HOW DOES A TRACTOR TRAILER ACCIDENT DIFFER FROM A CAR ACCIDENT?
Not all vehicular accidents are the same, despite what many people think. Tractor-trailer accidents stand out because the potential for significant damage is huge. Since these vehicles are so much larger than others on the road, they can cause serious injuries and costly property damage. That’s why commercial truck drivers have to abide by stricter rules than the average driver. It is more expensive and time-consuming to investigate a tractor-trailer accident. The cause of the crash can be more complicated. Also, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault. With the average car accident, driver error or recklessness is the likely cause. However, truck drivers, their employers, and even the maintenance company could be responsible for a truck accident. Since tractor-trailer accidents are so complex, you need to work with a Hickory truck accident lawyer who understands all the issues involved. The trucking company will have a legal team on its side so you shouldn’t try to handle the situation alone.
WHY DO I NEED A HICKORY TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER?
Some people assume that truck accident claims are best left to insurance companies. They file a claim with the other driver’s insurer and assume they will get fair compensation. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, especially in cases which are worth a lot of money. The insurance company will do everything it can to minimize the amount it has to pay out. If there is any indication that you contributed to the accident, they may deny your claim outright. If you want to improve your chances of getting full compensation, you need to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. There are many benefits to having a truck accident attorney in North Carolina on your side. For example, they will advise you about how to avoid self-incrimination. They will also negotiate on your behalf to ensure the insurer doesn’t take advantage of you. If the case needs to go to court, they will also represent you there. Accident victims who have an attorney are more likely to receive larger settlements. That’s because lawyers know how to stand up to insurance companies. They also know exactly what is a fair settlement and they don’t back down until they secure one.
HOW SOON DO I HAVE TO FILE A CLAIM AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
There are two deadlines you need to keep in mind after a truck accident. The statute of limitations gives you three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This applies to both property damage and personal injury cases. If someone died in an accident, their family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. However, they only have two years from the date of death. The statute of limitations does not apply to your vehicle insurance claim. Insurance companies require you to give prompt notice. You’ll only have a few days or weeks at the most to notify them.
HICKORY, NC TRUCK ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Large trucks include several types of vehicles like single-unit trucks, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial motor vehicles. In 2016, more than 14,000 accidents in North Carolina involved large trucks. Thousands of people were injured in these crashes and more than 150 were killed. Tractor trailers and semi-trucks were involved in 4,464 of these accidents and they caused 1,238 injuries and 62 fatalities. Trucks with two axles and six tires were the second most common vehicle to cause a large truck accident. They were involved in 4,179 accidents which caused 1,000 injuries and 38 deaths.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF TRUCKS ACCIDENTS IN HICKORY, NC?
Truck accidents occur in a variety of ways in Hickory, NC. While some accidents could happen with any vehicle, some are unique to trucks. All drivers need to exercise caution when they get behind the wheel, but truck drivers have an even greater responsibility. Common types of truck accidents are:
CENTER LANE CROSSOVER
Sometimes the truck driver is driving recklessly and crosses the center line, driving into oncoming traffic. Other times, the driver loses control because of a malfunction and crashes into another vehicle.
Jackknifing occurs when an 18-wheeler truck and its trailer skid. The trailer swings out and then stops to form an angle of 90 degrees with the truck.
LOSS OF CONTROL
Several things can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. They may be drunk, distracted, or simply reckless. Vehicle malfunction may also be responsible.
These happen when two vehicles driving in different directions crash into each other. Head-on collisions can result in serious injuries and even death.
These are accidents in which the side of one vehicle collides with the front or rear of another. They are also known as T-bone accidents.
REAR END COLLISIONS
These refer to when one vehicle strikes the other from the rear. They tend to happen at traffic lights and stop signs or on crowded highways.
LANE CHANGE COLLISIONS
Drivers change lanes so much that they often take it for granted. Frequent lane changes and blind spots are the main causes of lane change collisions.
HIT AND RUN
Some truck drivers flee the scene. They may have been impaired, unlicensed, or uninsured at the time of the accident.
WHAT ARE COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS?
Truck accidents have a wide variety of causes. While many are due to the actions of the driver, others relate to how the truck was loaded or maintained. If certain parts malfunction, accidents can also occur. Let’s look at some of the many causes of truck accidents.
LACK OF TRAINING
Big rigs can weigh 80,000 pounds or more and they have complicated braking systems. Drivers need to be properly trained in how to handle them safely.
Like any vehicle, trucks develop mechanical problems. However, since they travel long distances constantly, they need more maintenance than regular passenger cars.
When very large trucks get involved in crashes, the results can be deadly. These trucks can roll over and come to rest on other vehicles or lead to multi-car collisions.
BRAKE FAILURE / DEFECT
If the braking system isn’t working properly, the truck driver won’t be able to slow down or stop in time. The results can be devastating.
POOR DRIVING CONDITIONS
Wet or icy roads and poor visibility make it difficult for any driver to safely navigate Hickory’s roads. Trucks drivers will find it even harder to maneuver.
Inexperienced drivers may not be aware of all the regulations surrounding the trucking industry. They may drive for more hours than they should without knowing it is unsafe and illegal.
Drivers usually have long routes to traverse and deadlines to meet. Some get behind the wheel even when they are exhausted.
There is a limit to how much trucks can safely carry. Excess cargo can fall off and hit other vehicles or cause the truck to tip over.
Drivers who go over the speed limit increase their chances of getting involved in an accident. Trucks take much longer than a car to come to a complete stop and speeding worsens the situation.
FAILURE TO YIELD RIGHT AWAY
This happens at traffic lights or when a driver fails to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL
Impaired driving can cause a lot of damage. Despite the immense responsibility which rests with truck drivers, some of them still drink and drive.
DANGEROUS OR RECKLESS DRIVING
Drivers may change lanes carelessly, text or talk on the phone or run red lights. Any of these actions can cause an accident.
RUNNING OFF THE ROAD
It’s not difficult for a truck to push a smaller vehicle off the road. The truck driver may be driving recklessly or they may have been too distracted to see a small car.
AGGRESSIVE DRIVING BEHAVIOR
Tailgating, failing to signal, failing to yield the right of way, or making unsafe lane changes can all contribute to an accident.
WHAT TYPE OF COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE?
To get compensation, your Hickory truck accident attorney will have to prove negligence. Maybe the truck driver breached their duty to other road users or the trucking company failed to follow regulations. Once an at-fault party has been identified, you will be able to claim damages for a variety of losses. You must be able to prove you suffered these losses because of the accident.
Accident victims usually rack up high medical bills. You can get compensation for money spent on medication, hospitalization, surgery, assistive devices, therapy, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests.
Serious injuries mean you will have to take time off work while you recover. Since you won’t be getting paid during this time, you could be compensated for the wages you’re missing.
Some injuries will have a long-term effect on your life. It can be difficult to project your losses well into the future. However, you still need to seek the compensation you deserve.
PAIN AND SUFFERING
This refers to the physical and emotional stress which victims of accidents can undergo. It can cover disfigurement and disability, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anguish.
LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
This applies if your spouse suffered a disabling injury. If you can no longer enjoy their companionship or care, you can file a claim for this. Loss of consortium includes, but is not limited to, loss of sexual pleasure or a divorce caused by a life-altering injury.
If you lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you may be able to claim damages. Your Hickory truck accident lawyer may be able to get compensation for the loss of the victim’s income and companionship.
WHO PAYS MY MEDICAL BILLS AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
You’ll want to get your bills paid as soon as possible after your accident. However, the trucking company may not pay immediately. This doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Your insurance policy may include a provision for the payment of certain medical expenses. You’ll need to be very careful in your interactions with the trucking company. The company or their insurer may approach you and ask you to sign a medical release or give a statement. You should not do this without speaking to an attorney first. You can contact a Hickory truck accident lawyer at Harman Law at any time to discuss your case.
ARE THERE LAWS WHICH REGULATE THE DRIVING PRACTICES OF TRUCKERS?
Given the nature of commercial trucking and the inherent dangers of driving a truck, there are laws specifically for truck drivers. The commercial trucking industry is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, there are also rules at the state level. Laws govern a number of things including:
- The maximum number of hours a truck driver should work over a set period of time
- The training a driver must complete before driving a commercial vehicle
- The maximum blood alcohol concentration levels allowed
- The weight limit of the cargo on the truck
These regulations are designed to ensure truck drivers remain alert and fully in control of their vehicle. As we have already established, a distracted or fatigued driver can cause tremendous harm. Federal regulations also set out the minimum level of insurance coverage which commercial trucks must carry. This is aimed at protecting victims from trucking companies claiming that they don’t have enough money to pay damages. Your attorney will look into your case to determine if the driver was in breach of state or federal regulations.
OTHER ACCIDENT CASES WE HANDLE
At Harman Law, we don’t only handle truck accident cases. We also assist victims of other types of vehicular accidents. We take a personalized approach to each case as we work to ensure victims get justice. Anyone who causes injury to another should be made to pay. We handle:
Passenger cars are involved in accidents every day. Sometimes victims escape with minor injuries but other times, the injuries are serious. Whether you’ve been a victim of a drunk driver or a distracted driver, a car accident lawyer in Hickory can help you build a solid case.
Motorcyclists are often at the mercy of other road users. Since their vehicles are small, other motorists often don’t see them until it is too late. What makes matters worse is that bikers have little to protect them from the impact of a bigger vehicle. Victims of motorcycle accidents should always contact a Hickory motorcycle accident lawyer to get the maximum compensation for their claim.
Uber has a $1 million insurance policy that covers its drivers. However, it only applies when they are active on the app and carrying a passenger. There is also a third-party liability policy for when they are logged in but between trips. If they are not logged in, it can be very difficult to get compensation. An Uber accident lawyer in Hickory, NC will know all of the relevant laws for filing a claim against Uber or the Uber driver.