Being injured in a truck crash can cause a lot of problems both physical and financial. The Utah Truck Accident Guide was created by Swenson & Shelley Injury Attorneys to help residents obtain maximum compensation.
If you have been seriously injured due to a commercial vehicle wreck, you need to contact the experienced Utah truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley right away. 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 for 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 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.
Frequently Asked Truck Accident Questions
How Do I Find the Right Attorney?
You’ve been involved in a crash with a semi-truck or another commercial vehicle, it’s critical that you find the right attorney. You need somebody who’s got the experience; not just experience of being an attorney, but of actually doing truck injury cases. The regulations that exist on that are extensive. You need somebody who knows and understands those. You need somebody who deals with that on a regular basis and understands how to deal with the regulations.
These big trucking companies also have a lot of money and are willing to fight their cases. It’s critical in these cases that you get somebody who is willing to go to trial, knows how to go to trial, and knows what to do when they get there. The insurance companies also know if your attorney will go to trial. That greatly affects your settlement value in the case.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid Making?
I’m often asked, “What are some of the common mistakes that people make when they’ve been injured in a trucking accident in the state of Utah?” One of the most common mistakes are when people do not seek the medical care that they need early on. If you have been injured, it’s important that you get in to see a doctor as quickly as you can so that you can begin to make a full physical recovery. Two, we see people not follow the recommendations of their doctors often. If you have seen a doctor and that doctor has recommended that you do something, it’s important that you follow that doctor’s instructions.
Third, people will not get an attorney involved in a case early enough. An attorney can step in early on and can organize your case and help you avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that people often fall into. Finally, it’s important that you hire an attorney who is a trial attorney and understands the trucking regulations and the trucking laws. Trucks have different rules and regulations that they’re required to follow. It is important that the attorney that you hire understands what those rules are and can hold the trucking companies accountable.
What Do I Do After My Accident?
If you have been seriously injured in a trucking accident in the state of Utah, there are a number of things that I would recommend that you do right away. First, you need to seek medical care for any injuries that you have sustained. If you are injured, you need to get in to see a doctor who can help you understand what those injuries are and what you need to do to fix those injuries.
Second, you need to make sure that you follow any of the recommendations from your doctor. If the doctor instructs you do something or instructs you to come back for a follow-up appointment, it’s important that you do those things. Third, you need to hire an attorney early on in the process. An attorney can step into the case, help organize it, and help you avoid some of the common mistakes and some of the pitfalls that people fall into.
Fourth, it’s important when selecting an attorney that they be a trial attorney. A trial attorney is one that is willing to take your case to a jury verdict. The insurance companies know who the trial attorneys are and they treat those cases differently and offer more value and compensation to cases that are run by trial attorneys.
How Much is My Case Worth?
If you’ve been injured in a truck crash in the state of Utah, you may be wondering what the value of that case is. Those cases can be very large because trucks in the state of Utah weighing 80,000 pounds going 80 miles an hour can cause a lot of damage. That’s a recipe for some serious injuries. It’s difficult to tell somebody upfront what the value of the case is. You have to see what medical procedures are required, how well somebody heals from those procedures, how well somebody is able to recover to get back to work, and how it impacts their ability to participate in the things that they love doing. Those are all things that are very critical in determining the value of a case and that’s very hard to do at the beginning.
Is a Truck Accident Different Than a Car Accident?
I’ve been asked by clients, “What’s the difference between handling a trucking case and a regular car crash case?” The code of federal regulations has extensive regulations dealing with truck drivers, trucking companies, and individuals who lease space from the truckers. It gets very deep and complex with the number of parties that can get involved in that. The regulations are very extensive. It’s critical to know when those regulations are violated, who violated them, and what the effect of that is.
You need to deal with somebody who has extensive experience in dealing with those regulations and going after the trucking companies to preserve your rights.
Do I Need to Provide a Recorded Statement?
In the state of Utah, if you’ve been involved in a truck crash, you may be asked by the insurance company to give a recorded statement. I generally recommend that you not give a recorded statement without talking to an attorney first.
The insurance companies train their adjusters how to ask questions to get the answers they want. They try to reduce the value of your claim by indicating that you’re not hurt or you’re not as hurt as you claim to be. They also talk about whether you’re at fault or if they can get some fault put on you.
It’s not a good idea to talk to them and you’re not required to do so. Give an attorney a call first.
Should I Take the First Settlement Offer?
If you have been injured in a commercial truck crash in the state of Utah, we would never recommend taking an insurance company’s first offer. What we have experienced is if an insurance carrier is nervous about a case, they’ll come in and try to settle a case quickly and for as cheap as they can. What we have also experienced is, when an insurance company makes an initial offer, there is always room to negotiate. They are willing to negotiate and continue to offer more money in an attempt to settle your case. Unless the insurance carrier is offering the full value of the policy, we would never recommend accepting an insurance company’s initial offer.
How Long Will This Case Take?
One of the biggest factors that goes into determining how long your case will take is what your injuries are and how long it is going to take for you to recover from those injuries. We need to understand that we can only settle them one time. If we settle them before we understand what your injuries are, we could be leaving a lot on the table as far as the medical care that you need and the time of compensation that your case deserves.
Once you have made a recovery from your injuries, we gather up the medical bills and the records, and we use those to negotiate with the insurance company to try to get fair, full compensation for your injuries. Most of the time, we are successful in doing that. However, in the event that the insurance company is unwilling to offer full and fair value to your case, we would then file litigation.
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.