Semi Truck Accident Attorneys

People often refer to semi-trucks as tractor-trailers, big rigs or 18-wheelers. These large trucks come with a tractor unit (referred to as the cab) and one or more semi-trailers. Moreover, semi-trucks are often commercial vehicles transporting various types of cargo across the United States. 

However, due to their sheer size, semi-trucks can cause devastating consequences in an accident. Road users struck by a semi-truck may suffer significant property damage, as well as serious personal injury or even death.  

The most recent National Safety Council (NSC) statistics show that 4,842 fatal crashes in 2020 involved large trucks. Although this figure presented a 4% decline compared to 2019, it still showed an escalation of 33% since 2011. In these accidents, commercial and non-commercial trucks had a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds. 

When a truck driver is responsible for a commercial truck accident, victims may seek compensation from either the driver’s or the trucking company’s insurance provider. However, insurance settlements are not always fair, as insurance companies have a financial incentive to pay as little as possible to victims. 

The legal framework for semi-truck accidents is more complex than other automobile accidents. Therefore, getting a skilled truck accident lawyer can be crucial to establishing liability and receiving fair compensation for your injuries. Below, we outline all you need to know about semi-truck accidents and how our attorneys can help you receive the justice you deserve.

What Causes Most Semi-Truck Accidents? 

Semi-truck accidents, which often result in fatalities, happen regularly in the United States. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 5,601 deaths in the United States caused by large truck crashes, which is a 13% increase from the previous year. 

While many types of semi-truck accidents happen, the most common are trucks rear-ending or crashing head-on or side-on (also called T-boning) into another vehicle. Others are truck rollovers and jack-knifing, where the tractor or trailer loses traction with the road when the vehicle is slowing down, and the back of the tractor ends up at the front while the front still remains hitched (this causes the vehicle to resemble a jack-knife, which is a knife with a folding blade). 

Although several factors can cause a truck accident, we highlighted some of the most common causes below:

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Truck Driver Fatigue

Driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous. Truck drivers, particularly those operating commercial vehicles, can be among the most fatigued road users. They usually drive long distances with time constraints, incentivizing fewer rest breaks. Some of them go for more than 24 hours without sleep just to meet their quota or number of runs.

Fatigued truck drivers could drift from their lane and experience tunnel vision or lose sense of what’s happening in their periphery. Additionally, they can also go through microsleeps, which are sleep episodes that can last up to 30 seconds. These circumstances can lead to catastrophic effects, especially when paired with the inability to make the right decisions because of drowsiness.

Fatigue affects a driver’s reaction time, concentration, and motor skills, which increases the chances of causing an accident. In severe cases of fatigue, where the driver falls asleep at the wheel, the consequences can be cataclysmic if they collide with another road user at full speed.


Improperly Loaded Cargo

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides specific regulations on how cargo on commercial trucks must be loaded and secured. If the cargo is improperly loaded, it can cause a truck accident. 

If cargo isn’t loaded with the proper weight distribution, it can cause an imbalance in the truck’s center of gravity, which increases the likelihood of truck rollovers or jack-knife accidents. If cargo isn’t properly secured, it could move around during transit, which could cause the driver to lose control of the truck, or the cargo may even fall off and injure other road users.

FMCSA’s general cargo securement rules state that cargo most likely to roll around must be held down by a cradle, wedges, or chocks. Truckers should ensure that these devices don’t get loose while in transit. Additionally, they should put cargo items beside each other and follow the minimum limit for working loads. 

The combined load limit of any system used to secure items against rolling around must be at least half their total weight. Meanwhile, the minimum number of tie-downs depends on the weight and length of the cargo. At least one tiedown should be used for cargo that is at most 5 feet in length and weighs less than 1,100 pounds.

Inexperienced Truck Drivers

Truck drivers require particular skills and training to safely operate large vehicles, as driving a truck is drastically different from a small vehicle. Due to their size and the way their steering systems react, trucks need a much larger stopping distance than other vehicles. Moreover, they also have more blind spots, and the gear operation and electrical systems are more complex. 

An inexperienced or poorly trained truck driver can’t safely operate a truck. They also don’t know how to react to given situations, which can easily cause their vehicle to jack-knife, roll over or collide directly with a motorist or pedestrian.  

FMCSA has a Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate Program (SPE) for commercial motor vehicle drivers plying interstate routes. Even those with disabilities, such as missing limbs, can drive across state lines if they have this certification. However, they should also wear proper prosthetic devices and have the ability to safely maneuver a truck. 

The regulatory body tests truck drivers with off and on-road activities and will only grant certificates if the drivers complete the program. The FMCSA has given more than 3,000 SPE certificates to qualified truck drivers through the years. 

Distracted Truck Drivers

In any vehicle, driving distracted and without your total concentration on the road is extremely dangerous. Distraction can come in many forms, from changing the radio, texting, eating, or picking up a fallen object. 

Distraction is even riskier for truck drivers since their vehicles take longer to stop and can more easily cross the center line due to their size. When a truck driver gets distracted for even a few seconds, it can cause a devastating accident. 

According to NHTSA, distracted driving was the cause of the death of 3,142 people in 2020. 

Improperly Maintained Vehicles or Equipment Faults 

Truck accidents can also result from faulty, malfunctioning, or poorly maintained parts. Certain parts of the truck, such as the steering system, brakes, electrical circuits, and tires, are more prone to failures that may cause collisions. 

Several parties can be liable for truck accidents caused by equipment failure. A manufacturer or the distributor of a product can be liable if it is found faulty or defective. The person or company responsible for inspecting or maintaining the truck may be liable if the accident could have been prevented by proper inspection or maintenance. Additionally, a truck driver that knew something wasn’t working correctly with the truck but continued to drive it may also be liable.  

FMCSA has the Vehicle Maintenance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) that they use to establish how a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) ranks. They compare a truck with other motor carriers with the same number of inspections, crashes, or violations. This addresses the requirements to properly maintain a CMV and prevent overloading, shifting loads, and dropped or spilled cargo.

According to the regulatory body, proper maintenance includes, but is not limited to, checking that the tires aren’t worn out and making sure the reflectors are in working condition. Moreover, not properly securing cargo or driving a vehicle that didn’t undergo required repairs or has non-functional lights or brakes is a violation of BASIC. Semi-trucks with these problems are more likely to be involved in an accident. 

Suffering from any injury due to a semi-truck accident?

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Regardless of how your truck accident occurred, if another person is at fault, you need to find a skilled personal injury lawyer to help build your case. The Personal Injury Center will help gather more information about your truck accident case and refer you to the most suitable attorney. 

In successful cases, victims of truck accidents can receive compensation for a range of losses, including property damage, medical expenses for truck accident injuries, lost income, pain and suffering, and for the wrongful death of a loved one.

Let us help you pair up with a lawyer today. Get in touch with The Personal Injury Center team.

Why Is Getting a Truck Accident Lawyer Important?

Having a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side after a truck accident is crucial to establishing fault for the incident and for you to receive fair compensation. 

Although it’s possible to pursue a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer and accept a settlement offer, this is often far less than the victim would generally receive in court. An experienced accident attorney can help truck accident victims evaluate whether a settlement offer is sufficient. They can negotiate a better offer or take the case to court if the settlement offer is insufficient or the insurer denies liability altogether. 

Truck accident claims are more difficult to navigate than motor vehicle claims, making a skilled personal injury lawyer crucial for these cases. Below are a handful of reasons why having a lawyer on your side is particularly important following a truck accident. 

Trucking Accidents Can Cause Catastrophic Damage

Due to their weight and size, trucks can wreak havoc in an accident. A truck is capable of causing significant property damage to other vehicles, and in some cases, it can completely flatten cars or other automobiles. 

Motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists struck by a truck may suffer from a range of serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, fractures/broken bones, or internal organ damage. As previously mentioned, truck accidents can also result in death. 

Truck accidents, therefore, have a significant impact on the victim and their families, and may lead to extensive medical bills, loss of income, or the loss of a loved one. Since the consequences of these accidents are very severe, receiving compensation is very important. Not only does compensation financially assist victims, it may also offer them a sense of justice.

The Trucking Industry Needs To Follow Many Rules and Regulations

Truck accident claims are complicated by state and federal regulations. Truck operators need to follow stringent rules, as they use their vehicles commercially, and they have the ability to cause significant damage. 

The FMCSA regulates commercial trucks across the United States, dictating the types of insurance that trucks must hold, safety procedures, and maintenance expectations. For non-commercial trucks, the relevant laws of the state they operate in apply. If a trucking company or truck driver breaches these regulations and this breach caused the collision, they could be held liable. 

A lawyer must identify and interpret relevant regulations and determine how they may affect a truck accident claim. Therefore, you must reach out to one as soon as you’re involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer or another large truck.

Multiple Parties May Be Involved

Compared to other types of collisions, truck accidents will likely involve multiple parties. 

Certain types of truck crashes, particularly rollovers or jack-knifes, have the ability to affect a number of people, as multiple vehicles may be involved in the collision. Multiple claimants or victims can complicate the process for an injured party seeking compensation. Moreover, even if one’s injuries are grave, his or her claim may be lumped together with other claimants who may not have suffered serious injuries.   

As mentioned, multiple parties may be liable in a truck accident. These include the truck driver, trucking company, manufacturer, distributor, or government agency responsible for that part of the road. An attorney can determine the responsible party or parties and whether pursuing a case against multiple parties is beneficial. 

Identifying Damages Can Be a Challenge

Once someone is found responsible for the truck accident, he or she (or their insurer) is liable to pay compensation to the victims of the crash. However, the at-fault party is not responsible for all losses a person suffers after the accident. A truck accident must have been a “proximate cause” of the person’s loss or injury for them to receive compensation. 

In some cases, such as for direct injuries or property damage resulting from the crash, it’ll be clear that the cause of the loss was the accident. However, as the loss becomes more remote, such as for lost future income or for injuries that occur later down the line, establishing causation becomes more difficult. A skilled lawyer can prove the link between the accident and your loss by using relevant legal principles and, more importantly, can quantify these losses.

A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Develop the Best Legal Strategy

As with any legal case, adopting the right strategy is crucial. A poorly thought-out case strategy can increase the costs for a victim and delay the process of resolving the issue. This generally involves a sound legal research strategy, wherein your lawyer and his or her team will delve into all the documents, laws, regulations, and evidence relevant to your case.

A clear strategy is crucial to ensure truck accident victims receive fair compensation. A lawyer can establish whether any settlement offers provided by the at-fault party’s insurer are sufficient. He or she can also determine whether the victim would likely receive a better outcome by filing a truck accident lawsuit. This may be used as leverage to demand a higher settlement offer or may inform the at-fault party that the victim is willing to go to trial. 

Notably, the potential compensation a client may receive in court must be weighed against the risk of the case not going in the client’s favor. Lawyers should consider the possibility of the victim receiving less than the estimated settlement and the time, stress, and costs the court procedure can entail.  

We at The Personal Injury Center have the resources to help you in any ordeal. We have extensive access to attorneys handling personal injury claims and adopting the best legal strategies to suit each client’s case. Contact us today so we can partner you with a skilled lawyer upon your request.

Get Help Handling Your Semi-Truck Accident Case

Semi-truck accidents can be life-altering. You may suffer from serious injuries, significant property damage, or may have lost a loved one due to an accident. You don’t need the additional stress over which law firm or attorney you should pick and how the legal process works. 

The Personal Injury Center is here to take some of the stress off your plate and help you receive the justice you deserve after you were involved in a truck accident. We can pair you with an experienced truck accident attorney so you can rest assured knowing your case is in safe hands.  

We have access to lawyers who will fight your truck accident claim. They will update you at each step and ensure you receive the support you need during this difficult time. Whether negotiating with insurance providers or taking the case to court, the attorneys we refer you to will passionately advocate for you to receive fair compensation.  

Don’t wait any longer—schedule your free case evaluation with us today so that we can refer you to an experienced truck accident attorney.

FAQs on Semi Truck Accident Attorneys

Claiming compensation after you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident may seem daunting. You may wonder where to start or what to say to your lawyer once you have one. Lawyers have a duty to act in their client’s best interest, guide them through the process, and ensure that clients have all the information they need. 

That being said, you should ask your truck accident lawyer some important questions during your initial consultation. You should ask how much the lawyer estimates you could receive through an insurance claim versus if you went to court. This may inform the strategy you and the lawyer agree to and whether you want to proceed with your claim. 

You may also want to ask your lawyer what types of losses are deserving of compensation. Additionally, you might want to know what your lawyer thinks is the likelihood of success so that you have a clear expectation of the outcome from the outset.  

It’s also wise to ask your lawyer his or her fees. Although you can be compensated for these fees if your case is successful in court, they may not be part of an insurance settlement. 

According to the National Safety Council, Texas had the most truck accidents resulting in fatalities in 2020, with 643 deaths. California followed this with 398 fatalities and Florida with 344 deaths. 

The state with the fewest truck accident fatalities was the District of Columbia, with only one truck accident resulting in a fatality in 2020. Vermont followed this with four truck accident deaths and Hawaii with six.

The statute of limitations governs how long a person has to file a lawsuit for personal injury or property damage. Every state in the US has its own statute of limitations outlining the time frame in which a person must commence legal action. 

The time frames vary significantly between states. However, in most states, a person has three to six years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. The applicable time frames may differ depending on whether the claim is for personal injury or property damage.