Tragedy struck on Thursday, April 25, 2019.
Four people died and several were injured on Interstate 70 near Denver, Colorado when a semi truck slammed into backed up traffic. The driver told officers he was going 85 mph when his brakes failed. He attempted to pull the truck onto the shoulder but couldn’t because another semi was already there. His truck then hit the line of stopped traffic on the highway, and several explosions and fires affected the 28 vehicles involved and their passengers.
What if it happens to you?
Crashes involving trucks with passenger cars often involve serious injuries. But from a legal perspective, they’re not as straightforward as car accidents involving two regular passenger cars. Continue reading to learn how the process is different and what you need to do if you’re involved in a truck accident.
In 2017, 4,102 people died in large truck crashes.
Of those, three-quarters were involved in crashes with tractor-trailers and the remaining quarter were single-unit trucks.
Here’s where these accidents occurred:
Driving a commercial truck, semi or big rig presents challenges that drivers of “regular” passengers cars don’t experience.
For one thing, they’re large and can be unwieldy, especially on smaller roads that might not have been built to accommodate large vehicles.
For another, their size makes them harder to manage, which means that they can’t be manipulated as quickly in reaction to a fast or unexpected move by a smaller passenger car.
Still, truck accidents can be caused either by the truck driver or by the driver of a passenger car. Any driver must act responsibly and be aware of road hazards at all times when behind the wheel.
These are some of the most common ways accidents are caused by commercial truck drivers:
Not every truck accident is caused by the truck driver. Sometimes the driver of the passenger car makes an error that causes a collision.
Below are just some of the ways that accidents happen because of the passenger car driver:
As a driver of a passenger car, it’s important to realize that although you might have the right of way in a situation, sometimes it’s safer and essential to yield to the truck anyway. Its size and weight make it harder to maneuver than your car, and it’s crucial to your safety and other drivers’ for you to allow it the time and space it needs.
When you’re involved in a collision with another passenger car, the legal claims usually involve the two drivers and your insurance companies.
If the crash includes a commercial truck, though, there might be many more parties involved such as:
Here’s how it works:
A truck driver might be an independent contractor of a company that hires truckers and contracts them out to trucking companies.
Already, we have three potential defendants:
But then, depending on the facts of the accident, we might be able to add these defendants:
Each of these entities will also be represented by its own insurance company, so you might even be dealing with five different insurers (plus your own).
So, what do you do now?
Liability is based on the premise that each person has a certain set of responsibilities and obligations in any situation.
As the driver of a car or truck, you are liable for ensuring that your driving is reasonable according to the laws and road rules wherever you are. It also means you have a duty to every other driver and pedestrian to exercise reasonable care for their safety.
When an accident happens, the first thing your insurer or lawyer will consider is who’s liable. It’s possible that there will be a split of liability between you and the truck driver.
There are two unique situations in trucking accidents:
The important thing to remember is that how liability is assessed will depend on what state the accident took place in. In some states, if you bear any responsibility for the accident, you can’t recover damages. In other states, it depends on how much your percentage of responsibility is.
If you believe you’re at fault for the accident, consult a car or truck accident lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can defend a claim against you by the trucking company’s insurer and negotiate for the lowest possible settlement for your responsibility. The trucking company’s insurer handles these kinds of claims every day. They want to pay out as little as possible, and they also probably have their own attorneys ready for exactly the situation you’re in.
You need to be prepared to meet them where they are. Your attorney will defend you against claims of liability (or try to reduce your liability if you are at fault) and ensure that you’re being treated fairly.
You’ll want to handle a truck accident a little differently than you would a regular accident with a passenger car. Remember that a trucking company likely has a large insurance policy and deep pockets, and it might be very motivated to make an accident “go away.”
But that might not be in your best interest long term, especially if you have significant injuries.
You’ll want to find a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your insurance adjuster isn’t allowed to give legal advice. Your insurance company’s objective is to pay out as little as possible to settle your claim — they’re not there to make sure that a settlement covers everything you need for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other costs associated with the accident.
Only your lawyer will be on your side to figure out what all of that should be.
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