The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 4.8% of all traffic collisions in the country involved semi-trucks. In 2020, this translated to 439,206 crashes and 4,842 deaths. In Texas, the number of fatal truck crashes was 116, accounting for 3.8% of traffic-related deaths in the state.
Semi-truck wrecks are particularly dangerous because of their massive size in relation to smaller passenger vehicles and light trucks. Trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. That’s roughly 20 times the average size of smaller cars.
As a result, occupants of smaller cars tend to be at a huge disadvantage, which is why most truck accident victims are usually passenger car motorists. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck crash here in Texas or somewhere else in the country, discuss your case with our competent semi-truck accident lawyers at the Buzbee Law Firm.
What to Do After You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is get medical help. It doesn’t matter if you feel fine, escaped unscathed, or think that the crash wasn’t so bad—you should get checked out immediately. This is important because some injuries don’t become obvious until days after the accident.
Also, getting to the hospital for a check-up will set the stage for the following steps that you need to take. Then, get in touch with an experienced truck accident attorney near you to see if you can recover some sort of compensation. This is particularly important if you feel like the truck driver was at fault.
Once your attorney examines your case, they will be able to determine if you have a valid claim or not. While you may want to contact the insurance company to begin the claims process, we recommend that you wait until you speak to a skilled truck accident lawyer.
Why You Should Talk to a Lawyer Before the Insurance Company
Victims of semi-truck crashes are usually unaware of how much compensation they can get. The insurance companies, on the other hand, are very much aware of it. So, they’ll either find ways to push some of the liability to you and deny your claim, or they’ll make you very low offers to get you to go away.
Their initial offer might seem good at the time. But if you take it, you will basically be signing away all possible future damages that you can recover if other health issues arise later. This means that you’re forfeiting the opportunity to get the full settlement money that you deserve and instead settling for pennies on the dollar.
So, have an experienced large truck accident lawyer look over your case first. Your lawyer will assess the extent of your losses or injuries and propose a certain satisfactory amount as compensation.
Damages You Can Claim as a Truck Accident Victim
Although insurance claim processes and recoverable damages vary depending on your state, there are benefits that are constant across the nation. These include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companion
- Loss of support or consortium
- Disability benefits
There may be more depending on individual state laws and regulations. But these are the basic damages that you may be able to claim. In some extreme circumstances involving gross misconduct or malicious intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, victims may be able to file for punitive damages.
Also, if someone dies from the injuries sustained in the big rig crash, designated surviving family members may be able to bring a wrongful death action against the at-fault truck driver and other relevant parties.
Proving Liability in Semi-Truck Crashes
Before you can get these damages, though, you and your attorney will have to establish that the at-fault party and third parties were responsible for your injuries, losses, and/or property damage. Some of the parties that an experienced commercial truck collision lawyer will look into include:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the truck (if different from the trucker)
- The trucking company (if different from the owner and the driver)
- The cargo loaders
- The truck maintenance crew
- The truck’s parts manufacturer
- Government agencies
Third parties and other road users might also be at fault. For example, another motorist may have swerved into the truck’s lane, causing the truck driver to brake quickly or also swerve into you. Similarly, you might even share a portion of the blame for causing the accident.
This is why large truck collision cases tend to take time. There’s usually more than one party to investigate. And before they can be held liable, your semi-truck accident lawyer will have to prove that they were negligent in their actions and that their negligence directly or indirectly led to you or your loved one’s traffic incident.
Safety Protocols for When You’re Sharing the Road With Large Commercial Trucks
Many drivers and other road users don’t know how to act around big trucks, and this often leads to preventable accidents and deaths. If you’re driving on the highway, make sure to adhere to the following safety practices:
- Do not tailgate trucks. Always leave adequate space (one to two car lengths) between you and the truck.
- Avoid riding alongside trucks if you can avoid it.
- Don’t stay in the truck’s blind spots.
- If you want to overtake the truck, give them adequate notice by using the horn, flashing your headlights, and using your indicator lights.
- When you have the all-clear, accelerate and overtake the truck safely.
- When you overtake a truck, allow at least two car lengths before merging back into the lane.
- NEVER stay or ride in between two trucks.
- Do not cut off or brake-check a truck. It is a recipe for disaster.
- If a truck wants to turn, allow adequate distance between your vehicle and the truck.
- Pay attention to the truck’s movement. Sometimes, you can do all the above safely. But if the driver is asleep, they can still sideswipe or crush you.
These are just some of the safety practices that you need to utilize whenever you’re sharing the road with trucks or driving anywhere really.
Contact an Experienced Texas Truck Accident Law Firm
Even though a low percentage of all accidents are caused by semi-trucks, the number of auto wrecks in the country is astronomical. It still means that hundreds of thousands of semi-truck accidents occur each year that have caused severe injuries and fatalities but could have been prevented.
If you have been hurt after a collision with a large truck, you need to talk to us at the Buzbee Law Firm. Our Texas-based truck accident law firm serves clients within the state of Texas and nationally.
Our Texas commercial truck collision lawyers are skilled, experienced, and dedicated to helping injured semi-truck crash victims get adequate compensation for their injuries and losses they’ve suffered. Contact us today to talk about your case for free.