There are about 40 million trucks operating in the United States. In 2019, about 159,000 people were injured, including 5,000 who were killed, in accidents involving trucks. Semi-trucks often weigh over 10,000 pounds. Big rigs take longer to stop than cars, and they have bigger blind spots. Add human drivers who often drive long hours, and the potential for catastrophic accidents is tremendous.
If you or someone you know is involved in a trucking accident, you will probably have a lot of questions related to the accident, injuries sustained, medical costs and other expenses. Here are answers to some common questions about trucking accidents.
What should I do if I am involved in an accident with a truck?
Accidents involving heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks are even more dangerous than auto accidents. Because of the size of a truck, emergency medical care may be necessary. Call 911 immediately and make sure everyone is safe.
Try to gather as much information as possible at the scene of the accident: Get the driver’s name, license number, and contact info; name of the trucking company; truck’s license plate number; contact information for any witnesses, etc. Take pictures of everything: vehicle damage, injuries, skid marks, debris and traffic. If the police respond, make note of the accident report number.
When speaking with police, do not take responsibility for the accident. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Trucking companies and insurance companies have attorneys who are ready to fight to avoid paying you any compensation. You need an experienced attorney on your side.
What do I do after a trucking accident?
You should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced with trucking accidents. Do not speak to the trucking company or its insurance agent — they will try to use what you say against you to deny or diminish your claims. Do not sign any documents or accept any settlements. Let your attorney handle all communication and negotiations.
What do I need to provide to my attorney?
Truck accident claims are more complicated than regular motor vehicle accident claims. An attorney will protect your rights and handle the process for you.
Document everything, including police reports, medical reports, bills, paperwork, and photos of the accident scene and injuries. Document time lost at work and any correspondence from attorneys or insurance companies.
An experienced truck accident attorney will:
- Investigate the accident and gather exhaustive evidence, including witness testimony.
- Investigate the truck driver’s record to determine whether the company acted properly in hiring and retaining the driver.
- Review the truck driver’s hours-of-service documentation and fuel receipts.
- Find out whether Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules were violated.
- Investigate the company, including safety practices and history.
- Gather vehicle inspection and maintenance records, as well as information about the truck’s shipment.
Who is liable for trucking accidents?
Most trucking accidents are caused by driver error, fatigue or recklessness, but a lot of factors could be involved, including road conditions, unstable loads or bad weather.
Even though the fault usually lies with the driver, a trucking company will be responsible for the driver’s actions and for the safety of the truck.
After the accident, you will need to get in contact with your insurance company, and the trucking company’s insurer will reach out to you. They will record everything you say and use it against you to ensure they pay you as little as possible. Do not speak to the trucking company or its insurance carrier. Contact a lawyer to represent you.
How can I receive fair compensation for my injuries and financial stress?
Accidents change lives. You may be in a lot of pain because of the injuries you have suffered. Those injuries may last a lifetime. You may be feeling stress and grief after your accident. If you’ve lost a loved one, it is devastating.
Beyond the physical and emotional toll of a truck accident, there is the financial impact. You may face expensive medical bills, and you may not be able to work, for either the short term or long term.
The experienced attorneys at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (PCVA) will assess the value of your case, including medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, and the long-term impact of the accident on your life. They will handle all negotiations with the trucking company, its insurer and the courts, and fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.