More than 500,000 accidents involving 18-wheel trucks occurred in 2019 in the United States, and over 100,000 of those accidents caused injuries. In 2020, about 5,000 resulted in fatalities, which is a 4% decrease from 2019’s 4,479 deaths. However, in comparison to 2011, this is still a 33% increase.
Large truck accidents account for 25% of fatal accidents in interstates and 57% in rural areas. These trailer trucks, or 18-wheeler vehicles, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Therefore, the results can be devastating when they’re involved in an accident with a smaller passenger vehicle.
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and they have strict rules that truck drivers and trucking companies are supposed to follow to prevent accidents. However, not all trucking companies and drivers follow these rules, which ultimately results in catastrophic accidents that could have otherwise been avoided.
If you or a loved one were in an accident with an 18-wheeler truck, speak with experienced truck accident lawyers who can help protect your rights. We at The Personal Injury Center can refer you to lawyers who have years of experience handling truck accident cases. They will work to get you the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, as well as property damage.
Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation. We will refer you to a truck accident attorney who can review your case and advise you of your legal options.
The Common Causes for 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
After a truck accident, your lawyer will first investigate the cause to determine if the truck driver or the trucking company was at fault. Some common causes of 18-wheeler truck accidents are the following:
Truck drivers are usually under pressure to meet tight deadlines and may engage in risky behavior, such as speeding to make up time. When a speeding truck tries to slow down at the last minute, it may jackknife or lose control. While the front of the 18-wheeler may stop, the rest keeps moving, which can often crash into other moving vehicles and cause catastrophic injuries.
Regulations state that truck drivers may only operate their commercial vehicles for a maximum of 11 hours per day. However, many trucking companies pressure their drivers to stay on the road for more extended periods. A truck driver’s fatigue leads to slowed reaction times and poor decision-making.
Like any other driver, truck drivers can get distracted while behind the wheel. Distractions may include fiddling with the radio, talking on the phone, eating, or drinking. Even a few seconds of taking your eyes off the road can be deadly when driving a tractor-trailer.
Some truck drivers engage in reckless driving behavior, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or changing lanes without using a turn signal. These dangerous maneuvers put other drivers and motorists at risk of accidents and fatalities.
Trucking companies must regularly maintain their trucks to ensure that they can be safely operated. However, some companies pinch pennies to save money, which can lead to mechanical problems with their fleet. If a truck’s brakes fail or the tires blow out, it can cause a serious accident, and the trucking company would be held liable.
Truck drivers are responsible for loading their trucks correctly and securing the load so that it does not shift while it’s being transported. If a truck is overloaded or the number of tie-downs was not followed for securing the cargo, the weight of the load can move while the vehicle is in motion, which can cause the truck to tip over or lose control.
Driving in bad weather conditions can be treacherous, especially for large trucks. If a truck driver does not slow down or use extra caution in snowy, icy, or rainy conditions, it can lead to an accident.
In some cases, an accident is caused by a manufacturing defect in the truck. If it is not built properly or has a problem with its brakes, tires, or other components, it can cause an accident.
To determine the cause of the accident, your truck accident lawyer will review the police report, witness statements, and any other evidence. He will also speak to experts in the field to get their opinion on what happened and conduct his independent investigation.
Why Accidents With an 18-Wheeler Are More Dangerous Than a Car Crash
Accidents with 18-wheelers are often more severe than accidents involving passenger vehicles for the following reasons:
Size and Weight Difference
A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs around 3,000 pounds. The weight disparity is a major factor in why these commercial vehicle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities, as the passenger vehicle is no match for the size and weight of a truck when they collide.
Higher Center of Gravity
Due to their large size, 18-wheelers have a higher center of gravity than passenger vehicles, which makes them more likely to tip over in an accident or if they take a turn too fast. The cargo being transported can also affect the truck’s stability, as some loads are more likely to shift than others.
Large Blind Spots
Unlike passenger vehicles, 18-wheelers have large blind spots on all four sides, which are even larger when the trailer is carrying a load. These blind spots are called “No Zone areas” and can be particularly dangerous for smaller vehicles. If a truck driver does not check his blind spots before changing lanes, he may not see the smaller vehicle and collide with it.
Longer stopping distance and time
Due to their size and weight, it takes 18-wheelers longer to stop than passenger vehicles. This is why it is so important for truckers to maintain a safe following distance and use extra caution when driving in inclement weather or stop-and-go traffic.
Most motor vehicles behind 18-wheelers are unaware of how much space they should maintain between their truck and the big rig in front of them to avoid a car crash in case the truck needs to suddenly stop.
When commercial truck accidents occur, serious injuries and fatalities often result. If you or somebody close to you were in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is essential to immediately contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss your case so that your rights are protected.
What Injuries Can You Expect From a Truck Accident?
Injuries sustained in an accident with an 18-wheeler are devastating. The sheer size and weight of these huge vehicles make them capable of causing life-altering injuries.
Some of the most common truck accident injuries are the following:
Head injuries, which can range from minor concussions to traumatic brain injuries, are very common in truck accidents. This is because the force of the impact can cause severe trauma to the brain, which can result in lifelong physical and cognitive impairments.
The symptoms of head injuries can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.
Neck and Back Injuries
Again, due to the force of the impact, the neck and back are the most common areas injured in semi-truck accidents. Whiplash is a typical neck injury in these accidents, leading to long-term pain and stiffness.
Other neck and back injuries include herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis, which can cause tremendous pain and suffering and require extensive medical treatment.
These injuries range from simple fractures to compound fractures. Broken bones can cause an extreme amount of pain and take a long time to heal, and some cases may even require surgery.
When the impact of a truck accident is severe, it can even cause internal bleeding and organ damage. These injuries are incredibly damaging and can be life-threatening. The most common internal injuries include ruptured spleens, lacerated kidneys, and liver damage.
Spinal Cord Injuries
These are among the most severe truck accident injuries that can lead to paralysis. Spinal cord injuries often require lifelong care and can profoundly impact the victim’s quality of life.
Victims can sustain severe burns if a truck accident causes a fuel tank to explode, resulting in a fire. Burns can lead to disfigurement, scarring, and significant pain and suffering.
In some cases, truck accidents can sever one’s limbs. This happens if the crashing vehicles catch the victim’s limb during the accident or the subsequent wreckage pins the victim’s extremities. Amputation is a life-altering injury that requires extensive rehabilitation.
Sadly, truck accidents can sometimes result in the death of one or more individuals. When this happens, families of truck accident victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver or the trucking company. This type of lawsuit allows families to receive compensation for the loss of their loved ones, including funeral expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
If you or a family member were in a truck accident, it’s essential to seek legal help as soon as possible. The Personal Injury Center has the resources to help you get the compensation you deserve. We fight for your rights and help you seek justice by referring you to the most appropriate lawyer for your case.
How is Compensation Calculated?
After an 18-wheeler or motor vehicle accident, you may wonder how much compensation you can get. Settlements for accidents involving large trucks, cars, and other motor vehicles are based on several factors, including the following:
The Severity of Physical Injuries
The more severe the injuries, the higher the settlement will be because the victim incurs medical expenses and may also be unable to return to work. To receive significant compensation, you need extensive medical documentation detailing the injuries you’ve suffered. You can even recover damages for the scars and disfiguring injuries you’ve sustained in a truck accident.
The insurance company often tries to downplay the severity of injuries, claiming that some of them existed before the accident. If there’s disagreement about your injuries, it’s important to conduct an independent medical examination (IME) to get a second opinion. Your truck accident lawyer can help you arrange an IME with a qualified doctor to get the evidence you need to support your claim.
The Cost of Medical Treatment
Your settlement will also be based on the costs of your medical treatment and expenses, such as hospitalization, surgeries, medication, and rehabilitation. If you haven’t yet completed your treatment, your lawyer can estimate the future costs of your medical care.
You should keep all documentation of your medical treatment, including medical bills and receipts. This will help ensure you’re compensated for all your medical expenses.
If your injuries caused you to miss work, you might be able to recover lost wages, which include the salaries you’ve already lost and the wages you’ll lose in the future. To recover lost wages, you must provide documentation, such as pay stubs and tax returns. Your lawyer can help you to figure out the amount of lost wages you can recover.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to economic damages, you may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering. Such noneconomic damages will compensate you for the physical and emotional anguish you have experienced as a result of your injuries.
To figure out the cost of your pain and suffering, your lawyer will look at the severity of your injuries and the impact your injuries have had on your life. However, there are limitations to noneconomic damages. For example, in Texas, noneconomic damages from pain and suffering are capped at $250,000.
Loss of Consortium (Loss of Companionship)
If you’re married, you may also be able to recover damages for loss of consortium. This type of noneconomic damage will compensate you for the loss of companionship and intimacy you have experienced as a result of your injuries.
To calculate the loss of consortium, your lawyer will look at the severity of your injuries and the impact your injuries have had on your relationship.
In some cases, you may also receive punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for negligence. However, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s misconduct was particularly egregious.
The best way to ensure you receive a fair settlement is to hire an experienced 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer. They will evaluate your case and help you and your loved ones receive the compensation you deserve.
Why You Need Representation for Trucking Crashes
FMCSA oversees the trucking industry and has put regulations in place for truck drivers and trucking companies. These regulations are designed to help prevent accidents and ensure truck drivers are adequately trained and qualified to operate their vehicles.
However, these regulations are often violated. When trucking companies or truck drivers breach these regulations, they may be held liable for any accidents or injuries they cause.
Trucking companies have an entire team of lawyers, investigators, and insurance adjusters whose job is to limit the amount of money they have to pay out after an accident. It’s best for you to work with a truck accident lawyer who can level the playing field and fight for the compensation you deserve. Here are the reasons why you need representation:
Trucking Companies Often Deny Responsibility for Accidents
Even when it’s clear that their driver was at fault, trucking companies often deny responsibility for an accident. They may try to blame the driver, say that the accident was unavoidable, or claim that their driver was not at fault. An experienced lawyer will know how to counter these tactics and hold the trucking company responsible.
Trucking companies often get teams to accident scenes minutes after the accident to investigate and alter the site. You need a lawyer with an excellent track record on your side to help you study the accident and collect evidence to support your claim before it’s altered or destroyed.
Truck Collisions Involving 18-Wheelers Are Complicated
A truck collision is often more complicated than any other car accident because many parties may be held liable for the accident. These cases require understanding complex concepts in various fields, including physics, chemistry, industry-specific ideas and principles, driving standards, and economics.
These concepts must be applied to the specific facts of your accident to prove that the commercial driver or trucking company was at fault for the crash. Working with an 18-wheeler accident attorney will give you the best chance of success.
It Requires a Lot of Effort to Obtain the Compensation You Deserve
Trucking companies and their insurance providers often try to take advantage of their victims by providing them with a lowball settlement offer. They may also drag out the accident claims process to get victims to accept the lower settlement.
Truck accident attorneys know how to negotiate with the trucking company and their insurance provider to get you the full and fair settlement you deserve.
How To Find Representation After a Truck Collision
Personal injury attorneys handling cases involving truck accidents usually offer a free consultation to discuss your case. This is an opportunity for you to learn about the attorney and for the attorney to learn more about you and your accident. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the attorney you choose to represent you.
The following are some of the factors to consider when choosing a truck accident attorney:
The Attorney’s Experience Handling Similar Truck Accident Cases
You want to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours. Make sure the lawyer you choose has significant experience litigating truck accident cases.
This experience indicates that the lawyer has the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully handle your case. This way, you can be confident that the attorney knows how to navigate the complexities of your case and has a successful track record.
The Attorney’s Resources
Cases involving truck accidents often require extensive resources to investigate and litigate. You want to work with a personal injury attorney with the resources necessary to successfully handle your case from start to finish. This includes access to accident reconstruction experts, industry experts, medical professionals, and other resources that can be used to build a strong case.
The Attorney’s Trial Experience
The lawyer you choose must have significant trial experience so that you can be confident that the lawyer will be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. Trucking companies and their insurance providers are often more likely to offer a fair settlement when they know the attorney they’re dealing with is prepared to take the case to trial.
Most personal injury lawyers who handle truck accident cases work on a contingency fee basis. The attorney only receives a fee if they recover compensation for your injuries. This arrangement allows you to obtain experienced legal representation without paying any fees upfront.
Get a Referral for a Trucking Accident Attorney Today
If you were recently involved in a truck accident, you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next. You may be wondering how you’ll pay your medical bills or how you’ll support your family while you’re out of work. Talk to an 18-wheeler accident lawyer to get the help you need. An experienced truck accident lawyer will answer your questions, help you understand your rights, and explain the next steps to take in your case.
Call The Personal Injury Center today to schedule a free consultation so we can get you in touch with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers. We’ll evaluate your case without any charge and help you understand your legal options. You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
FAQs About an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
What does a truck accident lawyer do?
A trucking accident lawyer is a personal injury attorney who represents people who have been injured in accidents involving trucks. These lawyers have the experience and resources to investigate and litigate these complex cases, and they can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
How long after a truck accident can I file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is different for every state. For example, in Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident. If you don’t file a claim within this period, you’ll be barred from doing so.
Why are truck accident cases more complicated?
Truck accident cases are generally more challenging than other personal injury cases because there are typically multiple parties involved. The truck driver, the trucking company, and the truck’s insurance company may have some liability in the accident.
Sometimes, manufacturers of a truck’s parts can be liable if it’s determined to have been defective. In addition, these cases often involve complex issues of federal and state trucking regulations and may require testimonials from experts in the trucking industry to prove liability.