BEEN INVOLVED IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
Although all vehicle collisions are frightening and have the potential to result in serious injuries, truck accidents tend to have some of the most devastating consequences. These types of accidents occur much more often than most people realize. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that in 2016 alone, 4,440 commercial vehicles were involved in collisions, in which approximately 119,000 people were injured.
As these statistics reveal, truck accidents cause widespread damage and put anyone on the road at risk of serious injury.
Treating truck accident-related injuries is often expensive and can leave injured parties struggling with mounting medical bills while they are trying to recover. Fortunately, injured parties can recover damages from the driver who caused their crash, although doing so can be difficult. If you were injured in a truck accident for which you were not at fault, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Wayne truck accident attorney who can help you file a claim.
TYPES OF COMMERCIAL TRUCKS
Although we are perhaps most familiar with single cab tractor trailer trucks, there are actually a number of different kinds of vehicles that are regularly used on public roads that fall under the category of large trucks, including:
- Flatbed trucks, which have an open trailer and are often used for transporting odd-shaped cargo, such as lumber, logs, and construction equipment. Because they don’t have a roof or walls, these trucks must be carefully loaded, as cargo is much more likely to come loose in a collision.
- Dump trucks, which are most often used to transport loose materials like gravel, dirt, sand, and trash. Because they are so top heavy, these types of large trucks are more likely to be involved in rollover accidents.
- Tanker trucks, which are used to transport liquids, such as oil. In fact, most of the liquids that are transported via tanker truck are flammable or hazardous, putting tanker trucks at a much higher risk of exploding after a collision. Liquid cargo is also more likely to shift during a trip, which can cause the driver to lose control and the vehicle to roll over.
- Semi-trucks are the most common type of commercial truck, and as such, are also involved in the most truck accidents. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them extremely difficult to stop if drivers fail to implement proper braking procedures. These kinds of commercial trucks also have a high center of gravity and so are more prone to rolling over, especially if caught in a crosswind or when a driver is making a tight turn.
Regardless of the type of commercial truck involved in an accident, these types of collisions almost always result in severe property damage or physical injury, making it especially important for truck accident victims to consult with an experienced attorney about collecting compensation for their losses.
COMMON TRUCK ACCIDENT CAUSES
Truck accidents can usually be attributed to one of a few different causes, which include:
- Truck driver fatigue;
- Driving while intoxicated;
- Speeding, swerving, or otherwise driving aggressively;
- Driving while distracted;
- Tire blowouts caused by a lack of maintenance;
- Mechanical failure due to an inherent defect or a lack of maintenance; and
- Cargo spills resulting from improper loading procedures.
Recognizing that truck accidents pose a serious risk to anyone on the road, the federal government instituted a series of regulations with which trucking companies and their drivers must comply. These rules cover a wide range of issues, including mandatory break times, vehicle weight limits, safety inspections, and how to properly load or unload cargo. Unfortunately, not all drivers and their employers abide by these rules, which can lead to serious accidents, including but not limited to multi-car pile-ups, rollovers, underride accidents, rear end collisions, and jackknife accidents.
Drivers and trucking companies that do not comply with federal and state regulations can be held liable for resulting injuries. However, even if one of these specific rules was not violated, an injured party could be eligible to recover damages for their losses. Potentially liable parties include:
- The at-fault truck driver if he or she was negligent or reckless;
- The truck driver’s employer if it did not use reasonable care during the hiring and training process or failed to ensure that federal regulations were enforced;
- The truck’s owner if it failed to ensure that the truck was properly maintained;
- The manufacturer of the cargo being transported if it failed to warn the driver of its hazardous nature;
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle part if its malfunction caused the accident; or
- The negligent mechanic who failed to inspect or repair the truck with reasonable care.
While any one of these individuals or entities could be held liable for injuries sustained in a truck accident, it is not uncommon for more than one party to be found responsible. If, for instance, a driver fell asleep at the wheel, he or she could be held liable for a portion of the resulting damages, while his or her employer could also be found liable for forcing the driver to meet unreasonable deadlines or for failing to ensure that its drivers abided by federal regulations regarding break times.
Unfortunately, going up against a corporation like a trucking company can be difficult, so it is especially important for injured parties to have access to certain evidence, including:
- All police reports completed after the accident;
- The results of the truck driver’s commercial motor vehicle examination, if his or her negligence was the cause of the crash;
- The driver’s log books;
- Data obtained from in-vehicle technologies; and
- Medical records.
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DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH AN EXPERIENCED INDIANA TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Of these types of evidence, a driver’s log books are often the most helpful in proving fault, as they contain specific information that can be critical to the success of a case, including:
- The number of miles that the driver traveled each day;
- A table that tracked the driver’s route in one-hour increments;
- All shipping or cargo document numbers;
- Notations detailing when a driver was on duty, actually driving, taking a mandatory rest break, or off duty;
- Details about when and where mandatory rest breaks were taken.
This information can play an important role in proving negligence, so if you were injured in a truck accident, you should strongly consider speaking with an attorney who has the resources and experience necessary to begin compiling this evidence and building a strong case.
To speak with a dedicated truck accident attorney in Fort Wayne about your own truck accident claim, please call Delventhal Law Office LLC at 260-238-8498 today for a free case evaluation. We are eager to assist you with your case.
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At the Delventhal Law office, our Fort Wayne personal injury attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights and interests of accident victims. If you or a family member was injured because of the carelessness or recklessness of another party, we can help. Our Indiana personal injury lawyers handle a wide array of legal cases, including:
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