18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer: Get the Help You Deserve
Driving 18-wheelers or semi-trucks has its inherent dangers. The sheer size and speed at which these trucks travel can cause considerable damage to roads.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,862 large trucks were in fatal crashes in 2018. Singles (including 18-wheelers) accounted for 55 percent of these fatal large truck crashes.
When a major truck accident occurs, many complications arise. That’s why you should consult an 18-wheeler lawyer immediately after the incident. From injuries to liability to insurance claims, an 18-wheeler accident attorney can help guide you through the legal process.
Why are 18-wheelers so dangerous?
What makes 18-wheelers more dangerous than your average vehicle? Let’s examine some of the reasons:
Weight and speed combination: While an average consumer car weighs 1.5 tonnes, an average loaded tractor weighs 40. That’s about 27 times heavier than your average car. Imagine a 40-ton truck hitting a small car at 60 miles per hour. The results can be devastating.
Stopping Distance: Larger trucks take longer to stop than a car. An average passenger vehicle traveling 65 miles per hour stops at 316 feet under ideal conditions. In contrast, a 40-ton truck traveling at the same speed takes 525 feet to stop. In addition, larger trucks have to deal with braking. Because of how air brakes work, there is a time lag between when the driver steps on the brakes and when the brakes are applied. This means that 18-wheelers require even more stopping distance.
Blind Spot – 18-wheelers have four major blind spots: the truck’s front, sides, and rear. Due to the size and height of the truck, drivers may need help seeing smaller cars in these areas. Driving in these areas can be extremely dangerous for small vehicles, especially when the truck driver does not check their blind spots.
Hazardous Materials: Semi trucks always carry hazardous materials on U.S. highways. Due to strict regulations, drivers need special training to become hazmat drivers. Hazardous materials may include flammable, explosive, radiological, or toxic materials. If this material is released outside, it can cause significant harm to people and the environment.
Unsecured Cargo: Not all 18-wheelers have enclosed trailers. Some semi trucks have an open bed, which requires the driver to secure the load properly. If the driver is careless in hitting the cargo, the loose debris can cause accidents resulting in injury or even death. Some common types of unsecured cargo may include raw materials, industrial tools, auto parts, and more.
As you can see, there are many dangers when driving an 18-wheeler. Failure to mitigate these hazards may result in an accident. If an accident occurs due to the negligence of another party, you have the right to seek compensation. An 18-wheeler accident attorney can advise you on the best action.
18 Common Causes of Wheeler Accidents
Determining the cause of an 18-wheeler accident can sometimes be clarified. A truck driver may not always be primarily responsible for an accident. Often, multiple factors lead to an accident. Here are the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents.
The inexperience of the driver
Drivers must undergo extensive training before obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Requirements vary from state to state, but drivers must generally pass a written test, obtain a learner’s permit, and pass a driving test.
With the increasing demand for truck drivers in the industry, companies knowingly or unknowingly hire less skilled drivers. Additionally, cases of truck license fraud where trucking schools issue fake licenses can increase the number of inexperienced drivers on the road.
According to the FMCSA, fatigue contributed to 13 percent of crashes involving commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Truck drivers can be on the road for hours in extreme conditions. Therefore, falling asleep at the wheel is a real risk when driving a large truck.
Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are in place to combat this risk to limit driving hours. For example, drivers are restricted to 11 hours of driving after 10 hours of duty. Drivers must also take breaks during their shifts, which is required. However, despite these regulations, driver fatigue can still occur. Additionally, drivers may violate HOS regulations to meet delivery demands, making it dangerous for everyone on the road.
Truck accidents and near misses are significantly influenced by distracted driving. In about 80% of accidents, the truck driver was distracted in some way. There are many ways that distracted driving can manifest itself.
This can be inside or outside the cabin, including things like:
- Send text messages
- Use of dispatch devices
- Food and beverages
- of smoking
- Looking at the billboard
- GPS setting
Today’s technology has made it more difficult for drivers to focus on the road. From tablets to mobile devices to cab screens – an 18-wheeler crash is only a momentary distraction.
Under FMCSA regulations, trucking companies must adhere to strict maintenance standards to ensure the safe operation of vehicles. These maintenance requirements include checking the brakes, fuel system, lights, tires, etc. These parts must undergo routine safety inspections to ensure compliance.
Trucking companies can sometimes take shortcuts with truck maintenance. Or, to save costs, they can do the absolute minimum. Accidents brought on by poor maintenance, like having worn tires or faulty brakes, can be very costly. Trucking companies, maintenance contractors, and truck drivers all have a role to play in ensuring proper truck maintenance.
Bad weather conditions can be factors in an 18-wheeler accident. These include strong winds, snow or ice, rain, and fog. Because of large blind spots and long stopping distances, truckers need to be especially alert during inclement weather.
Under federal regulations, truck drivers can refuse to drive if they believe it is unsafe. However, drivers are often under a lot of pressure to meet delivery deadlines. As a result, they may still choose to continue driving in bad weather, increasing the risk of an accident.
18 What to do after a wheeler accident
Knowing what to do after an 18-wheeler accident can be overwhelming. Here are some basic steps to take after your accident.
1. Move to safety.
If the accident is minor and the vehicle is drivable, move your vehicle to avoid a secondary collision. If it’s safer to stay where you are or if you’ve sustained significant injuries, stay seated until help arrives.
2. Exchange of information with the truck driver
Exchange details with the truck driver, including your name, contact information, license, registration, and insurance information. It would be best if you also got the trucking company’s name and any relevant contacts.
Limit your interactions with the truck driver. Never discuss blame issues.
3. Document the scene.
Take photographs of the scene. Photograph the damage, debris, injuries, and surrounding environment—request contact information from witnesses.
4. Get medical attention.
An accident with an 18-wheeler can be serious. Get medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, visiting the doctor is a good idea. Symptoms like whiplash can appear a few days after the incident, so getting checked out right away is important.
5. Consult an 18-wheeler attorney.
Accident victims occasionally make the mistake of providing accident statements to insurance companies without seeking legal advice from a truck accident attorney. The insurance company’s decision to pay is not in its best interest. Trucking companies backed by your insurance companies will aggressively defend every claim. Let an experienced attorney deal with insurance companies. Doing so can give you the best chance of compensation for your injuries.
18 How a Wheeler Accident Lawyer Can Help
Dealing with the aftermath of an 18-wheeler accident isn’t easy. As you recover from your injuries, a law firm that specializes in 18-wheeler accidents can assist you with your case.
They will address questions such as:
Who is to blame? Multiple parties can be at fault in an 18-wheeler accident. This could be the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, another driver, or a third-party entity. Determining who is negligent is an important factor in recovering compensation. An attorney will help you identify negligent parties in building your case.
How much can I get paid? An 18-wheeler accident can result in serious injuries. It’s up to an experienced attorney to ensure you get the compensation you need to recover. This includes enough money to cover the costs of your medical treatment, car damage, lost income, legal fees, and pain and suffering.
How to negotiate with insurance companies? The insurance company has the incentive to reach a settlement as soon as possible. And, most of the time, they will try to underbid you. Most people need to gain experience negotiating with large insurance companies. An 18-wheeler accident attorney understands the tactics used by insurance companies because they deal with them all the time. They will level the playing field, so you can get the best deal possible.