When a large 18-wheeler truck collides with a much smaller passenger vehicle, the results can be devastating—and even deadly. In addition to causing severe property damage, these accidents can also lead to serious personal injuries that result in significant medical treatment and long-term pain and suffering. In the worst cases, truck accidents can lead to a person’s untimely death, in which case the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim for damages.
Truck accidents, just like many other types of motor vehicle accidents, are usually avoidable. In many cases, these accidents happen when truck drivers, anxious to get to their final destinations as quickly as they can, operate their vehicles in a careless and reckless manner. This can be and often is a recipe for disaster. In addition to the negligent truck drivers themselves, the trucking companies that employ these drivers can also be fully or partially responsible for trucking accidents.
If you or someone you care about has suffered one or more injuries in an accident that was caused by a negligent truck driver, you have legal rights. Specifically, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent truck driver and/or the trucking company that employs the driver. You may also file a claim for the incurred damages resulting from your injuries.
An experienced truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction can promptly file your claim or lawsuit and pursue the monetary damages that you deserve for your injuries. When it comes to motor vehicle accidents and personal injury claims, time is of the essence. Therefore, you should seek experienced legal counsel to assist you with your case as soon as possible after your accident.
Truck Drivers Can Be Negligent
Truck drivers—and for that matter trucking companies—are incentivized to operate vehicles and travel time as quickly as possible. Trucking companies often encourage their drivers to transport cargo to its final destination swiftly. Truck drivers often receive bonuses and other forms of increased financial compensation from the trucking companies when speedy delivery occurs.
Rushing to get cargo to a final destination, however, does not come without consequences. When truck drivers exceed the speed limit and engage in other forms of reckless and distracted driving, they are not giving their full time and attention to the road, increasing the likelihood that they will cause a collision with another vehicle. When that happens, an injured accident victim can file a claim or lawsuit against the negligent truck driver, as well as the trucking company.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents that occur on roadways through the United States include the following:
- Failing to abide by the rules of the road – Truck drivers are responsible for knowing and adhering to the rules of the road that are applicable in their jurisdiction. When drivers speed, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, and otherwise behave in a careless and reckless manner while driving, they significantly increase the chances that they will cause a motor vehicle accident.
- Operating their truck while distracted – Distracted driving exists among truck drivers, just as with the drivers of smaller motor vehicles. Distracted driving includes using electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets, while operating a truck—or even programming a GPS device while on the road. All of these activities can divert a truck driver’s attention away from the road and can significantly increase the chances of an accident.
- Failing to follow motor carrier regulations – States throughout the country, as well as the federal government, have promulgated motor carrier regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow. These regulations pertain to load limits, inspections, restraining and securing cargo, and lighting (including warning lights and truck undercarriage lights), among many others. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to abide by these regulations, they increase the chances of causing serious accidents—especially on busy highways.
- Intoxicated and drugged driving – It goes without saying that the operators of commercial trucks should never operate their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this does take place. When such a reckless choice is made, the driver may cause a serious accident. Also, to drive for longer stretches of time, some truck drivers take stimulants to keep them awake. This can also lead to collisions with other vehicles.
- Truck driver fatigue – Trucking companies often encourage (and financially incentivize) their drivers to log large numbers of hours. As a result, these drivers are often fatigued while they are on the road, affecting their physical coordination and reaction time. When the driver of a large truck operates his or her vehicle in a state of exhaustion, the driver may fall asleep at the wheel or fail to react in time to avoid colliding with another motor vehicle.
- Defects on the tractor or trailer – When drivers and trucking companies do not properly maintain their large vehicles, malfunctions and defects can occur while these vehicles are in operation on the road. This can result in a driver losing control of the truck, resulting in a serious collision that injures other parties on the road.
An experienced truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction can assist you with bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit against the negligent truck driver who caused an accident in which you suffered injuries.
Trucking Companies and Others Might also Be Responsible (Fully or Partially) for Your Accident and the Injuries Which You Suffered as a Result
When a trucking company employs a truck driver, and that driver is operating his or her vehicle in the scope of employment, then the trucking company may share in some or all of the responsibility for any accident that the driver causes. Under the prevailing law of agency in some jurisdictions, a trucking company can be vicariously liable for the negligence of an employed driver.
In addition to potential liability under an agency theory, a trucking company may be liable for negligently retaining, hiring, or supervising an individual with a problematic driving history. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring drivers who have a good track record and who will operate the company vehicles in a safe manner at all times.
If a trucking company knowingly hires a driver with a bad driving record, and that driver then negligently causes an accident involving his or her truck, then the accident victim may file a claim or lawsuit against the trucking company for negligent hiring or retention—in addition to filing a negligence claim against the driver.
In addition, when a truck accident results from a malfunction or part defect, then the accident victim may file a claim or lawsuit against a repair facility who performed recent repair work on the truck, and/or a parts manufacturer who produced a defective product.
With respect to repair work, truck and trailer repair facilities have a duty to ensure that they make repairs in a careful, safe, and responsible manner. When they fail to do so and an accident occurs as a result, the accident victim may bring a claim or file a lawsuit directly against the negligent repair facility.
Similarly, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that they manufacture and properly test parts, like tires, before they make them available for purchase. If a truck accident victim can prove, through expert testimony, that an accident occurred because of a truck part that was defectively manufactured, then the accident victim may bring a product liability claim against the parts manufacturer for damages that he or she suffered in the accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer near you can assist you with bringing a personal injury claim against a negligent trucking company, repair facility, or parts manufacturer, depending upon the circumstances of your accident case.
You Are Responsible for Filing and Proving Your Personal Injury Claim Arising From a Truck Accident
Depending on the jurisdiction where your truck accident occurred, you will have a limited amount of time to bring a claim for damages arising from your truck accident. In some jurisdictions, you could have as little as one year from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit arising out of your claim, while in other jurisdictions, you may have as much time as three or four years.
No matter where your truck accident claim is pending, it is important that you promptly seek out experienced legal counsel to represent you in your case. A knowledgeable attorney can assist you with proving your case and helping you to recover the damages that you deserve.
To prove negligence on the part of a truck driver, trucking company, or some other individual or entity, you must demonstrate all of the following legal elements:
- The at-fault individual or entity acted in a manner that was unreasonable under the circumstances, such as by speeding or violating a rule of the road in the jurisdiction where the trucking accident occurred.
- The at-fault individual or entity’s negligence caused the truck accident.
- The accident victim suffered one or more injuries.
- The truck accident was a cause of the victim’s injuries.
If the accident victim can prove these elements of a standard negligence claim, then he or she may be eligible to recover monetary compensation—or damages—in the case.
You Might Recover Monetary Damages Arising From Your Truck Accident
Victims who suffer personal injuries in a truck accident stemming from someone else’s negligence may file a claim for damages against the at-fault individual or entity (and indirectly, against the at-fault individual or entity’s insurance company).
Truck accidents can involve rear-end impacts, head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, to name a few. In turn, these types of collisions can result in serious injuries to motor vehicle operators and their passengers, including soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, bone breaks, and traumatic brain or head injuries. Accident victims may be eligible to recover various types of damages, depending upon the severity of the injuries from which they suffer, as well as the extent of the medical treatment that they receive.
Some of the most common types of monetary damages that accident victims can recover in a personal injury case arising from a truck accident include compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical bills that result from treatment for injuries which the accident victim suffered in the truck accident
- Past and future lost earnings which the accident victim incurred as a result of injuries he or she suffered—and for medical appointments which the accident victim had to attend during work hours
- Loss of earning capacity, in the event the accident victim can no longer work at the same job or in the same capacity, due to injuries which he or she suffered in the truck accident
- Past, present, and future pain and suffering which the accident victim experienced due to his or her injuries
- Mental distress and anguish which the accident victim experienced following the accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of spousal support or companionship resulting from injuries which the accident victim suffered
An experienced truck accident attorney near you will help make your claim for monetary damages, and work to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by a truck driver, trucking company, or some other individual or entity, then you may file a claim or lawsuit for the monetary compensation you deserve. Contact a skilled truck accident lawyer in your jurisdiction who can assist you in pursuing your claim, negotiating with the insurance company, and, if necessary, litigating your case in the state court system.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096