A commercial truck accident is one of the worst vehicle accidents. Because commercial vehicles are often much heavier and larger than your car or even a full-size pickup truck, you could suffer severe to catastrophic injuries or even death in a commercial truck accident. Commercial trucks include tractor-trailer trucks, buses, ambulances, fire trucks, box vans, tow trucks, and other large vehicles.
Seeking compensation for a commercial truck accident is a complex process. Often more than the driver is liable for your injuries, which means dealing with several attorneys and insurance companies.
Who is Liable for Truck Accident Injuries?
The truck driver isn’t always the only person liable for your injuries. In some cases, the truck driver might not be responsible at all.
Those who could share in the liability for your injuries include:
- The truck driver
- The truck owner
- The truck lessor or lessee
- The trucking company
- A truck repair technician, if they do not work for the trucking company
- Truck inspectors
- Dispatchers who do not work for the trucking company
- The city, county, state, or other municipality in charge of road maintenance
- Someone in another vehicle if they cause the truck to wreck into you
- Truck manufacturers
Reasons for Truck Accidents
Truckers get into accidents because of:
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Medical emergencies
- Weather, including wind, rain, sun, snow, and ice
- Poor maintenance
- Incorrect parts installed or installed improperly
- Truck and trailer malfunction
- Inspectors that ignore or miss problems
- Dispatchers who “encourage” a trucker to get a load delivered on time, even if the trucker must violate the hours of service regulations or speed
- Poor road maintenance
- Other drivers who sideswipe or cut off truckers or those who sit in the truck’s blind spot when the truck turns
- Reckless and aggressive driving
- Driving too fast for conditions
Sometimes, a combination of people might be liable for your injuries. For example, if a third-party dispatcher tells the driver to get the load delivered on time or face the consequences and they crash into you after speeding, the dispatcher might share responsibility with the driver.
Commercial Truck Accident Injuries
The injuries in commercial truck accidents are often catastrophic or fatal because of the truck’s size. However, sometimes people could sustain minor injuries at lower speeds or from minimal contact.
Regardless of the severity of injuries, accident victims should always seek medical attention. Some injuries take hours or even days to manifest.
Truck accident injuries might include:
- Bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, and scratches
- Face and eye injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries
- Simple and compound fractures
- Crushed bones and crush injuries
- Internal injuries
- Chemical and thermal burns
- Ear injuries, including deafness, in accidents causing explosions
- Road rash
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Amputation of a digit or limb
Accident victims could also sustain secondary injuries, such as infections of open wounds from the accident or surgeries to repair accident injuries. The at-fault party is responsible for the additional medical expenses, pain, and suffering since the victim would not have suffered these injuries if not for the driver’s negligence.
The defendant is also responsible for accident injuries that exacerbate existing conditions. For example, if you have a simple fracture and the accident causes the bone to break further in the same spot, the at-fault party must pay for additional medical expenses and further pain and suffering.
Recovering Damages After a Commercial Truck Accident
You can recover damages in compensation after a commercial truck accident. In the case of two or more defendants, the attorneys or the court will determine the percentages of each defendant’s fault.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Accident victims can recover compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages have a clear monetary value, sometimes called special damages.
Most accident victims recover economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses: fees for surgeries, follow-up appointments, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, psychological therapy, occupational therapy, hand controls for your vehicle, wheelchair ramps, grab bars, handrails, widened doorways in the home, prescriptions, and ambulatory aids.
- Personal property loss, including your vehicle and anything of value damaged.
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, certain probate costs, and probate attorney fees and costs
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a clear monetary value. Those who lose a loved one in a wreck and those who suffer severe and catastrophic injuries usually recover non-economic damages. Generally, these damages remedy injuries or losses that are long-term or permanent, often causing disabilities that last longer than 12 months or result in death.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make life changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy family activities and events
- Lost use of a body part, such as an arm or foot
- Lost use of bodily function, such as your hearing, eyesight, or bladder control
- The inconvenience of hiring someone to do household chores, including but not limited to house cleaning, grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, and home repairs and maintenance
- Amputation of a digit or limb
- Excessive scarring and disfigurement
Why You Should Retain a Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer
Multiple defendants are not the only reason a commercial truck accident is complex, and the severe nature of victims’ injuries also makes these cases extremely complex. Additionally, insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to deny a claim.
Your attorney will investigate the accident and collect the evidence you need to prove your claim. The attorney will speak to witnesses, review medical records, and, if required, retain forensic investigators to determine who is at fault and expert witnesses to draft reports or testify about your condition.
When you have a simple fracture or a strain, doctors generally know how long these injuries take to heal on average, and they also know the approximate cost of treating these injuries. However, injuries such as spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries affect everyone differently. Two people could have the same damage, yet one may take a few months to recover while another never recovers.
These severe injuries make it difficult for your legal team to determine future medical expenses. Thus, your attorney works with several professionals, including doctors and therapists, to determine the approximate treatment you’ll need and the cost of the treatment.
Your attorney will also determine in-home health care or nursing home/rehabilitative care costs if your doctors believe you need them.
Working With Insurance Companies
The insurance companies are the most significant issue in getting a fair and reasonable settlement. While they should pay out fair and reasonable settlements, they rarely do without “prodding.” Instead, they look for reasons to deny claims.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. In their perfect world, they would collect premiums from their customers but never pay out a claim. Since this isn’t an ideal world, insurance companies must pay claims. Since the claims decrease profits—sometimes significantly—they will find any reason to deny claims.
We recommend not speaking to insurance companies at all, not even reporting the accident. They often entice injured people into talking about the accident. Everything you say might be the truth, but insurance representatives will twist your words and use them against you.
Another trick of insurance companies is admitting their client is at fault, then convincing you that the most they can pay is a fraction of the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are very good at convincing accident victims that insurance companies only owe a small amount, especially victims who do not realize they can recover more than just their medical expenses.
Insurance companies also know that it is difficult to gather enough evidence to prove your case, so they will offer you just enough to make it seem like they care and are paying you something fair.
The last thing you should worry about is recovering enough compensation to cover your damages, including lost wages and pain and suffering. You should be able to concentrate on your recovery. Hiring an attorney to handle the insurance company is a step toward your financial recovery and peace of mind.
Insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair and reasonable settlement when you have an attorney since they know that the attorney will not hesitate to take your case to court. It is expensive to litigate an accident case, and if the insurance company loses, it pays its high-priced attorneys plus your attorney’s fees and costs.
If you suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident, contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.