What are my legal options if a semi-truck hit me?
If a semi-truck has recently hit you or your loved one, you must be wondering what the legal process to sue is? Let us guide you about your options and what you can do in this scenario.
A semi-truck accident differs from a passenger vehicle, because it can cause more serious injuries than being involved in a normal car accident.
A forceful semi-truck collision can leave a person traumatized and dependent on lifetime care. On top of that, rising mental therapy and medical bills can bring a person to the brink of financial ruin.
If you were recently involved in a semi-truck accident and wish to sue the truck driver, it depends greatly on the circumstances. If the accident resulted in serious injuries for you, pursuing legal action such as taking the help of a personal injury lawyer like Acadia Law Group, might be the best course of action for you.
You can either sue the negligent semi-truck driver or settle the matter with the driver’s insurance company, if you don’t wish to go to court.
You also have a third option to file multiple lawsuits in a worst-case scenario, such as losing a loved one or your capability to return to your career due to catastrophic injuries.
What dangerous truck driver behaviors can trigger accidents?
Some actions or potential behaviors adopted by many truck drivers can also act as a catalyst, triggering accidents. Such as:
- Over speeding.
- Tailgating a vehicle (driving close to the car in the front).
- While turning or changing lanes, not bothering to follow signals.
- Ignoring the blind spots before merging.
- Distracted driving, such as using a cellphone to text or call while driving.
- Drunk driving, or driving under the influence of drugs or fatigue.
Some of these semi-truck accidents, such as those caused by drunk driving or under the influence of drugs, are punishable by law.
These accidents cannot be called negligence by the truck drivers, as they would also face criminal charges and are liable for truck accident claims.
Accidents caused by semi-truck driver negligence
When a truck driver loses control of the truck, it can put everyone at the risk of catastrophic injuries, be it passengers or pedestrians, due to its size and weight.
Negligence can be caused by the truck driver, their employer, or both. It is easy to figure out who is the at-fault driver in some situations. However, in other cases, more than one party can be held liable for the commercial truck accident.
The truck driver or their trucking company might be held responsible under the concept of respondeat superior.
Other drivers and truck manufacturers may also be involved in the cause of the accident. However, large trucking accidents can be prevented by avoiding dangerous truck driver behaviors.
A trucking company must follow certain obligations to avoid liability in a semi-truck accident. Such as:
- Conducting thorough background checks on truck drivers. A semi-truck driver must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In case the fault of the accident lies with the truck driver, their license might be revoked.
Drug & alcohol test
- As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the truck company must hold drug and alcohol tests on all truck drivers. The maximum BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) level to drive a vehicle is typically 0.08 percent.
- But for a driver holding a CDL, it is lower at 0.04. So, even a few drinks can make the commercial truck driver lose control of their truck and exceed the BAC level.
Fixing mechanical faults in the trucks
- Fixing mechanical faults and checking the fleet of trucks to determine if the vehicles remain roadworthy. Sometimes, the accident happens due to the truck manufacturer’s faulty components, so the truck must be thoroughly checked before each journey.
Suspending the driver who doesn’t follow the rules
- Suspending the truck driver immediately who violates laws, the FMCSA rules, and doesn’t come up to the mandatory requirements.
Training the truck drivers not to over-speed
- Train the semi-truck drivers not to over speed. Many truck drivers are paid for the journey per mile, so they might try to over speed to reach their destination soon and transport another load. Or they might be in a hurry to deliver the load quickly and return to their families soon.
Accidents caused by trucking company negligence
The trucking industry often faces a shortage of drivers as many older ones approach the retirement age. Many young ones also don’t want to be away from their families for more extended hours, so the company has little way of attracting new drivers.
The pressure to meet delivery demands has the trucking company quickly fill the vacant positions by ignoring many necessary requirements. For example:
- Not conducting a background check for drivers for prior violations and criminal records.
- Not providing sufficient training.
- Neglecting truck maintenance.
A semi-truck crash often happens due to the trucking companies not following the Federal regulations about providing the drivers with mandatory off-duty hours. In this case, the fault of the accident lies solely with the company.
Follow mandatory hours-of-service
According to the studies conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS, commercial trucks drivers who drive for more than 8 hours consecutively are twice more likely to be involved in semi-truck accidents.
Trucking companies must follow Federal Regulations regarding mandatory hours of service. These hours are mandatory, and if not followed, it can result in drowsy driving for the truck drivers.
Many truck drivers face pressure to meet delivery demands, and lack-of-sufficient sleep can put them at the risk of causing a truck accident involving multiple vehicles.
Under the Federal Regulations, a semi-truck driver cannot drive more than 11 hours after ten consecutive off-duty hours. They are not allowed to drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 successive days and must have 34 consecutive off-duty hours before coming back for a new 7-8th day on-duty period.
Furthermore, a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of the shift must also be provided to them by their trucking company.
What steps to follow if you are hit by a semi-truck?
After you’ve been involved in a truck accident, the last thing you would want to do will be to pursue semi-truck accident cases against liable parties. Because not all drivers are independent, the accident might be due to the trucking company’s fault.
Suppose you’ve sustained no physical injuries except property damage. In that case, you can still collect evidence for the police report and contact a semi-truck accident lawyer such as Acadia Law Group, to file a claim for the liable party.
Take photos or videos of the accident scene, the damage to your property, debris, and skid marks at the scene. Also, take notes from witnesses and jot down the driver’s CDL license, contact, and insurance policy number.
Moreover, document as much as possible because as the days go by, your memory of the accident will fade, and the trucking company might try their best to prove you wrong.
Seek the help of medical professionals
If you’ve sustained injuries, keep a journal of your consultation with medical professionals throughout your stay in the hospital. Document what the doctors say about your health and keep receipts of medical bills with you. In addition, get a copy of your medical record.
Contact your own insurance company
Contact your insurance company firsthand about your truck accident case. Will they cancel my policy or raise the auto insurance rate? You might be worried about how they will receive the news of your accident. Contacting them will clear your doubts.
If there is more than one liable party, your lawsuit might be complex, and there might be negligence involved from the Government agency’s side.
So hiring a personal injury attorney is the best course of action that you can take. They will contact your insurer themselves.
Hire an experienced truck accident lawyer
Once you’ve figured out which party is responsible for the semi-truck accident injuries, you may want to file a lawsuit for personal injury. Or prepare an insurance claim and negotiate the case for a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If there is no loss of life in a semi-truck accident except for property damage and some minor injuries sustained, people might think there is no need to seek legal representation.
But only your legal team can determine whose the at-fault party is, can review the legal aspects of your personal injury case, and define which course of action to take.
Your semi-truck accident attorney will represent you and file a personal injury claim on your behalf. They will also negotiate maximum compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Once you seek legal representation, they can give you a free case evaluation of your truck accident case so you can figure out whether they can handle your accident lawsuit or not.
A personal injury lawyer will review your medical records and accident report and determine whether to file a liability claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Once figured out, they will begin the negotiation process for settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer.
If you sustained significant injuries in the accident and could not document the evidence, your personal injury lawyer will handle it themselves. It includes:
- Gathering evidence about the circumstances that led to your accident.
- Collecting witness testimonies.
- Consulting professionals to seek the extent of your injuries.
- Conducting additional investigation.
- Serving as your legal representative in the truck accident lawsuit or trial.
In case the company refuses to give a fair settlement, your truck accident lawyer can take your case to court to seek compensation for the damages.
Although a court case might take a long time than an insurance claim, it may be the best option if the insurance providers refuse to give fair compensation.
However, there is a statute of limitations or deadline to file a truck accident lawsuit, and they vary by state.
The statute of limitations is for four years in Utah, so it’s a pretty big window to file a personal injury lawsuit and get medical treatment without worrying about the deadline.
However, your truck accident lawyer will cover all legal issues, from trucking and traffic laws to the statute of limitations.
How is the semi-truck accident compensation calculated?
You will receive settlement by determining two factors:
Economic damages include medical expenses, both current and future, and lost wages. If you’ve lost the capability to earn in the future, it will also be considered a loss, and you can get compensation for that.
Non-economic damages include mental pain and suffering and the loss of consortium, which is compensation against the benefits that your family lost due to your accident.
What’s the difference between a liability claim and a lawsuit?
A liability claim is a demand seeking compensation for damages incurred, whereas a lawsuit is a legal action decided in a court where one party sues the other for compensation.
What causes semi-trucks accidents?
Multiple factors may cause semi-truck accidents, such as truck company or truck driver negligence, road condition, weather, the action of other vehicles, or technical fault in the truck.
Why is the black box essential if a semi-truck hits another passenger vehicle?
In case a semi-truck accident caused damage to all vehicles involved, a black box will determine what and who contributed to the crash. This could help the victims seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurer against semi-truck accident injuries and vehicles damage.
However, the truck company may resist showing the black box evidence but can be legally compelled.
Accidents involving semi-trucks can be devastating whether you are a pedestrian, a passenger car driver, or driving an 18-wheeler. The loss of a loved one, injuries, and piling medicals bills, can leave you in trauma and with a financial burden that is not yours to bear. But you don’t have to pay for the negligence of someone else.
Acadia Law Group PC consists of professional semi-truck accident attorneys who will build a strong claim case for you so the at-fault party’s insurer is unable to take advantage of you. Don’t worry. We will give a free case review and won’t take a dime unless you get compensated.