According to the Department of Transportation, as of the end of 2010, more than 11 billion tons of freight is moved every year via large semi-trucks. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, often driving while fatigued, and, in some cases, even driving more hours than the rules allow. Since a large commercial truck can weight 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle, those in the passenger vehicle are much more likely to die following a truck accident than the driver of the truck. Since semi-trucks require considerably more stopping distance than a passenger vehicle, more reaction time is necessary to avoid a crash. In fact, the weight and stopping distance of a semi-truck—as well as the potential blind spots a truck driver faces—are issues others on the roadways must always keep in mind.
Those involved in a truck accident are far more likely to have life-altering injuries—or to be killed—than those in an accident involving only passenger vehicles, due to the sheer size and weight of the commercial truck. Additionally, trucks often carry heavy loads, some of them toxic. This means hazardous materials could potentially leak dangerous chemicals, explode, or create a fire. Large commercial trucks can also jackknife on a crowded roadway or freeway, endangering the lives of all other roadway passengers. In some cases, a truck accident is due to improperly secured cargo which can slide off the truck. The laws which govern truck accidents are fairly complex, and victims of a truck accident need strong legal representation immediately.
Determining who the defendant will be in your truck accident case takes particular experience; perhaps the truck driver was negligent or distracted and is responsible, perhaps a part on the truck malfunctioned or was defective, or perhaps the trucking company who employed the driver is ultimately responsible for your injuries. The trucking company may have failed to perform a thorough background check on the truck driver or may have failed to ensure the driver was properly trained. The loading company could be at fault if the cargo was not properly secured, or the truck maintenance company could be at fault if the truck was not properly maintained. The truck driver might even have been impaired at the time of the accident, or could have been driving carelessly.
Without knowledgeable representation, it can be difficult to determine who the responsible party is, and in trucking accidents, there is often more than one defendant. What is always true is that the consequences of a truck collision can be so devastating that medical treatments could take months or even years. Not only will the victim deal with the injuries from the trucking accident, but they may also be unable to return to their prior job—for a short period of time, or even forever, depending on the severity of the injuries. Brain trauma, spinal cord injuries and amputations are common injuries from a trucking accident.
All of these, as well as the more minor injuries, can lead to multiple and ongoing medical procedures, therapy, rehabilitation, nd reconstructive surgeries. Trucking accidents also cause severe emotional trauma in addition to the physical injuries and without solid legal representation, victims could end up paying out of their own pocket for medical expenses, and may not be compensated for loss for present and future loss of income. In short, an accident involving a large semi-truck is almost always a life-changing experience which benefits greatly by the presence of a highly experienced legal professional.
What You Must Do Following Your Accident
Dialing 911 and receiving medical attention are, of course, the first two tasks which must immediately be taken care of. Since truck vs. car accidents typically result in extremely serious injuries, the victims may not be able to take care of these tasks, and others may be responsible. Even in rare cases, when a victim of a truck accident believes he or she is “fine,” it is still smart to have a medical professional take a look. Following an accident, the body is often so pumped full of adrenaline that the victim is unaware of injuries, which manifest hours or days later.
Then hours, days or even weeks later when the realization strikes that chronic pain or other symptoms are the direct result of the truck accident can result in a claim being denied if no medical treatment was sought immediately following the truck accident, so it is never a good idea to skip this step. A police report is also a good piece of information to have should a claim be filed later.
If the victim is able, he or she should also obtain contact information from the truck driver as well as any bystanders who witnessed the accident. While this information could seem unnecessary at the time, it could prove invaluable later on. After receiving medical attention, making sure a police report is in the works, and obtaining witness statements, the victim of a truck accident should contact his or her insurance company and an experienced truck accident attorney.
Deadlines for Filing a Truck Accident Claim
In the state of Missouri, the statute of limitations—the time allowed for filing a personal injury claim—is 5 years, beginning on the date of the accident. If the claim is not filed within this five-year period, the court will refuse to hear the case. For a wrongful death claim resulting from a truck accident, the statute of limitations is three years. Following a truck accident, it is particularly important to file your claim as quickly as possible for a variety of reasons. Commercial trucking companies, while required under the law to keep records of safety inspections and logbooks of driver’s hours, are only required to keep such records for a certain length of time, and after that time the records can be destroyed.
This means that critical evidence in a truck accident case could be lost or destroyed if an experienced truck accident attorney is not consulted. Many trucks are now equipped with a “black box” which will show how the truck was being driven at the time of the accident as well as a complete history of the truck driver’s driving habits. This could be of critical importance as the black box can tell the speed the truck driver was traveling, whether or not the brakes were applied, idle hours, fluid temperatures and maximum rpm meaning the black box information could provide a good idea of the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, unless the black box is subpoenaed, this information might not be available, and could even be destroyed prior to a settlement negotiation or trial.
The Benefits of Hiring a St. Louis, Missouri Truck Accident Attorney
Contacting a truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law who is accustomed to handling lawsuits with multiple defendants is the right course of action following a truck accident. Your St. Louis, Missouri truck accident attorney will know whether to target the person responsible for maintenance and repairs, the driver, the trucking company, the loading company or even the manufacturer of the truck or truck part. If defective trucking parts are at least one part of the problem, then you need an attorney who is also skilled in product liability law—as the attorneys at Finney Injury Law are. The aftermath of a trucking accident is not something anyone should attempt to handle on their own. This is a time when you should be looking to your future and dealing with the injuries, pain and emotional trauma which resulted from your trucking accident. Having a trusted legal representative from Finney Injury Law in your corner who will advocate tirelessly and aggressively on your behalf can make all the difference in the final outcome of your truck accident. Contact an attorney at Finney Injury Law today.