You can sue if you were injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler. Due to the size and weight of such vehicles, they can cause severe damage in an accident. As a result, you could accumulate ongoing medical bills and suffer painful injuries.
You shouldn’t have to figure out paying these expenses on your own. Instead, consider filing an insurance claim or injury lawsuit against the liable party. A truck accident lawyer can help you with this process.
About Trucking Accidents
While any vehicle accident can be serious, ones involving an 18-wheeler truck are often the most dangerous. The legal weight for an 18-wheeler in the U.S. is currently 80,000 pounds or 40 tons without overweight permits. The average car weighs around 5000 pounds. A truck weighing around 40 tons can cause substantial damage and personal injury.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
18-wheeler accidents are undoubtedly extremely dangerous. Seventy-five percent of fatal 18-wheeler accidents involve collisions with other vehicles. There are many factors that can contribute to 18-wheeler accidents, including:
- Driver error
- Defective tires
- Driver fatigue
- Brake failure, defective brakes, or overheated brakes
- Mechanical malfunctions
- Poor safety measures
18-wheeler accidents can also occur if loose cargo is unstable, causing the driver to lose control of the truck. The economic incentives in the trucking industry also add to the problem. The 18-wheeler driver might not have undergone proper training, or they could have been driving under the influence or without the required sleep.
Incentives in the trucking industry often make it tempting for drivers to skip sleep so they can make more deliveries. Since federal and state regulations regarding the time 18-wheeler drivers can operate trucks do exist, these 18-wheeler accidents can be much more complex than standard car wreck cases. Therefore it is necessary to consider hiring an 18-wheeler accidents lawyer with expertise in the field.
Hours-of-Service (HOS) Rules
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has addressed this safety issue by revising the Hours of Service (HOS) guidelines. The HOS safety requirements for commercial truck drivers ensure that truckers get the rest needed to prevent fatigue-related mistakes and, hopefully, save lives.
The Rules Have Been Altered to Ensure Everyone’s Safety
Under the old standards, commercial rig drivers were allowed to work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new rule limits the hours to only 70 within the same time. Also, truck drivers are to take a break of at least 30 minutes after working eight hours. The existing 11-hour daily driving limit remains unchanged.
The final rule also allows drivers to use the “34-hour restart” provision only once during any seven-day period. This allows them to restart the clock on their workweek if they are off duty for at least 34 consecutive hours.
Big rig crashes can cause more severe injuries than other vehicles. Companies and drivers that do not comply with the HOS requirements will be held accountable for any damage and injury caused as a result of non-compliance.
The Driver May Not Be the One Responsible for the 18-Wheeler Accident
If the truck driver caused the accident, then their employer will be responsible for paying your damages due to vicarious liability. This principle dictates that employers are to be held accountable for their employees’ actions.
Other parties may have acted negligently, such as:
- The trucking company
- The cargo loading company
- The city government
- A mechanic
- A truck parts manufacturer
- Another driver
More than one party could be liable, as well. In any case, you can prove their negligence by showing that they owed you a duty of care, breached it, and caused the crash that inflicted financial, emotional, and physical harm on you and your family.
Your medical records, the crash report, photographic and video evidence, and witness statements can all supplement your claim. If you hire an attorney, they can access the involved truck’s black box information, employee records, and logbooks.
Types of Financial Recovery You Can Sue for in an 18-Wheeler Accident Case
Because truck accidents can be so devastating, you may have suffered a range of damages. If you choose to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you can request financial recovery for:
- Past and ongoing medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage costs
- Future loss of earning power
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain and suffering
If your loved one passed away from their truck accident injuries, you could recoup wrongful death-related damages. Recovery for funeral and burial expenses, loss of inheritance, loss of consortium, and/or final medical bills may be available.
How Long You Have to Sue If You Were Injured in an Accident with an 18-Wheeler
State law dictates how long you have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. Failure to bring your case within this time frame could block you from pursuing financial recovery.
Starting your case soon not only helps you meet certain deadlines; it also allows you to seek the evidence you need. Traffic camera footage and photographs of the accident scene may be destroyed after a few months. Eyewitnesses’ testimony may be unreliable, as their memories of what happened may fade over time.
If you delay, you may compromise the effectiveness of your case.
Reach Out to D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ for Assistance with Your 18-Wheeler Case
At D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™, we have years of experience dealing with the many complicated legal issues surrounding 18-wheeler accident claims. Because of the rules and regulations surrounding the trucking industry, the resulting lawsuits often differ from standard car accident cases. Consider legal aid is key since 18-wheeler accidents can involve corporate interests and even federal regulations.
Do not delay if you have been involved in an accident. There is a limited time to file your claim, and you do not need to face the insurance adjusters alone. Let our team work on your behalf. Please call D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™.
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