Truck accidents, especially those involving semi-trucks, are unfortunately a common occurrence on our roads today. These accidents often lead to severe injuries, emotional trauma, and significant financial burdens. Understanding the various aspects of truck accidents is vital for those who have been involved or injured in such an incident, as it can greatly impact the legal process and compensation claims.
We’re going to explore the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations governing trucking and driver conduct, the common types of accidents involving large trucks, categories of injuries that may be sustained, and what you should do following an accident. We’ll also look at the potential damages and compensation that may be sought.
FMCSA Trucking Regulations
Truck drivers and truck company owners operate under strict regulations governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They establish safety standards that trucking companies and drivers must adhere to, aiming to reduce accidents and enhance road safety. By law, trucks must be maintained and operated in a manner that provides maximum safety for the driving public.
The FMCSA oversees strict regulations that over-the-road motor carriers must comply with, including regulations regarding lights, brakes, weight limits, and more. Inspection stations scattered across the highways require periodic inspections by law enforcement to ensure safety measures are being observed, and here are some of the things they’re looking for:
- Hours of Service Regulations: These rules limit the number of driving hours per day and week, requiring mandatory rest breaks to prevent fatigue-related accidents.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing: Drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol testing to ensure that they are not operating vehicles under the influence.
- Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection: Regular inspections and proper maintenance of trucks are mandatory to prevent mechanical failures that may lead to accidents.
- Training and Licensing: Drivers must have specialized training and hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate large commercial vehicles.
Any violation of regulations regarding the operation of the truck, truck driver training, truck maintenance, or overweight or unsecured loads that result in injury or death of another driver or vehicle occupant on the road can mean the company’s insurer or the corporate entity may be held liable for significant monetary damages.
For example, if a driver exceeds the allowed driving hours, resulting in fatigue and an accident, it may be grounds for legal action. When a fully loaded 18-wheeler tractor-trailer loses control, the laws of physics take over and the tractor-trailer becomes an 80,000-pound projectile; and when it hits another vehicle, catastrophic injury, and death are frequently the result.
Understanding these regulations can empower those affected by a truck accident to seek rightful compensation.
Drivers Also Face Heavy Regulation
Professional truck drivers are rigorously trained to use extreme caution in inclement conditions and to react to situations and act appropriately. Drivers are required to keep a log of the hours they drive and are only permitted to drive so many hours per day.
Despite these regulations, drivers are sometimes inadequately trained or are being pushed by their employers to deliver products faster than possible. The result is drivers who are too fatigued to properly react to situations as they arise. Other problems include substance abuse (particularly stimulants), improper inspection and maintenance, which can lead to tire and brake failure, and falsified driving logs. These failings can result in serious injuries or death to an innocent driver on the road in the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler.
Common Accident Types Involving Semi-Trucks
Just like accidents between two light-duty or private vehicles, accidents involving large trucks can take many forms. Below are some frequent accident scenarios involving semi-trucks.
Often caused by sudden braking or tailgating, rear-end collisions can result in serious injuries, especially if a smaller vehicle is struck by a heavy truck.
This occurs when the trailer of a truck swings out and forms a 90-degree angle with the cab, resembling a jackknife. It can result from sudden braking or slippery roads and often leads to multi-vehicle pile-ups.
A truck rollover may happen due to over-steering, abrupt turns, high speed, or unbalanced cargo. Rollovers can cause extensive damage to other vehicles and infrastructure.
Blind Spot Accidents
Trucks have significant blind spots where other vehicles cannot be seen. Accidents can occur if drivers change lanes or maneuver without adequate awareness of surrounding traffic.
Additional factors such as weather conditions, driver distraction, and poor road maintenance can contribute to accidents involving semi-trucks.
Injuries Commonly Suffered During Accidents with Large Trucks
Accidents involving large trucks such as semi-trucks often lead to severe, life-altering, and even fatal injuries. The immense size and weight of these vehicles can create catastrophic impacts, leading to the following types of injuries:
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Cuts, scrapes, abrasions, and bruises can happen during an accident.
- Fractures and Broken Bones: Limbs, ribs, and other bones may break upon impact.
- Burns: Fires and explosions can occur, leading to painful burn injuries.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Damage to the spinal cord may cause paralysis or chronic pain.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): Head injuries can lead to cognitive impairment and long-term neurological issues.
The psychological impact of a truck accident can be profound. Victims may suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other emotional challenges that require therapy and ongoing support. In severe cases, this psychological damage can linger for many years.
Some injuries may lead to permanent disabilities, affecting the victim’s ability to work, enjoy hobbies, or perform daily activities. This can have lasting consequences on both the individual’s life and the lives of their family members.
What to Do Following an Accident with a Truck
An accident with a large truck can be a traumatizing experience. Knowing the right steps to take in the immediate aftermath can be essential for both your physical well-being and potential legal action.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident with a large truck, several critical actions must be taken. First and foremost, calling 911 is crucial to ensure emergency services are notified, especially if there are injuries. Seeking medical attention is also important, as injuries may not always be immediately apparent. Remaining at the scene, if possible, until authorities arrive is another key step that ensures your legal compliance and helps with proper reporting.
Collecting evidence is an essential part of building a strong legal case. This can include taking photos of the accident scene, damages, and injuries if possible. Collecting witness information can provide valuable perspectives on what happened, and obtaining a copy of the police report can be critical for substantiating your claim.
Contacting an Attorney
Considering legal representation is often a wise move after a truck accident. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in truck accidents, like the Law Brothers, can provide a clear understanding of your rights and legal options. It’s also advisable to avoid speaking with insurance companies without legal guidance, as statements provided to them may be used against your claim.
Types of Damages and Compensation That Victims Can Seek
Truck accidents are almost always more complex than your typical fender bender between two regular cars because most trucks aren’t owned by individuals, but rather by large entities like corporations and the government. Accordingly, trucks are often backed by large insurance policies and/or other assets which translate to higher potential settlements and verdicts in truck accident cases.
When involved in an accident with a large truck, victims may face not only physical and emotional trauma but also significant financial burdens. While an attorney like the ones at Law Brothers will always be the best source of information regarding what damages may apply to your case, understanding the various types of damages and compensation that can be pursued is vital in seeking justice. Here are some types of damages commonly sought after a trucking accident:
- Medical Expenses – This includes current and future medical costs for treatments, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapy, and any other healthcare services related to the accident’s injuries.
- Lost Wages – If the victim is unable to work due to injuries, compensation for lost wages, both present and future, can be sought. This can also include compensation for reduced earning capacity if the injury leads to long-term disability.
- Pain and Suffering – This refers to the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident. It may include compensation for anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible effects.
- Property Damage – If the accident caused damage to a vehicle or other personal property, compensation may be pursued to cover repair or replacement costs.
- Punitive Damages – In cases where the truck driver’s or company’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages might be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter similar behavior in the future.
Seeking the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney can help victims navigate the complexities of legal claims and pursue the compensation they deserve. Our firm has experience handling complex truck crash cases, including UPS accidents, FedEx accidents, USPS accidents, and more. We may be able to help you get hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in monetary compensation for your damages.
Trust The Law Brothers With Your Injury Case
Truck accidents are complex and often devastating events that can leave victims facing physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial strain. By being informed and proactive, individuals can take the essential steps towards healing and holding responsible parties accountable.
Collaboration with experienced legal professionals who specialize in truck accident cases can be instrumental in navigating the legal process and securing compensation that reflects the true impact of the accident. Our truck accident lawyers have assisted thousands of victims throughout the United States.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident where a truck was involved, there may be a valid claim to recover compensation for the injuries and damages sustained as a result of the accident. There are time limits involved, however, so it’s in your best interest to reach out as soon as possible to ensure the clock doesn’t run out on your rights. Contact the Law Brothers today for your free case evaluation.