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When people talk about truck accidents, what they usually mean is an accident involving something like a big rig or semi-truck.  A big rig has tremendous advantages in an accident, regardless of what kind of vehicle is involved with it.  A big rig truck weighs around 80,000 pounds, an SUV at 6,000 to 8,000 and a standard car at about 4,000.  Smallest of all, a motorcycle with its rider is probably only around 1,000 pounds.  This difference means that just about anyone who gets into an accident with a big rig truck is going to be the loser in the encounter.

Cause of Majority of Accidents

Most often, when a semi hits another vehicle, there is some sort of driver error on the part of the truck driver. However, badly loaded cargo and equipment failures can also result in collisions.

Four types of truck driver errors are responsible for the majority of large truck accidents.

  • Bad decision-making leads to many accidents. The driver may have been speeding, going too fast for the conditions, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or some other bad driving decision.
  • Distracted driving is the fastest-growing cause of vehicle collisions. Whether the distraction is eating, reading or writing a text, paying too much attention to their conversation with a passenger, or even applying makeup in a fast-moving, 40-ton lethal weapon, tragedy can occur quickly.
  • Fatigue is also a significant factor in a great many semi-truck accidents.  Although Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations put strict limits on the hours of drivers carrying cargo and those carrying passengers, employer and financial pressure can often cause drivers to disregard those rules. Truckers are required to maintain log books and there are vehicles equipped with electronic monitors as well. Nonetheless, employers and drivers, especially with perishable cargo, will often try to find ways around the limits, creating significant driver fatigue.  Further, fatigue can be as debilitating as alcohol drugs, greatly reducing a driver’s ability to function.
  • Inexperienced drivers can also cause accidents.  Despite required training, employers can urge inexperienced drivers onto the road too soon.  New drivers are less expensive and can fill in when others are unavailable.  New drivers often feel unable to resist that pressure.

Damages Caused by Semi-Trucks

When 80,000 pounds going at a high speed hits something, the damage is virtually guaranteed to be severe.  Even if the other vehicle hits the truck, the damage and injuries to the other vehicle are likely to be far more severe than those to the semi or its driver.

  • In hitting another vehicle, a truck can crush that vehicle and its occupants.  It can shove a vehicle off the road and run over it.  Similarly, a car can underride a truck, resulting in horrific fatal injuries.
  • Even if the other vehicle stays on the road and is not crushed, the passengers are going to be shaken up and possibly injured by striking surfaces in the car or being expelled from it by way of the windshield.
  • All of these can result in life-changing injuries in which a victim may lose physical or neurological function or even limbs.  Scarring and fear can lead to post-traumatic stress syndrome and loss of social function.
  • Families can be impacted by the change in a member’s abilities or, in the worst case, by the loss of a family member.

In sum, truck accidents can be devastating to the individual and to the family.  So, what can a victim do in the aftermath of such an accident?

After the Accident

A lot needs to be done after a truck accident.  Whether you can do these tasks for yourself or need assistance depends, to some extent, on how badly injured you are and your physical and emotional condition.  Assuming you are emotionally and physically able, the following things should be done.

  • Call the police and emergency personnel.  In some states, you have to have a police report to file an insurance claim, so it’s important to get that started right away.
  • If medical personnel don’t come to the accident scene, get medical care as soon as you can on your own. The hospital visit will establish your condition immediately after the accident and be available should you have to go to litigation to recover your damages.
  • However, don’t share those medical records with anyone except your personal injury attorney.  The other side, at least until you are in litigation, does not have a right to see them.
  • Speaking of the other side, the truck driver’s insurance company will likely ask you to make a recorded statement, that is, to answer questions under oath.  Do not agree to that.  Once you have retained an accident attorney, they may counsel you to make the statement, but until then don’t do so.
  • Stay away from social media. Anything you say on Facebook or X (fka Twitter) or similar sites can be used as evidence if your case goes to court.  Similarly, don’t apologize to anyone at the scene or to the insurance company representatives.  Your apology, which you may think is polite, will be viewed as an admission of fault.
  • Get contact information from the truck driver and any potential witnesses and use your phone to take pictures of the scene.

Get Legal Help

While you’re taking all these valuable steps, don’t forget to take what is possibly the most valuable step of all.  Retain a car accident lawyer or a truck accident attorney.  The attorney will probably be familiar with your truck driver’s insurance company and its lawyers, as well as the driver’s employer’s lawyers.  They will know the strategies that these parties use in negotiation and that the first settlement offer will always be a lowball offer, as low as the company thinks you might accept under extreme financial and physical pressure.

In Florida, an accident victim can recover for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. If someone dies in the accident, the survivors may be able to sue for the losses caused by the wrongful death.

Recovering damages, filing suit, and gathering evidence, are all jobs best done by an attorney.  Most injury attorneys will meet with accident victims for an initial consultation and case evaluation at no charge.  Moreover, if they do take your case, they will most often take it on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay legal fees if they win or get a settlement in your favor.