Steven A. Bagen | December 4, 2023 | Truck Accidents
When operators of large commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers, cause accidents with passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle’s occupants usually suffer injuries, require medical treatment, and experience ongoing pain and suffering.
In that situation, accident victims can file a personal injury claim with a responsible truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurer, seeking the expertise of a skilled truck accident attorney in Gainesville.
Depending on where the truck accident occurs, a victim can file a no-fault claim under their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy or a third-party claim under the at-fault policy.
When starting settlement negotiations, the accident victim’s attorney will typically send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company, along with supporting documentation.
The insurance adjuster handling the claim will typically return with a settlement offer. However, in many situations, these offers are far below the true value of the truck accident claim, and the accident victim should reject them.
Insurance companies make these low offers to resolve the claim as cheaply as possible, potentially saving themselves significant money. After all, the higher the monetary settlement amount an insurance company offers to an accident victim, the less money the insurance company can keep in-house for itself.
Given the insurance company’s likely approach, always involve a skilled truck accident attorney in your legal matter as quickly as possible. Your attorney can handle all communications and settlement negotiations with insurance companies for you.
They can convince the insurance company to increase their settlement offer by pointing to pertinent medical records, expert reports, and other evidence in your case.
Additionally, if the insurance company still does not make you a fair and reasonable settlement offer, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit in the state court system for the monetary compensation you need.
Throughout the process, your attorney can answer your questions, weigh all your legal options, and represent you at all litigation proceedings during your case. Your lawyer will do everything possible to convince the insurance company adjuster to increase their settlement offer so that you receive the compensation you truly need and deserve for your injuries.
Common Bodily Injuries in a Truck Crash
Drivers and passengers on the receiving end of a truck accident are typically the ones who suffer serious injuries.
The specific injuries that a particular accident victim may suffer in a truck accident usually depend on the speed of the involved vehicles, the force of the collision, the number of separate impacts that occur, and the accident victim’s bodily motions at the time of the accident.
In most cases, the more forceful a truck collision, the more severe the injuries that the accident victims will suffer.
Some of the most common physical injuries that truck accident victims sustain include internal bleeding, open lacerations, bruises, internal organ damage, soft tissue neck and/or back injuries, rib fractures, bone fractures, eye injuries, mouth and teeth injuries, traumatic brain injuries, permanent cognitive impairments, spinal cord damage, complete and incomplete paralysis injuries, and death.
A truck accident attorney in your area can begin gathering the necessary documents to prove your claim while you focus on achieving a full medical recovery from your injuries.
Specifically, you should follow your medical treatment provider’s recommendations by attending doctor appointments and physical therapy sessions, undergoing medical procedures, and generally taking it easy.
Additionally, ensure you continuously seek treatment for your injuries and avoid gaps in medical treatment. Otherwise, the insurance company may not believe your injuries and refuse to put a favorable settlement offer on the table in your case.
What Are the Main Reasons Truck Accidents Happen?
Truck accidents usually happen when truck drivers and trucking companies commit serious errors.
One of truck drivers’ most common errors is violating standard traffic laws, including right-of-way and speed limit laws. Truck drivers may also cause accidents when they fail to use their mirrors at the appropriate times and commit other road-rule violations.
A truck accident may also happen when a driver fails to watch the road attentively. Instead of focusing carefully on their driving, truck drivers may listen to loud music in the cab of their truck, program a GPS navigation system while driving, or use a cellular phone or tablet while operating their vehicle.
All these activities may cause a driver to lose their mental focus on the road. Additionally, they may cause a driver to take their eyes off the road, preventing them from seeing other vehicles and pedestrians.
Another common cause of commercial truck accidents is road rage when a truck driver resorts to reckless driving maneuvers to move ahead of slower-moving traffic.
Common examples of road rage that commercial truck drivers often exhibit include:
- Aggressively tailgating other vehicles and honking their horns.
- Passing other vehicles in a designated no-passing zone.
- Switching lanes of traffic without using the proper turn signals.
Commercial truck accidents can also happen when drivers become sleepy while behind the wheel. Drowsiness among truck drivers occurs when drivers fail to stop and take regular naps or rest breaks.
Many truck drivers attempt to complete their trip all in one sitting, usually because the trucking company that employs them is willing to offer them significant financial compensation and bonuses. However, when truck drivers are not alert while driving, they may negligently cause a serious accident.
Additionally, if the driver falls asleep while driving, they will likely lose complete control over their truck, bringing about multiple vehicle collisions.
A truck accident may also happen when a truck driver or a trucking company violates a state or federal motor carrier regulation.
Some of the most common carrier regulations the truck drivers and trucking company employees follow include those that pertain to:
- Weight limits for commercial vehicles on a particular road
- Properly loading and unloading cargo onto the bed of a large commercial truck
- Properly inspecting trucks before embarking on a long trip, including the truck lighting components
- Properly securing cargo onto the trailer bed ensures it does not fall off the truck.
When truck drivers and trucking companies commit motor carrier violations, cargo may slide off the trailer and into the road, causing multiple vehicular collisions. In addition, the large truck or tractor-trailer may become top-heavy, leading to a rollover accident.
Finally, some truck collisions happen when truck drivers violate DUI laws. A driver is legally under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration reaches a level of 0.04 percent while they are behind the wheel of their truck. When a truck driver is intoxicated, it is easy for them to lose focus on the road and drive erratically.
For example, the truck driver may lose their ability to concentrate on the road and experience various symptoms, including delayed reflexes and reaction time, impaired muscular coordination, poor judgment, poor vision, and the inability to judge distances between vehicles. As a result, an intoxicated driver is much more prone than a sober driver to cause a serious accident.
In addition to truck driver errors, some truck accidents happen when trucking companies commit serious violations. For example, a trucking company may entrust one of their vehicles to a known reckless driver with a poor driving record, a history of moving violations, or DUI convictions.
A trucking company may also fail to supervise its drivers properly and ensure that they comply with all ongoing CDL requirements. When a negligent truck driver causes a serious accident, the trucking company that employs the driver may be fully or partially responsible.
If you suffered injuries in a recent truck accident that a negligent trucking company or truck driver caused, you have legal options.
First, consult a knowledgeable truck accident attorney who can explore those options and file the appropriate legal claim in your case. Your lawyer can then seek the fair monetary compensation you deserve for your truck accident injuries.
What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
When truck drivers behave recklessly and carelessly while behind the wheel, they may bring about several types of truck accidents.
Some of the most common truck accidents that lead to serious injuries include rear-end or tailgate accidents, broadside or T-bone collisions, sideswipe accidents, truck rollover or overturn accidents, head-on collisions, and jackknife accidents.
If you sustained injuries in one of these truck accidents, consult a truck accident lawyer in your jurisdiction as soon as possible.
Your attorney can immediately start gathering the documents necessary to file a personal injury claim on your behalf. Your lawyer may then negotiate with insurance company representatives for the favorable settlement compensation you deserve for your injuries.
How Do You Prove a Third-Party Truck Accident Claim?
You must meet the legal burden of proof in your case to receive a monetary award for your truck accident injuries through a third-party personal injury claim.
Specifically, you must show that the truck driver or trucking company owed you a legal duty of reasonable care, which they subsequently violated.
For example, a truck driver has a duty to always drive carefully and responsibly, while a trucking company must entrust their vehicles only to careful, safe, and responsible drivers.
Next, the injured truck accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault individual or entity violated their legal duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances.
For example, a truck driver or trucking company may have violated one or more motor carrier regulations. Additionally, the accident victim must show that as a direct result of the at-fault party’s breach, both their accident and their physical injuries occurred.
Insurance companies for truck drivers and trucking companies are sometimes difficult. For example, the trucking company may be skeptical of your injuries or may believe that your injuries are not directly related to the subject accident.
The insurance company adjuster may even argue that your injuries are pre-existing or not serious enough to warrant significant monetary compensation.
In any situation, your truck accident lawyer may retain a medical expert who can physically examine you, draft a report, and testify as a witness in your case at a discovery deposition or civil jury trial.
That medical expert can establish the causal connection between the truck accident and your claimed injuries. Additionally, they can allege on the record that one or more of your truck accident injuries are permanent.
Recovering Favorable Truck-accident Monetary Damages
The monetary damages that truck accident victims receive will depend on the type of insurance claim they may file, the cost of their medical treatment, the circumstances surrounding the accident, and the nature and extent of their physical and mental injuries.
In general, if a truck accident victim suffered a permanent injury, they may be eligible to receive higher monetary compensation than if their injuries were less serious. In many cases, it will take several rounds of settlement negotiations between the accident victim’s attorney and the insurance company adjuster to reach a favorable settlement number.
After filing a PIP claim in a no-fault jurisdiction like Florida, accident victims can recover lost earnings, a portion of their medical expenses, and other out-of-pocket costs. However, if the accident victim is eligible to file a third-party claim or lawsuit, they can receive additional compensation.
Some of the most common types of monetary compensation a truck accident victim may receive through a favorable third-party settlement offer or litigation result include compensation for:
- Loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity
- Medical expenses (both past and future)
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal consortium
- Cognitive impairments
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Lost quality of life.
Your attorney will work to maximize the monetary compensation you receive through aggressive settlement negotiation tactics and, if necessary, through litigation in the state court system.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you recently sustained injuries in a truck accident, consult a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area as soon as possible.
Under the state statute of limitations, an injured truck accident victim must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of their accident. Otherwise, they will forego their eligibility to recover monetary damages for their losses.
As soon as you retain a personal injury attorney in Gainesville for your case, they can immediately begin advocating for your interests and pursuing the full amount of monetary damages necessary to recover for your accident-related losses.