Accidents involving semi-trucks fall into their own category of statistics, and the numbers are alarming. According to legal.com, in the United States between 1994 and 2004, there was an average of 400,000 truck accidents annually and close to 5,000 fatalities each year. The severity of accidents involving trucks differs from those that only involve car crashes mainly because of the size and weight of these large commercial vehicles. Then there’s the cargo to consider – the load may contain hazardous materials. Bottom line is that truck accidents can get very complicated.
Because truck accidents are more complex in nature, it is vitally important to hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced in truck accidents. The sooner your attorney is engaged, the better. It’s a fact that regardless of the type of truck (or its cargo), injuries are almost always present when a passenger car crashes with a semi-truck.
Size and Complex Issues
As mentioned above, trucking accidents are far different from passenger car crashes. Trucks range in size and weight from small pickups or vans to medium-sized fleet delivery vehicles to large commercial vehicles such as 18-wheelers and dump trucks. All commercial trucks are governed by Federal law and have their own set of Federal rules and regulations as well as required levels of insurance coverage.
Another issue that adds to the complexity of truck accidents is that often accidents involving a truck also involve multiple vehicles. Because there is the potential for even more injuries and deaths, oftentimes it takes more investigation to determine who is at fault. Bear in mind that trucking companies have lawyers on retainer in case of accidents. The funds available to fight or discredit your claim are (for all intents and purposes) limitless.
You need your own attorney. An experienced trucking accident attorney will be able to sort through the rules and regulations and determine if any have been violated. Your attorney will also be able to determine if there has been any negligence or maintenance issues involved. This is all important information that may have an impact on your case should you decide to pursue litigation, especially in cases involving deaths. Accidents involving truck driver negligence are generally treated differently from other types of accidents because of faulty truck maintenance.
If you are in a truck accident, contact your attorney right away. This is especially true if you have been injured, as it will be hard or nearly impossible for you to gather the necessary evidence. It’s important that the accident scene is secured and photographed as well as witness statements gathered while witness memories are still “fresh”.
Who’s at fault?
Determining who is legally at fault and financially responsible is not easy in trucking accidents. Even if it’s clear that the truck driver caused the crash, it’s not always easy to figure out who is legally liable. Generally, employers are liable for negligent acts committed by their employees if they were acting within the course and scope of their employment. Another factor in determining who is ultimately at fault is determining whether or not the driver was an employee or an independent contractor.
As you can see, truck accidents are complicated. It’s not always clear who the “guilty” party is. Your experienced attorney will help with all of this, including getting you back on the road to recovery.