When you or a loved one faces severe injuries, lengthy hospital stays, and ongoing pain due to a truck accident caused by a driver or trucking company’s negligence, don’t leave your future to chance. Contact the Cleveland truck accident attorneys at The Mellino Law Firm. For more than 30 years, we’ve been helping injured individuals and their families fight for a fair recovery when someone else causes them harm.
Truck accident claims are often very complex due to the numerous liable parties involved; it is crucial that you discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
TRUCK ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Truck accidents are surprisingly common in the United States. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were approximately 119,000 truck accidents that resulted in injuries in 2016 (the latest year for which data is available). Additionally, there were 4,213 large trucks involved in fatal accidents the same year—a three percent increase from the previous year.
Additional statistics from the FMCSA reveal that:
- Most fatal truck accidents (62%) involved two vehicles
- Fatal truck accidents occur most commonly on interstate highways and in rural areas
- The vast majority of people killed in truck accidents (83%) were not occupants of the truck
- Most fatal truck accidents (84%) and non-fatal truck accidents (88%) occurred on weekdays
- Collision with another vehicle was the most common type of truck accident
INJURIES & COMPENSATION IN TRUCK ACCIDENT CASES
Due to the immense size of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, accidents involving these types of vehicles tend to result in severe injury and major property damage. In many cases, truck accidents are fatal. As a result, the impact of truck accidents are often extensive and far-reaching. Injured victims face massive medical bills, not to mention the emotional and physical suffering that accompanies severe, life-altering injuries.
Injuries sustained in truck accidents tend to be catastrophic in nature and often include:
Recovering from these types of injuries takes time, money, and extensive medical attention. Often, injured victims are unable to return to work for weeks, months, or even years. They may be unable to return to work at all, depending on the severity of their injuries. This can place an enormous burden on families who must suddenly deal with the aftermath of a truck accident.
While a truck accident claim cannot undo the pain and suffering you and your family have endured, it can allow you to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages you have suffered as a result of the accident.
While every case is different, many victims of truck accidents are able to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including both current and future medical bills
- Ongoing medical care, such as physical rehabilitation therapy
- Lost income/wages and lost or reduced earning ability
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress, PTSD, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment/lost or reduced quality of life
Additionally, if your family member or loved one was killed in a truck accident, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills incurred prior to death, funeral costs, loss of companionship, emotional distress, and other damages. In cases of severe negligence, victims may be able to recover punitive damages, which are meant to punish the liable party.
WHO IS LIABLE FOR A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
Proving fault in a car accident can be complex, but in an accident with a commercial vehicle, the process of proving fault can be much more difficult and complicated. Why? Because liability can be spread out across multiple parties. In many cases, not only can the truck driver be held at fault, but so can the company that employs him, the company that’s leasing the trailer he’s hauling, and the company that loaded the trailer.
The truck manufacturer, parts manufacturer, or even the mechanic or maintenance team may also bear some responsibility, along with the jurisdiction responsible for maintaining the roadway where the accident happened. State, local, and federal laws all can come into play, including laws that govern the safety rules and regulations a truck company and driver must follow to even travel on the roadways.
When a truck accident occurs, the finger-pointing begins, and suddenly, what may have seemed like a fairly straightforward case becomes a tangled mess that needs to be carefully dissected to determine who’s at fault and how much “blame” each party is liable for.
Each party has a lot at stake, and that means instead of being assaulted on one front, as is common with most car accident cases, you suddenly find yourself dealing with multiple parties and multiple insurance companies, and each insurance company has its own team of experienced legal teams ready to defend its own interests and attempt to shift blame elsewhere. This is why it is crucial for you to have your own legal representation.
DETERMINING FAULT FOR A COMMERCIAL TRUCKING ACCIDENT
To determine fault in a truck accident, you need to start with as much data as you can. That may mean gathering police reports, firsthand witness accounts, driver and passenger interviews, expert witness testimony and other information, and it can also mean a lot of behind-the-scenes investigation of the parties involved, including determining whether the driver or other parties have had prior accidents or violations.
Current trucking regulations need to be reviewed to ensure the driver and vehicle were in compliance at the time of the accident, and the local laws also need a careful and thorough evaluation.
Some of the most common regulations that truck drivers violate include:
- driving more than 11 hours per day;
- working more than 14 hours per day (including driving and non-driving job responsibilities);
- not taking at least 10 hours off after each shift; and
- not properly documenting hours and mileage in a log book.
Trucking regulations are governed by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Truck drivers frequently violate DOT regulations, generally because they’re compensated by the mile. When they fail to follow regulations, however, they can quickly become fatigued, which dulls their senses, reaction time, and driving ability, resulting in catastrophic consequences.
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT
Establishing fault requires a lot of discovery, which means you need a lawyer who understands the complex nature of these cases and has the experience and resources needed to form a strong case.
After all, the driver, trucking company, and all the other parties that may be involved have expert legal teams working on their behalf; it just makes sense for you to take the same precautions to ensure your own rights are protected, especially considering the injuries that occur in a truck accident are likely to be severe.
Proving that a driver or trucking company was at fault in your accident can be difficult, so having as much information as possible to support your claim is key to a successful personal injury lawsuit.
A Cleveland truck accident lawyer can help you by:
- collecting evidence such as trucking company documents, logbooks, safety reports, police reports, medical records, photos, and video.
- working with expert witnesses who are trained in recreating commercial truck accidents to determine the cause of the crash. Police investigators, doctors, and truckers from other companies may also provide useful information.
- sending a spoliation letter to the trucking company to prevent evidence from being destroyed.
- comparing the driver’s logbook with other types of evidence collected at the scene.
At The Mellino Law Firm, we have 30 years of experience helping Cleveland-area residents protect their rights following a truck accident. Our legal team is skilled in developing strong cases using an array of techniques to “cover all the bases” and determine who’s really at fault, and how much “blame” or liability each party is responsible for.
Then, we work with the responsible parties to attempt to settle cases out of court with terms that favor our clients and support their rights. And if we wind up going to court, we provide our clients with the best legal support available, presenting a strong, clear case that supports their best interests for the best possible outcomes.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to make sure your rights are protected and you receive adequate compensation for all your expenses. Let us make sure you have the legal guidance and support you need.