A semi-trailer truck collision can be a devastating event for almost every person involved in the accident. Regardless of whether or not you are the driver of a small car or the driver of the truck, getting injuries in a semi-truck accident can leave you with months or even years of medical bills to pay and physical therapy.
But the good news is that if you are injured in a semi-trailer truck collision that was caused by negligence of another party, there is no need to go through the recovery process alone. You can find attorneys out there who can help you to build a strong case so that you may get compensation for the injuries and damages you suffer due to the accident. They can assist you to make a full recovery from the losses and injuries you suffered. This article explains what you need to know about a semi-trailer truck collision.
Why semi-trailer truck cases are complex
Many people believe that a semi-truck accident is not different from many types of car accidents. The truth is that a semi-trailer truck accident case is often more complex than a case involving a passenger car. This is because a semi-trailer truck accident case can involve a variety of evidence like load manifests, truck maintenance records, and driver logs that need to be checked to determine the exact cause of the accident.
Besides, it can be a complicated process to negotiate for a settlement in a semi-truck accident. This is because there are several parties involved in such accidents including the driver’s company, the driver, the company responsible for loading the truck, and the truck’s manufacturer as well as the maintenance team.
It can be hard to determine at-fault parties, especially when each of these parties strongly deny liability. Truck accidents also usually involve several layers of insurance coverage that are hard to untangle. However, all these sources can provide a semi-trailer truck victim with enough compensation for the losses suffered.
The occupants of other cars involved in a semi-trailer truck collision usually suffer more serious injuries requiring more time to recover and more money. With all this money on the line, the insurance companies and their lawyers tend to put a strong fight. This is the reason why you need a lawyer to fight for your rights.
As you see, there can be several people and companies associated with the accident. Depending on the details of the semi-trailer truck accident, one or more of the parties can share liability.
For example, the semi-trailer truck driver can be liable for their negligence and the trucking company can also be liable for their negligence and for the negligence actions of their employees.
Remember that the trucking company can not own the semi-trailer truck involved in the collision. Instead, it can be leased from another firm or owned by the driver. Therefore, the truck owner can be liable for the injuries and damages caused by the accident.
When a semi-truck accident is caused due to improperly secured or loaded cargo, then liability falls on the company responsible for this cargo. The truck maintenance company can also be liable if the accident was due to negligent or poor maintenance of the semi-trailer truck. Lastly, the semi-trailer truck manufacturer can be liable if the accident was caused by manufacturing defect or design.
There is various evidence that can be used in a semi-trailer truck accident claim. Given the complicated nature of semi-trailer trucks, the evidence that needs to be examined in the accident claim tends to be quite complicated. Also, there is usually plenty of it compared to the accident claims involving cars.
Some of the key evidence needed in a semi-truck accident cases can include driver logs that show the hours that the driver drove before the accident happened. In most cases, driver logs may deliberately be left blank, destroyed, falsified. This can be a good evidence that the semi-truck driver was overly tired.
The driver’s toxicology report can also give good evidence. If the semi-trailer truck driver consumed alcohol and goes for a drug test immediately after the accident, this can show whether or not the truck driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The load manifest can also indicate that the semi-trailer truck was either improperly loaded or was even transporting more load than recommended. Also, the semi-trailer truck’s computer as well as the GPS recordings can reveal crucial details. These details can include time of travel, speed, acceleration, braking, and steering inputs of the semi-trailer truck.
Damages in a semi-trailer truck accident claim
Now that you know that a semi-trailer truck accident can be more serious than the ones involving passenger cars, it’s important to understand the kind of damages involved in this type of accident. An accident involving regular passenger vehicles can be limited to the drivers resolving issues using their insurance companies. On the other hand, semi-trailer truck accidents are immediately harder because of the several parties involved.
Most people usually assume that the semi-truck driver is at fault for causing the accident, so they think the driver needs to be liable for the injuries and damages. In some cases, though, the truck drivers may not have the insurance limits or even assets required to pay for all the costs incurred by the victims of the accident.
Other parties, especially trucking companies may have insurance policies that have higher limits. Therefore, if you can show that the trucking company was liable for the accident, and they usually are in some way, then you get more money than focusing on pursuing a claim against the semi-trailer driver as an entity.
Trucking companies can be liable for the accidents if they fail to hire and train drivers, overload trucks, force their drivers to drive for too long without taking breaks, or are negligent to do enough maintenance. Therefore, if the semi-trailer truck driver was directly employed by the trucking company, then the company needs to be liable.
This is because the law says that the employers can be responsible for the negligence actions of their employees. This can even be true if the semi-trailer trucking company claims that its driver happened to be an independent contractor.
You need to hire a firm to investigate the accident and this includes doing reconstruction and extracting evidence from the semi-trailer truck’s black box so that they can uncover the liable parties.
It’s worth noting that when you are involved in a semi-trailer truck accident, you can be entitled for compensation for the injuries and damages you suffer. There are personal injury damages that usually include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are there to compensate victims for their financial losses. Some of these economic damages include past and future medical costs like doctor’s office visits, hospital bills, prescription medication, physical therapy, and durable medical equipment.
There is also past and future loss of income. These can include the income you lose from missed work and what you may have earned if the injuries didn’t reduce your capacity to work.
When it comes to non-economic damages, these are intended to compensate you for subjective losses. Some of the non-economic losses include pain and suffering that involves mental, physical, or emotional stress caused by the injuries.
In non-economic damages there is also loss of consortium. This is compensation to your family and spouse for the loss of companionship as well as the services to your family. Besides the compensation for the personal injuries, you can also be eligible for claim compensation for the property damage that you suffer like the expenses to replace or repair your damaged car.
However, depending on where you live, there is usually a limited time that you can file a lawsuit for compensation. This time is called the statute of limitations, so many states require you to file a lawsuit within a specified time after the date of the accident.
In some special circumstances, a court can either pause, extend, or toll this statute of limitations. This happens when a claimant is considered to be a minor or is under the age of 18 years old. But the minor gets three years to file a lawsuit from the day they turn 18 years old.