Because 18-wheelers are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, accidents involving them are much more deadly. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were almost 5000 fatal truck accidents and over 102,000 incidents involving serious injury in 2017. A victim and his or her family can suffer lifelong effects from such an accident, which is why it’s important for them to hire competent legal counsel. In this guide, you’ll learn more about 18-wheeler accidents and the steps to take after an injury.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents?
Large trucks get into accidents for many reasons. Some of these are common to passenger vehicle collisions, and some occur only with 18-wheelers. The most prevalent causes are listed below.
- Speeding. Commercial trucks must cover long distances in a short time. If a driver is behind schedule and wants to get to their destination, speeding may become a problem.
- Fatigue. A truck driver may work long hours, and though they’re only allowed to spend a certain length of time per day behind the wheel, those long hours often cause fatigue.
- Distractions. A tablet, a cell phone, a navigation system, or simple inattention may lead to a serious accident.
- Mechanical failure. An 18-wheeler has thousands of moving parts, and any failure can cause a collision.
- Long stopping distances. These trucks may weigh 40 tons or more, which means it takes longer for them to stop. With a longer stopping distance, the chances of an accident increase.
As the victim of a crash involving a large truck, you have certain rights. With help from an experienced attorney at Uvalle Law Firm, victims can recover compensation for their losses.
Steps to Take After an Accident
Here are a few things victims can do to protect their interests after an 18-wheeler accident.
- Seek prompt medical attention. Your health is the most important thing to consider after an 18-wheeler crash. For heavy bleeding, loss of consciousness, or life-threatening injuries, go to the nearest emergency room. For less severe injuries such as broken bones, whiplash, and cuts or abrasions, you can seek care at an urgent care clinic. Seeking care is an important step in protecting your rights, and when you file a legal claim, the insurer will review your records.
- Don’t put it off. If there’s a lengthy delay between the accident date and the day you seek care, the trucker’s insurance company may dispute your claim. It’s assumed that, if someone is seriously injured, they will seek immediate treatment. Insurers often take advantage of these delays and use them as a reason to make low settlement offers. As a rule, accident victims should seek care within 72 hours of the event.
- Exchange information with the driver. As with other crashes, victims should obtain insurance and contact information from the other driver. However, with 18-wheeler accidents, it’s crucial to get information on the driver’s employment status. You may be able to file claims against an employer, a trucking company, or other business entities.
- Gather evidence and information. If the nature of your injuries allows it, try to collect details from the accident scene. Use your phone to take photos of the area, noting the location of traffic lanes, signals, signs, and anything that may impede visibility. If anyone witnessed the incident, get their contact information.
- Don’t talk to the driver’s insurance company. Other than notifying the trucker’s insurance company of the crash, do not make a statement. Insurance companies make profits by paying as little as possible, but an attorney will help you get what you deserve.
- Consult an experienced attorney. As quickly as possible after the accident, contact a truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will investigate, review your medical records, prepare claims forms, and negotiate with the insurance company. Attorneys know all the tricks insurers use to minimize payouts, and if they can’t reach an equitable settlement, the matter may go to court.
- Litigation. Fighting an accident case in court involves complex, technical legal areas and court procedures. Your accident attorney will protect your rights by:
- Filing the complaint to initiate legal action
- Attending court conferences and hearings
- Filing motions in favor of your position
- Defending any motions brought by the trucking company
- Working through the discovery phase, including making requests for written interrogatories and documents
- Taking depositions of the truck driver, his or her employer, witnesses, and anyone else involved in the case
- Preparing for a court trial, if necessary
Contacting an attorney immediately after a trucking accident will help you get the financial compensation you deserve. With a lawyer’s help, you’ll be able to recover the maximum amount of damages allowed by state law, including:
- Medical expenses, including surgical procedures, emergency room care, rehabilitation, long-term treatment, and more
- Lost income, if you can’t work because of your injuries
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Diminished enjoyment and quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
Don’t wait until it’s too late to seek legal help. Call today to discuss your case with an experienced accident attorney.
Accident Attorneys are Here to Help Victims and Their Families
If you were injured or lost a family member in an 18-wheeler accident, competent legal representation is crucial. To learn about your legal remedies and rights, contact us to set up a consultation with our legal team. Our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers will guide you through a case’s complexities and help you get the compensation needed to live a normal life.
These consultations are free and there’s no fee unless we successfully litigate your case. Truck accident laws are tough and being hurt in such an event is even tougher. With the right lawyer on your side, though, things may go much easier. We’ll tackle the legal complications involved in filing a claim with the trucking company, and if necessary, we’ll be there when you have your day in court. Contact us online or call today to request a no-obligation initial consultation with one of our attorneys.