If you have driven on a major highway, you know what is like to contend with trucks on the road. Trucks are larger, heavier, and more difficult to maneuver than standard motor vehicles. Many trucks require special training to be able to operate them. Accidents involving trucks result in greater property damage, injuries, and fatalities than accidents involving just motor vehicles.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, every year in the United States, there are more than 500,000 accidents involving trucks. The most serious of these accidents usually involve large trucks—what you might refer to as “18-Wheelers,” “Tractor Trailers,” “Semis,” or “Big Rigs.” According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a large truck is defined as “any medium or heavy truck, not including buses and motor homes, with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds.” These can be commercial and non-commercial vehicles.
Of the 6,756,000 motor vehicle accidents that occurred in 2019, more than 164,000 of them (2.4%) involved a large truck. Accidents involving large trucks result in approximately 5,000 fatalities every year. Pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists account for about 15% of those deaths. However, the truck accidents with the most fatalities are those that involve collisions with passenger vehicles. Of all the vehicle occupants who died in two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle in 2019, 96% of those killed were occupants in the passenger vehicles.
What Are the Factors that Contribute to Truck Accidents?
In general, accidents involving large trucks tend to be more catastrophic, with greater fatalities, simply because of the size and weight of the trucks. However, there are many factors that contribute to fatal truck accidents. Here are some of the most common causes of fatal truck crashes:
- Driver fatigue. The most common cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Many truck drivers drive long distances for extended periods of time without proper rest. Although licensed truck drivers are subject to many regulations applicable to the trucking industry, some of which restrict the number of hours a truck driver may drive without rest, too often, drivers feel pressured to violate these rules to make timely deliveries. When drivers exceed the “hours-of-service” limitations on driving, they easily get tired, fall asleep at the wheel, or have reduced reaction time. This often leads to increased accidents and fatalities on the road.
- Driver errors. Many truck drivers violate standard driving safety rules, just like so many drivers of motor vehicles do. Things like exceeding the speed limit, distracted driving, and unsafe or risky driving habits often lead to highway accidents and fatalities.
- Mechanical defects. Large trucks are used extensively on long trips to carry heavy cargo and often experience frequent mechanical defects or failure over time. To make matters worse, truck drivers and trucking companies often do not inspect or maintain their vehicles as often as they should. When mechanical failures occur, they often lead to dangerous conditions on the road and, ultimately, a fatal accident involving another vehicle.
- Alcohol/drug use. Traveling such long distances for such extended periods of time can be taxing not only on the trucks but on the drivers, both physically and mentally. The trucking industry is notorious for alcohol and drug use by some drivers, in part, because of the demands of the job, especially when long hauls of heavy cargo have delivery deadlines. Many drivers rely on drugs, alcohol, or other stimulants to cope the stresses and demands of the job. This often leads to fatal accidents on the road.
- Poor driver training. Because of the high demand for more drivers, many trucking companies do not provide adequate training to drivers. Adding to this problem is the often-deficient background checks and driving-history policies and practices that employers have in place. Too often, drivers are either improperly trained on the vehicles they are driving or are unqualified to drive to begin with because of poor training or a deficient driving record. When these go unchecked, fatalities result.
- Drivers’ inexperience with routes. Another common cause of truck accidents is the drivers’ unfamiliarity with their routes. When driving an unfamiliar route, drivers can become distracted looking for directions or may be unfamiliar with turns and proper speed limits when negotiating those turns and road conditions. This often results in collisions with other vehicles or trucks running off the road.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
Because truck accidents usually result in greater injuries and damages, injured victims of truck accidents often recover much higher settlement awards. There are several factors that lead to higher settlements in truck accident cases. These include:
- Greater property damage. Because trucks are bigger and heavier than motor vehicles, they produce more damage when they strike motor vehicles in an accident. Even a minor accident with a truck can cause major damage to your vehicle. The more damage to your vehicle in an accident, the greater the compensation you may receive.
- More significant injuries. In most large-vehicle accidents, the injuries sustained are more serious. Often, physical injuries from truck accidents can be permanent and involve:
- Brain Injury
- Permanent neck, back, or disc injury
- Loss of limbs
- Long-term pain and suffering
More significant injuries generally result in greater medical expenses and rehabilitative costs.
- Long-term recovery. More significant injuries often take longer to heal and often do not heal completely. Serious injuries often require:
- Numerous medical procedures
- Long-term rehabilitation
- Extensive therapy or counseling
- Long-term treatment
Because significant injuries can require long-term treatment and ongoing medical care, which often can last for the rest of your life, truck accident settlements can include the expenses for these long-term damages.
- Loss of income. Because truck accident injuries tend to be more serious, more victims suffer loss of income and reduced earning capacity for longer periods of time. These considerations can increase the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive from a truck accident settlement.
- Pain and suffering. Significant and long-term injuries generally include increased pain and suffering because of the more significant impact they have on your life. You are entitled to be compensated for the pain and suffering you sustain after a truck accident.
What Steps Can I Take to Reach a Fair Settlement in a Truck Accident Case?
Receiving compensation for your injuries in a truck accident case is not easy. There are several things you must prove in order to be compensated for your injuries. These include:
- Fault. To be compensated for your injuries in a truck accident, you must show that the cause of the accident was the result of someone else’s negligence. This could include:
- The truck driver. The driver could have been negligent in operating the vehicle by driving while intoxicated or fatigued, or by exceeding the speed limit, overloading his or her cargo, or carelessly operating the vehicle.
- The trucking company. The trucking company that employs the driver could be negligent by not conducting a proper background check, failing to properly train the driver, or failing to adhere to federal regulations regarding the operation or maintenance of its vehicles. Even if the trucking company was not, itself, negligent, it could be “vicariously liable” for its driver if the driver was negligent in performing his or her job.
- The truck manufacturer. Even if the driver or the trucking company was negligent and contributed to the accident, the truck manufacturer, or the manufacturer of any of the truck’s parts, could be negligent if they installed faulty parts or equipment on the truck that contributed to the cause of the accident.
- Damages. It is not sufficient just to show that another party was at fault in your accident. You also must show that you sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Although this may seem obvious, it is not always easy to demonstrate injuries. Even if you can show injuries, you also must show that your injuries were the result of the other party’s fault, and you must show the value of your injuries. This will determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.
Proving fault and damages can be complicated and difficult. Here are some steps you should take to ensure that you are able to prove fault and the value of your damages in your truck accident case.
Consult with an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident cases can involve many factors, may include numerous parties who may be at fault, and may result in a wide range of serious injuries. All of these may be different for every truck accident victim. The most important thing you can do to protect your claim and ensure a fair settlement in your truck accident case is to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney, like those at Foster Wallace, LLC.
The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, have years of experience handling all kinds of truck accident cases. Foster Wallace attorneys know the trucking industry and the many complex regulations that apply to it. They are experienced at dealing with trucking companies and insurance companies that defend against claims like yours. You need an experienced legal team to:
- Investigate the facts of your case
- Collect relevant evidence
- Determine fault
- Assess damages
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Litigate your claim in court, if necessary
Truck accident cases are detailed and complicated. They require extensive investigation and complex negotiations. You don’t want to handle these critical aspects of your case by yourself, especially while you are trying to recover from your injuries. Not having an experienced truck accident attorney can jeopardize your ability to reach a fair settlement. It is critical to have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side.
Collect as Much Relevant Evidence as Possible
Proving fault and injuries requires collecting as much evidence as possible. This generally includes two kinds of evidence:
- Evidence relevant to the accident. To prove fault, you need evidence showing what may have caused the accident. Your attorney will need to investigate the accident scene and collect evidence that may include:
- Photos of the vehicles involved
- Photos of the accident scene, including:
- Road Conditions
- Traffic signals
- Traffic patterns
- Weather conditions
- Construction areas
- Police reports
Collecting relevant evidence of the accident scene helps you to negotiate with the insurance companies. The more evidence you have to show fault, the more likely the insurance company will be to settle your case. However, collecting this type of evidence can be difficult and time-consuming. An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to collect all the relevant evidence you need to prove that the other party was at fault and ensure a fair settlement.
- Evidence relevant to your injuries. To prove injuries, including medical expenses, long-term disability, loss of income, and pain and suffering, it is imperative that you keep accurate and detailed records of all of your injuries, as well as all of the expenses and costs associated with your medical treatment. This will require that you obtain comprehensive and detailed medical records from the hospital, doctors, treatment providers, therapists, counselors, and follow-up care providers, as well as employment records from your employer. Your ability to collect and maintain all of these records can greatly affect your ability to reach a fair settlement.
The truck accident attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, know exactly what records you need to prove your injuries and can help you make sure you have all the relevant evidence you need to negotiate with the insurance companies and secure a fair settlement in your case.
Negotiate with the Insurance Companies
When you are trying to recover from serious and long-term injuries sustained in a truck accident, it can be very difficult to pay your medical expenses and the associated cost of care for your long-term rehabilitation and continued medical treatment. This can be especially difficult when your injuries have caused you to be out of work, lose income, and suffer a long-term loss of earning capacity. The stress of this can cause you to want to settle your case as quickly as possible so you can start paying your extensive medical bills. The insurance companies know this and will offer you a low settlement that does not compensate you for all the damages you have suffered. This is what the insurance companies are counting on. But the Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, won’t let this happen.
Your personal injury lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC, will make sure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. They will respond aggressively to the insurance companies and hold them responsible for the cost of your injuries. Your Kansas City based personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, will collect all the evidence you need right from the start of your case and will know how to use that evidence to put the insurance companies on the defensive and hold them responsible for all the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are more inclined to settle your case fairly when you have experienced truck accident attorneys like Foster Wallace, LLC, fighting on your side.
Let the Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC Protect You in Your Truck Accident Case
Trucks are dangerous. Truck accidents result in greater injuries and fatalities, especially for passengers in motor vehicles. This is why the trucking industry is closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as the respective Departments of Transportation in each state. And this is why trucking companies and truck drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover the fatalities, injuries, and other damages that result when you are involved in a truck accident.
The Kansas City, Missouri personal injury attorneys at Foster Wallace, work tirelessly to know the trucking industry and all of its regulations. They are experienced at investigating the cause of truck accidents and determining who was at fault. They negotiate aggressively with insurance companies and fight for your right to receive a fair settlement.
The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC are ready to serve you. We will not hesitate to investigate every aspect of your case to identify all of the parties responsible for your injuries and recover all of the compensation you deserve.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City truck accident you should speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.