The number of semi trucks on the road has been steadily increasing and along with it, an increase in the number of fatal crashes and crashes causing injuries involving semi trucks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2016, 4,213 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes and 55,633 large trucks were involved in crashes causing personal injury.
This problem is exacerbated because truck drivers are encouraged to drive more and sleep less and truck owners often do not keep trucks in safe, working order. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by the driver of a semi truck, there are some things that you should know:
There may be multiple people or companies responsible: Semi truck accidents are often complicated because there may be multiple insurance companies and corporations that could be responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Determining who is responsible requires looking at who was driving the truck, who owned the truck and who the truck driver was hauling for. Most of these companies have insurance. There are complicated rules regarding how damages should be assessed against multiple responsible parties and their insurance companies. Before signing a release with any party, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer so that you know the effect of releasing that party and whether you may also be releasing other responsible parties.
There is usually more evidence available in a case involving a semi, but you need to get it early: Most semi truck drivers have to maintain log books that could contain crucial information to your case. Oftentimes there is crucial information found in the employment files of the truck driver or the maintenance records for the truck involved. Additionally, trucking companies often conduct their own accident investigation immediately after a crash and may have gathered important data. All of this evidence can help prove your case, but you need to obtain it as soon as possible and before it is destroyed. It can be difficult to obtain the evidence without representation, but a car accident injury attorney should be able to help you get the evidence you need.
Semi trucks and their drivers have more rules to follow than other drivers: The federal government regulates the trucking industry. This includes regulations about the weight and mechanical condition of the truck, the training required to operate a truck and the number of hours a truck driver can operate a truck without taking a break. While most truck drivers abide by these rules and are cautious, some truck drivers and trucking companies do not follow the rules and their breaking of the rules may be very important to your case.
Semi trucks are more dangerous than other vehicles: Semi trucks are more dangerous than other vehicles because of their size and the difficulty operating the truck. These trucks have large blind spots due to their size and shape. The trucks also take longer to stop than a regular vehicle and can be difficult to maneuver around sharp turns.
Multiple investigators will likely contact you: If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident or you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you should expect that multiple people will contact you about the accident. This includes the officers investigating the crash as well as investigators hired by the trucking company or an insurance company. You should be very cautious about providing information to an investigator hired by a trucking company or even hired by your own automobile insurance company. It is very likely that the investigator is focused on obtaining evidence that will help the trucking company prove that they were not at fault for the crash or information that they believe will help them to show you were not seriously injured.
If you or a loved one were injured in a trucking accident, it would be helpful to speak with an attorney about your options. Trucking cases are complicated and raise a number of factual and legal issues that should be dealt with by an experienced car accident injury attorney. If you would like to speak with someone at Ann Brown Legal about a trucking accident, please call (319) 826-2250.