According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015 116,000 individuals were injured in truck accidents. Because a large commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds fully loaded, a smaller passenger vehicle is at a significant disadvantage when hit by a truck. You may wonder about the causes of semi-truck accidents. Just like smaller vehicles, there are many different causes of semi-truck accidents, with distracted driving being just as much a problem among truck drivers as with other drivers. Semi-truck accidents can be much more complex than passenger vehicle accidents, with more than one defendant. Because of this, it is always a good idea to have an experienced truck accident attorney from New Orleans Legal, LLC, to help you receive the medical assistance you need, along with a fair settlement.
Who Is the Responsible Party in Your Semi-Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are more complex due to the more serious—or catastrophic—injuries as well as to the fact that there may be more than one defendant, including:
- The driver of the truck could be at fault for the semi-truck accident. Perhaps he or she was distracted, driving while overly tired, impaired, or driving recklessly.
- If the truck driver was not sufficiently experienced, or if a thorough background check was not conducted on the driver, the trucking company could be at fault. The trucking company could also be at fault if the driver routinely exceeded his or her allowable driving hours.
- If a defective truck part was responsible for the accident, then the manufacturer of the truck or truck part could be liable.
- If the truck’s brakes or tires failed, the maintenance company may be held responsible.
- If shifting cargo, or improperly secured cargo caused the accident, the loading company could be responsible.
What Are Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
As noted, distraction is just as big a problem among truck drivers as among other drivers. Truckers routinely eat entire meals while driving and maybe talking on a cell phone, changing radio stations, texting, trying to read a map or GPS, or fiddling with the truck controls. Truck driver fatigue is another primary cause of semi-truck accidents. Truck drivers can drive eleven hours at a stretch with only a 30-minute break. Those that have driven eleven hours straight know how exhausting it is, yet truck drivers do it on a daily basis. In fact, by some estimates, more than 50 percent of truck drivers routinely drive while overly fatigued. Other common causes of semi-truck accidents include:
- Driving too fast for the road conditions or exceeding the speed limit in general;
- Reckless or careless driving;
- Driving while impaired;
- Blind spots for the truck driver;
- Shifting cargo;
- Faulty brakes or tires;
- Inexperienced truck drivers, or
- Adverse weather conditions.
Truck drivers are always trying to deliver loads in the quickest way possible, allowing them to pick up another load. When a truck driver is not driving, he or she is not getting paid. This leads to truck drivers exceeding the speed limit or driving while fatigued. In this quest to deliver loads quickly, some truck drivers may end up driving carelessly, or even recklessly. Truck drivers may change lanes without looking for passenger vehicles or drive too closely to smaller vehicles. Truck drivers could also be driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, leading to an accident.
Trucking companies must ensure any driver they put on the roadway has been properly trained. Unfortunately, there is generally a shortage of truck drivers, and corners may be cut, both in training truck drivers and in conducting thorough background checks. When cargo is not properly loaded, it can shift, causing the truck to turn over on a sharp curve. Truck drivers that transport hazardous materials or those that are transporting cargo that is not sufficiently strapped down can also be responsible for serious accidents. Finally, any type of road hazard or adverse weather condition can lead to a truck accident with serious injuries.
What Compensation Are You Entitled to Following Your New Orleans, LA Semi-Truck Accident?
As with any vehicle accident where the other driver was at fault, following a semi-truck accident you are entitled to receive medical expense reimbursement for any injuries related to the accident. This includes current and future medical expenses, including doctor visits, surgical costs, hospital expenses, prescription drug costs, and any necessary rehabilitative services. If your semi-truck accident prevents you from returning to work, you are entitled to lost wages. You could be entitled to lost future wages if you will not be able to return to work for a significant period of time.
Medical expenses and lost wages are known as special compensatory damages as the amounts are quantifiable, are unique to the victim, and can vary significantly. The goal of special damages is to make you “whole” again—to the extent possible. General damages are much more difficult to quantify and include mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. Pain and suffering can cover limitations on your activities, depression, physical disfigurement, pain, and even the potential shortening of your life. Punitive damages are awarded when the behavior of the defendant is malicious, willful, or particularly reprehensible.
How Can New Orleans Legal, LLC Help After Your Semi-Truck Accident?
New Orleans Legal, LLC can not only help you determine the cause of your semi-truck accident, but we can also help you through the aftermath with compassion and experience. We understand that this accident may have changed your life—possibly forever. We will help you find the medical treatments you need while working to get you the financial help you deserve. Contact New Orleans Legal, LLC today!