Big Truck Accident FAQs
What you need to know about truck and tractor trailer accidents
A commercial truck, also known as a big rig, is a vehicle used by many businesses for the transport of goods and other services. Some examples of commercial trucks are eighteen-wheeler tractor trailers, tanker trucks, delivery vehicles, and other large freight trucks which all require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate. This does not include RVs.
How common are truck accidents?
When we talk about “trucks”, we’re referring to 18-wheelers, big rigs, fuel trucks, buses, cargo trucks, tractor trailers, and other commercial vehicles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2017, 69% of accidents resulting in death involved tractor-trailers . Statistics also show that roughly 500,000 accidents on the road are either directly or indirectly caused by commercial trucks.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the most recent data was published in December of 2019 stating the following :
- 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018
- 67% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles
- 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists
- 74% of deaths in large truck crashes in 2018 were in crashes involving tractor-trailers, and 27% were in crashes involving single-unit trucks
- 52% of deaths in large truck crashes in 2018 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 33% occurred on interstates and freeways, and 14% occurred on minor roads.
What are the most common types of cases you typically see involving truck accidents?
Accidents involving commercial trucks are frequently caused by a combination of factors including :
- the truck’s attributes, performance capabilities, and/or driver error
- Acceleration, braking, and visibility
- Big rigs, tend to have much larger blind spots than a normal pickup truck or passenger car, these blind spots impede the driver’s ability to identify obstacles on the road
- Passenger vehicles should not linger in a commercial truck’s blind spot or “no-zone”
- Driver inexperience, fatigue, failure to yield the right-of-way, and reckless driving can all be contributing factors.
The most common form of personal injury lawsuits our truck accident attorneys handle is driver negligence. We see a great deal of distracted drivers, not paying attention, texting; some of the same issues that non-truck drivers have when driving. Unfortunately for many people, truck drivers included, attempt to multi-task when driving. This problem has increased significantly over the past 15 years as use of cell phones and texting while driving have contributed significantly to distracted driving.
What should you do after being involved in an accident with a commercial truck/ vehicle? What should be done at the scene?
Police and emergency personnel should be called right away. Also, if you are injured you should seek immediate medical attention. It’s also a good idea to start preparing evidence for later, so taking pictures of the scene will be helpful, recording any thoughts about what occurred while it’s fresh in your head is also a good idea.
Are there recommended steps to take in the following days after an accident with a commercial truck?
We recommend speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney to review the details of your potential case. We also recommend to go to all of your doctor appointments, show up for therapy or exams, and follow medical advice. If you do not show up to your appointments, it may impact the results of your case.
What’s the interaction typically like with the truck driver involved? How are they prepared on their end to handle an accident?
Truck drivers are often well trained and are advised in their training not to talk to the injured party. If approached, they will most likely advise you to go through their lawyer. This is why it’s very important that the person impacted does the same.
Can I sue the truck driver’s trucking company for my injuries sustained in the accident?
This depends on the employment relationship established between the truck driver and the trucking company. If this relationship is displayed, the trucking company can be held legally liable for the driver’s negligence under a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior”. However, if the truck driver is an independent contractor of a company, demonstrating the company’s liability may become more difficult. In this situation, the factor that becomes most crucial is the amount of supervision the company exercises over the driver .
Are there special laws and regulations that apply to truck drivers and their companies?
Yes, there are many federal and state regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to. For drivers, this includes traffic and civil laws such as speed limit, weight and height maximums on roadways. Also included are Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Department of Transportation regulations, which define how many hours a driver can be on the road, as well as the training and licensing requirements for drivers .
The trucking company’s insurance company contacted me. What should I do?
The first step, before talking to the insurance company, is to make sure you are protected. Contact an attorney immediately. The priority of the insurance company is to protect the interests of their company or client, not yours. It’s important to not give a statement, speak with, or sign anything before speaking with an attorney because anything that you say can and may be used against you at a later date. Insurance companies are typically equipped with a large staff of investigators, doctors, lawyers, and experts at their disposal. It will be important to hire someone that can speak with them and is on the cutting edge of the law.
Why do these cases become so complicated/ big/ expensive?
These cases tend to become complicated, and sometimes lengthy, because the damages tend to be extensive, often times resulting in serious injury or death. This is also why the trucking companies carry big limits, which is why they have many resources lined up at their disposal. They will do their due-diligence to try to fight the claim or case, so they do not have to pay.
Can you explain settlement? Is it good/bad?
Settlement in the form of law, is an agreement or resolution between two disputing parties (in the case of a truck accident, the plaintiff (the person who is bringing the case against the truck driver/ truck company) in a legal matter. The term settlement can have various meanings in the context of law, however, the most commonly understood meaning is providing resolution in the form of payment to the plaintiff, either before or after court action begins. An experienced truck accident attorney can determine and advise on an appropriate settlement, should that be offered, based off of their knowledge and expertise of the individual case. Settlement can be a very good thing, if the client and attorney feel it’s sufficient; If they determine it’s not, then the settlement can be rejected and the case can be tried. Even if you are heading to trial, judges can do something called mediation. Mediators will look at both sides and sometimes through mediation it can get settled.
Why can the timeline in some of these cases get extended? What would you say to someone who is frustrated with the timeline and waiting, and wondering if work is being done?
Unfortunately, extended timelines can and do happen and are relatively common, and also can be lengthy. The most important thing for the client to understand is that if they’ve been harmed or hurt because of someone else’s negligence, they have to stay in it so that they can get the appropriate compensation that they deserve.