Any motor vehicle accident is a traumatic experience for the drivers and occupants of the cars involved in the crash. Even minor two-car fender benders in which injuries and property damage are minimal can be challenging for victims. Not only do they have to seek medical attention for their injuries and repair their cars, but they must also go through the process of filing damage claims against at-fault drivers’ insurance companies for medical bills, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. When an insurer does not offer a reasonable settlement, a victim might have to file a lawsuit and seek fair compensation in court. If you’re hurt in an accident that happens to involve multiple vehicles, the damage claim process is that much more complex because of the number of parties involved in the crash.
If your multi-car accident is completely or partially caused by a fully loaded commercial truck, which can weigh up to fifteen times as much as a passenger car, you will find yourself in the worst possible scenario. Multi-vehicle truck crash victims generally sustain catastrophic injuries leading to astronomical medical expenses, the most complicated kind of accident claim, and attempts by one or more insurance companies to delay, devalue, or deny their damage claims. In such cases, the services of a truck accident attorney are highly recommended for victims who are recovering from severe injuries and in need of compensation for their damages.
Examples of Multi-Vehicle Truck Accidents
The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study reports that more than 10% of traffic accidents involve three or more vehicles. Such multi-car or chain-reaction wrecks account for nearly half of car crash fatalities across the country. Common accident scenarios include:
A car or SUV rear-ended by a tractor-trailer might slam into the back of a vehicle ahead, which could then rear-end the vehicle ahead of it, and so on, causing a chain-reaction crash.
If an oncoming 18-wheeler traveling at highway speed drifts out of its lane and hits you head-on, your vehicle will come to a stop and could be rear-ended by multiple vehicles behind you.
Because semi-trucks have huge wheels and high bumpers, a smaller car that’s hit by a truck can be caught under the cab or the trailer, bringing the semi to a sudden halt and possibly causing a multi-car pileup if other drivers cannot slow down or stop in time.
In a jackknife crash, the trailer of a semi-truck swings out to the right or left and can block adjacent lanes, causing other cars to crash into the trailer.
If the trailer of a big rig is improperly loaded, its cargo can become unbalanced and cause the trailer to tip over when negotiating a sharp turn, taking the cab of the truck with it. In this kind of accident, a truck can block several lanes of traffic and cause a pileup of cars that can’t stop in time to avoid a crash.
Causes of Truck Crashes
Truck drivers are often under pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines and might even earn financial incentives for doing so. For this reason, they could be tempted to violate speed limits or to drive more consecutive hours without rest than Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations permit.
A driver who is speeding, fatigued, drowsy, or distracted by a radio, a GPS device, food, beverages, a cellphone, a tablet, or cigarettes can cause a serious multi-car crash, endangering other drivers and their passengers. Factors such as bad weather, heavy traffic, poor road conditions, “rubbernecking,” equipment malfunctions, drug or alcohol impairment, lack of proper training, and faulty or missing traffic signs and signals can also lead to disastrous truck accidents.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
Victims of truck wrecks commonly suffer a variety of severe injuries:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord damage
- Eye injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Such injuries often require surgery and other expensive medical treatment as well as significant time off work, leading to costly claims for the insurance companies involved. If you lose a loved one in a fatal truck crash, you may file a wrongful death action against the at-fault driver.
Fighting With Insurance Companies
Because insurers are in business to earn profits, not to pay out costly damage claims, they’re likely to fight your expensive truck crash claim or to offer you an unfairly low settlement before you know the extent of your long-term medical needs. Before accepting an insurer’s settlement offer it is recommended to consult an attorney who can evaluate your claim and make a demand for reasonable compensation if it has not been offered.
There Will Be More Than One Defendant
Unlike a car accident in which there’s only one at-fault party from whom you may seek compensation for damages, a truck accident could involve one or more of several potential defendants who bear partial responsibility, including the following:
- The truck driver who negligently caused your crash
- The trucking company that employs the driver
- A truck repair service that fails to maintain a truck properly for safe operation
- A truck manufacturer or a parts manufacturer if defective equipment played a role in the wreck
- Loading dock personnel if improperly loaded cargo shifted or fell from a trailer and caused the accident
- A government agency if poor road conditions or faulty traffic signals contributed to the crash
- A liquor license holder or social host who served alcohol to a trucker in a DUI accident claim
Identifying all the defendants in your accident and determining their percentages of fault in order to demand fair compensation from each one is a difficult job best left to an experienced attorney while you’re recovering from your injuries.
How Your Lawyer Can Help
A truck crash lawyer can call in an accident reconstructionist to investigate your accident thoroughly and prove the percentages of fault of all defendants. Your attorney can also access crucial data from the truck’s “black box” recorder and dashboard camera, obtain the at-fault trucker’s driving record and logbooks or electronic logging device data, interview eyewitnesses, consult with your doctors to estimate your long-term medical needs, put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering to evaluate your case, demand reasonable compensation from all defendants’ insurers, negotiate fair settlements, file multiple lawsuits, and fight for you in court if necessary.