What Are The Most Common Causes Of 18-Wheeler Trucking Accidents?
Excessive speed by the 18-wheeler and failure to observe vehicles in blind spots often cause 18-wheeler accidents. 18 wheelers that travel at highway speeds (and particularly those that travel in excess of highway speeds) have difficulty bringing the vehicle safely to a stop when compared to other vehicles. The sheer mass of the vehicle (and its load) makes braking and control of the vehicle difficult, particularly in emergency situations. If 18 wheelers are following smaller vehicles too closely and the smaller vehicles have to react to road hazards or other problems they encounter on the roadway, it is easy for an accident to occur when the 18-wheeler cannot react in time. Additionally, a lot of accidents are caused when 18 wheelers change lanes without regard to what vehicles are in the other lanes. Speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes without due vigilance are common causes for accidents with 18 wheelers. Some accidents are caused when 18 wheelers do not properly secure the load and items fall from the vehicle into the path of oncoming cars. Oftentimes, accidents can occur when 18 wheelers exit onto the shoulder of the roadway and do not properly position their vehicles outside the travel lane and do not properly alert other vehicles to the danger. Another cause of 18-wheeler accidents is improper maintenance of the tires, brakes, and other systems which can cause a loss of control.
What Makes Trucking Accidents Different From Passenger Only Vehicle Accidents?
The injuries are often more severe because of the mass of the 18-wheeler. When an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident (particularly a highway accident) there is usually substantial damage to the smaller automobile or truck that came in contact with the 18-wheeler. This sheer mass and weight of an 18-wheeler make collisions with smaller vehicles very catastrophic for the smaller vehicles. There will often be such extensive damage to the cars that interior occupancy space of the automobile is invaded because the crush damage on the car is so extensive. When the automobile’s crush damage is very extensive the possibility of severe injury and death to the occupants of the automobile is increased. Oftentimes, the damage is so severe that even seatbelts and airbags cannot adequately protect the occupants of the automobile from the speed and mass of the 18-wheeler. In fact, some of these crashes are so severe that the automobile’s gas tank can be compromised causing the vehicle to burst into flames. Sometimes the impact is so severe that it causes the automobile to overturn, which can cause serious injury to the occupants. Additionally, vehicles being pushed or forced off the roadway by an 18-wheeler often collide with trees or other oncoming vehicles in a direct head-on collision. 18 wheelers can jackknife and overturned and sometimes crush surrounding vehicles.
What Are The Severe Injuries You See Resulting In Accidents Involving Semi-Trucks?
There are often severe crush injuries resulting from accidents with 18 wheelers which can result in paralysis and death. The injuries to occupants of small trucks and automobiles that encounter severe crashes with 18 wheelers can be catastrophic. Due to the acceleration/deceleration forces that occur when a smaller vehicle collides with an 18-wheeler, the stress on the human anatomy can be tremendous. Multiple fractures (including skull fractures) are not uncommon in 18-wheeler accidents, as well as severe injury to and sometimes severance of the spinal cord. If fires occur, the occupants of the vehicles can be burned. If the crush of the automobile makes extraction prolonged, sometimes a bleeding occupant can bleed to death. Accidents involving 18 wheelers on elevated roadways (above waterways) are particularly hazardous in that the 18 wheelers can shove the smaller vehicles into the waterway, which can result in drowning. It is not uncommon in 18-wheeler accidents to create a chain reaction where multiple vehicles are hit and spun out of control, with some of them flipping and others careening into other vehicles. These multi-car accidents often result in multiple impacts which can further injure the occupants of the automobiles. When automobiles are subjected to multiple impacts the airbags can deploy and then be of no use when the second impact occurs. It is not uncommon to have severe Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of an impact with an 18-wheeler. Even without a skull fracture, the brain can sustain serious injury as a result of the accident and victims should be immediately checked for brain bleeds and other injuries that can result from trauma to the brain.
What Is Involved In Investigating An Accident Involving A Tractor-Trailer/Truck?
The investigation is intensive as both state and federal regulations come into play. Depending upon the severity of the accident and its location, there will often be an investigation by not only local police but the State police. In cases involving fatality, the scene is often blocked off and treated as a crime scene, pending investigation into whether or not any of the drivers were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Photographs of fatality scenes are often taken of the vehicles and any roadway evidence that may be relevant in determining causation. In addition to investigations by police officers, it is important to dispatch private investigators to canvas for witnesses, obtain information concerning cell phone usages, and preserve evidence in the vehicles that record data (such as speed, location, and hours of operation). As driver fatigue may be one of the primary causes of the accident, driving logs should be examined and analyzed. There are regulations that control how long 18-wheeler operators can drive, load limits, tire pressure limits, and other regulations that can come into play when evaluating the cause or contributing causes to the accident. In addition to being required to abide by roadway speed limits, 18-wheeler operators are required to have adequate sleep and rest before embarking on a journey and should go through certain system checks to make sure everything is functioning properly on the vehicle.
What Evidence Is Important To Preserve And Collect In Trucking Accident Cases?
It is important (if safe to do so) to photograph the position of the vehicles after the crash before they are removed from the roadway. Always try to transfer or upload this information from your phone or camera in case the phone or camera gets lost or destroyed. Even if your vehicle is so substantially damaged that it requires being towed, you will eventually have access to your vehicle to take photographs. However, damage to the offending vehicle must be photographed at the scene (If possible) since that vehicle will be brought to a location unknown to you. Any information you can obtain should be preserved by writing it down or, if possible, photographing it with your phone. Just in case the police will not or cannot make it to the scene, try to get photographs of the other vehicle (including the license plate), its position in the roadway, the other vehicles driver’s license, insurance information, name, address and phone number of the occupants of the other vehicle and any witnesses. It is not uncommon when the offending vehicle disregards red signal light and collides with you for them to request that police not be called so that they do not receive a ticket. It is always best to get a police report made (no matter how long you have to wait for the police to arrive).
If there is no police report, the offending vehicle operator may later change their story and say that they did not have a red light; but in fact, you did. That is why it is always best while there are witnesses available and the accident scene is fresh to establish who is at fault by having a police report made. It is not unusual for the police response time to belong. If there is a favorable witness at the scene; but the witness cannot wait for the police, get that person’s contact information.
Who Is Liable For Damages From The 18-Wheeler/Trucking Accident I Was Involved In? Will The Trucking Company Pay For My Medical Bills?
If the 18-wheeler caused the accident, they are responsible for your medical bills and all damages resulting from the accident. Louisiana law is designed to require that the at-fault party that causes damage to another be required to fully and totally compensate the victim for all losses. Accordingly, all losses incurred by the victim are properly recoverable in a claim made for damages. These losses can include property damage, medical bills, loss of income from being unable to work, past, present and future mental and physical pain and suffering, scarring, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life (including inability to enjoy hobbies and recreational activities). In short, all damages incurred as a result of the fault of another party are required to be compensated by the at-fault party.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect To Receive In A Tractor-Trailer/Trucking Accident?
You are entitled to receive full compensation for all damages sustained including medical bills, property damage, loss of income, mental and physical pain, and suffering and disability. Assuming that the operator of the 18-wheeler is 100 % at fault, medical bills (including ambulance, emergency room, doctor visits, hospitalization, medications, and all medical-related expenses) are recoverable against the operator of the 18-wheeler. Loss of income (including loss of future earning capacity, if any), is recoverable against the operator of the 18-wheeler. Physical and mental pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement are recoverable against the operator of the 18 with wheeler. All damages sustained that have a fixed value (such as medical bills, wage loss, and property damage) must be compensated to the full extent of the loss by the operator of the 18-wheeler. Other damages that do not have a fixed value, such as disfigurement, crippling injuries, physical and mental pain, and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, are all compensable, not according to a schedule, but according to the evaluation of the jury. Compensation in these areas can vary with the facts of the case and, of course, are dependent upon the particular jury making the decision.
Do Trucking Companies Often Have Insurance Policies Beyond The Mandatory Policy?
There are regulations that require certain mandatory insurance coverage be carried in the event of an accident. It is not uncommon for trucking companies to purchase additional insurance coverage beyond what is mandated by law. This is what is known as excess or umbrella coverage. Sometimes it is issued by the same insurance company; sometimes it’s issued by a different insurance company. The excess or umbrella coverages do not come into effect unless and until the damages from the accident exceed the initial underlying mandatory coverage. If the damages exceed the minimal limits of the underlying coverage, the umbrella policy now comes into play. Oftentimes, if a lawsuit is filed, the suit will be filed against the operator of the 18-wheeler, the company that employed him, and the insurance company or companies that provided the underlying and excess coverages. Sometimes, drivers of 18 wheelers are the owners of their own vehicles and considered independent contractors. Sometimes they are employees and other times they are on missions for other companies when the accident occurred. Sometimes the 18-wheeler is a leased vehicle with yet another insurance company. Thus, investigation is required to determine all of the parties that should be made defendants in the lawsuit. Depending upon the identity of the parties, it may create additional insurance coverage coverages
What If The Insurance Company Makes Me An Offer? Do I Have To Take It?
Offers by insurance companies are simply that, offers. They can be rejected; they do not have to be accepted. Initial offers by insurance companies should be viewed with great skepticism. Oftentimes, these offers are made when the insurance company has concluded (through its investigation ) that they are at fault for the accident and want to minimize their losses by getting the case resolved quickly through settlement. Offers made by insurance companies shortly after an accident has occurred are intended to conclude the matter and cut off any further rights that the injured person may have. By accepting the offer and signing a release, your rights are terminated. After an accident has occurred, it often takes some time to determine what injuries may or may not be permanent and how serious these injuries are. Settlements made immediately after accidents are risky, in that they may greatly under compensate the injured party for injuries that do not resolve and will last a lifetime. While it is one thing to resolve property damage issues with insurance companies as soon as possible, it is not advisable to resolve personal injury claims at an early stage, since the permanency of these injuries is not yet known. It is always advisable to seek the advice of an attorney before entering into any negotiations with an insurance company. They have skilled claims representatives and attorneys negotiating on their side and you need a skilled negotiator on your side.
For more information on 18-Wheeler Trucking Accidents In Louisiana, a free legal evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (504) 332-8188 today.