In an 18-wheeler or semi-truck accident, the passenger vehicle and its occupants fare poorly. Though these big rigs make up less than four percent of the vehicles on the road, they are involved in 12 percent of all fatalities.
A fully loaded 18-wheeler may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When traveling 65 miles an hour, the stopping distance increases to six hundred feet with good road conditions. Brake or tire issues and weather conditions increase the stopping distance. The loads may contain hazardous materials, and a poorly loaded trailer could shift during lane changes making the driver lose control. Drivers, often paid by the mile, have a financial incentive to “make up time” by exceeding the speed limit or driving longer hours.
Because there are so many risk factors, every aspect of commercial trucking is highly regulated, from truck maintenance, loading, operating, and driver training. While the majority of carriers operate safely, some carriers and drivers put other drivers at risk. In 2021 alone, fifty-seven thousand violations were identified by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and twenty-seven thousand letters were issued. Nearly nine thousand were acute/critical violations.
If you or a family member has been in an accident with an 18-wheeler or semi-truck, you are about to embark on a process that involves multiple parties and insurance companies and includes an extensive investigation and discovery process. The investigation consists of a review of countless logs and operational documents, in addition to complex data that may be included on the truck’s electronic data recorder, to identify the factors that led to the accident. More than one party may be liable, and the carrier’s insurance company will begin this investigation immediately.
One of the best things you can do after an accident with an 18-wheeler is partner with an experienced semi-truck accident lawyer to ensure that you receive fair compensation for injuries, loss, pain, and suffering.
There are Many Benefits to Hiring an 18-wheeler Accident Lawyer
- Insurance companies and carriers have a financial incentive to limit compensation and will get to work immediately to minimize exposure. Hiring a semi-truck accident lawyer ensures that you are protected every step of the way, from the investigation and discovery phases, through the settlement or verdict. Your lawyer will review your claim, document your injuries and losses, quantify the true costs of losses incurred, identify potentially responsible parties and notify them to preserve relevant data and information, keep track of all deadlines, and represent you with the goal of securing fair compensation for your loss.
- In a semi-truck accident, multiple parties have liability, and there are often multiple insurance companies to deal with. A semi-truck accident lawyer will explore all the liable parties as a potential source for insurance coverage to help ensure that you are in the best possible position to obtain compensation.
- While we often think of driver error as the cause of accidents, the trucking company’s operational practices may be to blame for the 18-wheeler accident. An experienced semi-truck accident lawyer will have insights into safety and commercial safety regulations and will be able to identify maintenance and equipment issues, load irregularities and other issues from a comprehensive review of driver’s logs, training logs, and maintenance logs. This attention to detail can strengthen your claim.
- According to the American Association of Justice, minimum insurance levels for commercial carriers have not been raised since 1980 and often do not cover the medical bills and other costs. While larger carriers often have higher insurance limits, smaller carriers often insure at minimum coverage per claim. The settlement offer from an insurance company after a semi-truck accident may not be adequate to cover medical expenses, let alone other losses. A semi-truck accident lawyer will investigate all potential sources for coverage to increase the likelihood of you receiving fair compensation.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has been in an 18-wheeler truck accident, contacts us today for a free consultation. Burnett & Williams is one of Virginia’s most recognized personal injury law firms with a proven track record in semi-truck accident litigation.