A big rig is another term for a semi-truck or a tractor-trailer, which means these vehicles are large, heavy, and can often cause catastrophic consequences if they are involved in a crash.
Worse yet, many times, victims of a big rig collision often have no idea what they are supposed to do next after this accident, the legal options they can pursue, or whether they are entitled to compensation for their losses and injuries.
For these reasons, we have created the following blog post. In it, we will try to clear up some of the confusion surrounding these big rig accidents. More specifically, we will dive into everything you need to know about semi-truck crashes, your legal remedies, and how an experienced big rig accident lawyer can take on these complex legal claims.
What Are the Leading Causes of Big Rig Accidents?
Although big rig accidents can occur for several reasons, in general, these tragic collisions tend to result from:
#1. Driver Error
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 88 percent of truck-related collisions are due to driver error, such as driving too fast, failing to check blind spots, distracted driving, and driver confusion.
One major contributing factor to truck driver error is exhaustion. This is because even though regulations mandate how long truckers can drive and how many breaks they need to take, not all truckers or truck companies obey these laws.
As a result, many truck drivers work prolonged hours and take trips that are long distances, which causes these drivers to be behind the wheel for a long time. Consequently, this can lead to fatigue and put these drivers at a significantly higher risk for errors and crashes.
#2. Inadequately Maintained Rigs
Although trucking companies and drivers need to maintain and ensure their trucks are in proper working order, this does not always happen, and because these trucks often have to drive thousands of miles every week, if they are not cared for properly, they can quickly become dangerous to others on the road.
For instance, the following maintenance issues have been known to cause severe trucking accidents:
- Faulty braking systems
- Worn tires
- Broken turn signals, headlights, or tail lights
- Worn axles
- Improperly secured freight that can fall on the road
- Cracked windshields
#3. Poor Road Conditions
Roadways that are not kept in reasonable condition can also trigger big rig accidents, including cracked streets, large potholes, or debris in the lanes. In addition, if a trucker encounters bad weather conditions such as slick roads, heavy rainfall, or snow, the risk of an accident significantly increases.
#4. Driving Under the Influence
Although it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in every state, many truckers are still found guilty of using drugs or alcohol while working.
These substances are known to slow down reflexes, decreasing a trucker’s ability to react to changing situations.
They can also alter eye movement, slow eye muscle function, and alter visual perception, often resulting in blurred vision. As a result, when truckers drive under the influence, they are not able to maneuver their large rig properly, and accidents often result.
#5. Lack of Training
To drive a big rig, trucking companies need to ensure their drivers complete the proper training programs to ensure they can drive these large vehicles. However, because truck drivers are in such high demand, these companies may not do enough to train these drivers or verify that these drivers completed their training before they are put to work.
Consequently, this lack of training can lead to tragic accidents on the roads.
Big Rig Accident Liability Who is at Fault?
Although most motor vehicle crashes tend to only involve two drivers when it comes to big rig collisions, the situation is often more complicated.
In truth, various parties can be held responsible for these horrifying crashes, including:
- The liable truck driver
- The trucking company
- The truck owner
- The cargo loaders and owners
- Manufacturers of the truck or the trucking parts
- The mechanics
- Government agencies responsible for roadway maintenance or design
- Other third-party drivers
Due to the number of parties that can be held liable for one of these accidents, an independent investigation is often needed to ensure that all those at fault for the big rig crash are held accountable for the damages and losses sustained. Fortunately, when you work with an experienced big rig accident attorney, these lawyers can take care of this investigation and determine who was at fault for the collision.
Common Big Rig Accident Injuries
Because of the size and weight of these big rigs, when one of these trucks is involved in an accident, especially with a passenger car, the results can be devastating.
Yet, even though the extent of these injuries will often depend on the scope and the severity of the circumstances of the accident, some of the more common types of injuries that can result from a big rig collision include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Crushed limbs
- Internal organ damage
- Fractured bones
- Disfiguring lacerations
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Wrongful death
Worse yet, many of these injuries can also lead to severe health issues that can impact a person’s ability to live life like they once did, including supporting their family, maintaining relationships, and even moving around without help.
For these reasons, if you suffered any harm following a big rig accident, it is important to reach out to a skilled big rig accident attorney as soon as you can. These lawyers can take on this legal fight on your behalf and go after the financial recovery you are entitled to.
What to Do Following a Big Rig Collision?
Big rig crashes are often known to result in serious injuries and debilitating consequences. That is why it is likely that the last thing you want to do following this crash is to collect evidence at the scene. However, you need to remember that the actions you take after this collision are not only important to your health and safety, but also in ensuring your legal rights remain protected as well. Following a big rig accident, assuming you can do so safely, you should try to:
#1. Contact 911 Immediately
After a big rig accident, you need to call 911 immediately. This is the quickest way to alert the police of the crash, get the accident on record, and notify emergency medical personnel that you or someone at the scene needs immediate medical assistance.
Once the authorities get to the location, they can perform a preliminary investigation and write down their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue legal action after this crash, this police report can provide you with valuable evidence regarding what happened.
#2. Get Driver Information
Try to get everyone’s information that was involved in the accident. This should include names, contact details, driver’s license numbers, and insurance details. In addition, if you can try to gather information about the company the trucker was working for, pictures of the truck, and evidence of the cargo it was carrying.
#3. Take Videos and Pictures of the Scene
If the area is safe, try to take as many photos of the accident as you can. This should include pictures of your visible injuries, the vehicles involved in the crash, their placement on the road, skid marks on the street, traffic signals near the area, the weather conditions at the time of the collision, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
#4. Get to a Doctor Promptly
Generally, after a big rig accident, individuals involved in the crash need immediate medical help. However, in the rare case where you feel your injuries are minor following this type of collision, you should still get to a doctor as soon as possible following the accident.
Many serious conditions, such as brain trauma, can take days to manifest after an accident. Yet, the longer you wait to get medical help, the more crippling and deadly the injury can become. That is why it is best not to wait to get examined by a doctor.
Plus, these medical professionals can also help your legal claim. After an accident, the insurance company is looking for any reason to deny your case. By not getting your injuries promptly checked out, it allows the insurer to argue that your injuries are not that serious or a result of a subsequent event.
When you get to a doctor after your big rig crash, these medical professionals can document your injuries in their medical report and provide you with evidence of a direct link between your injuries and the accident in question.
Types of Compensation Available in a Big Rig Accident Lawsuit
If you have been involved in a big rig accident due to another person’s wrongful, negligent, or reckless actions, you may be entitled to certain types of compensation. Generally, this compensation includes:
Economic Damages: These damages refer to the actual and measurable financial losses after an accident.
- Past, present, and future medical expenses such as doctor visits, hospital stay, surgeries, emergency medical services, and prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitative services, including physical and occupational therapy
- At-home replacement services
- Personal property repairs
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic Damages: These damages refer to compensation for non-monetary, more subjective losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a limb
In addition, in some instances, punitive damages may also be available. However, unlike compensatory damages, which compensate a victim for their losses following an accident, punitive damages punish the defendant for their egregious actions and deter others from committing these actions. As a result, courts only award punitive damages in special instances.
That is why, to determine what compensation you can pursue following your big rig accident, you should reach out to a skilled big rig accident lawyer as soon as possible. These attorneys can promptly get to work, investigating your crash and figuring out what damages you need to pursue.
How Can an Experienced Big Rig Accident Lawyer Get You The Justice You Deserve
To bring a successful legal claim following a big rig accident, you need to present detailed and relevant evidence and strong legal arguments proving your case. However, after this type of devastating collision, this is probably the last thing you want to think about. For these reasons, following a big rig crash, you should retain an experienced big rig accident lawyer to take on this fight and go after the maximum damages you need.
These attorneys can:
- Go over your big rig accident with you in detail, evaluate whether you have a valid legal case, and determine what legal options you have.
- Investigate the incident and gather the evidence required to prove what happened and who was at fault for the crash.
- Hold all those responsible for the accident accountable.
- Ensure that legal motions and documents are correctly prepared and filed before the statute of limitations expires.
- Obtain experts such as accident reconstructionists to substantiate your claims.
- Handle all the negotiations with the other side and go after a just settlement.
- Take your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to provide you with a fair settlement offer and fight for the compensation you require.
If a big rig accident harmed you or a loved one, do not wait to secure the legal help you need. Instead, reach out to a knowledgeable truck accident law firm today for your free case consultation, and let these legal professionals show you how they can fight for you, your rights, and the justice you deserve.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.