In 2019, truck accidents led to 4,119 deaths in the US. Unfortunately, most deaths involving semi-trucks or large trucks are passenger vehicle occupants.
The same report states that in 2019:
- Only 16% of these deaths were truck occupants
- 67% were car or passenger vehicle occupants
- 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists
Trucks often weigh 20-30 times more than passenger vehicles, so small vehicles involved in the crash have to face devastating consequences. In other words, if you were involved in such an accident, you are likely to suffer fatal injuries. That means you will need a semi-truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Before we explore when you should hire a truck accident lawyer, let’s first understand what causes these crashes.
What Causes Semi-truck or Large Truck Accidents?
The causes of accidents involving trucks or buses are the same as car crashes. But the big difference is in the impact. Trucks being considerably bigger can cause significantly more damage and fatal injuries. It’s no surprise deaths are more prevalent in semi-truck accidents.
The most common causes of trucking accidents include:
- Brake Problems
Brake failure or problem is the most common cause of truck accidents. Nearly a third of these accidents are a direct result of brake problems. The reason could be old and faulty brakes or incorrectly installed new brakes.
The law requires truck owners to keep their vehicles in excellent working conditions at all times. So, in such a semi-truck accident, you can hold the manufacturer or the service company responsible for maintaining the brakes liable.
However, only a qualified semi-truck accident lawyer can tell you who is accountable for your accident. And they will need to go through your case file first. Naturally, most truck accident victims want to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
- Traveling Too Fast for Road Conditions
The second most common cause (23%) of devastating semi-truck accidents is traveling too fast for road conditions. It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to over speed, even on not-so-friendly road conditions.
Truck drivers often face the pressure to reach their destination at a particular time or lose their job. Most drivers buckle under this pressure and drive over the speed limit in a desperate attempt to complete their haul before time.
Unfortunately, driving trucks at break-neck speeds causes:
- Small passenger vehicles to swerve off the road, resulting in fatal crashes
- Reduces truck driver’s reaction time, resulting in head-on collisions that are more devastating than anything else
- The truck to veer into side lanes or roadside buildings, pedestrians, vehicles, wreaking havoc on life and property both
- Driver’s Fault
Driver error is also one of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents. Human errors usually result from:
- Lack of training
- Over speeding
- Failure to check blind spots
- Unfamiliarity with the road conditions
- Driver confusion
- Slow reaction time
As you can imagine, it is often difficult to determine the extent of human error in a truck accident. The good news is that an experienced semi-truck accident lawyer can help you understand who is at fault. Once your attorney studies your case, they’ll be able to define the right course of action.
It is a well-known fact that negligent trucking companies often push drivers to work very long hours. This contributes to fatal road crashes. Many truck drivers can barely manage a few hours of sleep between shifts.
Research shows that driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the U.S. legal limit. Worse still, you are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued as your reaction time reduces and road attention wanes.
Sadly, drivers get compensated in a way that they continue to work longer, often going without sleep for hours. They may also drive in poor weather conditions to complete the haul for some extra cash. This significantly increases the risk of fatal crashes.
When Should You Hire a Semi Truck Accident Lawyer?
Ideally, you should hire a semi-truck accident lawyer whenever you are in an accident, no matter how minor. But there are a few situations where you simply can’t survive without a competent and compassionate attorney on your side.
Here are a few situations:
- You Are Injured
Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem; you need to consult a semi-truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Utah is one of the few no-fault states. This means your own insurance company will cover your medical bills until you exceed the PIP (Personal Injury Protection) limit, which is usually $3000.
However, when the expenses exceed the PIP amount, you may have a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance provider. As semi-truck accident injuries are often devastating and expensive, you might need to file a claim with the other party. That’s why you need a skilled attorney on your side from the get-go.
Your lawyer can help speed up the claims process. That, in turn, helps get prompt treatment and recover quickly. So, you have to call a semi-truck accident lawyer right away.
- You Are Facing a Long Recovery
Complicated injuries are an inevitable part of most semi-truck accidents. You may need long-term treatment, such as physical therapy and frequent doctor visits. You might have to spend considerable time in a recovery room.
All of this also means you may not be able to work for a while. Worse still, if your injuries result in permanent disability, you may not be able to work at all.
As sad as it sounds, the insurance company will always try to downplay your injuries. They will argue that you don’t need long-term care. Some insurance companies hire their own doctors to devalue your claim.
When it comes to fighting for rightful compensation, you will need a seasoned semi-truck accident lawyer on your side as they know how to deal with insurance companies.
Plus, this allows you to focus on your recovery, which is more important than anything else. Let your lawyer look out for your financial interests while you focus on regaining your physical and mental strength.
- The Insurance Company Wants to Talk
Insurance companies are quick when it comes to settling semi-truck accident claims. Don’t be surprised if you get a call while you are still in the recovery room. But be careful as your insurance adjuster will never call to catch up or enquire about your health.
Insurance companies do not shy away from using sympathy to undercut potential claims. Whenever the insurance company calls, it is to:
- Ask you questions that’ll undermine your claim
- Get you to sign a medical release
- Get you to record a statement
- Get you to settle for far less than you deserve
The bottom line is you shouldn’t even talk to the insurance provider without your truck crash lawyer present. Semi-truck accident lawyers have years of experience dealing with such insurance company tactics. They can hold down the fort for you while you recover. And in the end, they will help you negotiate a settlement you deserve.
- Your Claim Is Disputed
Sometimes, there could be a dispute whether the other party (truck driver, trucking company, maintenance company, etc.) was at fault. Should the dispute arise, you will need a seasoned semi-truck accident lawyer fighting to assert your rights.
Remember, even if you are partially responsible for the accident, it is still possible to recover damages for your injuries. However, you will need to speak with a competent attorney immediately.
- Your Case Goes to Trial
Yes, most semi-truck accident claims do settle. Trials are often time-consuming and expensive, which is why insurance companies tend to avoid them. However, your case may still go to trial, depending on the circumstances.
If your case goes to trial, you will need a reliable semi-truck accident lawyer with enough trial experience.
Your attorney will help you:
- Collect relevant evidence
- Enlist expert witnesses to testify on your behalf
- File petitions and other paperwork on your behalf in the court
- Investigate and reconstruct the scene of the accident if required
- Deal with the insurance company on your behalf
- See your case to the conclusion
A semi-truck accident often leaves you with shattering mental trauma and physical injuries. It also forces you to spend a fortune on your recovery. That said, you are entitled to recover damages if you were in a truck accident. That’s why you are going to need a skilled, trustworthy semi-truck accident lawyer on your side. Ideally, you should hire an attorney regardless of the circumstances. But you will most certainly need legal help should you find yourself in one of the above five situations.
Were you or your family member in a semi-truck accident recently? Speak with our experienced semi-truck accident lawyers to see how they can help.
For more information, please schedule a consultation with us today.