Understanding Your Options After a Semi-Truck Accident

Get The Most From Your Truck Accident Claim

While commercial semi-trucks serve an essential purpose, they also pose increased risks of wreck injuries and fatalities. Semi-trucks are large, heavy, and require special skill and training to drive safely. If a semi-truck wreck injured you, a truck accident lawyer could help you understand your legal options to recover compensation.

Semi-Truck Accidents Are Deadly

Commercial semi-trucks are commonly involved in vehicle wrecks. Given the size and weight of semi-trucks, such crash impacts are more likely to result in death or severe injury. Of the 33,654 fatal crashes in the United States in one recent year, 13.8 percent involved a large truck or bus. Fatal large truck crashes are not on the decline. The number of fatalities in large truck accidents has increased by 46 percent since 2009.

Even if not fatal, semi-truck wrecks are likely to lead to injury. In one recent year, 112,000 large trucks were in crashes that caused an injury. These numbers are also on the rise.

Common causes of semi-truck wrecks include speeding, distracted driving, drowsy driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improper turning, and failure to follow traffic signs or signals.

Determining Liability After an Accident Involving a Large Truck

A party may be at fault and thus bear legal liability for an accident if they acted negligently, recklessly, or intentionally in a way that led to the accident and resulted in injuries to others.

Responsibility for a semi-truck wreck may rest with the following parties:

  • Truck driver: Semi-truck drivers are subject to various state and federal regulations. Violating these regulations may constitute evidence that a truck driver is at fault for a wreck. Violations may include:
    • Failure to secure a Commercial Driver’s License consistent with the requirements for the truck driver’s state. In certain states, semi-truck drivers must pass both a knowledge test and a skills test.
    • Semi-truck drivers are typically behind the wheel for long times. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set strict limits on how long a driver can drive without a break—referred to as “hours-of-service”—and failure to do so may result in penalties and legal liability.
    • Federal regulations also aim to ensure that semi-truck drivers focus on the road to avoid distracted driving accidents. Semi-truck drivers are prohibited from, for instance, texting and driving and must comply with additional restrictions on the use of electronic devices.
    • In addition to state drinking and driving laws, commercial motor vehicle drivers must comply with stricter federal regulations, such as refraining from consuming alcohol within four hours of going on duty.
    • In addition to the above, a semi-truck driver may be liable for routine traffic violations such as speeding or failure to heed traffic signals.
  • Trucking company: A semi-truck driver’s employer may also be at-fault and responsible for a wreck if the truck driver was acting in the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. The truck company could bear responsibility if it failed to comply with regulations like keeping an on-duty log to track the truck driver’s compliance with hours-of-service limits or servicing requirements for vehicles and the semi-truck driver’s negligent, reckless or intentional acts.
  • In a legal action to recover compensation, victims often sue the semi-truck driver’s employer. The employer is more likely to have a large insurance policy covering the full extent of their injuries.
  • Vehicle manufacturer: If mechanical failure caused accidents or injuries, such as failure of the semi-truck’s brakes or a victim’s vehicle’s airbags to deploy, a manufacturer might face liability for the resulting injuries.

Establishing a strong case against all parties responsible for a semi-truck accident with concrete evidence is essential to recovering compensation. One crucial piece of evidence in these cases is the police report. The report will document the accident scene, any witness statements or contact information, and any citations issued for violation of traffic laws and regulations, all of which may constitute evidence to build a victim’s case.

A lawyer can assess a semi-truck wreck case’s strength and find evidence to support it. An attorney can also help a victim negotiate with defendants and insurance providers.

Preparing a Damages Demand

Parties responsible for the injuries resulting from a semi-truck wreck may be legally liable to pay victims damages or monetary compensation. Often, semi-truck wreck victims’ injuries go well-beyond medical expenses.

A lawyer can help determine all injuries from a semi-truck wreck for which a victim may demand compensation, potentially including:

  • Medical expenses: Truck accidents often cause serious physical injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, neck and back injuries, and internal damage. Medical expenses to treat these injuries are typically very high and can be even higher if a victim requires ongoing treatment like physical therapy. A damages demand for medical bills should consider all doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medicine, emergency transportation, physical therapy, and other medical expenses. The demand should estimate future medical costs.
  • Lost wages: If a victim’s semi-truck wreck injuries require missing work, the victim should include lost wages in their damages demand. And suppose injuries keep a victim from returning to work with the same earning capacity as before the accident. In that case, a damages demand should also account for future lost wages and lost earning potential.
  • Property damage: In a match-up between a standard car and a commercial truck, the vehicle will likely be the loser and take significant damage. Costs for repair or replacement of a vehicle—and any other damaged property—should be included in a damages demand.
  • Emotional distress: Vehicle accidents are traumatic events, made even more distressing when the victim must adapt to life with severe injuries. Not surprisingly, vehicle accident victims often suffer psychiatric harm, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or emotional harm, such as anxiety or depression. Your lawyer can calculate compensation for these harms and account for them in a damages demand.
  • Loss of enjoyment: Semi-truck wreck victims often can no longer participate in activities they enjoy and may recover compensation for such losses
  • Punitive damages: Punitive damages punish a defendant and generally require egregious behavior on the part of the defendant, but a damages demand may also take them into account.

Still not sure what to do? It’s okay—the complicated truck accident claim process is hard to navigate. An experienced personal injury accident lawyer will know how to proceed after talking to you during a free consultation.

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