Statistics published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that the number of injury crashes involving large trucks and buses rose dramatically between 2009 and 2017, increasing from 112,000 to 116,000 in 2017. In addition, there was a 40 percent increase in the number of fatal crashes between 2009 and 2017.
While a portion of those increases can easily be attributed to more 18 wheelers and other trucks being on the road, the important statistic is that truck and bus accidents per million miles increased significantly in recent years, with a 6.8 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 alone.
That means the odds of someone being involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle are higher now than at any time in the past decade. It also means those hurt when a private passenger vehicle is struck by a much larger commercial vehicle will need an 18 wheeler accident attorney at Hadley Law Firm.
Victims Who Need an 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney Suffer a Variety of Serious Injuries
Because of the huge size and weight differences between passenger vehicles and large commercial vehicles, 18 wheeler accident attorneys report clients who experience a variety of serious injuries. Many victims never fully recover, and some will die as a direct result of their injuries. The most common injuries resulting from truck accidents include:
- Broken bones. It’s common for truck accident victims to suffer one or more broken bones. Those injuries take months to fully heal, which means victims cannot engage in their normal activities during that period.
- Lacerations. Serious lacerations are painful and leave lasting scars that serve as constant reminders of the accident. In some cases, blood loss leads to other issues, or death.
- Spinal cord injuries. It’s almost routine for victims of a collision with a semi to suffer spinal cord injuries and even paralysis. Occasionally, the seriousness of a spinal cord injury may not be immediately apparent, meaning it’s vitally important for accident victims to obtain medical attention right away to rule out this type of injury.
- Internal injuries. The forces involved in a collision often leave victims with serious internal injuries. Injuries to the spleen, liver and kidneys are common and require prompt medical attention to avoid serious complications.
- Open and closed head injuries. Because there are several types of head injuries that occur during accidents, it can be difficult to diagnose an injury. That means even a serious head injury may not be immediately identified after an accident. Again, it’s always important to seek medical attention to identify or rule out injuries.
Regardless of the type of injury, prompt care is always required. Once a victim receives care, contacting an 18-wheeler accident lawyer for advice is strongly recommended.
Defining Responsibility for an 18-Wheeler Accident
After any accident, it’s always important to determine who is at fault. Determining responsibility for even minor traffic accidents can be complicated, and the task becomes far more difficult following an accident involving large commercial vehicles. While a victim’s first inclination is to blame the truck driver, there are other parties who could be responsible.
A truck accident lawyer will always examine the circumstances surrounding the accident to identify any parties who could share responsibility for the accident. Because the laws are complex, it’s possible for more than one party to be held responsible for damages. Some of the parties who could be held responsible for the 18 wheeler accident include:
- The driver. In the majority of cases, the driver will be held at least partially responsible for the accident. Inattentive driving, speeding, fatigue and drug use are common causes of accidents. While some of these issues are easily verified, others are more difficult to prove.
- The driver’s employer. It’s common for employers to push drivers beyond acceptable levels. That means drivers may feel pressured to drive even when they are tired or ill. When that type of issue can be demonstrated, the employer may also be held at least partially liable for the damages resulting from an accident.
- Truck manufacturers. Historically, 18 wheeler accident attorneys have included truck and trailer manufacturers in legal actions when equipment defects are deemed to be responsible for an accident. This type of liability isn’t common, but it does occur.
- Maintenance providers. When technicians responsible for maintaining trucks and trailers fail to find problems or perform repairs improperly, they can be held responsible for a victim’s injuries and associated damages. Truck accident attorneys will explore this possibility if there is any indication an equipment failure contributed to the accident.
- Warehouse personnel. While drivers are often responsible for supervising the loading of their trailers, there are many times when drivers are not present during the loading. If that is the case, and improper loading is identified as a contributing factor during an accident investigation, the shipper may be liable for damages.
Because every accident is different, the truck accident attorney will carefully explore all possible factors contributing to an accident. After that investigation, the attorney is better able to determine the best course of action to recover damages. It’s common for more than one person or entity to share responsibility.
Expert 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer at Hadley Law Firm can help Determine Damages
- Medical expenses. Since many truck accident victims will require extensive medical care, the costs for that care can be enormous. Doctors’ fees, hospital care and emergency transportation are all costly. In addition, ongoing physical therapy and future medical expenses must be considered.
- Lost wages. It’s bad enough that an accident victim must recover from serious injuries. It’s even worse when their source of income is shut off. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer will work with the client to evaluate the amount of income lost and add that figure to the damage settlement demand.
- Pain and suffering. No one likes living through a long and painful recovery. Worse yet, many accident victims will be forced to endure some degree of pain resulting from their accident forever. It’s only fair the victim be compensated for that suffering.
- Lost future earnings. Accident victims are frequently unable to work at their chosen profession as a result of disabling injuries. When that happens, the truck accident attorney will compute the value of the victim’s lost earning capacity and seek reimbursement for those damages.
Depending on the specific circumstances, victims of truck accidents may also be entitled to other forms of damages. The commercial vehicle accident attorney will explore all options to ensure a client is fairly reimbursed.
First Step Should be to Contact Truck Accident Lawyer
After an accident, it’s always a good idea to contact a truck accident attorney like the experienced team at Hadley Law Firm for advice. Even if a victim’s injuries appear to be minor, it’s important to obtain legal advice before any discussions with insurance company representatives. Because significant damages generally result from truck accidents, victims should never risk their financial security by making decisions without legal advice.
After a victim contacts an 18-wheeler accident lawyer, the attorney will evaluate the events surrounding the incident to determine what steps should be taken next. At that point, the accident victim will have a realistic idea of what to expect as the case proceeds.
Going to Court Isn’t Always Necessary
In the majority of cases, claims related to truck accidents will settle out of court. That means victims won’t generally be forced to endure even more stress as they seek a fair settlement. The expense of going to court is high, and few insurers want to lose additional money by forcing the issue.
But there are times when the insurer refuses to settle or multiple parties share some degree of responsibility for a truck accident. In those instances, it may be beneficial to take the case to court rather than settling for less than the victim is reasonably entitled to. The truck accident lawyer will discuss all the pros and cons of going to court with the victim before moving forward
Don’t Expect an Immediate Settlement
A truck accident claim will not normally be settled quickly unless the damages are relatively minor. If a victim has suffered serious injuries, it’s also important to determine the extent of any permanent disability before settling a claim. That doesn’t happen quickly. Instead of rushing a settlement, it’s best to take sufficient time to understand all the ramifications of the accident.
When large amounts of money are involved, the insurer will also delay the process at times. That’s another reason to work closely with a truck accident attorney. The attorney will better understand the process and push for the best settlement possible.
Been in an 18 Wheeler Accident? Contact Hadley Law Firm Now
If you or a loved is a truck accident victim, now is the time to contact Hadley Law Firm for help. There is too much at risk to trust the at-fault driver’s insurer will offer a fair settlement unless you have legal representation. Don’t risk your financial future. Contact us for advice.