Automobile collisions can be traumatic events that alter people’s lives. This devastation is compounded if the collision involves a heavy truck loaded with cargo. Truck accidents can result in intense trauma, extensive injuries, high medical bills, and costly vehicle repairs. Here is everything you need to know if you are involved in a truck accident.
Extent of Large Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported in 2019 that large trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds caused more than 510,000 accidents. Approximately 23% of these accidents caused an injury or death. Compensation claims were likely pursued in the majority of the accidents involving injuries or deaths.
It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to be confused after being involved in such a traumatic event. Victims must seek legal help and get the right guidance to get fair compensation. Since truck accidents may involve several liable parties, the potential for confusion during the compensation claims process is especially high. Thus, victims need to seek the right guidance immediately after the event.
How Liability is Determined
The amount of money awarded to truck accident victims varies widely, depending on a variety of factors. Typically, settlements are higher for truck accidents than for collisions involving only passenger vehicles. The size and weight of trucks often cause more damage that results in higher repair bills and medical expenses.
The most important factor in determining truck accident settlements is liability. Liability in these accidents is complicated because many parties may share responsibility. The truck driver, trucking company, and vehicle manufacturer may all share responsibility. For instance, the company that employs the truck driver may be at fault if they failed to properly train the driver and this lack of training contributed to the accident.
The truck driver may have sole responsibility if negligence caused the accident. Perhaps the driver was driving while under the influence of narcotics or traveling well above the speed limit. Both of these instances would likely prove the driver is responsible for the accident.
The company that manufactured the truck can also be held liable if a faulty part or improperly installed system caused the truck to malfunction. There have also been instances where a third-party mechanic failed to properly maintain a truck, causing an accident. More than one party may share responsibility if multiple factors contributed to the crash.
The at-fault party is responsible for paying damages associated with the crash. However, the injured party may be responsible for some costs if the plaintiff can prove contributory negligence or comparative fault. These defenses are often raised by the guilty party to prove that the injured party was partially responsible for the accident. Being found partially liable will decrease the settlement amount.
How Settlement Amounts Are Determined
Settlement amounts are determined by the damages an injured party suffered as a result of the crash. Some examples of possible damages that may be awarded include:
- Medical expenses: Most truck accident settlements cover the injured party’s medical expenses including surgical procedures, hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, medication, and rehabilitation. Be sure to save any medical bills and receipts. Insurance companies or the court may ask to see this as evidence of the medical bills.
- Property damage: If the injured party was driving a passenger vehicle at the time of the accident, the property damage is likely extensive. The settlement may cover the expense of fixing your car or purchasing a new vehicle if the car is damaged beyond repair.
- Lost wages: If you need to take time off work to recover from your injuries, the insurance company may pay for your living expenses while you are unable to work. The money awarded will likely not exceed the amount you did not receive because you could not go to work.
- Pain and suffering: Typically, you must be able to prove you suffered severe physical or mental anguish because of the crash to get a pain and suffering settlement. These settlements are rare because mental suffering is hard to quantify as a monetary value.
Punitive damages can also be awarded if the trucking company or truck driver violated a federal or state regulation. The courts may award punitive damages to the victim to punish the liable party for wrongdoing. These awards are rare but can be substantial.
What To Do After a Truck Accident
Being injured in a truck accident can be a traumatic event. Even if you are not seriously injured, it can be difficult to know what to do after a crash to preserve your health and well-being. Follow these steps after an accident to help protect your interests:
- Check for any injuries: Examine your body immediately after the collision for any injuries. Do not move any parts of your body, especially your neck or spine, until you are certain you are not injured. Check for any blood, visible scrapes, or areas of tension in the body. Resist the urge to move until help arrives if you are injured.
- Get to a safe location: Your immediate health and safety is the most important thing immediately following a truck accident. Remain as calm as possible and get to a safe location as soon as possible if you did not suffer any major injuries. If it is safe, check the other vehicles to see if anyone is injured.
- Contact help: Call the police to report the accident. Request an ambulance or fire truck if necessary. Stay at the scene until help arrives or you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
- Seek medical attention: Seek medical attention as soon as you are able. It is a good idea to request a medical examination after a truck accident, even if you are not visibly injured. Internal injuries are not uncommon after severe accidents, particularly if you were not wearing a seatbelt.
- Collect evidence: If you do not go to the hospital immediately after the accident, collect evidence before leaving the scene. Take pictures of the road conditions, any injuries, damage to your vehicle, and any other important details. You should also get the name, phone number, and employer of the truck driver. Also, right down the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. You may need to call a witness to testify in court if your version of events does not align with the story told by the truck driver.
- Report the accident to your insurance company: You must report the accident to your insurance company within 24 hours, even if you did not cause the accident.
- Talk to an attorney: You should speak with a legal representative as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and may let you know how much compensation you may be eligible to receive. An attorney can help you collect the evidence you need if you decide to file an insurance claim or pursue a legal claim.
Call For Help Today
Were you involved in a truck accident in New York? Based in Buffalo, Cellino Law specializes in personal injury cases, including car accidents. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and let you know if you are eligible for compensation. Contact us today to set up an appointment with a member or our legal team.