What Should I Know About Truck Accidents?
As a Huntsville truck accident lawyer, Jeremiah Hodges handled a large truck accident case that caused a national trucking company to institute new safety policies to protect drivers. This lawsuit involved the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and emphasized what are known as the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The FMCSR control and regulate the interstate trucking industry, and they often play a part in accident investigations. Contact our experts at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. to discuss an accident in which you were involved. You deserve compensation for your pain and suffering, and you cannot trust the insurance company to do the right thing.
How Often Do Large Truck Accidents Occur?
Through 2017, there was a 12 percent increase in large truck accidents over a 10-year period. Large trucks seem to be everywhere on the road, but they account for only four percent of all registered vehicles in the United States. Even so, large trucks are involved in nine percent of all crashes. The size and power of these vehicles cause concern for drivers in Alabama, and you are wise to drive carefully near large trucks because they cause 145,000 deaths a year.
Passengers in other vehicles account for 72 percent of all deaths due to truck crashes. In addition, 10 percent of large truck deaths involve pedestrians or cyclists, and the final 18 percent occur inside large trucks themselves. Remember that 25 percent of all large truck crashes occur on interstate highways, whereas 50 percent occur on rural roads. Careful driving will protect you whether you are behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle or a large truck, and this is especially true during your commute. Note that 78 percent of all large truck deaths occur on a weekday.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
HOS rules were initially passed to prevent overworked train crews from causing accidents. The rules were applied to large trucks when the Interstate Highway System allowed drivers to handle long runs. Companies that do not abide by these rules are responsible for many of the following common causes of trucking accidents:
- Alcohol and drug abuse: Truck drivers who are overworked and underpaid might drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Stimulants help drivers complete long routes with little to no sleep, or self-medicating drivers may be impaired.
- Inadequate driver training or maintenance: Drivers must be trained properly, but some logistics companies do not satisfy driver safety and training requirements before sending out new employees. For example, drivers might have been instructed to use cruise control. If the driver falls asleep, their vehicle could continue to travel down the road at high speeds. Logistics companies also can save money by skipping maintenance appointments.
- Defective vehicles and/or parts: Trucks with defective parts or tires can fail at any time.
- Passing and speeding: Drivers are often forced to get to their locations in a short amount of time. Truck drivers who speed and pass passenger vehicles on the highway are more likely to crash when making these maneuvers.
- Distracted driving: Drivers may be distracted by their CB radio, cell phone, or dispatch office. Distracted truck drivers might also fall asleep at the wheel or experience impaired judgment on the road.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
- Internal injuries: You must seek medical attention after an accident. Internal bleeding is impossible to see, but a doctor can diagnose organ damage or internal injuries.
- Burns: First, second, and third-degree burns occur because gas tanks or flammable cargo can ignite at any time.
- Neck and back pain: Whiplash is a common injury among accident victims, and truck drivers might be injured if they make an emergency stop.
- Nerve damage: Your nerves may be damaged when you hurt your neck or back. Numbness and consistent pain can occur when your nerves do not function properly.
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis: Spinal cord compression, herniated discs, and/or broken vertebrae can occur during an accident.
- Broken bones: Your body may be jostled around or even thrown from the vehicle during a truck accident. Broken bones are common, and each broken bone could cause nerve damage, paralysis, or internal bleeding.
What Should I Do When an Accident Occurs?
Our team is proud to help victims and their families who have been injured due to the negligence of greedy trucking companies. Unfortunately, the executives in charge of these companies sometimes value profits over safety. If this has happened to you or someone you know, we are here to help.
When a truck accident occurs, people at the scene can help you, or a passenger in your vehicle can:
- Call the police. You need a police report for your insurance claim and/or lawsuit. Get the name and badge number of the responding officer and keep the report number for your records.
- Report the accident to your insurance carrier. Per your policy, you must report all accidents to your insurance carrier.
- Exchange insurance information with the truck driver. The driver’s company has insurance, and you need that information. You also need the driver’s name and phone number.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. The officer who writes your police report may not take pictures of the scene. You need as much evidence as possible for your claim.
- Ask for witness statements. If you can find witnesses, you should record their statements, along with a name and phone number.
- Keep your clothes and shoes. Your clothes and shoes will speak to any injuries you sustained, and you can use your clothing to corroborate your story.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Our firm welcomes the opportunity to represent clients and their families who have been involved in a truck accident. We will use all the evidence you provide, start our own investigation, and work on a fair resolution for your case.
What Forms of Compensation Can I Receive?
We understand that, in addition to recovery from such a traumatic event, you are concerned about maintaining your lifestyle, supporting your family, and managing your expenses.
You are entitled to all the compensation listed here:
- Medical expenses. Current and future medical expenses may be included in your lawsuit. Ask your doctor for a treatment plan that details any care you will need in the future.
- Lost wages. You were likely out of work after the accident, and you must recover the money you did not make during that time. If you lost your job or cannot return to work, you may cite your lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: You are entitled to compensation for the toll that the accident has taken on you and your family. Alabama allows for compensation when you lost your enjoyment of life, lost companionship or friendship, and/or experience emotional distress.
- Wrongful death: If someone was killed in the accident, the deceased’s estate may sue for wrongful death.
Alabama caps all municipal damage claims at $100,000 per incident. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant without creating a windfall for the plaintiff. Punitive damages are capped at three times the compensatory damage amount or $1.5 million, whichever is greater. If you receive $100,000 in compensatory damages, the court can award three times that amount in punitive damages.
What is Contributory Negligence?
Alabama is unique in that it uses contributory negligence to resolve insurance claims and civil cases. If the plaintiff is found to be even slightly to blame for an accident, they cannot sue for damages or receive insurance compensation. Our lawyers will work to ensure that you are proved to be completely innocent.
How are Wrongful Death Claims Filed in Alabama?
Wrongful death claims in Alabama cannot be filed by friends and family of the victim. When your friend or loved one has provided a will, the will creates an estate and an administrator. The probate court will assign an administrator, and that person may sue on behalf of the deceased’s estate. However, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death. You should file your insurance claim instantly, probate your loved one’s will, and avoid any delays.
Why Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Insurance companies may offer free legal counsel after an accident, but those lawyers work for the insurance carrier. These lawyers often force plaintiffs to settle quickly and take less money than they deserve. If you give a recorded statement to the insurance company, they can use that statement to deny you coverage or force you to settle faster than you should. Our lawyers work with clients to obtain the highest compensation award possible. You need a lawyer who is on your side, will guide you through this process, and help you deal with all aspects of your new life. Do not wait to consult a lawyer.
Huntsville Truck Accident Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Pursue Justice and Compensation for Injured Accident Victims
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a truck accident, contact the Huntsville truck accident lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. for guidance. Call us at 256-539-3110 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Located in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, we proudly represent clients throughout North Alabama, Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.