Many auto accidents are simple enough—they may be annoying, since you’ll have to deal with car repairs and paperwork, but they don’t cause serious damage to your car or to you. However, when a semi-truck is involved, your risks go up exponentially.
Because semi-trucks are so much more massive than the average vehicle, the smaller car is more likely to be seriously damaged and its driver is more likely to be badly injured. If you or a loved one were hit by a semi-truck recently, you have a long road ahead of you.
Your first priority during this time is physically healing from the accident. However, in order to do that, you need medical attention, and you’ll need a way to pay for it. Learn what you need to know about getting compensation after you’ve been hurt by a semi-truck.
1. Get Fair Compensation
Semi-trucks weight between 16,000 and 20,000 pounds, and they can take up to three times as much time to stop as a passenger car. Because of their size and momentum, accidents involving a semi-truck are about five times more likely to cause serious injuries or death than accidents between two passenger cars.
If you’ve been seriously injured, you’ll have to take time off from work as you heal, and you’ll have to pay exorbitant medical bills—and even with time and medical help, some injuries are permanent. If you didn’t cause the accident, you need and deserve compensation for your bills, for the loss of your health and for the pain and suffering you and your family must endure.
Given the serious, high-stakes nature of these personal injury cases, you need to both aim high when asking for compensation and get professional legal help to better your chances.
2. Know Who Is Responsible
When you’ve been hit by a semi-truck, you may have multiple options for who to seek compensation from. Your lawyer will advise you on your best course of action.
The majority of semi-truck accidents are caused by driver negligence. For example, if the semi-truck driver was speeding or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she wasn’t living up to their obligations to help other drivers stay safe.
However, because the trucking industry is heavily regulated, you can prove negligence if the driver wasn’t following regulations. For example, truck drivers are prohibited from driving too many hours in a row, carrying too heavy of a load and letting their commercial driver’s license expire. If the driver didn’t follow the rules, you can seek compensation from him or her.
The Owner of the Semi-Truck
Since many drivers do not own the semi-truck they drive, you may be able to seek compensation from the owner if the accident was caused by a mechanical issue. For example, if the semi-truck’s brakes needed to be replaced, and brake failure caused the accident, the semi-truck’s owner may have been negligent and may be liable for your injuries.
The Driver’s Employer
Many semi-truck drivers are independent contractors, but many others work for a company. Depending on the circumstances, the employer of the semi-truck driver may be legally responsible for his or her behavior. For example, if the driver had a record of negligence and the employer didn’t take action, the employer may be partially liable for the accident as well.
Additionally, if the employer was the one responsible for breaking regulations—such as forcing drivers to spend too much time on the road without a break—then the employer is the one truly at fault for the accident.
3. Gather as Much Information as Possible
If you’re not too badly hurt after the accident, you should start to gather information as soon as you can. Begin by calling the police—not only do you probably need help getting out of this dangerous situation, but you’ll need the police report as evidence later.
Next, if you can, take photos of the accident scene, including the damage done to your vehicle and the truck. Take pictures of the surroundings as well, especially if you can find evidence like skid marks that can show where the semi-truck was.
When you get a chance, write down what happened while it’s fresh so you can refer to your notes later. If you know of any witnesses, you may want to ask for their memories too.
If your family member is the one who was hurt, see if you can gather evidence on his or her behalf. And remember, while these steps may be helpful, a lawyer will still know the specifics of what information needs to be gathered for your particular case.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident with a semi-truck, contact the law office of D. Chadwick Calvert, LLC. We’ll help you navigate this difficult and complex time so you can get the compensation you need for your injuries.