What Our Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Knows
Not all motor vehicle accidents are the same to a truck accident lawyer. While every type of vehicle can cause injuries and deaths in a collision, trucks can cause much more harm due to their sheer size. Trucks are also referred to as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers. These massive vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. when loaded. When such a large vehicle crashes, even a low-speed collision can result in serious damages and multiple fatalities.
Truck Accidents are Different
Due to the massive size of trucks, truck drivers face a different set of challenges. In addition to the usual types of accidents, such as head-on collisions and rear-end collisions, which are common with cars, there are other types of accidents that commonly occur with trucks:
- Jackknifing: Jackknifing occurs when the truck towing a trailer skids, causing the trailer to hit it and push it from behind until it spins and turns around, facing backwards. The causes of jackknifing may be improper braking, equipment failure or adverse road conditions. A jackknife accident is often fatal to the driver and other occupants of the truck.
- Rollovers: A rollover is a type of crash in which a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. Occurring much more frequently with trucks than with cars, rollovers are the top cause of injuries and deaths in trucking accidents. Rollovers may be caused by driver error (such as driving too fast or taking a curve too quickly), vehicle malfunction (such as a tire blowout, brake failure or improper load distribution), and adverse road conditions.
- Brake malfunctions: Brake malfunction is one of the main causes of truck accidents. Large trucks use air brakes, a type of friction brake which uses compressed air to apply pressure on the brake pad and stop the vehicle. The trouble with air brakes is that they can take only so much heat. A full stop at 60 mph raises the brake temperature to 600 degrees Celsius, which is the limit for safe operation.
- Fires: A truck can catch fire if its battery and fuel compartments are located so close to one another that the sparks from the battery can easily reach the diesel fuel during an accident. This is often the result of manufacturer negligence.
You can claim all kinds of damages
If you are injured in a truck accident in which you were not at fault (or only partially at fault), then the law allows you to file a claim for damages. The claim can include compensation for the costs of medical care, medical tests, physical therapy, rehabilitation, loss of wages (if you are unable to go to work until full recovery), and loss of earning capacity (if you are disabled for life or for a long period of time).
You may also seek recovery for pain and suffering (physical and/or mental), disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of consortium or diminished relationship with your spouse. If you can prove that the truck driver and/or company exercised egregious negligence, then you may also seek punitive damages.
There is more money available for compensation
Owing to their huge size difference, trucks can cause much more severe damages and injuries than cars (which only weigh about 3,000 lbs.). Because of this, truckers are required by law to carry insurance with higher liability limits, which means there is often more money available for compensation (to the accident victims) in truck accidents.
There is always someone who will pay damages
Commercial trucks are owned and operated by trucking companies, which means that there will always be someone you can file a claim with or sue even if the truck driver gets killed in the accident. Also, the likelihood of the truck driver or the trucking company having no insurance is almost nil. The same cannot be said about car accidents if the car driver is killed or has no insurance.
It is easier to sue truck drivers for negligence
Commercial truck drivers are expected to adhere to a higher legal standard and must follow strict rules. They are required to have special training and education, and obtain a special license called a Commercial Truck Driver’s License before they can drive a truck. If a truck driver who caused an accident does not have said license or the requisite training and experience, then he or the trucking company can be sued for negligence.
If you or your loved has been injured in a truck accident, talk to a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer who has the skills and the knowledge to help you obtain maximum recovery.