If you were seriously injured or lost someone you love, you’re facing a long and challenging road to recovery. Fortunately, you have options, and you have rights.
Sharing the road with 18-wheelers, tankers, and other large commercial vehicles can be nerve-racking. This isn’t because all truck drivers are careless or aggressive when they get behind the wheel. Most truckers are trained, cautious, and responsible. It’s the few who make reckless choices that make roads unsafe for the rest of us. It’s the trucking company executives who put profits over safety that are to blame for the thousands of wrongful deaths and catastrophic injuries that happen in the U.S. every year.
According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatal truck accidents in the United States was just over 5,000 in 2019. Over 100,000 people are injured in collisions with trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds in the U.S. every year. The vast majority of people injured in these collisions (about 75%) are occupants of other vehicles, not truck occupants.
For a person who has survived a crash with a large truck or a family that has lost someone they love in a collision of this kind, statistics bring little comfort. Answers are needed to shed light on what caused this horrific situation in the first place. Action must be taken to help a survivor and family rebuild and move on.
In this article, we’ll attempt to pull back the curtain on truck accidents, their causes, who’s responsible, and what you can do if you were injured or lost a family member in a collision with a semi or big rig.
Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
The hours, days, and weeks following a truck accident are confusing and frightening. They’re also crucial to protecting your health and asserting your ability to hold the at-fault party or parties accountable.
Here are a few helpful tips on what to do after a truck accident:
- Stay at the scene. It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident that has caused damage or injury. Unless you require emergency medical attention, stay at the scene to exchange information with the other driver/drivers. Call 911 if someone is seriously injured or the collision is blocking traffic.
- Gather information. If you can, take pictures of your vehicle and the truck. You can use your cell phone to capture images of your injuries and the scene itself. Get the contact information of any witnesses present and emergency personnel who arrive at the scene.
- Seek medical attention. You need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries, like whiplash, are not immediately apparent but can have a serious impact if left untreated. Tell your doctor what happened and follow his or her recommended course of treatment. You need to put your health first.
- Do not admit fault. A mistake frequently made after car accidents is to apologize or make statements that could be interpreted as admissions of guilt. Only a full investigation of the collision will reveal its cause. Do not say you’re sorry or say anything that could indicate that you caused the crash.
- Talk to an attorney. The trucking company—and even your own insurance company— are not interested in putting you first when it comes to your claim. They’ll try to lay the blame on you, offer a lowball settlement, or delay your claim. It takes a dedicated attorney to fight for the fair and complete recovery you deserve from the people or companies whose actions caused you harm. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to make sure your legal rights and interests are protected.
Truck Accident Investigations: Revealing a Collision’s True Cause
Every accident has a cause: a sequence of events that led to its occurrence. Revealing the cause of your collision is a crucial part of getting answers and maximizing your recovery. Your lawyer should work with investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, engineers, and experts in physics and trucking regulations to carefully analyze every event that led to a collision. This will determine what caused an accident and who is responsible.
Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Here in the U.S., we have the right to hold negligent companies accountable for causing harm to innocent people. We can file lawsuits in civil court to seek monetary compensation that helps survivors and families who’ve lost loved ones face more stable futures. We can expose misconduct to improve conditions for future generations. With that said, there are different parties that could be brought to justice after a truck accident.
The following are a few potential examples of at-fault parties:
- A trucking company that pushes drivers to stay behind the wheel far longer than they should, in violation of hours-of-service regulations.
- A loading company that improperly secures cargo or overloads a truck, making it difficult for the driver to maneuver.
- A truck driver who gets behind the wheel after drinking or taking illegal drugs or prescription medication.
- A truck driver who continues driving even in dangerous conditions, like snow, ice, or heavy wind/rain.
- A municipality that fails to uphold its responsibility to maintain safe roads, causing a trucker to lose control of his or her vehicle.
Surviving a truck accident is just the beginning. If you were seriously injured or lost someone you love, you’re facing a long and challenging road to recovery. Fortunately, you have options, and you have rights.