What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident
What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

If you were in a truck accident that seriously injured you or killed a close family member, you likely have questions about what you can do to hold the responsible parties accountable and get the compensation you need. While you probably have every right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, truck accident claims are complex and challenging to successfully navigate. 

Therefore, as soon as possible after getting treatment for your injuries, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer for help. 

Truck Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a “large truck” is any vehicle–commercial or non-commercial–with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more. 

In a recent year, truck accidents killed 5,788 people in 2021 and injured 154,993 others. Around 72% of those who died were occupants in other vehicles, and most truck accidents occur on roads other than interstates. 

What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Many causes of truck accidents are the same as any other traffic-related accident.

They include:

  • Speeding
  • Drowsy driving
  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to yield
  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Disregarding traffic laws and signals

However, some truck accidents can result from other causes that would not apply to other passenger vehicles, such as:

  • Jackknife accidents, where the truck’s trailer swings out to the side of the truck during heavy braking or sliding on slippery roads
  • Rollover accidents, where the truck’s high center of gravity and cargo cause the truck to tip over when going around a curve or during evasive actions
  • Mechanical failures, such as brake malfunctions, tire blowouts, and suspension problems
  • Inadequate driver training, where the trucking company failed to properly train the truck driver to operate a large truck

Other factors can lead to truck accidents as well, such as where a trucker drives too fast for road or weather conditions.

No matter the cause, if the accident was not your fault, contact a truck accident attorney to discuss your options for getting compensation.

What Parties Can I Hold Liable After a Truck Accident?

After a truck accident, your attorney may hold several parties liable, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Some parties that could hold accountability for your injuries and losses include:

  • Truck driver: Your lawyer may hold the truck driver liable if they can show the truck driver’s negligence contributed to the accident, such as distracted driving, speeding, or driving under the influence. Violations of traffic laws or hours-of-service regulations could also establish driver liability.
  • Trucking company: The trucking company that employs the driver may bear responsibility for the actions of their employee. If the company failed to properly screen, train, or supervise the driver, or if they encouraged or tolerated unsafe driving practices, your attorney may hold the trucking company liable.
  • Vehicle owner: If another party owned the truck involved in the accident, such as a leasing or rental company, your attorney may hold the truck owner responsible if they failed to properly maintain the truck or if the vehicle’s mechanical defects contributed to the accident. 
  • Maintenance and repair companies: The companies responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck could bear liability if poor maintenance, faulty repairs, or negligent inspections contributed to the truck accident. 
  • Truck manufacturer: If a defect in the truck's design or manufacturing contributed to the accident, your lawyer could hold the manufacturer or distributor of the truck accountable. Examples of defects could include faulty brakes, defective tires, or other mechanical issues.
  • Cargo loaders: If improperly loaded or unsecured cargo contributed to the crash, the parties responsible for loading the cargo onto the truck may bear liability. If the load shifted or spilled and led to the accident, your attorney could hold negligent loaders liable.
  • Government entities: In some cases, government entities responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the roadways may share liability. If a poorly designed or maintained road contributed to the accident, your attorney could file a claim against the relevant government agency. 
  • Other drivers: Maybe another vehicle driver cut the truck off or caused the truck driver to take quick evasive action to avoid a collision and they slammed into your car. In these cases, your attorney could seek to hold the at-fault vehicle driver responsible for the wreck.
  • Consult a personal injury attorney experienced in handling truck accident cases to determine liability in a truck accident. An attorney can evaluate your accident, investigate the parties involved, and determine the appropriate parties to hold liable in your specific case.

    What Damages Can I Receive After a Truck Accident?

    Following a truck accident that injured you, you could recover compensation, including:

    • Medical expenses: You can seek compensation for all past, present, and future medical expenses related to your injuries. This includes costs for hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, physical therapy, assistive devices, and any other necessary medical treatments.
    • Property damage: If the truck accident damaged or destroyed your vehicle, you can claim the cost of repairs or replacement.
    • Lost income: If you had to miss work because of your injuries, you may pursue compensation for lost income, which can include tips, bonuses, commissions, wages, and other payments. Additionally, you could pursue compensation for loss of future earnings if your injuries resulted in a long-term or permanent disability.
    • Pain and suffering: You could obtain non-economic damages for physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. These subjective damages can vary based on the severity and long-term impact of your injuries.
    • Emotional distress: Truck accidents can result in emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other psychological trauma. You could seek compensation for the emotional toll the accident has taken on your well-being.
    • Punitive damages: In cases involving exceptionally reckless, intentional, or malicious actions of a responsible party, the court may award punitive damages to punish the at-fault party and deter similar behavior.
    • Wrongful death damages: If the truck accident killed a close family member, such as your spouse, child, or parent, you may pursue damages through a wrongful death claim. This compensation can cover final expenses and burial costs. You may also claim loss of consortium and other damages to compensate you for your loved one’s financial contribution to the household.

    The specific damages you may receive can vary depending on your state’s laws and your case. A personal injury attorney experienced in truck accident cases can explain your rights and maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

    What Evidence Do I Need to Establish Liability in a Truck Accident?

    To prove liability in a truck accident, you need strong evidence, so work with an experienced truck accident attorney from the start. They will have the resources to gather the evidence you may find challenging to obtain, and they will have the knowledge and skills to use that evidence to establish the liability of all the appropriate parties.

    Some evidence that your attorney can use in proving liability include:

    Accident Scene Evidence

    Your attorney may need photographs or videos of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, skid marks, road conditions, traffic signs, and visibility. Your lawyer can also work with accident reconstruction professionals to generate diagrams or sketches illustrating the accident scene, showing the positions and movements of the vehicles involved.

    Eyewitness Testimony

    If you physically can, at the accident scene, get statements and contact information of any witnesses to the crash and share that information with your attorney. Your attorney can also depose witnesses to get their testimony.

    Police Report

    The official police report will contain details about the accident, statements from involved parties and witnesses, and the officer's opinion on fault. Your attorney can obtain a copy.

    Truck Driver Information and Records

    If you can, get the truck driver's name, contact information, driver's license number, and insurance information at the scene and share them with your lawyer. Your attorney can also request the driver's logbook records, which can provide information about the driver's hours of service, rest breaks, and compliance with other federal regulations.

    Trucking Company Records

    Have your lawyer request records from the trucking company, including employment records, training documents, policies, and procedures. They can also obtain maintenance and inspection records for the truck involved in the accident.

    Black Box Data

    Many commercial trucks come with electronic data recorders, often referred to as black boxes. Your attorney can obtain the black box data, if available, which can provide information about the truck's speed, braking, acceleration, and other critical data leading up to the accident.

    Expert Analysis

    As previously mentioned, your attorney will have professional resources available to determine fault and support your claim.

    For instance, accident reconstruction experts can analyze the evidence and provide expert opinions on how the accident occurred and who may bear fault. Additionally, medical experts can evaluate your injuries and provide opinions on how the accident injured you and how much your treatments will cost you.

    Surveillance Footage

    If surveillance cameras captured the accident, your attorney could obtain any available footage that may provide additional evidence.

    Social Media or Online Posts

    Both you and your attorney should check the social media accounts or online presence of the parties involved to identify any relevant posts, pictures, or comments that could support your claim. (Meanwhile, stay off social media while your case progresses so the other side can’t do the same to you.)

    Work with an astute and assertive truck driver attorney who will take an active interest in your case and work diligently to investigate the accident thoroughly and obtain all necessary evidence to establish fault and liability. 

    How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?

    Every state sets a time limit on when injured parties can pursue legal action to get compensation from those responsible. These statutes of limitations vary by state and by the injury-causing event.

    For instance, Wisconsin’s statute of limitations is generally three years for most injury claims based on negligence, such as truck accidents. The statute of limitations for both Minnesota and North Dakota are generally six years. 

    If you do not file your lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations, you may forfeit your right to recover compensation. Certain circumstances can extend or reduce the time you have to file a claim, such as cases involving the government or minors. Contact an attorney immediately for advice and help.

    Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today

    Russell Nicolet - Attorney for Side-by-Side ATVs in Wisconsin & Minnesota
    Russell Nicolet, Truck Accident Lawyer

    A truck accident is scary, and the accident may have left you with considerable injuries or devastating losses. Not only must you deal with medical bills, lost income, and other financial hardships, but you must also deal with your ongoing pain, suffering and emotional distress.

    You shouldn’t bear these costs alone, and you deserve to receive full compensation for everything to recover as fully as possible. Insurance companies are not on your side and will try numerous methods to reduce what they have to pay or deny your claim altogether.

    To level the playing field and reduce the amount of stress and burden involved in seeking compensation, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today for your free consultation.