Injury / Accident Questions & Answers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks account for approximately 8% of all fatal crashes and 3% of all injury and property related crashes. This may seem like a small amount, but consider that in 2012, 3,921 people were killed in big rig collisions while 104,000 people were injured. That’s approximately 29 truck accidents for every 100,000 cars on the road.
The simple answer is: physics. The average car weighs about 3,000 pounds, while a big rig carrying a full load can weigh more than 70,000 pounds. The differences in size and weight mean that the occupants of the passenger car are more likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries in a crash.
Investigating the accident scene, eyewitness testimony, and the police report are all tools that help determine fault in a truck accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will also investigate the driver and the company that employs them. How the truck driver was hired and trained, how many hours they were working and the condition of the truck can all be contributing factors in assigning fault.
Tractor-trailers, also known as semi-trucks, can weigh more than 16 times the average passenger car. Semis are typically 53 feet long, 8 and a half feet wide, and over 13 feet high. They’re difficult to maneuver, require at least 350 feet to come to a complete stop and often carry hazardous materials. A collision with a truck of this size can be disastrous, if not fatal.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will request the driver qualification file (DQF) from the company the driver works for. The driver qualification file is a requirement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and will include detailed information about the driver’s history, records, and medical test results.
An attorney will also review the electronic on-board recorder, collect eye witness testimony, review police reports and examine the scene of the accident, as well as the truck itself. All this information adds up to a complete truck accident investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regularly issues accident reports for big rigs and other commercial vehicles on their website following formal investigation.
Both the driver and the company they work for may be held liable in a truck accident, depending on the results of the investigation. Trucking companies will always try to avoid liability and may claim the driver doesn’t work for them or that the company doesn’t own the vehicle involved. Having a truck accident attorney on your side can help reveal the truth of who is responsible and how.
You may be able to sue the truck driver’s company if an employee relationship can be established between the driver and the trucking company. Under the respondent superior doctrine, a trucking company is legally responsible for the actions taken by workers in the course of their employment.
Some drivers are hired as independent contractors, which may or may not make the company that hired them liable for any accident damages. An experienced truck accident attorney can help uncover how much liability the trucking company has for any injuries sustained in a truck accident.
RVs, or motor homes, may be as big as a semi but they are typically owned by individuals with little to no training on how to handle such a large vehicle. Because state laws do not require special driving permits for RVs, just about anyone can drive one. If you are injured in an accident with an RV, contact the police and report the accident to your insurance. The size and weight of RVs mean the injuries will likely be as severe as those sustained in an accident with a big rig.
Yes, there are many federal and state regulations that truck drivers must abide by. These include traffic and civil laws (such as speed limit, weight and height maximums on roadways) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Department of Transportation regulations (including how many hours a driver can be on the road, training and licensing, etc). A truck accident lawyer will be able to uncover what laws and regulations have been violated during the accident investigation.
There are three main traits to consider when looking for an attorney: someone who understands the nuances of laws and regulations that apply to truck accidents, has a proven track record of success and who you feel comfortable and confident with.
At The Osiris A. Gonzalez Law Firm, P.L.L.C., we are dedicated to representing victims of accidents involving commercial trucks, RV and tractor-trailers. Our experience is quite extensive.
The details of each case are unique, so there is no standard amount that can be quoted. Many factors go into determining how much a truck accident case is worth, including medical expenses, lost wages and possibly funeral expenses – in addition to pain and suffering. A free case evaluation from a truck accident attorney is the best way to determine the worth of your truck accident case.
No. To protect your legal rights, please do not speak with the trucking company’s claims adjusters. Nor should you agree to sign anything. Politely refuse and have your attorney speak with them instead. No matter how concerned for your well-being an insurance adjuster may seem, their ultimate priority is to protect the interests of their company – not your family’s.
Severe, life-altering and fatal injuries are common in accidents involving big rigs and commercial trucks. A trucking company’s insurer is going to offer what they feel is the lowest reasonable amount, which often isn’t nearly enough to cover the lifetime expenses of your injuries. A truck accident attorney can assist you in determining and securing maximum compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of a collision with a large truck.