As America learned in recent months, truckers serve as essential workers in a time of crisis. They deliver goods to stores and to warehouses where they then make their way to households across the country. When individuals must quarantine to prevent the spread of a virus, they rely on these individuals to get the items they need to remain safe and comfortable while sheltering in place. However, accidents can and do happen involving 18-wheelers and the consequences of the accidents are far reaching. The injuries may alter the victims’ lives for years to come, and medical bills associated with the accidents add up quickly. Sadly, individuals lose their lives in these accidents more than anyone would like.
Accidents involving 18-wheelers are more complex than those involving passenger vehicles. Many factors play a role in these accidents, and victims often need help in navigating the legal system to ensure those responsible pay their medical bills and they receive compensation for their pain and suffering. This involves knowing which steps to take after the accident, and victims find they can learn more with the information available from Uvalle Law firm.
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The Complexity of an 18-Wheeler Accident
The average person often doesn’t recognize the differences between an accident involving an 18-wheeler and one which only involves passenger vehicles. Physics play a role in the accident, because of the sheer size of the semi. As it is much larger than a passenger vehicle, it transfers more force upon impact. This leads to serious injuries on the part of the victims who survive. Sadly, not all make it following an accident involving a semi.
Victims find they may hold several parties liable for the accident and the injuries they sustained. Quite a few assume the driver bears all responsibility, but victims could sue the owner of the vehicle, the company that leased the truck, those responsible for loading the 18-wheeler, and any mechanics who maintained it. The victim needs to identify all responsible parties, and this can be challenging. Employment plays a role in who may be named in a suit, and the victim needs to consider independent contractor relationships to determine liability. An attorney assists in this task, and the victim must find an attorney who regularly handles cases of this type for the best results.
Did the truck driver abide by all local, state, and federal regulations regarding the operation of a semi? For instance, federal law regulates the number of hours a driver may spend on the road before taking a mandatory break and the length of the break required. Drivers must maintain a log of the number of miles traveled, breaks taken, maintenance of the vehicle, and inspections. Furthermore, federal regulations outline how long a driver must wait after consuming alcohol or taking certain supplements before they may get behind the wheel again and operate the commercial vehicle.
As with airplanes and many other commercial vehicles, many semis today come outfitted with a device referred to as a “black box.” This device records crucial details related to the operation of the vehicle before and during the crash. This includes the speed at which the truck was traveling at the time of the collision, when or if the driver applied the brakes, and more. An experienced attorney knows how to retrieve that data for any lawsuits filed.
Federal law regulates the amount and type of insurance required for commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. Victims, however, must determine whose insurance becomes liable following the accident and which parties should be named in a lawsuit. Attorneys analyze the facts of the case and determine which individuals and entities to hold liable.
Truck Accident Causes
Victims of accidents involving an 18-wheeler often assume fatigue on the part of the driver led to the collision. However, many factors could play a role in the accident, although fatigue remains one of them. Traffic violations, such as speeding or a failure to signal, play a role in some accidents, while drug use or intoxication leads to some collisions on the open road. When a semi is improperly maintained or inspected, when a driver or trucking company doesn’t have these tasks carried out, or when the vehicle isn’t properly loaded, accidents become more likely to happen. Drivers need extensive training before taking a truck out on the road, and a failure to get this training results in accidents. If this training is lacking, an accident may also occur. Drivers must abide by all industry regulations, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. A failure to do so increases the likelihood of an accident. Finally, commercial drivers are often subject to high production and haul demands, and these demands could cause an accident.
Victims must ensure they conduct a thorough investigation following an accident involving a semi. During this investigation, the gathering of evidence becomes a top priority to determine which parties are responsible and why. The victim needs to seek legal help to make certain their rights are protected throughout the process and they get the documentation to prove their claim.
Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident
Safety must always be a priority following a collision with an 18-wheeler. Individuals involved in the accident need to seek medical care immediately, even when it appears nobody sustained injuries. Certain injuries remain hidden for some time, as adrenaline often masks these injuries. This means the injuries might not become apparent for days or weeks, which could lead to additional damage without the victim being aware of this happening.
Document everything related to the accident, including any items that may serve as evidence. Write the name and contact information for the driver of the semi along with any witnesses. Record the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved and take pictures and videos of the vehicles. Document the weather conditions, road signs that may have played a role in the accident, the general location where the accident occurred, and where each vehicle was before the accident and after the collision. This could provide information about how the accident happened. Finally, write the condition of the vehicles. Take pictures of any landmarks, road signs, skid marks, and more. They could be of great help in providing the claim.
Take care when speaking to other parties regarding the accident. This includes the insurance company for the other driver, any attorneys representing this individual or their employer, other victims, and more. Any statement made could be used against you in court. Victims must remain cautious throughout the process to protect their right to get compensation. Don’t make this mistake. This explains why many victims choose to retain an attorney to handle accident-related matters on their behalf. You may wish to do the same.