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Checklist: What to Do if You Have Been Injured in an Accident

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 500,000 trucking accidents happen in the United States every year, with approximately 5,000 per year resulting in death. 

Large trucks are specified as trucks weighing an excess of 10,000 pounds and are controlled by the FMCSA, which was developed in 2000. The FMSCA was made to manage compliance with the commercial driver's license standards for drivers and carriers, consisting of but not limited to, the Hours of Service Regulations (HOS), which sets limits on the number of hours a truck operator can drive this risky equipment.

Truck operators, owners, and manufacturers are required to follow a vast variety of state and federal guidelines. Along with the HOS, the FMSCA's policies are comprised of how much weight a rig is authorized to haul and quality control in manufacturing and repair. In an occurrence where the plaintiff is not at fault, the possibility that the defendant violated a statute or ordinance is very probable. This is essential when it comes to the settlement since verification that a violation of a statute or other ordinance has occurred, increases the odds the victim has in winning their case at trial.

In order to understand what to anticipate following a trucking accident, it is necessary to establish the reason for the accident, the kind of accident that took place, injuries suffered in the accident, and who the responsible party for the accident is. Let's take a look at a few of the most common causes, types, injuries, and responsible parties.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents are especially scary because the chance that the result of the accident is death or drastic injury is more likely than a crash between two automobiles. Many accidents are preventable, however, a lot of the time are the result of driver error. Some common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Speeding and overtaking
  • Poor training and maintenance
  • Improper cargo loading

A familiar theme between all of the accidents noted above is that the main cause in all truck accidents is human error. Even though each accident has a different designation or name, the one variable that never changes is the person who is operating the truck. Negligence to follow rules of the road, carelessness to inspect the vehicle prior to being driven, and negligence to listen to one's body are all directly correlated to human error.

Common Types of Truck Accidents

It is important to remember that the composition of a truck is not the only determining part of what a "big truck" is. Just because it might not look like a standard 18-wheeler most civilians are used to seeing, does not imply that it is not classified as a big truck. The FMSCA classifies large trucks as trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs. When an automobile that weighs an excess amount becomes out of control, it is anticipated to cause catastrophic damages. By understanding the types of truck accidents and how they happen, drivers can make predictions of what may happen and possibly escape a horrific accident. Here are a few of the most common types of big truck accidents and how they happen:

  • Jackknife Accidents– one of the most typical kinds of truck accidents, which occur when a truck tries to make a sudden and violent stop
  • Rollover– much like the name, this happens when an operator attempts to overcorrect-- either when making an instant stop or attempting to recover after a tire falls off
  • Tire Blowouts– these are the most preventable accidents (and are solely dependant on the negligence of the operator and truck inspectors) and happen due to the abrupt and explosive bursting of a tire wall from extreme heat and wear
  • Underride Accidents– typically happen due to a motorist following too carefully to a big truck or poor visibility
  • Override Accidents– occur when a truck operator is following a car too closely and has to make a sudden stop, there is bad visibility from rain or fog, the truck driver neglected to yield a right of way, an operator changes lanes negligently, brake failure, and a tire blowout
  • Fatigue– this is the most common cause of driver error and frequently takes place due to the fact that trucking companies motivate their motorists to desert safety policies and sleep to finish deliveries quicker

There is a vast selection of types of truck accidents, and knowing the signs of an accident that is about to take place can be the determining factor between life and death in most instances.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

Because of the large size of trucks, truck accidents can be far more disastrous than normal automobile accidents. Almost nothing stands a chance of being unharmed when colliding with a large truck, due to its huge size and weight. Some typical truck accident injuries consist of:

Who is Responsible for the Injuries Sustained?

Trucking accidents become much more difficult than a typical auto accident case due to the fact that they have different laws, rules, and regulations that pertain to safely operating a truck, 18-wheeler, and commercial vehicle. They also become more complex because the common primary responsible party is the trucking company that employs the truck driver. Determining who is at fault is an essential part of any claim including a big truck. In order to do that, the accident must be completely determined. Oftentimes, trucking accidents involve several responsible parties, including but not limited to:

  • Truck operator
  • Trucking company
  • Cargo companies
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Other irresponsible drivers
  • Government organizations
  • Faulty or harmful roads

What Should I Do If I’ve Suffered From a Trucking Accident?

When you have been involved in a truck accident, the actions that follow are essential. What occurs in the following minutes, hours, or days after an accident can notably affect the outcome of a plaintiff's truck accident claim. It is very important that no matter how insignificant the accident might have been, to not leave the scene of the accident. There are many things that need to occur before anyone associated with the trucking accident can vacate the scene. Here are some steps that are crucial to follow after a truck accident:

Assess Injuries

The first and most crucial thing to do after a truck accident is to determine whether anyone is injured. If someone has been injured, they need to seek instantaneous medical attention, so 9-1-1 needs to be called as soon as possible. Whoever is injured should not move or be moved unless there is an experienced first responder present or the hurt person is in imminent danger if they are not moved. It is essential, if possible, to leave everything as is until a first responder arrives on the scene.

Move to Safety

After the extent of injuries is determined, it is imperative to get everyone to relocate to safety. Again, it is very important to not move anybody that is hurt unless trained to do so. However, in many states, it is required by law to move any drivable vehicles away from traffic. Find an area, like the shoulder of the road, to safely move any vehicle involved in the accident out of the way of harm.

Contact the Police

As soon as everyone is moved to safety, it is critical to call authorities. When authorities arrive on the scene, the victim must give them a full, factual statement of the accident. It is incredibly important that nothing is hidden when providing this statement; nevertheless, the victim should not expose their feelings, viewpoints, and explanations of what other motorists were doing at the time of the accident— as this will likely lead to problems.

Exchange Information

Every driver involved in the truck accident needs to exchange information with all other parties involved in the accident. It is important that insurance information and driver's license details are likewise exchanged. Automobile drivers in the accident should always get information from the driver of the truck on the tractor, trailer, and cargo. The owner of the truck may have contributed to the cause of the accident, so it is crucial to find out if each item explained above is insured.

Document the Accident Scene

Prior to leaving the scene, it is vital to get photographs of all automobiles and trucks associated with the accident. Damage to all vehicles, guardrails, embankments, and other items that may have been struck needs to be documented. Any fitting sightlines, skid marks, and state of tires on the truck itself must also be photographed. These photos will be used as evidence in a truck accident case. The more evidence a victim preserves, the easier it will be to prove a victim's claims.

Refrain from Speaking with Insurance Companies/Trucking Company Representatives

Insurance companies and trucking company representatives are oftentimes more concerned with their profits than assisting a victim of an injury. They usually have self-serving tactics and quickly move to the victim to propose a settlement, in order to conserve money by avoiding paying the full amount that is due. It is not abnormal for a representative to be on the scene very quickly since it is their job to get to the victim first. However, after the victim has given their official statement to the police, they are not required to share any further information with anyone else at the scene.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if a victim believes they have not been hurt in a truck accident, it remains essential to make an appointment with a medical professional. A truck accident can put a person’s body at risk of astonishing forces that can trigger many different types of injuries. More times than not, injuries suffered in a truck accident are obvious; however, it is possible that other injuries might take an extended amount of time to reveal themselves. Seeking medical attention can aid in recognizing injuries at an early stage, which can help treatment and the seriousness of injuries later down the road. It is essential to go to all appointments and follow any treatment that a medical professional puts in place. If a victim fails to do so, it can result in a trucking company revealing that there were missed visits and treatments, leading to a reduced settlement.

Contact an Accident Attorney 

When experiencing any kind of injury from a truck accident, the economic losses a victim will face are inevitable. Contacting an experienced accident attorney can help a victim in countless ways. The difficulty of managing a truck accident can be frightening, however with the help of an attorney, and the resources they have, navigating the legal process can become way less intimidating.

An experienced auto and trucking accident attorney will do everything they can to make sure the settlement offer shows the accurate cost of one’s injuries. Depending on the injuries that have occurred, an attorney might be able to retrieve compensation for lost wages, decreased future earnings, current and expected medical bills, lower quality of life, and pain and suffering.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

The Cochran Firm has been recognized nationally as the Truck Accident Law Firm of The Year 2020-2021 by the Trial Lawyer Magazine and The National Trial Lawyers, having obtained over $100 million of verdicts and settlements in truck cases that year alone. Our results in trucking accident cases are among the best of any firm in the country.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a trucking accident, you need a dedicated attorney by your side. The experienced auto and truck accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm have a proven record of helping victims of injury get maximum repayment. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our attorneys are prepared to help victims of trucking accidents who are at the mercy of self-serving insurance companies. Our lawyers work with a network of accident reconstruction experts to thoroughly investigate trucking accidents and identify all contributing factors. We use this information to build solid, evidence-based cases that greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.

When suffering from a trucking accident, you deserve to have an attorney who is going to fight for you. With our legal team by your side, you will be protected against the self-serving tactics of insurance companies and are much more likely to receive the full compensation you deserve. 
To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation please contact our experienced auto and trucking accident attorneys with offices nationwide.

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