If you are like most drivers, you feel your tension rise when you see a fast-moving 18-wheeler gaining on you in your review mirror. Instincts tell you that if there is an accident, it will be devastating.
Your instincts are right.
Semi-trucks have a maximum load weight of 80,000 pounds, more than twenty times that of a typical passenger vehicle. Because of this weight difference, passenger vehicles take the brunt of the force in an accident. In fact, accidents involving commercial trucks are far more likely to cause serious injuries, fatalities, and property damage.
There are an astonishing number of semi-truck accidents. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were more than half a million police-reported semi-truck accidents in 2019. 114,000 of these crashes resulted in injury and 4,479 of these crashes were fatalities.
If you or a family member has been in an accident involving a semi-truck, it is essential that you have an attorney who specializes in semi-truck accidents on your side.
Don’t Underestimate the Complexities of Semi-truck Accidents
If you are in an 18-wheeler accident, your first instinct may be to treat it like you would a passenger vehicle accident. This is a mistake, and the complexities of a semi-truck accident are too much to handle without a trusted and experienced attorney.
Immediately after a semi-truck accident, the commercial driver will notify the trucking company. This initiates an investigation. The goal of the insurance company will be to limit liability and compensation. During the investigation, the commercial carrier will have rapid access to experts, investigators, and lawyers. You need to balance the playing field with your own semi-truck experts on the case because the complexities of the commercial trucking industries will put you at a disadvantage. Some of these complexities include:
- The injuries and losses caused by an 18-wheeler accident and the associated financial impact can be difficult to quantify. An experienced personal injury lawyer who handles trucking cases can support you through this process.
- Many (but not all) semi-trucks – and modern vehicles, in general – have sophisticated data recorders that may include crucial information about the truck, its operation, and how those factors may have contributed to the crash. You’ll need a trucking expert to interpret the data.
- The trucking industry must comply with hundreds of regulations from agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and state and local ordinances. These rules cover everything from driver safety, vehicle condition, load weights, and hours of service. Noncompliance with any of these regulations could have been the cause or may have contributed to the accident. Without an experienced lawyer, it will be almost impossible for you to access this information.
- Both the trucking company and the semi-truck driver have joint responsibility for safe operation and share liability. Loaders, maintenance workers, the truck manufacturer, and other parties may have created unsafe conditions and may also have liability for the accident.
- There are often multiple parties and insurance companies involved in your claim.
What to Look for In a Qualified Semi-truck Accident Lawyer
Having representation from an attorney who is experienced in semi-truck accident cases is the best way to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your loss. Here are a few tips for finding the lawyer to best represent you after an accident with an 18-wheeler.
- Ensure the that the lawyer has complete knowledge of the commercial trucking industry, insurance agencies, and regulations. A semi-truck accident lawyer will be able to navigate the complexities of your case.
- Find a law firm with a proven track record of success with semi-truck accidents.
- Make sure the firm can jump right in to support you during the discovery and investigation phase. To learn more about how Burnett & Williams handles commercial semi-truck cases, visit our website and check out our Case Process.
- Look for a firm with a track record of excellence and a solid reputation in your community.
Contact Us Today
Burnett & Williams is one of Virginia’s most recognized personal injury law firms. We are experts in semi-truck accidents and have a proven track record. Contact us today for a free consultation if you or your family has been in an 18-wheeler truck accident.