Millions of trucks share U.S. roads with passenger vehicles every day. Given the size and weight of trucks such as tractor-trailers and semis, an accident can have devastating consequences. Most deaths and injuries related to truck accidents are occupants of cars, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles.
Victims of these accidents and their loved ones are left with many questions, including:
1. What do I do if I’m involved in a truck accident?
There are many actions you should take. Start with these:
- Assess the condition, health, and safety of yourself and others, and seek medical treatment right away.
- Call the police to document the accident and write down any information you can remember. (Check out our free downloadable Post-Accident Report and Post-Accident Journal if you need some inspiration.)
- If your vehicle is blocking traffic, move it if possible, but take photographs of the scene beforehand.
- Obtain information from the truck driver, including their name, home address, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance company and policy number. Also get details on the trucking company.
- Talk to any witnesses at the scene and document their accounts.
Remember to see a doctor, even if you feel “fine.” This provides a record of your health immediately after the accident and can identify injuries that have no symptoms yet. Also, contact an accident lawyer as soon as you can.
2. Why are commercial trucks more dangerous than other vehicles?
Tractor-trailers are many times the size of an average passenger car. In fact, they can weigh 16 times as much. The typical semi is 53 feet long and requires a minimum of 350 feet to come to a stop at highway speeds.
On top of that, the truck may be carrying hazardous materials that can cause further injury.
Big rigs also have a tendency to jackknife. When the tractor is in a collision, brakes suddenly, or road conditions are poor, the trailer it’s carrying can fold inward.
Truck driver negligence and defects in safety systems exacerbating the risks as well.
3. How long do I have to file a lawsuit or insurance claim?
California’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit due to a truck or car accident is two years. There are many steps your attorney will have to take — including an investigation and discovery — so seek legal help as soon as you can.
Insurance companies often have stricter time limitations. Notify your insurer as soon as possible and inquire about any applicable deadlines. The sooner you act, the more likely you’ll be able to pursue your claim.
4. When should I hire a truck accident lawyer?
As soon as possible. Although truck drivers keep logbooks, federal regulations permit these to be disposed of after six months. Therefore, get legal advice quickly so you can gather as much information as possible to back your claim.
A good lawyer should offer a free consultation, thoroughly explain your options, and state your needs for legal representation.
5. What kind of damages can be recovered from my truck accident/injury?
“Damages” are any compensation you’re entitled to as a result of the accident. You may be compensated for current medical bills and future medical expenses, including surgeries, medications, and future therapies and treatments. A settlement payout may include lost wages, lost earning capacity, and property damages, as well as pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck accident — either as the truck driver or the passenger of another vehicle, make sure to contact a truck accident attorney who will answer all your questions and fight for maximum compensation.