According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 4,700 people were killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks and tractor-trailers in the United States in 2017. Almost three-quarters of all fatalities were the occupants of other vehicles, and about 10% of all fatalities were pedestrians and bicyclists. These fatalities are in addition to the millions of dollars in property damage, productivity losses, medical care costs, litigation, and insurance overheads associated with large truck accidents.
If you have injuries from an accident with a tractor-trailer, a lawyer may be able to assist you.
A Columbus tractor trailer accident lawyer at The Fitch Law Firm LLC can help you understand your rights and evaluate your case to determine whether you have grounds for filing a lawsuit. Please call our office to speak with a member of our team.
Tractor Trailer Accidents
Commercial trucks, tractor-trailers, and semi-rigs are typically defined as vehicles with a gross weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. Buses and vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds, such as motor homes, are not included in this category. Tractor-trailer accidents usually involve licensed commercial vehicles as part of a fleet that is professionally managed and heavily insured. Such fleets must perform extensive driver background and vehicle safety checks on a regular basis.
The drivers must undergo intensive training and earn a Commercial Driver License (CDL) as well as meet additional requirements to haul certain types of cargo or drive some vehicles. They also must undergo physicals and health checks regularly and submit to drug and alcohol testing after any accident or incident. In addition, they must follow strict laws about hours of service, rest, and sleep.
Because of the many safety measures in place for commercial trucking, truck drivers involved in a fatal accident are less likely to have had a license suspension in the past than their passenger vehicle driver counterparts. The same goes for blood alcohol levels. Truck drivers are less likely to get into an accident due to intoxication behind the wheel than passenger vehicle drivers. However, this does occur and may have played a role in your collision.
Potential Injuries from Tractor Trailers
Despite these positive facts, the damage caused by tractor-trailers can be catastrophic because of their size and weight. Most of those injured severely or killed are in smaller passenger cars, trucks, vans, or SUVs. Some are motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Some of the injuries commonly seen in tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Lacerations and cuts
- Wrongful death
Other damages and losses that you may suffer after a tractor-trailer accident include:
- Vehicle damage
- Other property damage
- Lost income or diminished earning capacity
- Medical care fees
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Medication and assistive device costs
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Burial and funeral expenses, in the case of a fatality
If you suffered any of these losses or damages, you may be able to seek some form of compensation. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding your accident, the type of insurance coverage you have, the insurance coverage of the driver and trucking company, and who is deemed at fault for the accident.
A tractor-trailer accident lawyer can assist you after an accident. You do not have to try to fight corporate lawyers, a trucking company, or their insurer on your own. Our attorney may be able to represent you and handle your insurance claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
At the Fitch Law Firm LLC, we represent our clients based on a contingency fee. If we decide to work together, you will not have to pay us anything until your case is over and we secure compensation on your behalf. We do not charge attorney’s fees unless we win. Contact a Columbus tractor-trailer accident lawyer with the Fitch Law Firm LLC to learn more.
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Fault for Columbus Tractor Trailer Accidents
Because of their sheer size and propensity for causing death and damage, commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers have extensive regulations. There are very specific rules that outline how such trucks must be operated and maintained. These vehicles also tend to be heavily insured. Determining fault for a truck accident can be tricky because of the many parties involved in maintaining safe truck operations. Consider the following scenarios that could lead to a tractor-trailer accident:
- A maintenance team does not perform proper safety checks and a vehicle malfunction occurs
- A truck company skips important checks to save truck downtime and lower maintenance costs
- A truck company pushes its drivers to meet aggressive delivery deadlines, so they drive drowsy or speed
- A driver is unaware that certain drugs cause drowsiness and takes those drugs before driving
- A device or equipment manufacturer creates a faulty part that breaks down while the truck is in operation on the road
- A loading team fails to secure loads on the bed of a truck that come loose on the road
- A local municipality fails to maintain safe driving conditions or clear signage on dangerous roads
For each scenario above, a different party may shoulder some of the blame for an accident. A lawyer can help you determine who is at fault for an accident and what percentage of blame they are responsible for.
Whether your accident was caused by a driver, a truck owner, a truck operating company, a maintenance team, a parts manufacturer, or a government body, we can assist you with identifying who may owe you damages so we can prepare a claim accordingly.
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Who Is Most Commonly Liable for Tractor Trailer Accidents?
Like in other types of car accident cases, most 18-wheeler collisions occur because of driver error. While many liable parties could play a role, most crashes come down to a driver making a careless or reckless error behind the wheel. If a commercial driver caused your accident, we must prove their negligence to move forward with your claim. This requires showing:
- They had a duty to do (or not do) a specific thing, such as stopping at a stop sign.
- They failed to uphold this duty, often violating a traffic law. In this case, let’s imagine they ran a stop sign.
- Their failure was the direct cause of the collision.
- The collision caused you to suffer injuries, financial losses, and other damages.
Proving negligence is necessary in most personal injury cases, including all car accident claims. However, this is where things are a little different in commercial vehicle crashes. Normally, the driver is the liable party when their reckless or careless actions caused the collision. When a commercial driver is behind the wheel, though, their employer may also be liable.
Thanks to a legal doctrine, respondeat superior, employers are often responsible for their workers’ negligence when it occurs on the clock and while handling job-related tasks. A truck driver is generally working while behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, so this concept often applies. This means we seek compensation for our clients based on the insurance policy held by the trucking company, not the individual driver.
This can make these cases more complex or intimidating. Corporate insurers, attorneys, and large companies can make you feel hopeless or frustrated, especially when they refuse to offer a fair payout in your case. Our attorneys will not back down, however. We will fight for the compensation you deserve, regardless of the size or value of the liable parties.
Contact Us Today for Your Free Consultation to Learn More About How a Columbus Tractor Trailer Attorney Can Help
A Columbus tractor-trailer accident lawyer at The Fitch Law Firm LLC can help you with your truck accident case. When you contact us, you can learn more about truck laws and what options you have after your accident. We can also help you:
- Identify fault in your accident
- Gather evidence in support of your claim, including the official police report on the accident, dashcam footage, and eyewitness testimony
- Quantify the extent of the damages you suffered
- Put together a claim if the circumstances surrounding your accident warrant one
- Negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies, truck company representatives, and others
The personal injuries and financial losses you may suffer after a tractor-trailer accident can be substantial, and we encourage you to seek compensation if you feel you qualify. Statutes of limitations apply to personal injury and vehicle accident cases. Contact us today to get your free consultation, initiate the legal process for your accident, and learn if your case warrants a claim.
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