There’s probably not a more fear-invoking experience than being involved in an accident with a large semi- truck. Something about being near a 53’ long trailer moving at highway speeds, makes car drivers use more caution. This fear is probably well-founded. Semi-trucks can carry loads in the 80,000 lb. range, and even though there are 18 wheels on the ground, stopping that kind of load when traveling 60 mph or more, is not an easy task.
Beyond a person’s instinctive reaction to something that large moving next to you on the road, there are statistics which back up the fear. According the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2011, 273,000 large truck accidents were reported, resulting in over 88,000 injuries and almost 4,000 fatalities.
Within the last week, a large truck closed down the Dan Ryan Freeway near Chicago when a car hit the truck. The truck driver was ejected and killed in the accident. Just today, a flatbed truck crashed on the Massachusetts Turnpike and caught on fire. Another truck accident in the Houston, Texas area today closed down the I-8 freeway for several hours.
Within the last month, in the Las Vegas area, a cement truck turned over, killing its driver, and a semi-truck jackknifed near the Spaghetti Bowl spilling toxic chemicals on the roadway. In mid-September, a semi rolled over onto a Nissan sedan on I-15 near St. Rose Parkway, killing both occupants of the Nissan.
If you are involved in an accident with a large truck
We recommend the following course of action if you are injured in an accident with a large truck. Do not talk to the adjuster of the insurance company representing the trucking company. In most cases, they will tell you that the company has accepted liability for the accident and make an offer to you. Accepting this offer is a mistake.
Truck accidents are complex, involving many different entities, all of which may be liable for a portion of the accident. Trucking companies will have the truck repaired quickly and return it to service, in many cases destroying evidence needed to pursue a case in your favor.
Many factors enter into establishing liability in a truck accident, including driver’s logs indicating whether the driver may have exceeded legal driving hours and was fatigued, and service logs indicating whether the truck may have been below safety standards for not having been serviced within the legal time periods. Other factors include the driver’s medical records, which may indicate medications in his system at the time of the accident, and what other conditions he was being treated for by his doctor.
Talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer to assist you in this process before you do anything else. Due to the complexities of this type of accident and the multiple entities involved, you need someone on your side who can aggressively represent your interests. The trucking companies will get their lawyers involved; you need to level the playing field.