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Article by ELitelawyerproject.com
OUR TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS HAVE HELPED VICTIMS THROUGHOUT MICHIGAN
Because the transportation industry, including commercial trucking, must adhere to regulations from both state and federal governments, pursuing a truck accident lawsuit can be confusing at best and overwhelming at least. Those who have sustained serious injuries due to a wreck involving a large commercial truck often find themselves intimidated by teams of attorneys and insurance agents from a large trucking corporation. A trucking accident is not handled the same as a crash involving two passenger vehicles in regards to the legal process. With more than 12% of fatalities on U.S. roadways involving commercial trucks, more needs to be done to help the victims understand the claims process. The intention of this article is to explain types of truck accidents, common causes, types of injuries, possible liable parties to the claim, federal oversight of truckers and the trucking industry, and important tips to help you establish a successful claim and not get “run over” in the process. It will soon become apparent why the most important thing you can do to have a successful personal injury claim, is to bring truck accident attorneys on board in the earliest stages possible.
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Accidents that Involve a Commercial Truck
Quite obviously there are multitudes of ways in which a truck accident can take place. One of the more common occurrences involves a smaller passenger car and a commercial truck. Although safety features that are now standard in passenger vehicles are more advanced than ever before, the reality is a passenger vehicle is not designed to withstand collisions with a semi-truck. The big rig can weigh over two hundred and sixty times more than the car, and the results are in most cases extremely devastating. An 18-wheeler is also long and cumbersome, especially when hauling a double trailer. For a truck of this size to turn a corner it must take a relatively wide approach. In some cases the semi will hit another motor vehicle in the process, or if they don’t swing wide enough to make the turn, the trailer may swing onto the sidewalk. This puts cyclists and pedestrians in a very dangerous situation. Trucks that run daily local deliveries are searching for specific addresses to deliver their packages; this is very distracting and often times results in a distracted driving accident. In fact recent statistics show that distracted drivers cause 3 times more vehicle accidents than drivers that are drunk or under the influence of drugs. Truck accident lawyers have experience with these types of truck accidents, and can advise you on a sound course of legal action appropriate for your unique situation.
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Most Likely Causes of a Truck Accident
There are numerous reasons a truck wreck can occur. In some cases the trucker commits a negligent act. Forms of negligence might include breaking posted speed limits, traveling at an unsafe distance (otherwise known as tailgating), driving too fast for current road conditions, driving while texting or other forms of distracted driving, driving drunk or driving while high on drugs, etc. The USDOT requires truck drivers to keep logs related to service hours and mileage, etc. Many times a truck driver will keep two sets of books, in order to drive longer hours than are legally mandated. An exhausted truck driver can turn a tractor-trailer into an 80,000 pound weapon.
Other causes include equipment defects or failures. Semi-trucks are now advanced pieces of highly technical equipment and they have many critical systems that might fail. System failures might include the hydraulic breaks, the trailer attachment mechanism and more. Also, tires can blowout, or chains or straps that secure a load might break. Whether or not these failures occur due to manufacturing defects or due to the fact they were not properly maintained, inspected and replaced, are all important elements in truck accident litigation.
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Truck Accident Injury
It comes as no surprise that the driver of the semi in a car truck accident rarely sustains serious injuries. Of course that is not the case for the passengers and driver of the car. Injuries commonly associated with a truck accident range from minor abrasions and cuts, to scrapes, deep lacerations, broken bones, open and closed head injuries, traumatic brain injury, abdominal trauma, limb amputation, burns, whiplash and neck injury, and even wrongful death. In addition to physical injuries, many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome as well. Truck accident lawyersunderstand the scope and consequences of these injuries and related physical, emotional and financial costs.
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Parties that may be Partially Liable
Many professional truck drivers work under a contract labor contractual agreement for trucking companies and are in most cases a separate entity. When the truck company is in need of a driver, they hire the independent trucker and allow them to drive their own truck. In the case of truck driver negligence, it may still be possible to sue both the owner-operator and the trucking company that hired him or her. Other parties that may hold partial liability, depending on the circumstances, include the truck manufacturer, parts manufacturer, trailer manufacturer, shipper, lessee, lessor, and government entity in charge of road maintenance, owners of private property and more. Determining all liable parties in a truck accident injury claim is a complex process and requires the skills of truck accident lawyers.
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The Commercial Trucking Industry safety regulations are governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). A division within USDOT called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates everything from the hiring process, to licensing to ongoing training requirements of professional truckers. Many of these guidelines include driving tests, drug testing, continuing education and more. Because of this federal oversight, the commercial truck accident claims process is handled in a different manner than an accident between two cars. This is a critical reason to have experienced legal representation. Truck accident lawyers know exactly how to protect your rights.
An interesting side note pertains to the fact that many commercial trucks now have black boxes similar to the ones used in airplanes that record and store critical stats before, during and then after a truck wreck. The data from this box might significantly strengthen your claim. Your attorney will know to request the information.
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Important Do’s and Don’ts in the Aftermath of your Truck Accident
Generally the insurance agent for the trucking company will make an attempt to contact you and offer some form of settlement shortly after the accident. It might sound like a significant amount of money at that time, but you most likely have not seriously thought through how much your injury and losses are going to cost you over a lifetime. Medical bills past and future, pain and suffering, lost earnings, future earnings and more must be taken into account. They may also make an offer to have your vehicle fixed right away. Don’t accept the offer without first talking to your attorney, as they might be attempting to get rid of important evidence. It is not wise to speak with insurance agents or attorneys for the defendants without your own attorney being present. They are skilled interrogators and you may inadvertently hurt your case without the sound advice of your attorney.
Another important tip regarding your truck accident is to document the accident as soon are you are able and while your memory is fresh. Write down everything you can think of including time of day, vehicles involved, weather, visibility, road conditions, and more. If your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, get photos of everything you can, or ask a member of your party or witnesses to do so. Law enforcement officers will write up an accident report and include pictures, which your attorney will use, but often times they miss an important element. The information you gather and write down will be used by specialists who re-create accident scenes, expert witnesses, etc. who may use it to testify in your behalf if your case goes to trial.
The most important tip is to call truck accident lawyers today and let them get to work while time is of the essence!
The Elite Lawyer Project personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in helping victims of a personal injury accident.Call 877-382-1188 today to speak to our personal injury associates for a free case review.