The importance of trucks and truck drivers to the U.S. economy can’t be understated. Without them, many of the products Americans see and buy in stores would not be there. Truck drivers deliver goods, food, and materials used for construction, and according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), trucks are responsible for nearly 70% of all freight tonnage in the U.S.
Because the trucking industry provides consumers with so many essential items, it’s not surprising that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported over 11,000,000 registered large trucks operating on U.S. roadways in 2016. With that many big vehicles sharing the road, wrecks will happen—especially if the truck driver was negligent and speeding.
When You Wreck With a Speeding Trucker
While speeding can be a factor in any type of vehicle wreck, trucks are at a greater risk of wrecking when the truck driver is speeding than is the driver of a car. Not only does a truck need a longer lead time to slow down and stop, but a truck is more likely to roll over on a curve when the driver is speeding. Traveling over the speed limit increases the likelihood of a wreck and can increase the severity of the injuries.
Additionally, a semi-truck that is fully loaded can weigh up to 40 tons. A car, on the other hand, weighs about 3,000 - 4,000 pounds. Wrecks between these two vehicles can leave the occupants of the car with devastating, life-altering, and often fatal injuries.
Types of Injuries Caused by Truck Wrecks
When you are involved in a wreck with a truck, you’re likely to suffer critical injuries. Because a car sits lower to the ground than a truck, it can slide under the truck during a wreck. This type of “underride” wreck can be catastrophic because those in the car can become trapped, crushed, or even decapitated.
Many victims of truck wrecks suffer injuries that diminish their quality of life, and sometimes they face permanent disabilities. Injuries that often occur in a wreck with a truck include:
- Broken bones. It’s possible for the victim of a truck wreck to suffer any number of broken bones. The violent force of the wreck can cause a broken pelvis, arm, hand, foot, leg, and/or collarbone. Any of these breaks can require the victim to undergo surgery and endure a protracted stay in the hospital.
- Head and brain injuries. If you’re hit or rear-ended by a large truck, the driver and/or passengers in the car can suffer a sudden blow to the head if they hit the dashboard or steering wheel or if loose items in the car fly up and strike them. Victims can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result. If the TBI is severe, the victim can experience permanent limitations in cognitive and physical abilities and require life-long care.
- Spinal cord injuries. A driver can be thrust forward or twist into an awkward position during a truck wreck, and the force can break vertebrae or tear the spinal cord. These spinal injuries often require surgery and a long rehabilitation; however, they can also cause paralysis.
- Amputations. It’s possible for the force of a wreck to crush a limb and sever it immediately. It’s more common, however, for a limb to be damaged so severely that it must be removed in surgery. Amputation is a life-changing injury that limits the victim’s ability to live life the way they did before.
Evidence to Help Prove a Trucker Was Speeding
If you’re involved in a wreck with a speeding truck driver and want to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need evidence that proves the driver was traveling over the speed limit. Proving the trucker’s speed is a critical piece of evidence in a truck wreck personal injury lawsuit. Other evidence you need includes:
- The police report. The police report is an important piece of evidence. Although police reports aren’t admissible in court, they can be very helpful in a personal injury lawsuit. They provide a factual, objective account of what happened during the wreck and may include detailed observations on the part of the officer. It also might give the officer’s opinion about who was at fault. Additionally, if the officer ticketed the trucker for speeding, this information will offer convincing evidence for your case.
- Witnesses. If there were witnesses to the wreck, it’s important to get their contact information. You may need them to validate your assertion that the truck’s speed caused the wreck.
- Logbook. It’s mandatory for truck drivers to keep a detailed logbook of their trips. They must record their driving time and rest breaks, along with certain other information required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The information in this logbook may be able to help prove the trucker was speeding.
- GPS data. This data may be available from certain onboard communications systems, onboard video, or delivery schedules.
- The black box. Trucks contain black boxes similar to those found on planes. The truck’s black box may contain data about the speed the truck was traveling when it crashed into your vehicle. An experienced truck wreck attorney will need to help you get this data from the trucking company before it is destroyed.
Why You Need a Truck Wreck Attorney
As with any personal injury claim or lawsuit, an attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. However, having legal representation after a truck wreck is even more critical. A truck wreck personal injury case is often extremely complicated, and victims need a true legal advocate in their corner—one who understands both the catastrophic physical and emotional injuries after a truck wreck. Additionally, a truck wreck attorney can:
- Handle insurance companies. Personal injury attorneys level the playing field when dealing with insurance companies. They understand the underhanded tactics of insurance companies who are never working in your best interests and will not only offer low-ball settlements but will use strategies to delay your claim or simply avoid paying it. When you have an attorney, insurance companies know you’re serious and will be less likely to play the games those without legal representation are subjected to.
- Establish all liable parties. It’s not always easy to determine who’s liable in a truck wreck because there can be multiple at-fault parties. It might be the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, parties responsible for loading the truck, companies responsible for truck maintenance and repairs, and others. Thus, it’s important to have an attorney who understands how to determine liability.
- Thoroughly investigate your case. A truck wreck attorney understands that your personal injury case requires a significant amount of evidence. Your attorney will gather evidence, interview eyewitnesses, hire expert witnesses, and send a spoliation letter to the at-fault parties requesting that all relevant evidence such as data from the truck’s black box or logbooks be preserved.
- Negotiate a fair settlement. Personal injury attorneys know that insurance companies will usually offer an unfair, low-ball settlement to truck wreck victims who do not have legal representation. But when you have an attorney, you are more likely to receive fair compensation for your injuries.
- Take your case to court. If you can’t reach a fair settlement with the at-fault parties, an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney will take your case to trial. Although most personal injury cases settle out of court, some don’t. And you want an attorney at your side who will fight for your fair compensation.
Call Us After Your Truck Wreck
When you’ve been injured in a truck wreck, you need to call a skilled, experienced attorney right away. The legal team at Bailess Law Firm will start work immediately to investigate the wreck, determine liability, and collect evidence to create a strong case. We will work to prove the at-fault party was negligent and that their behavior caused the wreck, breaching their duty of care to you. If your injuries are serious, life-threatening, or permanent, we know the insurance company for the at-fault party will fight to reduce or deny your claim. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. Let us handle your case, so you can begin moving forward with your life.