also be around at certain rest stops. It can be difficult for truck drivers to maneuver their vehicles in such busy, narrow spaces, especially if they lack experience.
Determining fault will depend on the factors that contributed to the accident. Was the driver adequately trained? Did the driver act negligently in operating the vehicle? Were there unsafe obstacles or hazards at the truck stop? The answer to these questions may shift fault to the truck driver, the trucking company, or the truck stop owner.
Trucking company: If the truck company failed to provide the required training for the driver, they could be liable for the damages caused.
Negligent truck driver: If a truck driver is an independent contractor and operated the vehicle negligently, he or she could be held responsible for the damages.
Truck stop property owner: Premises liability refers to a set of regulations that property owners must follow to ensure their premises are safe for visitors. If there is a hazard at the truck stop, but the property owner failed to notify visitors of the risk and it led to a person’s injuries, the owner may be held responsible for the accident.
It is important to file a claim with clear evidence such as photos, videos, police reports, and witness statements to establish how an accident happened. An experienced truck accident lawyer can examine the details of your case to determine who is at fault.
Commercial truck accidents are often much more complicated than a typical auto accident. Truck drivers and companies are required to meet both state and federal regulations. When they fail to comply with these laws and cause harm to others, they must be held accountable.
To establish liability, many factors need to be considered. If a truck driver is an employee, the company usually carries responsibility as long as the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment. There are situations that could shift fault to the driver, such as if he or she broke the law, or the accident occurred when off duty.
The following questions may play an important role in determining liability in a commercial truck accident:
Truck drivers can travel across several states in one trip, so the laws that govern commercial transport can vary. Each commercial truck accident has its own unique circumstances, and proving liability can be complex. Experienced lawyers, though, are capable of helping victims deal with their unique cases in order to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable.
In most car accidents, it is a driver who is at fault and liable for any injuries caused. Yet, in a commercial carrier accident, multiple parties could be found responsible for the damages. This is because multiple factors can contribute to any truck accident.
Potentially liable parties may include the:
Each party has a responsibility to meet and follow the legal requirements set out for their role. If it is determined that one or more of these parties breached their duty of care, the victim may file a claim against each of them.
The goal of a qualified truck accident lawyer is to seek the maximum amount of compensation available for his or her client. This is often accomplished through an insurance settlement, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial truck drivers and the companies they work with to meet minimum coverage limits for specific liability insurance. However, if a reasonable amount cannot be agreed on, an attorney can file a lawsuit with the courts on your behalf.
The laws that govern negligence for truck accidents are much the same as typical car accidents. To recover financial compensation for any damages caused by a truck accident, a plaintiff must establish the following elements.
The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This is a legal responsibility to avoid any actions that would cause another person harm. For example, a driver has a duty to abide by traffic laws, or a truck company has a duty to hire qualified drivers.
The defendant breached his or her duty of care by failing to act according to the required standard. For example, a truck driver may drive over the maximum driving limit and fall asleep while operating the vehicle.
The injury was in fact caused by the defendant’s actions or inaction. For example, a driver falls asleep at the wheel, crashes into another car and causes harm to another person. If the driver had not fallen asleep, the accident might not have happened.
This refers to an action that resulted in foreseeable harm without intervention. For example, a driver should know that driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and to avoid this behavior.
The plaintiff suffered compensatory damages due to the injuries suffered. For example, the victim’s injuries caused by the accident led to high medical bills and loss of wages.
Truck accidents occur frequently, particularly in states in the middle of the country. Due to a truck’s large size and heavy weight, accidents can cause a lot of property damage and severe injuries to those involved. Unfortunately, the majority of the injured are not the truck drivers themselves, but the occupants of other vehicles or even pedestrians.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report for large truck crashes in 2019, there were approximately 538,000 large trucks involved in police-reported accidents nationwide. The report gives an insight into which states have high fatality rates, when a truck accident is most likely to occur, and who is usually injured. Those statistics show how dangerous truck accidents can be for all involved.
The following are some of the NHTSA’s national statistics for accidents involving large trucks in 2019:
Texas had the highest number of fatal crashes involving large trucks, with 658 deaths.
Trucks are an essential part of the economy. The American Trucking Association reports that there were 37.9 million trucks registered and used for business purposes in 2019. With such a huge amount of traffic on the road, it is no surprise that truck accidents in various forms occur.
A jackknife accident occurs when the tractor and its attached trailer turn into each other like a folding jackknife. This can happen if a driver hits the brakes suddenly, causing the trailer to fishtail and skid into oncoming traffic.
Truck rollover involves the vehicle overturning on its side or rolling over multiple times. Rollovers may result from a driver misjudging a turn, speeding on a curved road, or abruptly swerving the truck and causing it to tip over.
This type of accident occurs between vehicles traveling in the same direction. A driver may fail to check his or her mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and end up side-swiping another vehicle.
T-bone accidents often occur at an intersection when a vehicle ignores a stop sign or runs a red light and collides into the side of another car.
A sudden loss of air pressure in a tire can cause the tire to blow out, resulting in the driver losing control of the truck. Tire blowouts can happen due to roadway hazards, an overloaded trailer, or improper tire maintenance.
Due to the size and weight of large trucks, their drivers need much more time to slow down and stop the vehicle safely. If a driver is distracted or speeding, he or she may not have enough time to stop, finally hitting the back of the next vehicle.
Property damage. Vehicles that were involved in a truck accident are rarely driveable following the crash. Compensation from a personal injury claim can help you repair your car or purchase a new one if your car was totaled in the accident.
Medical bills. Due to the devastating injuries a person can face after a truck accident, medical bills can quickly leave a victim drowning in debt. A personal injury claim can provide for compensation to offset the costs of hospital bills, surgical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and costs of medication and medical equipment.
Lost wages. After being involved in a truck accident, a person will often need to take a substantial amount of time off work to recover from their injuries. A personal injury claim can compensate a person for the earnings they were not able to receive due to a temporary or permanent inability to work. In cases where a person is unable to return to work, he or she may be able to recover damages for lost earning capacity.
Physical pain. A truck accident can leave a person suffering with devastating injuries. Although you can’t put a price on the agony that a person has experienced at the hands of a negligent truck driver, a personal injury claim can attempt to compensate a person for the pain they suffered.
Emotional trauma. The pain that a person suffers in a truck accident extends far beyond the physical. If you are suffering from emotional repercussions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, or insomnia following your accident, a personal injury claim may be able to provide compensation for the suffering you are experiencing.
While there is no magic formula that you can use to predict the amount of compensation you could be awarded, an experienced attorney can help you get an idea of what you could receive.
After you’ve been involved in a truck accident, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll hear from an insurance company, whether it be your own company or that of the at-fault driver. While the representative at the insurance company may make you feel like you’re the company’s top priority, this is not the case. It’s important to keep a few things in mind when dealing with an insurance company, whether it be the at-fault driver’s company or your own.
Following an accident involving a tractor trailer or other large truck, it’s critical to seek the help of a seasoned personal injury attorney who has experience with truck accident cases as soon as possible. As stated above, truck accident cases are a different beast in the world of personal injury law, and should only be handled by an attorney who has the experience and background necessary to maximize your chances of obtaining a settlement award or jury verdict that is in your favor.
When you choose an attorney from Fielding Law to help you with your truck accident claim, you can rest easy knowing that your claim is in good hands. Our goal is to take the stress of a personal injury case off your plate and allow you the time and energy you need to heal as fully as possible from your accident. That’s why we communicate with the trucking insurance company on your behalf, negotiate settlement offers, and, if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit. With the vast majority of truck accident cases being settled by experienced personal injury attorneys, however, there’s a good chance you won’t ever have to see the inside of a courtroom.
We understand that truck accidents don’t operate on a nine-to-five basis, so our firm doesn’t either. Our legal team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with you about your accident and help you obtain the answers you have about a potential personal injury claim.
If you’re suffering the aftermath of a truck or semi-truck accident in Mesquite, Texas or Salt Lake City, Utah, the team of personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law are standing by to speak with you about your accident and provide the quality representation you need and deserve in order to obtain as favorable an outcome as possible.
Our legal team understands that after a truck accident, you don’t have the time or energy to think about a personal injury claim—that’s why we take the burden off of your shoulders and perform the legwork needed to obtain the compensation you deserve. When you entrust your case to a Fielding Law attorney, you can leave the work to us and focus on what’s most important after a truck accident—healing. Our consultations are absolutely free, so you have nothing to lose by speaking to an attorney about your accident. Don’t wait until it is too late to obtain the justice you deserve for the accident you never should have been involved in; to speak with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or give us a call today.
What Clients say about us:
“Michael and Mitchell are both excellent attorneys who know the ins and outs of personal injury law. And they are dedicated to their clients. They listen, answer questions and take the extra steps necessary to maximize the value of your claim. I would recommend Fielding Law to anyone.” -MATT MARTINEZ