Semi/Commercial Truck Accidents
Due to their massive size, semi and commercial trucks can be the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Since semis and commercial trucks tend to weigh 30 times more than a passenger vehicle, an accident between a large truck and a passenger vehicle is more likely to result in the injury or death of the occupants of the smaller vehicle. In 2015 alone, 3,986 people were killed in large truck accidents. Of these fatalities, 66% of them were driving a passenger car, and 17% of those killed were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists. These numbers are staggering, and they have been increasing in recent years.
Victims of these horrific accidents are often not at fault for the crash. Rather, they are innocent victims of reckless drivers or mechanical issues with the truck. These accident victims deserve compensation for the injuries they suffer, and the families of deceased victims deserve compensation, as well. Victims and their families will have the best chance of receiving this compensation if they hire a personal injury attorney, like Swenson and Shelley. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney can help victims and their families receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
Common Causes of Semi and Commercial Truck Accidents
When a semi or commercial truck causes an accident, there can be many reasons for the crash. In some cases, the driver of the truck may be to blame. In others, the failure of brakes, tires, or the engine may be at fault. The cause of the accident will be a determining factor in how a lawsuit for semi and commercial truck accidents will proceed. No matter what has caused the accident, the victim deserves to be compensated. So, whether the accident is caused by a person or mechanics, an attorney will be able to seek the proper compensation to help the victim, or their family, recover owed damages from the accident.
When a truck driver fails to follow the rules of the road, everyone they pass is in danger. Distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, and many other factors can contribute to a crash. Often, when driver error is to blame for a crash, the results are devastating. Since distracted driving, driving intoxicated, and speeding all contribute to a decreased reaction time, injuries and fatalities are much higher in these circumstances.
The braking system in a semi or commercial truck is very different than those in passenger vehicles. The air brakes in these large trucks are specially designed to stop these very heavy pieces of machinery. When these essential pieces of equipment fail, the resulting accidents can be horrific. Often, a truck with brakes that fail will end up running into stopped cars or rolling over. These accidents are likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Everyone has seen the remnants of a large truck tire on the side of the road. These long strips of tread are evidence that a semi or commercial truck has lost one of its many tires. While trucks can usually get to the side of the road before losing a tire causes an accident, sometimes the truck loses control. Additionally, a piece of tire that falls off a truck can cause a serious accident. This may occur when the tire strikes another vehicle, or when the tire lies on the road and becomes a hazard.
Compensation Available for Semi and Commercial Truck Accident Victims
A semi or commercial truck accident can cause many hardships for the victim and their family. In a non-fatal accident, the resulting injuries can have devastating effects on the victim. These injuries may stop the victim from being able to work, or enjoy life, as they normally would. For these injuries, the victim should receive compensation to help ease their suffering and restore some semblance of normalcy. After fatal accidents, the victim’s family can sue on behalf of the victim. Whether it is the victim or the victim’s family filing the lawsuit, they will have the best chance of receiving what they deserve if they hire a reputable attorney.
Long hospital stays, rehab, tests, prescription drugs, and other medical expenses, can accumulate after a semi or commercial truck accident. Even if the victim has insurance, these costs can lead to insurmountable debt. The victim of an accident should never be responsible for the medical expenses incurred as the result of an accident. Rather, the person or entity to blame for the accident should cover these costs. The right personal injury attorney can make sure these costs are not left to the victim.
Life after suffering an injury from an accident can be life-changing. For some, it may be impossible to ever return to work again. When injuries sustained result in the inability to work, there is no way for victims to earn a living wage. Losing a source of income is devastating, and it would put most families into poverty. No victim should ever have to worry about not being able to earn a living wage. Rather, the person or entity at fault should make sure they receive the money they would have made from their job.
Pain and Suffering
The emotional and mental anguish that results from a semi or commercial truck accident can be devastating. These unseen scars are things the victim will carry for years, if not forever. PTSD, depression, anxiety, and many other conditions from the trauma of a crash can be debilitating. Victims with these invisible, but very real, injuries should receive compensation for their difficult struggle.
When a person is tragically killed in a semi or commercial truck accident, the family of the victim can seek compensation on behalf of their loved one. The money to cover medical bills and final expenses should never fall on the shoulders of the victim’s family. Also, if the victim has dependents they provided for, those dependents should be reasonably taken care of financially.
Assigning Fault After a Semi or Commercial Truck Accident
The biggest question in cases of semi or commercial truck accidents is the question of blame. Deciding who is responsible for making the victim or their family whole after an accident can be difficult. There are many possibilities when deciding who should provide compensation for a victim. The driver, trucking company, or other drivers, may be responsible for providing money owed. Once the cause of the accident has been determined, and the party or parties at fault have been decided, an attorney can proceed with the case and get the compensation the victim deserves.
There are many situations in which a truck driver could be at fault for an accident. If driving errors, as mentioned above, are not the cause of the accident, there are a few other things drivers may do to cause an accident. If a driver is driving under the influence, without proper rest, in dangerous conditions, or any other number of violations, they have made an irresponsible choice which caused the accident. When these irresponsible actions result in injury or death, the driver must be held responsible for giving compensation.
If the truck that caused the accident was not independently owned, but, rather, was a truck owned by a trucking company or other business, the business will often have to pay the damages. This is because businesses have something called vicarious liability. This means they are responsible for an employee’s accidents during normal business operations.
Sometimes, the driver of the passenger car and the driver of the truck are both innocent, when it comes to a semi or commercial truck accident. This can happen if another vehicle on the road forced either the passenger vehicle or the truck to cause the accident. Vehicles that merge unexpectedly, ride in blind spots, or drive too aggressively can easily cause an accident between a semi or commercial truck and another passenger car. When another party is responsible for the accident, they should be the one to be sued for compensation.
Utah Laws for Semi and Commercial Trucks
There are laws in every state that are in place to help prevent semi and commercial truck accidents. For the most part, these laws and regulations are the same across the country. However, state to state, some of these laws can vary. In Utah, there are many specific laws which aim to make the roads safer, especially when it comes to large trucks. When these rules are followed, the chance of injuries or fatalities from truck accidents decreases. When these rules are not followed, the victims of these accidents can, and should, sue for compensation for the injuries they sustained. In these instances, victims should contact a personal injury attorney to seek the compensation they deserve.
Some Utah laws regarding semi and commercial truck drivers include:
- Truck drivers may not drive for more than 11 consecutive hours
- After 11 hours, drivers must have 10 hours of rest
- All drivers must have a recent physical that has medically cleared them for driving
Actions to Take After an Accident
The moments after a semi or commercial truck accident can be some of the most overwhelming moments in the victim’s life. Though these times may be difficult, there are some important things that should be done after a semi or commercial truck accident. By completing these important steps, such as seeking medical attention, documenting the scene, and finding an attorney, the foundation of the case will be much stronger.
Seek Medical Attention
The first thing any victim should do is seek medical attention. The injuries from semi and commercial truck accidents can be extensive, and, even if injuries aren't immediately apparent, there could be underlying injuries. By having an extensive medical evaluation, and being treated for any injuries, victims will be more likely to recover from their injuries. Victims planning on filing a suit after an accident should keep a record of all medical documents. Any hospital bills, test results, doctor’s orders, and medical documents should be saved for use in the lawsuit. Having a record of which injuries were sustained and what treatment was received will be very beneficial when seeking compensation.
Document the Scene
Though this would be difficult for a seriously injured victim, victims who are able to document the scene should do so the best they can. Taking pictures of the accident, noting the time of day, noting the weather, finding witnesses, and documenting any other important aspects of the accident is very important. By doing this, even if the scene changes, there will be evidence of the accident that will help to win a lawsuit.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney
Trying to file a lawsuit without representation, especially in the case of a semi or commercial truck accident, can be very difficult. Insurance companies must be dealt with, legal paperwork must be filled out, and there are many guidelines and proceedings to be followed that would be difficult for someone who is not an attorney. Having a personal injury attorney will help victims get what they deserve while they focus on their recovery, not paperwork.
Hire Swenson and Shelley After a Semi or Commercial Truck Accident
Victims of semi or commercial truck accidents will need a talented personal injury attorney to seek the compensation they deserve. We can help victims to build a case, follow the important steps after an accident, and be awarded the compensation they deserve. The destruction of a truck accident does not have to derail the victim's entire life. With Swenson and Shelley, victims can get back to living the way they deserve as quickly as possible. Our aggressive approach to all our cases, and our experience getting victims what they deserve, mean victims can rely on us for all their personal injury legal matters. For victims of semi or commercial truck accidents, contact Swenson and Shelley, St. George, Utah personal injury attorneys, today.