Trucking accidents differ from regular car-on-car collisions in several ways, but most notable is the likely occurrence that the accident will result in serious injury. For this reason, settlement amounts are usually much higher–and they should be. If you’ve been in a trucking accident, even if it was minor, you need the lawyers at Weston Law Offices to ensure you get fairly compensated.
Trucking Accidents Are Complicated
Americans make approximately four trips per day in their personal vehicle. Each time a driver gets in their car to go to work, the store, or on a road trip, they take a calculated risk of being involved in an accident. Drivers and passengers alike seem to have generally accepted this risk, and why not? Getting behind the wheel is an act of autonomy; driving feels like something that can be controlled. There are myriad laws in place to keep the roads safe, and personal safety procedures like buckling up and checking mirrors are basically muscle memory.
So, it all checks out. Driving feels safe, and it is for the most part. Unfortunately, car accidents do happen, and they happen a lot; that’s why you have insurance. Your auto insurance company deals with car accident claims on the daily, and if you have a little fender bender, filing a claim might be pretty easy. But trucking accidents, on the other hand, are much more complicated and require an experienced trucking accident lawyer to get you through it.
Not Your Typical Car, Not Your Typical Accident
First of all, the sheer size of a semi-truck needs to be addressed. These trucks are huge because they need to be; hauling cargo long distances across the US requires a larger engine, more wheels, and space for the goods. Weighing in around 80,000 pounds, semi-trucks are approximately twenty to thirty times larger than the average 4,000 pound vehicle on the road. An 80,000 pound cargo truck traveling at high speeds while on a highway or interstate make this vehicle, without question, the most dangerous one on the road. A trucking accident is, almost always, more severe than a typical car crash in every way; car damage and personal injury are both likely to be more serious.
Obviously, personal health, wellbeing, and safety are the main concerns when an accident has occurred. Unfortunately, the medical injuries resulting from a trucking accident are, in general, more acute than injuries sustained in a non-commercial car accident. Among the most common injuries from a trucking accident are traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, broken bones, lacerations, spinal injuries, paralysis, and wrongful death. All of these scenarios will require several weeks or months for recovery, and in the worst case scenarios, full recovery isn’t an option.
Less of a priority than medical injuries, although still important, is the damage sustained to your personal vehicle. A trucking accident will not be a simple fender bender. Most cars will receive enough damage to be totaled, or close to it.
Let’s Talk Cost
Severe medical injuries produce enormous medical bills. Consider just the initial medical response needed when involved in a trucking accident. An ambulance will likely be called. In Minnesota, the average cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital is around $1,900. At the hospital, the nursing staff will tend to any obvious injuries that require immediate attention, and they will run a number of tests and labs including x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. An emergency room visit alone costs around $3,300, and the following hospital stay costs around $57,000, depending on injuries.
$62,200 is a huge amount of money that most people don’t have just lying around. It’s enough to burden or financially ruin a family or individual. And that’s just the approximate cost for the initial hospital bill. What about injuries that require months or years to recover from? Or chronic injury? What about the emotional toll an accident takes on a person? PTSD and other psychological effects are also common after a trucking accident and can take years of continual attention and financial resources to treat.
In addition to medical costs, there will be costs associated with car damage, repair, and replacement. Not to mention that any repair or replacement can’t happen until the insurance adjuster has completed their inspection, leaving you stranded without a vehicle for several weeks. This can affect wages due to an inability to get to work–if physically able to, of course.
More Policy, More Problems
Because a semi-truck is both a commercial vehicle and extremely dangerous to other motorists, each truck is covered under a sizeable employer-sponsored insurance policy. Each insurance policy is large enough to cover liability costs in the event that a truck driver is found to be at fault in a trucking accident; sometimes these insurance policies are worth millions. This huge policy will complicate the process for anyone trying to file their own claim without the help of a trucking accident lawyer. A team of adjusters and attorneys is behind the truck company’s insurance policy, and they are all working hard to prove that the truck driver is not at fault in order to pay out as little as possible.
In a trucking accident, the semi will almost always incur less damage; it has the upper hand. It’s huge and no matter how big your vehicle is, you’re smaller. It’s kind of a perfect metaphor for what it would be like to file this type of insurance claim on your own. Without a personal injury lawyer who specializes in trucking accidents on your side, you are no match for several experienced insurance adjusters and attorneys.
Compensation–Don’t Forget About Negligence
Trucking accidents typically do pay out more than the general car crash for the obvious and unfortunate reason that they are much more severe. The amount of medical bills, property damage, and lost wages all go into the mix to determine the award reached during a settlement. When you’re working through the claims process to reach a fair settlement amount, you want to do all the same things you would do if this were a regular personal injury: keep all your medical bills, ask a doctor for an approximation of future medical costs, get an estimate of the property damage done to your vehicle, and track all lost wages.
While the financial repercussions of a trucking accident are easy to quantify, other factors are not. If you have a lawyer, they will help you to determine if the truck driver was legally negligent. Negligence simply means that the truck driver wasn’t operating under the full level of expected care. It’s more common than you might think, and if the driver is found to have been negligent, your settlement award will increase.
Every trucking accident is unique in its own way, but there are a few underlying factors common in the trucking industry that make some level of negligence easy for your lawyer to prove.
Trucking accidents are frequently caused by speeding. Truck drivers are under pressure to deliver goods at a specific time. Other car accidents, road closures, traffic, and other hazards that are out of their control can adversely affect their delivery time. The increasing demand for goods often means that drivers have more loads to deliver while being short staffed, causing the need to make better time on the road. Even when a driver is making great time, spending long hours on the road can make him inattentive to his speed.
In addition to speeding, the truck driver can be found negligent if they misjudged the speed of other cars, followed a car too closely, or drove too fast for weather conditions. The massive size and weight of a semi-truck requires a much longer stopping distance. Factor in any inclimate weather–ice, rain, snow–and that length increases. Any decision that the truck driver made that was shown to be poor judgement can be considered negligent.
Lastly, and perhaps the most common form of negligence, is poor performance of the truck driver. If a driver is too fatigued from too many hours awake, actually asleep at the wheel, or impaired from alcohol or drugs, negligence will be a major factor in your settlement award.
Even though truckers are highly trained, they carry special licenses, and many have years of experience, human error can and does occur. Without a trucking accident lawyer on your team, negligence can be difficult to prove, and you might not receive the full compensation you deserve.
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Have You Been Involved in a Trucking Accident?
Car accidents are traumatic, and dealing with insurance companies is frustrating; however, a car accident is just incomparable to the severity of a trucking accident. You can’t go it alone. The amount of injury, medical bills, property damage, and lost wages in addition to the team of insurance adjusters and attorneys for the trucking company will make filing a claim extremely complex. It’s not a simple process. You need the experienced lawyers at Weston Law Offices to make sure to get you the settlement you deserve. Call for a free consultation today.