If you were injured in an 18-wheeler accident, you could sue the truck driver, the trucking company, or another responsible party. Around 4,100 Americans were killed in truck accidents in 2019, and many more non-fatal crashes resulted in serious injuries.
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 lbs or 40 tons without overweight permits. The average car weighs around 4,000 lbs. A truck weighing around 40 tons can cause a tremendous amount of damage and personal injury.
Large truck accidents are undoubtedly extremely dangerous. Among fatal 18-wheeler accidents, 67 percent of deaths were attributed to passenger vehicle occupants, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Factors that Contribute to 18-Wheeler Accidents
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
Large truck 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 weigh in on the problem. The 18-wheeler driver might not have undergone proper training, or he or she could be driving under the influence or without 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 the truck do exist, these 18-wheeler accidents can be much more complex than standard car wreck cases. This is why it can be necessary to hire an 18-wheeler accident lawyer with experience 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 developing the hours of service (HOS) standards. The HOS safety requirements for commercial truck drivers ensure that they will get the rest needed in order to prevent fatigue-related mistakes and hopefully, save lives.
The FMCSA’s rules limit the hours commercial rig drivers can work to 60 hours within a seven-day period. Also, truck drivers are to take a break of at least 30 minutes after working eight hours. Additionally, drivers may only be on the road for 11 hours after ten hours off duty.
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 work week 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.
“Commercial truck accidents are the most serious of all vehicular accidents often causing life-threatening injuries or death,” said Attorney Miller, owner of D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, “and while certain factors are beyond the driver’s control, such as weather and road conditions, driver fatigue is preventable. An eighteen-wheeler can become a deadly rig if the driver is overtired.”
At D. Miller Law, 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. Hiring a lawyer from our team can help you navigate the challenges since 18-wheeler accidents can involve corporate interests and even federal regulations.
How Can an Attorney Help Me File a Claim or Lawsuit?
If you were hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you could file a claim or a lawsuit. A truck accident attorney can help you determine your legal options and handle all these tasks for you.
Here’s how a law firm can help:
Gather Evidence to Prove How You Were Harmed
Truck accident cases can be devastating for victims. In many cases, victims are left with serious or even catastrophic injuries—and proportionately high medical bills.
An attorney will fight for all forms of compensation available to you, demonstrating that you deserve damages for:
- Past, present, and future medical bills: This could include compensation for surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, physical therapy, visits to a doctor, and more.
- Lost income: You could miss work for days, weeks, or months—and you could be compensated.
- Reduced earning capacity: Some injuries can restrict your ability to work over the long term, forcing you to take a new job or limit your hours.
- Intangible losses: Some losses don’t have a dollar value, yet they can drastically affect your well-being. You could seek damages for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental anguish, pain and suffering, and more.
Your lawyer could gather evidence from sources such as your medical records, statements from your doctors, and testimony from experts.
Determine Who Was Liable for Your Accident and Injuries
A lawyer will investigate your case to ensure that you hold the right party (or parties) accountable. In 18-wheeler accidents, one or more entities could be liable, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- A cargo loading company
- A parts or vehicle manufacturer
Determining the correct liable party is crucial for your case. Even if the truck driver caused your crash, you could also pursue compensation from the trucking company. With a higher corporate insurance policy available, you could seek a higher level of compensation for your losses.
Negotiate an Out-of-Court Settlement or Lawsuit
Investigating your case is only the first step. Next, your lawyer will work to secure the compensation you need through a settlement or lawsuit.
Many victims want to know if they will need to sue a truck driver. It’s possible that your case will go to trial. However, your lawyer may be able to seek a settlement that covers your losses—and avoid the time involved in a lawsuit.
However, a lawyer will file suit if the liable party refuses to make a fair offer. They will work to file suit within the state’s statute of limitations deadline. In Texas, this is generally two years, according to Texas law.
Support You Through the Roadblocks of an 18-Wheeler Accident Case
Seeking compensation from a trucking company can mean a chance to pursue a higher settlement amount, but securing a settlement could entail challenges. Insurance companies often work hard to protect their bottom line, and a trucking company will have a legal team ready to do so.
A lawyer can help you get the settlement or award you deserve. They will know how to show that you were harmed due to another party’s negligence, countering the tactics that insurance companies use to limit your compensation.
Get a Free Consultation from the Strong Arm after an 18-Wheeler Accident
Do not delay if you have been involved in an accident. There is a time limit to file your claim, and you do not need to face the insurance adjusters alone. Let our team work on your behalf.
Please call or fill out the form on this page now to begin your free consultation. Contact D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ to learn more about your rights.