Semi-truck accidents are considered one of the most horrifying types of crashes. Why? Because even when these trucks travel at speeds as low as ten miles per hour, a collision can still result in catastrophic injuries to all involved.
Victims that survive these deadly crashes are not only left with excruciating pain, severe injuries, and skyrocketing medical expenses, but a lot of them also face a significant amount of uncertainty regarding their futures. This blog post delves into some of the specific issues that many semi-truck accident victims have to face and also provides readers with crucial information so that if they are involved in a semi-truck accident, they will know what to do.
How Soon After a Semi-Truck Accident Should I See a Medical Professional?
Even if you think you only suffered minor injuries, you need to get checked out by a medical professional as quickly as possible. These doctors can verify that you do not have any undisclosed or hidden injuries while also documenting them in their medical reports. These reports can provide you with valuable evidence, especially if the insurance company or the defense decides to argue that your injuries are a result of a superseding event and not the trucking accident.
What Are Some Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
Semi-truck accidents can occur for numerous reasons.
However, the more common contributing factors that result in this type of accident include:
- Distracted driving
- Driver fatigue
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Ignoring traffic laws and regulations
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Inadequate inspections
- Inadequate maintenance
- Lack of property training and safety programs for drivers
- Bad weather conditions
Semi-trucks require more time to stop than other motor vehicles. In fact, a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds and traveling at 65 miles per hour in ideal conditions will take 525 feet to stop, which is almost the length of two football fields. Consequently, even if the truck driver hits the breaks, it may not be enough for the truck to stop in time and avoid a collision.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries Following a Semi-Truck Accident?
Many people assume that semi-truck accidents are similar to automobile accidents in terms of liability, meaning that one of the drivers is responsible. However, if you are injured in a semi-truck accident, several parties may actually share liability for the collision.
These parties include:
- Truck driver: The truck driver may be at fault for the accident if his or her negligence caused the crash. As indicated above, distracted driving, falling asleep at the wheel, and even running through a red light are typical examples of truck driver negligence that can cause an accident.
- Trucking company: A trucking company may face responsibility for an accident if the company violated any state or federal laws, such as requiring the driver to drive for more extended periods of time than permitted under the law. The company may also have negligently hired a driver, for instance, if the company hired a driver who it knew had a history of driving problems. Additionally, it is also possible for a trucking company to face liability for the truck driver’s negligence under the respondeat superior theory. Under this theory, if a truck driver is an employee of the company and acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident, the company is responsible for the crash.
- Manufacturer: In some instances, a semi-truck accident may result from a defective truck or truck part (such a poorly designed trailer hitch). In these instances, the manufacturer of the faulty or defective part will face responsibility for the accident.
- Cargo company: Another common cause of trucking accidents is improperly or overloaded cargo. In such a case, the cargo company will face liability for any resulting accident and injuries.
As you can see, it is not always clear who is responsible for a semi-truck accident. In some cases, there may be more than one defendant, and in other situations, both the victim and the truck driver may share responsibility. That is why you must speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. He or she can start gathering the critical evidence that you will need to prove fault and damages.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Semi-Truck Accident Cases?
The Texas statute of limitations for the majority of personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident. This means that injured individuals will likely be barred from pursuing any further legal action if they do not file their claims within this time period. However, depending on the facts of the accident, the statute of limitations may actually prove shorter or longer than two years.
That is why it is critical that you promptly speak with an attorney about your case. He or she can help you figure out if your case is viable and how much time you have to file. Generally, you do want to wait too long to file a claim, as there is a higher chance of evidence getting lost, witnesses who can no longer testify, and memories fading over time.
How Much Compensation Will I Recover in a Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Semi-truck accidents often result in devastating injuries. These types of cases will likely involve substantial compensation. According to Texas laws, if you have been injured in an accident, you are entitled to the following damages, depending on the circumstances of your accident:
Economic damages: These are quantifiable damages that you receive due to monetary losses that you suffer because of your accident.
Economic damages include:
- Medical costs and bills (including past and future expenses)
- Lost wages (including past and future wages)
- Lost earning capacity
- Household services expenses
- Rehabilitative costs
- Medical devices, such as costs for a wheelchair
- At-home care expenses
- Personal property expenses
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages: These subjective damages are more difficult to quantify.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
Punitive damages: Texas law also allows for punitive damages, which are awarded when a defendant acts with gross negligence or actual malice. In these situations, the court may want to punish the defendant and deter others from committing the same act in the future. For instance, a court may award punitive damages when a semi-truck driver is intoxicated and causes an accident.
Are There Different Regulations that Apply to Semi-Truck Drivers?
Yes, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set forth regulations that govern truck drivers. These specific rules include how many hours in a day a driver may drive, licensing requirements, and required training.
Additionally, commercial truck drivers must abide by specific state regulations that dictate a truck’s height, weight, and speed. Speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand what laws apply to your situation and determine if the at-fault party violated them in the accident.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved in a Semi-Truck Accident?
Accidents often lead to chaos and confusion, which is why it is so important to take specific actions following a semi-truck accident.
The following guidelines will not only help keep you safe but also protect your legal rights.
- Call 911: You should call 911 immediately following a semi-truck accident. The responding police officers will provide you with any necessary emergency medical help and investigate the accident, indicating what happened in their police reports. These reports can provide you with vital information if you decide to pursue a claim.
- Investigate the scene: If it is safe to do so, start taking pictures and videos of the crash. Include photos of your visible injuries, the semi-truck, and any other vehicles involved, any road hazards, skid marks on the road, traffic signs near the accident, and the weather conditions at the time of the accident.
- Take down driver information: Make sure you get contact information for all other involved drivers, including their names, contact information, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and insurance company information. Also, try to write down or photograph any distinct markings on the truck that may indicate what caused the accident.
- Take down witness information: If any witnesses were present at the accident scene, get their names and phone numbers. Their statements or photographs may provide you with crucial evidence when you are trying to prove fault.
- Contact a skilled truck accident attorney: Do not wait too long to contact a truck accident attorney following your semi-truck accident. Critical evidence, such as GPS data, the truck’s black box data, and driver’s logs, tend to go missing following a crash, and it is vital information that can help you succeed in your lawsuit. Your attorney can get to work right away, gathering this type of evidence before it is too late.
If the Insurance Company Wants a Statement, Do I Have to Give One?
Typically, after a semi-truck accident, one of the first things that will happen is an insurance company will send an adjuster to take down a statement from you. However, what many people don’t understand is that they think that these insurance companies want to help injured parties. However, in fact, the opposite is true. These insurance companies, like other businesses, want to make money. As a result, they will use this opportunity to try to get you to admit fault or say something that can help them deny your claim or reduce the amount that they owe you.
Before you give any statement to the insurance company, make sure you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney who has experience with these types of semi-truck crashes and can help you get through this challenging process.
What Happens If I Lost a Loved One in a Semi-Truck Accident?
Unfortunately, due to the sheer size and weight of semi-trucks, accidents that involve them have a higher death rate than those that involve other types of motor vehicles. If your family member died in such an accident, you may qualify to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate. A wrongful death claim is a claim brought against an individual who is liable for a death.
When a wrongful death occurs, the decedent’s family is entitled to compensation. However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim. There are specific regulations and requirements that claimants first must meet. This is why you should speak with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney who can determine whether you qualify to file a wrongful death claim.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Helping You After a Semi-Truck Accident?
Semi-truck accidents are complicated, extremely detail-oriented, and require a good understanding of trucking laws.
When you retain an experienced truck accident attorney, he or she can help:
- Conduct a thorough investigation into the accident, gathering vital evidence, interviewing relevant witnesses, and going after critical reports.
- Determine all the liable parties, which can help ensure that you pursue maximum compensation before the statute of limitations expires.
- Analyze your case and determine the best course of action to help you seek compensation.
- Promptly file the required motions and legal documents.
- Handle the negotiation process, so that your case is treated with fairness and respect.
- Call in the experts to help prove liability and damages. These experts may include accident recreationists, engineers, and doctors.
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, do not hesitate any longer. Retain an attorney to help determine your eligibility to file a claim, develop a strong legal case, and put you on a path toward financial recovery. Semi-truck accidents often involve complex circumstances, multiple defendants, and high-powered insurance companies.
Don’t try to seek justice alone. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney in McAllen today to discuss the details of your case, gain a better understanding of truck accident law, and determine your best options moving forward.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501