There is a big difference between accidents caused by commercial trucks and those involving regular cars. Your involvement in an 18-wheeler accident can be complicated in many ways. The most distinguishable factor is the magnitude of damage that a truck weighing 40 tons could cause. Besides damaging a smaller vehicle, it raises the stakes of your injury claim. Here is an overview of 18-wheelers and how serious a road accident can be when they are involved.
Why is Timing so Critical?
If you are hit by a commercial vehicle like an 18-wheeler, time is of great essence when hiring an accident attorney. Immediately after the incident, some truck drivers contact their truck company’s defense team before seeking medical help for the injured persons. In addition, these drivers might not inform the relevant authorities immediately. This means their risk management department gets to the accident site even before the law enforcement officers arrive. That kind of response will have a great impact on the statements made by eyewitnesses. There are instances where critical evidence disappears or statements are altered to suit the interests of the trucking company.
Most likely, your vehicle has sensors that are linked to a digital system for data collection and transfer. You must collect and save all the necessary information needed to help you recover from an accident. But you can only maximize such data with the help of a legal expert. An experienced attorney will arrange to have critical data collected as soon as possible. A legal team can use electronic log systems, cellphone data, electronic control module, onboard radar system, or a digital video recorder.
What is an 18-Wheeler?
Since the days of the clunky beasts, the 18-wheeler has been evolving and, today, they transport multiple types of goods and commodities. The 18-wheeler truck comprises a tractor (front), a trailer (back), and of course 18 wheels. People often use the semi-truck and big rig names interchangeably to refer to this commercial vehicle. As far as the law is concerned, the weight of the truck and the type of cargo determine how a vehicle is regulated. A tractor-trailer features a powerful engine, six times bigger than regular car engines.
This gives a truck the much-needed torque to tow enormous loads while moving at an admissible speed. When fully loaded, it can weigh 40 tons, which is 17 times greater than the curb weight of most passenger cars. Note that the average length of the vehicle is 53 feet. So, to complete a turn, the 18-wheel truck requires 55 feet or more space. That is why it has big side mirrors to help the driver see, especially in blind spots. In terms of licensing, the driver must obtain a special permit to start operating the vehicle. They must also be highly experienced at maneuvering and backing.
Considering the height of a tractor-trailer truck (13.6 feet on average), the risk of rolling over is quite high if the driver turns too fast. Any rollover accident can crush just anything and wreak havoc on the oncoming traffic.
What are the Different Types 18-Wheeler Accidents?
It takes a lot of practice for drivers to learn to maneuver these great machines. Truck overloading, driver fatigue, inadequate driver training, driving distractions, unsecured cargo, poor maintenance, and poor roads are some of the causes of 18-wheeler accidents. Mechanical and human errors can, unfortunately, lead to one of these types of incidences.
- Unsecured Load Unsecured loads result in a greater risk of an 18-wheeler accident. Unrestrained cargo and poor balance make the load shift while the truck is on the move. Other external reasons that may disrupt the balances, e.g., bad weather and potholes.
- Tire Blowout: It is tragic for a tire to suddenly lose its air and explode. This is one sign of poor maintenance. Most tire blowouts are a result of too much wear and tear. Nearby vehicles are at a greater risk of getting wrecked by debris falling off the trailer.
- Jackknifing: If the front of a semi-truck folds in like the pocket knife, this accident is regarded as a jackknife. Mechanical failure is the main culprit. Also, weather elements like ice and malfunctioning brakes can bring about jackknife accidents.
- Rollover Improper loading and speeding can make an 18-wheeler roll over at a turning point. The truck’s center of gravity should remain intact lest the vehicle overturns.
- Underride: If the tractor-trailer collides with a passenger car, many times the small car gets under the trailer. This becomes an underride accident. The excess weight of the trailer smashes the roof of the passenger car and can instantly kill the occupants. Underride accidents are very common at night when drivers of small vehicles cannot see a trailer slowing down.
What are the Economic and Non-Economic Damages of 18-Wheeler Accidents?
Economic damages refer to tangible expenses like medical treatment costs, loss of employment, car replacement, missed income, and home modifications. Non-economic damages cannot be quantified in financial terms. They are such things as emotional frustrations, pain and suffering, and bodily disfigurement. In rare cases, punitive damages may apply where the defendant was caught in horrendous acts like DWI (driving while intoxicated).
Because truck accidents leave significant damages to properties and severe injuries, victims should receive greater compensation than regular cases. A fair offer should take into account the medical bills and other expenses. The reason most trucking companies offer lump-sum settlements is that they fear losing the trial and eventually pay the victim more.
If you have a serious case, do not accept an initial settlement offer. Get a good 18-wheeler accident attorney to help you get compensation through the court. A lawyer will claim, on your behalf, both economic and non-economic damages.
How Do Accident Attorneys Help?
Ordinarily, trucking companies and their insurance providers tend to be more experienced when dealing with injury claims. Many small car drivers are coerced to take lump-sum compensations that are smaller than what they deserve. If a victim sustained fatal injuries or you had a loved one killed in an 18-wheeler accident, seek an accomplished personal injury lawyer immediately.
An accident attorney works for you so you can get justice and your rightful settlement. First, they gather the evidence before sorting things out with insurance companies. They also file all types of notices and help you with negotiations. By applying their years of experience, an attorney does a commendable job with aggressive negotiations.