Truck Driving Personal Injuries

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Accidents involving trucks may be more common than you realize, and often cause devastating personal injuries, if not death. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 13,778 truck occupants died in 2005 in reported highway accidents. Every 16 minutes, a person is killed or sustains injuries in accidents involving 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers or semi-trucks. The difference in size, velocity, visibility fields, and braking abilities of trucks and cars result in greater injuries to the occupants of the car.

Truck driving accidents occur due to: aggressive or unwise driving by cars (despite the greater risk to the car occupants); pressure on truck drivers to complete runs in insufficient time; truck equipment failure due to overuse, poor maintenance, or other defects; speeding or tailgating; faulty blind spot mirrors; and overloading of a truck leading to jackknifing or overturning.

If you are a truck driver injured while driving for your employer, you will have to file a workers compensation claim with your employer as soon as possible after the accident. Your employer's workers compensation insurer should pay for your medical treatment regardless of whether you or the other driver was at fault. If someone else was responsible for the accident, you may be able to sue them for your personal injuries, but your workers compensation carrier will be entitled to subrogation (meaning, the insurance company will recover the money it paid for your treatment from the personal injury settlement you receive from the negligent driver.) There are personal injury attorneys who specialize in workers compensation work, and you should definitely contact such an attorney if you are making a workers compensation claim and do not feel your claim is being handled fully or fairly.

On the other hand, if the car driver isn't at fault (and isn't driving in the course and scope of his or her own employment), the car driver can sue the truck driver, the driver's employer, the owner of the truck, and any other party potentially at fault for a dangerous condition in the truck related to the accident. Like any other negligence case, the car driver has to prove that the truck driver caused the accident, and the accident caused damages to the car and/or occupants. The damages portion of a personal injury claim against a truck driver is rarely a problem, as injuries are usually quite significant. However, proving fault is just as difficult as in any other auto accident. Both drivers usually argue the other caused or contributed to the accident's occurrence, except in the most obvious cases. Depending on the law of the state in which the personal injury plaintiff files suit, some fault on the plaintiff's part may diminish or totally bar recovery.

It is important that you contact a personal injury attorney right away after an accident involving a truck driver, as there are more factors at play than in the average car-on-car accident. There are federal regulations which control many aspects of truck driving and truck safety; you need a personal injury attorney with prior experience with the trucking industry. These accidents also often involve more forensic evidence, and demand immediate investigation. For example, the truck's "black box" should contain important evidence on the truck's speed, recent braking activity, airbag use, etc. It is critical that this evidence is identified and preserved immediately however, as most black boxes store information for only a short period of time. Important evidence can easily be lost (or intentionally destroyed) if your personal injury attorney doesn't act quickly.

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