Semi-trucks are large and dangerous. They pose a huge threat to other vehicles, pedestrians, and property if sufficient safety measures are not taken when driving them. Automobiles such as cars, SUVs, or even pickup trucks pale in comparison when it comes to the heaviness factor. If a collision occurs, the smaller cars and its passengers are sure to be on the receiving end of the impact.
As experienced semi-truck accident lawyers in Utah, we’ve handled many cases involving negligent semi-truck drivers. If these drivers cause an accident, they not only incriminate themselves, but also the company they work for.
Semi-truck accidents in Utah aren’t unheard of. The risk of such accidents increases in the following situations:
- When there’s a huge number of trucks on the road, which is common when economic activity picks up
- During inclement weather, when the roads are wet or uneven and visibility is poor
- When truckers display negligent or risky behavior
- Failure to undergo specialized training where truck drivers learn to manage their vehicle during unforeseen hazards and risky driving conditions. This may result in the loss of the driver’s license, termination from work, and legal consequences.
In this post, we’ll find out more about what victims of semi-truck accidents in Utah can do in case of a collision. But before that, here are a few other considerations of such an accident.
Factors That Can Cause Semi-Truck Accidents
Certain driver actions and behaviors can increase the chances of a semi-truck accident in Utah. These include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Fatigue or lack of sleep
- Not using turn signals when turning or switching lanes
- Overlooking blind spots before turning
- Tailgating or driving too closely to the car in front
- Distracted driving behavior, such as texting or using other devices when behind the wheel
Some of the above actions are considered a violation of the law. For instance, individuals found to be driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol and causing an accident can be slapped with criminal charges. The injured party may file a lawsuit against the driver. Similarly, the negligent party can also face a personal injury case filed by the injured party to recover the cost of their injuries and related expenses.
Damages after a Semi-Truck Accident in Utah
Every semi-truck accident in Utah is different. To understand which and how much damages can be recovered following an accident, a semi-truck accident lawyer will consider the case facts and evidence. In most cases, compensation can be pursued for the following:
- Lost income or wages
- Lost future earning potential
- Medical bills (past, current, and future)
- Property damage or destruction
- Physical scarring and disfigurement
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and/or burial expenses, if a family member perished in the accident
Liability in a Semi-Truck Accident in Utah
Based on the specific circumstances of your case, a semi-truck accident attorney will establish liability and hold the driver accountable. They will also work to prove negligence and then negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.
Sometimes, multiple parties may be held liable in a semi-truck accident. These include:
A. The Truck Driver
While semi-truck and truck drivers are required to follow strict regulations, their carelessness can result in an accident. However, drivers often find themselves stretching their work hours to meet delivery demands, which means not getting sufficient rest/sleep, thereby increasing the likelihood of an accident. This is usually the result of:
- Lost vehicle control either due to fatigue, poor weather conditions, or improper loading of goods
- Distracted driving, such as using the phone, looking at the view, or simply zoning out when operating the vehicle
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Road rage or aggressive driving behavior
- Falling asleep while driving
Because of the enormous size of semi-trucks, even a small fender-bender can result in major damage and catastrophic injuries. If the driver’s negligence caused the crash, a Utah semi-truck accident lawyer can help victims hold them accountable so this kind of behavior isn’t repeated.
B. The Trucking Company
Apart from the semi-truck driver, the trucking company may be held liable. To establish fault, accident victims will need to prove that the semi-truck:
- Wasn’t loaded appropriately
- Did not comply with federal regulations
- Was being operated beyond the permissible number of hours
- Was lacking proper upkeep and maintenance
If the driver doesn’t carry insurance, but was employed full-time by a trucking company, the injured victim may sue the said company and seek compensation from their insurance carrier.
Trucking companies need to carry the right type of insurance. If they don’t, they’re still liable to pay victims for recovery of damages.
C. The Truck Manufacturer
Sometimes, a semi-truck accident may be the result of a mechanical failure caused by a faulty or dangerous part(s). This can be anything – from brake malfunction to an overheated engine.
An experienced semi-truck accident lawyer in Utah will investigate the case to determine whether or not the manufacturer can be held liable for the collision. If the manufacturer’s negligence is found to play a role, they may be sued by the victim.
D. The Government
A semi-truck accident in Utah can also be the result of poor roadways or other road maintenance issues that fall under the purview of a local governmental agency. There may be nothing wrong with the vehicle or the driver’s actions.
E. Other Vehicles
Other vehicles may also cause a semi-truck accident. For instance, a personal vehicle may skip the red traffic light, causing the incoming semi-truck to lose control and crash into the victim’s vehicle. In such a case, the victim can potentially seek compensation from the owner of the personal vehicle. A semi-truck accident attorney in Utah will know exactly how to determine liability in such cases.
Suing the Driver after a Semi-Truck Accident in Utah
Depending on the case investigation and the evidence discovered, a semi-truck accident lawyer will determine which party/parties can be sued by the victim. The ultimate goal of taking legal action is to force the insurance company to pay victims the compensation they need to cover their expenses.
Once the victim accepts a settlement from the liable party or their own insurance company, they may not be able to seek additional compensation or pursue legal action in the future. This is why, it’s crucial to consult with a seasoned Utah semi-truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a collision.
How a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
A qualified semi-truck accident lawyer can help you in several ways, including (but not limited to):
- Proving fault and establishing liability
- Accurately calculating economic and non-economic damages
- Discussing the victim’s long-term expenses with medical professionals
- Investigating the case and gathering sufficient evidence
- Negotiating with the insurance agencies to maximize compensation
- Holding the at-fault party accountable for causing wrongful death, if applicable
- Seeking punitive damages
- Taking the case to trial, if necessary and providing solid representation
The last thing that victims of semi-truck accidents in Utah need is the stress of pursuing a legal claim against the party that harmed them. However, it is important to hold at the at-fault party accountable for their negligence and obtain justice as well as fair compensation.
Remember, the outcome of an accident case depends greatly on the legal team handling the claim. That’s why, it’s always recommended to go with an attorney who has experience in handling semi-truck accident cases.
Carlson Injury Law routinely helps victims who have suffered serious injuries or lost a love one due to a semi-truck accident that wasn’t their fault. We work tirelessly to hold wrongdoers accountable and recover the compensation that victims deserve. Call us at (801) 845-4577 or fill out our online form to learn more.