Steps to take if you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident

If you’ve been injured because of a collision with a commercial vehicle, you already know your accident was serious. In crashes involving semi trucks, generally the driver of the automobile is the one who is injured, and often the injuries are fatal.

Due to size disparities and basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle is likely to result in serious injuries and significant property damage.

Following is a general guide of some of the do’s and don’ts surrounding your accident:

  • Report the accident immediately
  • Provide only the basic details about the accident
  • Do not admit fault, since fault can be a complicated and multiparty issue
  • Do not apologize because someone else negligently injured you
  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Promptly file a police report and obtain a copy
  • Promptly file your insurance claim
  • Provide only the basic facts of your accident to insurance adjuster
  • Do not provide any tape recorded or written statement until after talking to an experienced lawyer

Your actions in the first hours and days of your accident are critical if you hope to receive fair compensation for your injuries. We urge you to contact us immediately after an accident. Retaining an attorney prevents insurance investigators and others, whose actions may not be in your best interests, from speaking directly with you and requires them to contact your attorney regarding all matters relating your case.

One of the more common defenses in a trucking accident case is that the driver of the passenger vehicle caused the accident. Because of their enormous size and slow maneuverability, large trucks have significant limitations when it comes to responding quickly to the action(s) of another motorist. Consequently, if the passenger vehicle does any of the following the fact of the action will be used to defend the truck driver:

  • Driving left of center into opposing traffic
  • Unsafe passing
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Failure to stop for a stop sign or traffic light
  • Following too closely
  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Driving inattentively
  • Driving in “no-zones”
  • Improperly merging in front of a truck

The first step after hiring us will be to serve a written Complaint which outlines the claims that the Plaintiff has against the Defendant. An experienced trial lawyer should outline all theories of recovery against the defendants. The Defendant then has a brief period of time in which to respond in writing to the Complaint. After a period of time, the parties exchange written questions and requests for documents and other pertinent information relating to the claims and defenses. Parties and other witnesses will give sworn testimony at a deposition, where lawyers are permitted to ask a wide range of questions. Plaintiffs are routinely required to attend an adverse medical examination by a physician chosen by the insurance company, who routinely renders a written report that minimizes the plaintiff’s injuries and/or calls into question the credibility of the plaintiff. Close to the expected trial date, the parties will be ordered to attend a mediation session where a trained mediator attempts to facilitate a settlement between the parties. The vast bulk of cases are resolved at mediation. If your case is not resolved at mediation, an experienced trial lawyer will marshal evidence at trial to persuade the jury to decide factual disputes and to apply the facts to the law as given to them by the judge and render a verdict. Once a decision is reached, the judge orders judgment to be entered for the party who wins. After the judgment is entered, either party may appeal the decision to an appellate court if prejudicial errors were committed at trial which prevented a party from receiving a fair trial.

Every commercial truck accident is unique. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the exact time-frame these steps will take in your particular case. It can take as little as 6-8 months to more than a year or two to resolve your case.

Conclusion

In 2004, over 5,190 people died and more than 116,000 people were injured in trucking accidents. Our highways are deadly. When tractor-trailers and cars collide in fatal trucking accidents, 91 percent of the deaths occurred in the cars. Approximately 5,000 trucks are involved in a fatal traffic accident each year. Almost 78% of these occurred during the hours of 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. Large trucks are more likely to be involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash than are passenger vehicles.

On the road, there’s almost nothing more deadly than an out-of-control truck. As trucking companies are only required to maintain many of their records for six months, it is imperative to take action immediately if you have been a victim.

When victims die in fatal truck accidents, the survivors are often unsure how to handle the aftermath of the tragedy. When fatal truck accidents are caused by negligence on behalf of the truck driver, company, employer, contractor or the manufacturer, the decedent’s family may have the legal right to seek compensation for the losses suffered in fatal truck accidents.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck, or a loved one has died in a truck crash or wreck, please let us assist you in obtaining a settlement to compensate you for your injuries or your loss.