One of the worst possible vehicle accidents you can have is a head-on collision with a commercial truck. When two vehicles collide head-on, the impact generated is much greater than that of a car hitting a stationary object. If one of those vehicles is a fully loaded commercial truck, it could weigh up to 80,000 pounds, as compared to a passenger car or SUV that weighs 4,000-5,000 pounds. These size and weight differences often result in total vehicle destruction and catastrophic injuries or death for the occupant(s) of the smaller vehicle in a head-on truck crash.
Causes of Head-On Truck Accidents
Commercial tractor-trailers are much harder to handle than smaller vehicles and have a large turning radius of more than 50 feet. While making wide turns, they sometimes enter lanes of oncoming traffic. If an 18-wheeler crosses the center line into your lane, it cannot stop on a dime to avoid a crash with your car, so the trucker must be sure there is sufficient space to complete the turn safely. Failure to do so is negligence on the part of the trucker, who is responsible for any resulting accident. Other causes of head-on crashes caused by negligent truckers include:
- Distracted driving
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Loss of control due to mechanical failure, shifting cargo, bad weather, or dangerous road conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A trucker’s medical condition or emergency
In order to pursue a successful insurance claim or to win a lawsuit against the at-fault trucker or trucking company, you must prove that the defendant’s negligent operation directly caused the accident that resulted in your injuries and property damage. This is the reason why a truck crash victim might need an attorney to help in the fight for fair compensation.
Injuries Commonly Suffered in Head-On Truck Crashes
Across the country, nearly 500,000 commercial truck accidents result in approximately 5,000 fatalities annually, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). More than half of head-on truck wrecks occur in rural areas, and one-quarter of such crashes take place on interstate highways. Drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles struck by trucks make up three-quarters of truck accident deaths. Injuries sustained by victims lucky enough to survive a head-on truck crash commonly include:
- Fractured or crushed bones
- Lacerations and scarring
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Broken ribs
- Punctured lungs
- Spinal cord damage and paralysis
- Severed limbs
- Surgical amputations
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Emotional or psychological issues
In most head-on truck crashes, the truck driver is at fault. If you’re injured in a head-on crash caused by a negligent trucker, you’re entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party’s insurer for all your resulting damages: medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and physical pain and suffering, as well as psychological trauma. To receive that compensation, however, you must prove the liable party’s negligence.
The Insurance Company Is Not on Your Side
The insurance company of the trucker or the trucking company may not want to pay a very expensive head-on truck crash claim quickly. The insurer is in business to earn money, not to lose it. They may make you a quick, low settlement offer soon after your wreck before you have any idea of what your long-term medical expenses might be.
If you accept their first offer, you could be left with astronomical medical bills that the settlement will not cover, and you can never ask for more money. An adjuster may take you more seriously if you have legal representation and enter negotiations for a reasonable settlement, which can be determined only after you’re on the road to recovery and have an idea of your future medical needs.
What You Need to Prove Liability
In order to prove your claim against an at-fault trucker who caused your accident, you need evidence such as testimony from witnesses to the crash, photos of the scene and the vehicles involved, a police report giving an official account of your accident and its causes, testimony of friends and family regarding your accident’s impact on your daily life, expert medical testimony about your injuries as well as present and future treatment, proof of the trucker’s negligence and/or any related mechanical failure, and proof of lost income due to your time off for recovery.
To demonstrate the cost of your medical care, you need documentation of all your doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, and medications. It also helps to keep a daily journal of your treatment and recovery process. All this evidence may be very difficult for you to gather on your own when you’re trying to recover from serious head-on crash injuries. An experienced truck accident attorney knows how to gather, organize, and present all such evidence to prove your claim of negligence and liability against one or more potential defendants, such as the truck driver, the trucking company, a truck or replacement parts manufacturer, a mechanic or repair service that maintains the truck, and/or loading dock workers if cargo shifting contributed to your wreck.
How a Myrtle Beach Lawyer Can Help You Succeed
A truck crash lawyer will be familiar with all the steps necessary to prove liability and demand reasonable compensation for your damages. There are many ways in which your attorney can help you seek a fair recovery, including:
- Proving liability by investigating your wreck with the help of an accident reconstructionist if necessary
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Consulting with your doctors to determine your long-term medical needs and projected expenses
- Calling in medical and vocational experts to testify as to the impact of your injuries on your life and ability to work
- Gaining access to the trucker’s logbooks to find out if FMCSA driving regulations were violated
- Preserving and obtaining crucial data from the truck’s black box recorder and other on-board devices that record stops, starts, miles driven, and rest breaks taken
- Accessing the truck’s maintenance records to see if mechanical issues caused the wreck
- Viewing video footage of the crash from any nearby security or red light cameras
- Monetizing your physical and emotional pain and suffering to evaluate your claim accurately
- Demanding fair compensation from one or more liable defendants
- Negotiating with multiple insurers for fair settlements
- Filing multiple lawsuits and taking your case to court if reasonable awards are not offered
Have You Been Injured in a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Truck Accident?
If you've been hurt in a truck accident, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Myrtle Beach office directly at 843.488.3165 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach, Florence, or North Charleston office locations.