Even the smallest accidents involving a semi-truck can cause enormous amounts of damage. Commercial trucks typically weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. Fully loaded and travelling at 55 miles-per-hour, a semi can take 100 yards to stop—the length of a football field. In normal traffic conditions, it is extremely rare that a truck will have the appropriate amount of distance to stop safely in an emergency. Trucks also have vast blind spots, leaving the driver to guess if there is anything in the way when merging or turning. Cars may be run off the road or struck by a truck driver who is unable to see them or who miscalculates their location. Unsecured or poorly secured cargo may fall from the truck into traffic, or a flat tire may fling pieces of tire across the road or cause the truck to swerve. It isn’t hard to see how easy it is to get into an accident with a commercial truck.
There is also a human element that adds to the danger of large trucks. The driver of the truck needs to be alert and diligent while driving, though this may not always be the case. Restrictions on drivers are in place to make sure the driver gets an adequate amount of rest, but enforcing time off doesn’t mean the driver is resting like they should. Strict timetables for travelling between locations can lead to drivers tampering with their rest periods in the computer and driving while overtired. These schedules may also push drivers to make unsafe driving decisions, such as speeding or choosing shorter, but less safe routes. Drivers may also not receive adequate training due to lack of company funds. All these factors should be taken into consideration when investigating the cause of a truck accident.
Not only are trucks dangerous due to their size, but the commercial aspect of many adds complications to accidents involving these vehicles. Commercial vehicles may be owner-operator, meaning the driver owns the truck and is self-employed, or they may be owned by a company and the driver is an employee of the company. Depending on who owns the truck, you may find yourself talking with multiple people and lawyers during the course of a truck accident.
Injuries stemming from truck accidents can be catastrophic, resulting in death in the worst cases. These injuries can require ongoing treatment that lasts months, if not years, and can cause the victim of a trucking accident to incur higher medical expenses than those involved in a car accident. There may be a loss of income or wages if the victim is unable to work, pain and suffering during recovery (both physical and emotional), and the victim may be permanently disabled as a result of the accident.
Insurance carried by trucking companies is substantial, as required by law. Drivers may have their own separate policy from the company as well. If both the driver and the company are legally liable, you may find yourself dealing with multiple insurance companies, all of which will attempt to settle for the minimum payment. You may not receive enough to cover your losses if this is the case. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you navigate the insurance process.
Proving negligence is the most important step in settling a case involving a truck accident. This can be the most difficult part to prove as there may be insufficient or falsified records. Truck drivers are also bound by local traffic laws, and regulations have been put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If any of these laws were broken, and an accident occurred as a result, you can make a claim or lawsuit for compensation.
A truck accident can disrupt your life and cause undue suffering. If you have been involved in a truck accident, get in touch with Waterbury personal injury attorneys at Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C. and get help with your case.