Trucking Accidents FAQ
How common are truck accidents?
There are approximately 5,000 deaths, 100,000 injuries, and 500,000 trucking accidents every year.
Do you hate truck drivers?
We believe that many trucking accidents involving cars are the cars' fault. Car drivers don't always understand how much longer it takes a truck to stop and that cars should not cut in front of trucks and then slow down or stop. Most truck companies are reputable businesses that are a necessary part of our country's infrastructure. There are, unfortunately, what we call rogue truck companies that flagrantly disregard federal motor carrier safety regulations by falsifying logbooks, failing to inspect their trucks and committing other violations of trucking laws. We enjoy holding these companies responsible for their actions. It's unfair competition, really. How can a reputable truck company compete against a rogue company that has lower costs because it doesn't take the time to keep its vehicles maintained or to audit its drivers' logbooks to make certain none are driving while tired?
In fact, we have represented many truck drivers who were injured in a tractor trailer accident. Some were hit by a driver who fell asleep, crossed the center-line, rear-ended them, or were otherwise irresponsible.
Why is a traffic accident involving a truck more likely to cause serious injury that one involving automobiles only?
Trucking accidents are more likely to cause serious injury because trucks are bigger. A commercial tractor-trailer can weigh over 80,000 pounds, while an average passenger car weighs around 3,000 pounds. Thus, tractor trailer accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries for the occupants of the car.
How much is my trucking accident case worth?
Many factors enter into the valuation of your truck accident settlement claim. Important factors include how long you need medical treatment, what kind of treatment you need, wage loss, and the length of time you continue to experience pain and suffering from the accident.
Differences in state trucking laws also can affect settlement valuation and require, for example, that an Ohio truck accident lawyer approach a case differently than a Michigan truck accident lawyer would.
For more information, please see our help for those injured in a truck accident page.
What are the common causes of trucking accidents?
There are many factors that contribute to trucking accidents. These accidents are usually caused by a combination of a truck's unique characteristics and performance capabilities (limits associated with acceleration, braking, and visibility) and car drivers' ignorance of these characteristics. Some other causes of trucking accidents include:
- Lack of training on the part of the truck driver;
- Overloaded trucks;
- Oversized trucks;
- Poorly maintained brakes on the trucks;
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to smoke, fog, snow or rain;
- Fatigued, sleepy or tired driver driving too long and too many hours without rest;
- Speeding or driving at speeds beyond the road and/or weather conditions;
- Running off the road;
- Failure to yield the right of way;
- Aggressive driving behavior;
- Truck drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol while driving;
- Driving the truck in bad weather conditions;
- Dangerous or reckless truck driver with a long record of wrecks and accidents;
- Unsafe safety systems, reflectors, lights and other warning devices and
- Failure of truck to have installed an underride protection underguard.
- Failure to comply with FMCSA Regulations regarding truck inspection
Our attorneys have extensive experience working on trucking accident cases. Learn more about our truck accident attorneys here.
How do I deal with trucking companies or their insurance company after a truck accident?
One thing you have to know is that you are not negotiating on level ground when dealing with a trucking company after a trucking accident. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at auto truck accident investigation and claims practice. These insurance company adjusters represent the truck company, not you. Do not give them any type of statements or sign any releases for medical records or employment records. Often the medical release allows the adjuster to talk to your doctors without you or anyone being present.
Truck companies have accident investigators that are on-call and dispatched to the scene of the crash as soon as the trucking company learns there has been a truck accident. While the families of the accident victims are tending to medical and hospital care and funeral arrangements, the trucking company is investigating the truck accident and setting up their legal defense. This is why the victims of big trucking accidents also need to have a team of investigators and truck accident attorneys on their side, fighting for their rights.
If you or someone you love was injured in a trucking accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you deal with the truck company or insurance company.
Is my case any different if I am injured, or a family member is killed in a trucking accident as opposed to any other accident?
Yes. Although the same laws of negligence will apply, there are special Vehicle Code sections which apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, and there are special licensing and training requirements of truck drivers which generally make trucking accidents harder to defend and easier to win for plaintiffs.
Are trucking companies regulated by the Federal Government?
Yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes rules and regulations, which govern commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate these vehicles. Their stated purpose is to attempt to make the interstate highways safer by reducing the number of truck accidents.
Does Federal law limit the hours that a trucker can operate their truck?
Yes. Since 1939, FMCSA regulations have placed restrictions on the "hours of service" that a trucker may operate his their trucks. The hours of service regulations have been the source of several court cases and administrative action over the past several years. Hours of services laws are important to promoting safety by helping to ensure that truck drivers are getting the needed rest to operate their big rigs safely. Click here for current Hours of Service Rules
Are trucks required by Federal law to carry insurance?
Yes. Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations require commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage resulting from trucking accidents. Most State laws also impose minimum insurance requirements on trucks not covered under Federal law, which means that Tennessee truck accident lawyers and California truck accident lawyers, for example, would approach a truck accident case armed with both FMCSA regulations and the laws of their respective states.
Who can sue in a trucking accident injury or death case?
Anyone who is injured or has had a loved one killed in a trucking accident can sue as long as some other person or entity is at fault for the accident. This includes adults and children (who can sue through guardians or parents); and even truck drivers if another person or entity was at fault for the accident.
For more information about your legal rights after a trucking accident, please visit our page for those injured in trucking accidents.
Who can be sued in a trucking accident case?
Any person or entity at fault for causing a trucking accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver and the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the shipper, as well as any other driver, person or entity who in any way contributed to the trucking accident, such as the manufacturer of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, the manufacturer of a tire that contributed to the accident or the owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident.
Is investigation important in a trucking accident case?
Yes. It is critical. If the truck involved in a trucking accident was commercially owned, in most situations large trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately after the accident. This puts you at a vast disadvantage. It is important that you retain an experienced truck accident attorney who immediately investigates the case to attempt to pin down liability on any potential at-fault defendants.
Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a trucking accident case?
Usually. Unless there is no question that one party was completely at fault, a plaintiff in any serious injury or death case involving a truck should usually retain an expert. Further, that expert should have special expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of trucks and all applicable trucking laws.
Our truck accident attorneys can help locate the appropriate expert witness for your case.
I was injured in a crash where a truck driver was at fault. Can I receive money for time I missed at work?
In most states, yes. In some states, such as no-fault states, the time missed is usually paid through state-provided benefits such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims. Since state law varies so widely, we work with a law firm knowledgeable about trucking laws in your state. In most instances, your settlement in a personal injury action can include payment for income lost through missed work, and compensation for any loss of earning capacity resulting from the truck accident.
Read more about our past truck accident settlements.
If a truck involved in an accident was transporting hazardous materials (hazmat), and injuries sustained directly resulted from the hazardous materials, can we sue the shipper of the chemicals as well as the truck driver?
In limited circumstances, the shipper of such hazardous materials can be held legally responsible if injuries resulted from the type of cargo on the truck, especially if the shipper failed to advise the driver or the trucking company of the hazardous nature of material contained in the freight prior to the truck accident.
I was injured in a truck accident in California. Can you help me?
Yes, along with a local attorney. We have handled truck accident cases from California to North Carolina, Michigan to Florida, Texas, Iowa, the Great Lakes and many other states. Since our offices are in Ohio, Detroit, Chicago and Tennessee, we cannot ethically practice law in, for example, California without having a California licensed attorney who can give you California legal advice and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
When you call us, we first determine where we should contact a lawyer to give you advice. For example, an Ohio resident may be in an accident in California with a Texas truck driver driving for a company from Nebraska with an Illinois truck and New York trailer. This sort of situation occurs quite commonly given the nature of interstate commerce. In this instance, I would call an excellent firm in California- R. Rex Parris Law Offices. Rex's record is absolutely top-notch. I have worked with him before and know that he is trustworthy and very, very thorough and successful. Since I limit my caseload to truck accident cases, I can assist with my experience as to specifics he may not have dealt with, say the laws and mechanical differences surrounding automatic versus manual slack adjustors on the brakes of trucks which have caused fatal collisions when a mechanic or driver didn't understand the difference. The good news is you only pay one fee. You get two firms for the price of one, both working on your case. We simply divide any attorney fee between our firms.
Why not just call the attorney you work with in the state I live? You've listed them right on your website.
When you call us, you gain the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer on your case, at no extra cost to you.
- We help you determine which state to bring your claim and lawsuit.
- We team with a local lawyer who has been screened for quality, knowledge, and results.
- We stay involved and are able to assist your case with our trucking knowledge.
- We really understand truck accident cases, and even teach other lawyers about them. Most importantly, you pay only one fee.
- You do not pay more for having us on your team.
In effect, by working through us, you get two firms for the price of one, both working on your case.
Can you work with my lawyer?
Probably. As experienced truck accident lawyers, we are often called by other lawyers to "co-counsel" in a case. That is, to work with them on it. In addition to having truck knowledge, we are trial lawyers, so we can handle a portion or all of your case. Every state has different requirements governing how lawyers work together, so we make certain we are in compliance with each state's ethical requirements, or we won't take the case.
I have more questions. How do I get in touch with you?
We welcome your questions! Fill out a web form to Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer, or phone us directly at 1-800-628-4500.
I have handled cases across the country. I am licensed in several states, and have local counsel in many states who I trust and work with closely.