We live in a big city; wrecks are inevitable. And yet, some wrecks - particularly the ones involving commercial trucks - are worse than others.
When a Truck and Car Collide
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most deaths that occur during large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants, which isn't surprising. After all, commercial trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a sedan, and a truck's height gives them ground clearance. This means that during a collision, lower-riding vehicles can get crushed underneath - or else swiped aside - while the truck remains unharmed.
Inspections performed by the Texas Department of Public Safety ranked Texas as the fifth highest state for truck-involved fatalities (based on square mile). If you look at the crash characteristics for large trucks, more of the same sort of harrowing facts are revealed. According to 2012 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks are more likely to be involved in fatal multiple-vehicle crashes than passenger cars. In other words, if you wreck into a truck, you're more likely to be killed than if you wrecked into another car. Similarly, twelve percent of all truck accidents end up killing at least one person - 80 percent of the time, that person is someone from the smaller passenger vehicle.
What Causes an 18-Wheeler to Wreck, and Who's Responsible?
The Truck's Brakes Malfunction
Rear ended by a big rig? You're not the only one. Unfortunately, faulty truck brakes are a huge problem here in Texas, and accidents are frequently caused by brake malfunctions. The cause of these malfunctions can be attributed to many things, including poor maintenance standards and manufacturers' defects. No matter the cause, if you're injured in an accident due to a truck brake mishap, you should know that the trucking company will be held responsible.
The Truck Jackknifes
Jackknifing is when the front of the truck (where the driver sits) "snaps" and turns toward the back of the truck (where the cargo is stored). Jackknifing often happens if the front brakes are removed or de-powered, and it causes the truck to swerve out of control. If a truck jackknifes, the person who removed the brakes can be charged for the accident.
The Truck Catches Fire
It's not uncommon for a truck's diesel fuel tank to come in contact with a battery spark during a wreck, causing the fuel tank to explode and involving many more cars in the accident. It's too bad, since it's not hard to encase the battery in a protective shell and therefore prevent fires. If poor battery placement causes a truck fire, the truck manufacturer may be responsible for part of the damage and injury.
The Truck Rolls Over
Rollovers are responsible for a huge number of truck fatalities. Often, the truck driver is the one who caused the rollover by taking a turn too quickly, drinking and driving, speeding or failing to get enough sleep. However, poor road conditions and truck malfunctions can also lead to rollovers.
The Truck Driver Makes an Error
This category is vague, but it's too noteworthy to leave out. Commercial truck drivers are people too, and they make mistakes. Unfortunately, a driver's error can cause serious, even fatal injuries. If a big rig driver makes a poor choice that leads to a wreck, the consequences are even more severe.
18-Wheeler Accident Injuries and Medical Bills
Sorting out your medical bills after you've been injured in any traffic accident can be complicated, but things only become more skewed when a commercial trucking company is involved. You should know that insurers won't pay for medical treatment ahead of time, but that does NOT mean you should go without medical care. Bill your own health insurance or pay out of pocket, and then seek reimbursement from the trucker's insurance company later.
Of course, this is easier said than done. If you've never been in a serious motor vehicle accident, you might not realize how expensive these injuries can be. It's one of the reasons I'd highly recommend hiring a personal injury attorney. That way, you don't crash under the financial pressure and you're assured that the insurance company won't deny your claim.
For the types of catastrophic injuries you might see in a tractor-trailer accident, you could be looking at:
- Approximately $1,200 for an ambulance ride to the hospital
- Over $10,000 for diagnostic tests, x-rays and other emergency room treatments
- Roughly $50,000 for a five-day hospital stay in a DFW hospital
- If you need surgery, $30,000 to $50,000 is easy to wrack up for internal bleeding, organ failure or severely broken bones
- Up to $5,000 or more for ongoing treatment with specialists and your general care physician
- Up to $10,000 for physical therapy for 12 weeks, twice a week
Money Awarded to Truck Wreck Victims
If you've been in an accident with a big rig, you're no doubt wondering, "Who's going to pay for all of this?" Texas law permits truck wreck victims to seek recovery after an accident; you deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, missed days of work and lost earning capacity. An injured person is also entitled to monetary reward for something called "pain and suffering," which includes things like loss of life enjoyment due to the wreck.
In order to win compensation for your injuries, you'll need to seek a truck accident settlement by suing. Contact a personal injury lawyer quickly after your wreck to start this process.
We Are Not Like Other Truck Accident Attorney
There are many truck accident attorneys that say they will represent a client but instead place their interest on the monetary value of the client - not the client. At the Anderson Law Firm, we see victims of truck accidents as people that have been through a considerable amount of pain and suffering, which is why we treat each case with its deserved importance. We also know that the legal process following a truck wreck can be confusing for the victims involved, which is why we walk with our clients during the entire process. If you have been a victim of a truck accident, don't relent in contacting the Anderson Law Firm if you have any questions regarding a potential case. We are open to questions, and we are more than ready to help you with your legal fight against the truck driver's insurance company.
When to File a Claim
After your accident, you have a small window of time to pursue your truck accident claim. It's vital that you get an investigation started quickly so that your attorney can send an investigator to obtain the relevant facts, examine the scene of the accident, gather witness testimony's, etc.
If you've been in a truck wreck in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, feel free to call my office for a free consultation. I'll go over your options and tell your your rights as a victim in Texas.