If you've driven a car on a highway, you've probably experienced that moment when a huge truck is bearing down from the rear and your heartbeat starts to race, just a little. Or perhaps you have to make a sudden slowdown or maneuver and you glance in the rearview mirror and wonder if the truck behind you can slow itself in time.
The sheer size and weight of a truck can mean that an accident results in more serious injuries than accidents between passenger cars.
Think of it this way:
If you're bowling, do you think you can knock down more pins with a bowling ball or a tennis ball? Aside from the fact that there's more power and weight to a bowling ball, it's also likely to take down several pins when a tennis ball on the same trajectory might only take down 1 or 2.
Let's take a look at fatalities from Massachusetts truck accidents:
Statistics matter because they give you a complete picture of how serious a problem can be or the likelihood that it will affect you or someone you care about. But in reality, most people probably don't think too much about a truck accident unless it happens to them.
Below, we'll take a look at the most common types of truck accidents. Understanding how they happen can help you to avoid being in an accident yourself, and also help to determine liability if one happens.
There's no finite number of ways an accident can happen, but these are the most common:
When the cab and trailer portions of a big rig fold at their joints, it causes the truck to swing into a "jackknife" formation. If the back of the trailer moves faster than the cab, it creates a sharp angle that causes the truck to face 2 directions and the driver loses control of the truck. A nearby car could collide with the swinging trailer or wedge underneath the rear of the truck.
Both cars and trucks can have tire blowouts. When that happens, it can cause the vehicle to swerve into another lane, rollover, or (in the case of semi-trucks) jackknife. A tire blowout is usually caused by wear and tear, defective manufacturing, or lack of routine maintenance. If a truck tire blows out, the debris from the broken tire could hit other cars, or the truck could collide with other cars if it swerves out of its lane.
Federal regulations are strict so that a haul is immobile and secure. The truck's restraint system must be strong enough to keep cargo from sliding or shifting.
There are 2 ways an unsecured load accident could happen:
A passenger car can slide underneath a truck, either from the rear or the side. The height difference in the vehicles could mean that the top or front of the car could be crushed and its occupants seriously injured. This is an especially deadly type of truck accident.
"Hazmat" stands for hazardous materials. This classification could include anything from gasoline, to pesticides, to lithium batteries, to dry ice. Cargo is hazardous if it's either highly flammable or could become harmful to breathe if it becomes airborne.
A hazmat accident can affect not just the drivers on the road, but also anyone in surrounding areas. If a toxic substance is released into the air or certain bodies of water, it can affect people in nearby communities.
Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state. If you're in an accident, you make a claim on your own insurance policy. But your insurance might not cover the entire amount of your costs…
What do you do then?
There are certain conditions under which you may file a personal injury lawsuit for a truck accident (or any accident) when you've exhausted your own insurance policy.
You may file a personal injury lawsuit for a Massachusetts car accident only if:
In order to file a lawsuit, you have to name the correct defendants — in other words, you need to know who was at fault for the accident.
In a car accident between 2 (or more) vehicles, the person who's at fault (liable) for the accident is usually one of the drivers.
But a truck accident could have many more possibilities. Potential defendants could include:
In order to successfully receive an award in a personal injury lawsuit, you (the plaintiff) have to prove that someone was negligent.
Negligence means someone caused your injury by acting in a way that would be reasonably foreseeable to cause harm. There might be some instances in a truck accident situation when there's no one at fault — in other words, it's a true "accident."
But liability matters a lot, especially if it's your own. You might not have caused the accident, but if the court finds that you contributed to the accident, it will affect how much you can recover in compensation.
Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence standard of law. If you have to file a lawsuit for any personal injury in Massachusetts, you can recover for your injuries only if you're less than 51% at fault. If your allocation of fault is 51% or higher, then you can't recover any damages.
That's why it's important to know that many truck accidents are caused by driver error — the truck driver's OR your own.
Here are 5 ways driver error could result in a truck accident:
While this list doesn't cover every potential driver error, it does provide an opportunity to make sure that you're following general safe practices when you're behind the wheel. It goes without saying that driving while intoxicated or driving while distracted (texting or any distraction) are unsafe behaviors, but you also should be cautious about speeding, leaving space between your vehicle and others, and making sure you're never driving if you feel drowsy.
There are specific costs you can recover from a truck accident lawsuit. The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to recover the money you spent as a result of the accident — in other words, to leave you in the same financial position you'd be in if the accident hadn't happened.
Damages after a truck accident include:
If you're suing a trucking company, manufacturer, or shipper, you're likely going up against a huge company with a team of lawyers who just want your case to go away. They might make you an offer that sounds like a lot of money to try to get you to settle early. But if you have serious injuries, will be unable to work temporarily or permanently, or will have future expenses to cover, you need an attorney who can be sure that you're receiving the correct amount. Never accept a settlement without consulting a lawyer first.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more