Truck accidents are much different than regular traffic accidents. Typically more severe than a car or motorcycle accident, a truck accident claim can also be much more difficult to win because of all the different parties involved.
Truck accidents are serious incidents and often times they result in long lasting, severe medical problems like brain injury or spinal cord injuries.
These and similar truck accident injuries can result in a lifetime of medical expenses, an inability to work, and untold amounts of pain and suffering. If you have sustained an injury in a truck accident, please call Brown & Brown in St. Louis, Missouri at 314-333-3333 or in Fairview Heights, Illinois at 618-888-8888 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys.
- How Truck Accidents Are Different Than Other Cases
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for Pursuing a Truck Accident Case?
- What Evidence Can Be Collected in Your Truck Accident Case?
- What Should I Do Immediately After a Truck Accident?
- What Are Some Common Injuries That Occur After a Truck Crash?
- How Is Fault Established in Truck Crash Cases?
- A Closer Look at Truck Driver Negligence
- Truck Driver Fatigue
- A Closer Look at Trucking Company Liability
- Faulty Truck Equipment
- Overloaded Trailers
- Why Choose Brown & Brown
- Contact Us for a Complimentary Consultation
How Are Truck Accident Lawsuits Different from Other Cases?
Commercial trucks are on nearly every road, performing a variety of different tasks. Whether it is a smaller delivery truck, a moving, or a huge semi-truck, an accident involving a commercial vehicle can be very dangerous. Commercial trucks often weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds in comparison to a normal car, which weighs about 4,000 pounds.
Additionally, accident claims are made very difficult because they usually include multiple parties and their insurance companies. Since commercial trucks often drive through many different states, you may need to file a claim against a trucking company, located in an entirely different state than the one in which the accident occurred.
In order to receive fair compensation, liability will need to be established and, in truck accident cases, several parties may have played a role. Our truck accident lawyers take the time necessary to investigate these accidents, allowing us to uncover all possible causes, identify all liable parties, and build a case that seeks maximum compensation for you and your family.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Pursuing a Truck Accident Case?
In the state of Illinois, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. In Missouri, you have five.
No matter how much time is allowed to file a claim, waiting can harm your case. It is always a good idea to speak with an attorney as soon as possible following a truck accident to get a full understanding of your options and your rights.
What Evidence Can Be Collected in Your Truck Accident Case?
Evidence that may be presented during a truck accident case include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Truck driving hours and route logs
During the discovery phase of your claim, attorneys from both sides will work to gather as much evidence as possible. This may include hiring expert witnesses, accident reconstructionists, and others to build a solid case.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Truck Accident?
If you are able to document the scene, taking pictures, gathering witness contact info, and getting all pertinent information from the trucker can be useful. Be sure to cooperate with EMTs and police, but never suggest you are at fault. Contact your insurance agent to report the accident, but again, do not suggest you are at fault.
You will want to see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident to determine the extent of your injuries. It can also be a good idea to consult with an attorney before you accept an insurance offer to make sure you are not waiving your rights.
If your injury is too severe to allow action at the scene of the accident, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the investigative process and learn about your options.
What Are Some Common Injuries That Occur After a Truck Crash?
Common truck accident injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
Truck accident injuries are often severe or catastrophic. Insurance companies may not provide sufficient compensation for these more serious injuries. If you have been diagnosed with a life-altering injury, it is best to consult with an attorney before you accept an insurance settlement. Once you have accepted an offer, you cannot take legal action to seek additional compensation.
How Is Fault Established in Truck Crash Cases?
Establishing fault typically requires an investigation into the accident. Even when things seem fairly cut and dry, external factors can influence both the cause and severity of these accidents.
Some truck accidents involve complex factors, such as unrealistic schedules, which may place liability on people who were not on the scene of the crash. A thorough investigation helps to ensure that all liable parties are held to account.
Truck Driver Negligence
In an ideal world, we could trust that other drivers on the road – including truck drivers – are responsible, focused on driving, and looking out for others. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and such lapses in responsible driving practices can result in serious, potentially even fatal truck accidents.
Common examples of truck driver negligence that can cause or play a role in causing traffic accidents include (but are not limited to) truck drivers:
- Drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs (including some over-the-counter and prescription medications) prior to driving trucks
- Not paying attention to the road when driving (i.e. driver distraction)
- Failing to abide by federal trucking regulations (i.e. hours-of-service regulations aimed at curbing driving fatigue) – This can include falsifying driving logs and driving more than the maximum amount of hours permitted by federal regulations
- Failing to abide by traffic laws by, for example, speeding, cutting off other drivers, tailgating or running red lights
- Failing to properly inspect trucks before and during hauls to check for potentially faulty equipment, like poorly treaded tires
- Failing to properly load trucks, which can lead to overloaded trucks, trucks with poorly balanced cargo and/or unsecured cargo
- Continuing to drive despite poor weather conditions
If you or someone you love has been injured under any of these circumstances, Brown & Brown can help. Call our St. Louis or Fairview Heights office to learn more.
Truck Driver Fatigue
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 13 percent of truck drivers operating commercial vehicles suffered from driver fatigue when a truck accident occurred. While driver fatigue can affect any motorist, it tends to be a particular problem when it comes to truck drivers and the trucking industry in general because:
- Truck drivers typically receive bonuses or other incentives for delivering cargo ahead of schedule, which increases the likelihood that they will compromise needed sleep and rest to be on the road for longer periods of time
- Trucking companies often set unrealistic schedules for drivers, placing a greater emphasis on profit over safety
The Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study (DFAS) conducted by the Essex Corporation (and involving various federal institutions, trucking associations and motor carriers in the U.S. and Canada) has been pivotal in shedding light on truck driver fatigue. Specifically, the DFAS found that:
- The time of day, rather than the hours spent on a particular task, played a bigger role in affecting truck driver alertness and performance. Truck drivers were about 8 times more likely to be drowsy, fatigued and less responsive between about midnight and 6am than during other times of the day or night
- Truck drivers, in general, only got about 5 hours of sleep. This is about 2 hours shy of an ideal rest/sleep period of 7 hours
- Truck drivers were not usually accurate at assessing their own levels of alertness, as they tend to overstate their alertness when they are, in fact, fatigued
To try to combat driver fatigue-related truck accidents, the FMCSA has passed federal “hours-of-service” regulations that stipulate the maximum number of hours truck drivers are allowed to work, as well as the minimum required rest or off-duty time that truck drivers must comply with when on the road. Sadly, to meet deadlines and receive bonuses, records of these hours may be manipulated to seem legal. Without an investigation into your accident, you may never know if this was a factor.
Trucking Company Liability
Although some truck accidents may be caused by drivers themselves, in other cases, the negligence of a trucking company that owns the truck and/or employs the driver may also contribute to devastating accidents. Specific examples of trucking company negligence include (but are not limited to) trucking companies:
- Failing to run background checks on drivers
- Failing to verify if drivers have licenses to drive commercial trucks
- Failing to properly maintain trucks by inspecting them before each run and/or not replacing faulty parts when necessary
- Failing to abide by state and federal trucking regulations
- Creating unrealistic delivery and driving schedules for drivers (which can encourage drivers to disobey federal hours-of-service laws)
When any of these factors plays a role in causing a truck accident, the trucking company can be held legally liable for victims’ injuries, medical bills, lost wages and suffering. However, unless the company is identified as a liable party during the investigation process, its role in your injuries may never be established. Our truck accident injury attorneys know what to look for when investigating these cases and are prepared to hold all liable parties responsible for the damages they have caused. Call our Missouri office at 314-333-3333 or our Illinois office at 618-888-8888 to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Defective or Dangerous Equipment
Given how frequently and how long trucks are on the road, federal trucking regulations mandate that drivers and/or trucking company employees inspect all equipment prior to long hauls and routinely after the trucks have been driven a specified number of miles. The point of such inspections is to see if any equipment or systems need to be replaced before the truck is driven again in order to prevent a vehicle equipment failure from causing a serious truck accident.
Some of the pieces of equipment checked and/or replaced during routine maintenance inspections include:
- Headlights and/or reflectors
- Cargo straps and/or couplings
When truck maintenance inspections are performed improperly or skipped entirely, there is an increased risk of vehicle equipment failure and serious truck accidents.
When it comes to establishing that a failure to properly maintain a truck caused or worsened an accident, the following documents can be essential to proving negligence and helping victims secure the compensation they deserve:
- Truck inspection reports
- Truck repair and maintenance records
- Cargo loading records
- Police reports (following an accident)
- Vehicle conditions reports, which should be completed daily by truck drivers
- Records from a truck’s on-board computer
Again, without an attorney on your side, these factors are not likely to be identified as causes of your truck accident. Unless they are identified, you may never receive even a portion of the compensation you are due. Mechanics and parts manufacturers may be liable for injuries caused by faulty equipment. They, like the truck driver and the company he works for, will have attorneys and insurance companies working on their side to protect their best interests. You deserve someone on your side who is capable and ready to do the same for you.
Overloaded Truck Trailer Accidents
FMCSA regulations stipulate that large commercial trucks, like semis and tractor trailers, are legally limited to carrying no more than 20,000 pounds of cargo per axle (with the total weight not to exceed 80,000 pounds). In addition to these regulations, individual states have their own specific trucking regulations for certain roads or highways regarding weight limits for trucks.
Despite such regulations, trucking companies and/or truck drivers may overload their vehicles in an effort to increase profit. When this happens, overloaded trucks on the roadways significantly increase the chance of serious, potentially fatal truck accidents.
While “overloaded trucks” can refer to trucks that are carrying too much weight, it may also refer to trucks that have poorly balanced loads. Some of the specific risks and dangers that overloaded trucks pose to other drivers include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Truck drivers’ impaired ability to steer or control the truck due to most of the weight of the truck being taken off of the front tires
- Trucks being more difficult to stop, particularly when going downhill
- Trucks being more likely to be involved in rollover accidents when improperly balanced loads raise trucks’ center of gravity
- The increased risk of brake failure and/or tire blowouts due to the excessive weight the truck is carrying
- The increased risk of trucks exceeding the weight limit of certain roadways, which could increase the likelihood that bridges or other roads will collapse under such excessive weight.
Because truck accidents resulting from excess or poorly distributed weight are entirely preventable, those who are responsible for them can be held legally liable for victims’ injuries, losses and mental anguish in a truck accident lawsuit.
Why You should Choose Brown and Brown for your Truck Accident
For over 20 years, Brown & Brown has fought for victims of serious injury. Truck accidents are often extremely complex, involving multiple parties and myriad factors. Wading through this information to build a solid case takes time and experience. Our truck accident lawyers have both, along with a team of legal experts who are prepared to work tirelessly on your case to help you secure the full compensation you are due.
Remember, the trucker, the company he works for, and all other liable parties will have experienced legal counsel and aggressive insurance adjusters on their side. If you are not equally represented, you will likely find yourself cheated out of fair compensation. We are here to help prevent that and to work towards a settlement that is commensurate with your damages.
"I was involved in an accident. I called Brown & Brown because I was worried about if I could handle the situation. They instructed me on the right things to do; they took care of everything. I was paid, the bills were paid, and my car was fixed. I recommend Brown & Brown to anyone." - Micheal D.
Contact Our St. Louis Truck Accident Lawyers
To schedule a cost and obligation-free case review, call our St. Louis office at 314-333-3333 or our Fairview Heights office at 618-888-8888. Our truck accident attorneys serve Chesterfield, Florissant, and surrounding areas of Missouri along with Summerfield, Belleville, Collinsville, and surrounding areas of Illinois. If your injury prevents you from coming to one of our offices, we will come to you for your initial consultation and subsequent visits.