Commercial trucks are significantly larger, heavier, and more difficult to maneuver than passenger cars, so collisions between these vehicles often result in extensive property damage and devastating injuries. Victims who are lucky enough to survive such a collision can face debilitating injuries and medical conditions that require expensive, ongoing treatment and may permanently impact their ability to work.
Because of the increased potential for catastrophic accidents, commercial truck drivers must receive special training and certification to operate their vehicles, follow strict state and federal trucking regulations, and are legally obligated to adhere to a higher duty of care than regular motorists. However, trucking companies are notorious for incentivizing their drivers to ignore these rules in exchange for larger profits and thousands of victims die every year due to this negligence.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, contacting a truck accident attorney immediately is crucial for protecting your interests and ensuring you can continue to support your family during your recovery. An attorney who specializes in this type of accident can help you file a personal injury claim to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries and obtain the compensation you need to move forward after the accident. Learn what to do after a truck accident below, then contact Guenard & Bozarth to discuss your case.
What Happens When a Commercial Vehicle Hits You?
A fully loaded semi-truck or tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, or roughly 40 times the weight of the typical passenger vehicle. These trucks also have larger blind spots and require longer stopping distances, making it extremely challenging for drivers to notice other cars or obstacles in the road and safely perform the quick maneuvers they need to avoid a collision. Although research shows that mechanical failures are the leading cause of truck accidents, the driver’s failure to recognize a potential hazard and/or make the right decision to avoid this hazard are also contributing factors.
Driving without adequate training, neglecting proper maintenance, failing to properly secure cargo, refusing to stop in inclement weather conditions, or driving while distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated all increase the chances of a collision.
The Devastation of a Commercial Vehicle Collision
When you are struck by a commercial truck, the tremendous weight difference between the truck and your vehicle causes an immense amount of force to transfer to your vehicle. This results in more serious damage to your vehicle and more severe injuries for you and the other occupants of your vehicle.
Common injuries in trucking accidents include head trauma, traumatic brain injuries, neck and back injuries, spinal damage, broken bones, burns, or damage to your internal organs. In the worst-case scenario, the damage to your vehicle or surrounding structures can crush your car door, collapse the roof, prevent your seatbelt from unlatching, trap your legs, or pin you between the seat and dashboard. Becoming trapped in your vehicle makes you more vulnerable to smoke inhalation and fatal levels of blood loss.
Even a single-vehicle crash can be deadly, but 62% of truck accidents with a fatality involve two vehicles. Two-vehicle crashes account for 74% of fatalities, 81% of injuries, and 76% of property damage cases. However, after the original collision, secondary crashes can also occur, especially in areas with dense traffic. If the accident scene blocks a roadway or intersection, cargo or debris from the accident litters the road, hazardous materials spill, or other drivers are rubbernecking or tailgating, these factors can combine to create a chain reaction. Resulting pileups cause additional damage and make it harder for emergency responders to reach you so they can provide prompt medical attention. Because they involve more vehicles and a larger accident scene, secondary crashes significantly increase the chances of serious injury and fatalities.
What Should I Do After a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
Taking the right steps after a commercial truck accident is crucial for ensuring you can file a valid personal injury claim and recover the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. First, call emergency services immediately to notify them that an accident occurred and give them your location. If you are able to do so, move your vehicle onto the shoulder to avoid secondary collisions, then check on any other injured motorists or pedestrians to see if you can render first aid. Performing CPR or applying pressure to someone’s wounds could save their life.
Next, you need to gather evidence of the accident scene, including the date, time, and location of the crash, as well as weather conditions, obstacles, or other factors that may have impacted the accident. Take photographs and video footage and write up a brief statement of what happened before, during, and after the accident. You need to exchange contact information with the truck driver and anyone else involved in the accident, including names, addresses, phone numbers, the make and model of the vehicles, license plates, insurance information, and anything else that seems relevant.
When There Are Witnesses
If anyone witnessed the accident, obtain their contact information so you can get in touch with them later to acquire more details or ask them to serve as a witness in court. When the police arrive, request a copy of the police report. Do not admit fault.
If you sustained injuries in the accident, seek medical attention. Even seemingly minor injuries can worsen over time, and some serious conditions do not always develop symptoms right away. For example, a persistent headache could indicate a traumatic brain injury, or pain or stiffness in your neck or spine could be the result of spinal cord damage. After you have received medical attention, call an attorney.
In California, you have two years to submit a personal injury claim after a trucking accident, so it’s essential to get started on your case as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you collect and organize the evidence you need to file your claim, identify the liable parties, calculate the damages you incurred, negotiate with the trucking company’s insurance provider, and represent you in court.
Obtain Legal Representation Immediately
If you were injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to recover damages. Legal representation is vital for obtaining the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies utilize a variety of manipulative tactics to avoid paying valid claims, and you need an attorney on your side to advocate for your best interests. California’s comparative negligence statutes allow you to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation even if you are partially at fault for the accident. Contact Guenard & Bozarth today to speak with our team.