Truck accidents are unique among auto accident cases for multiple reasons. The question of liability can become complex, and the various types of truck accidents often result in devastating circumstances, including life-altering injuries and death. The first step in determining who is liable for a truck accident is identifying the type of collision.
Most Common Types of Truck Accidents
When a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they owe every other driver on the road a duty of care, meaning they are responsible for ensuring their actions do not put anyone in avoidable danger. Unfortunately, even a responsible commercial truck driver can quickly lose control and cause a deadly collision. Some common types of truck accidents in which victims suffer substantial losses relate to cargo issues and other human road errors.
Accidents Caused by Cargo Issues
There are strict federal regulations regarding the loading and securing of cargo in a commercial truck. The reason is that overweight or poorly secured cargo can be a serious hazard on the road. One of the most common types of truck accidents is rollover accidents. These often stem from issues during the loading process. For example, unsecured cargo can shift on a turn, causing the trailer to roll over. Failure to follow the laws that regulate truck cargo would make the loading party liable for damages.
Other Common Truck Accidents
Cargo issues are not the only potential cause of a rollover accident. For example, the truck driver could roll over from speeding, turning on a curve while going too fast, braking too hard on a steep decline, or over-correcting after drifting out of the lane or off the road. Some other common types of truck accidents include:
- Wide turn accidents. These are commonly known as squeeze-play accidents, which occur when a truck driver is not careful while turning right. The necessary swing left before the turn can be misleading to other drivers, so the truck driver must be alert to avoid hitting someone.
- Tire blowouts. Overloaded cargo can cause a tire blowout, and drivers who do not continually check tire pressure could miss a low tire. When a tire blows, it can cause the driver to lose control, and even temporary loss of control could result in a deadly accident.
- Jackknife accidents. Jackknifing occurs when the truck trailer turns to the side, forming an angle between the truck and the cab. This is typically the result of breaking too quickly.
- Blind spot and underride accidents. Commercial trucks have substantial blind spots, making lane changes especially dangerous. A blind spot accident could result in an underriding accident as well. Small vehicles, such as motorcycles, could collide and become trapped under the truck during a lane change or road merge.
- Accidents caused by brake failure. Poor maintenance, skipping inspections, or improperly installing brakes could lead to brake failure, which is dangerous for any vehicle but especially hazardous for commercial trucks.
Other common auto accidents, such as rear-end or head-on collisions, are especially dangerous when a commercial truck is involved. The size and weight of the truck alone can turn what could otherwise be a minor crash into a deadly accident. If you suffer an injury in any truck accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses.
Potentially Recoverable Damages From a Truck Accident Lawsuit
The court refers to losses from a personal injury case as damages. The more severe the accident is, the greater the possibility of substantial damages. Most auto accident cases only involve the recovery of compensatory damages, meaning the losses directly caused by the accident. However, in cases involving extreme circumstances, the court may also award you punitive damages.
Economic losses are the first type of compensatory damages from a truck accident case. These refer to financial losses, which are easily calculated. Examples include:
- Expenses for necessary medical care, such as visits to the hospital or doctor’s office, medications, surgeries, physical or occupational therapy, use of medical devices, and continued future care
- Wages lost due to missed work or loss of earning capacity caused by disability
- Cost of property damaged during the accident, including the repair or replacement of your vehicle
Virtually anything you paid out-of-pocket as a direct result of your accident could be a recoverable economic loss. For example, if you needed to hire childcare during your recovery or had to make structural changes to your home to accommodate immobility, you could also claim those costs.
Non-economic damages are often more valuable than economic damages, but quantifying them is more complex. Examples of non-economic losses include:
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering you endured because of the accident and your injuries
- An inability to enjoy your life the way you had before the accident
- Loss of consortium if your injuries affected your relationship with your spouse
- Disability, disfigurement, or dismemberment
Valuing these claims often requires a sophisticated understanding of personal injury law. Your attorney may use the multiplier method to calculate the total costs of economic damages and multiply it by a number between 1.5 and 5 to determine the value of non-economic losses. More severe injuries would likely acquire more substantial losses. In that case, the attorney would use a higher multiplier.
Punitive damages are not common in auto accident cases. However, the likelihood is higher in cases where the responsible party displayed gross negligence. For example, suppose the truck driver responsible for your collision was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an unfortunate commonality in the trucking industry. In that case, the court may define their actions as gross negligence and require them to pay punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages.
Another example could be if a parts manufacturer knowingly distributed a defective part, causing the truck to malfunction and crash. That could constitute gross negligence. Punitive damages are a form of punishment meant to deter the defendant from behaving similarly in the future. Cases that involve large corporations and gross negligence can result in a substantial award.
Schedule an Appointment With a Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accident cases can quickly become complex, making reaching a fast and fair settlement more challenging. However, as the victim of a devastating accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses, and a truck accident lawyer can relieve the legal burden for you. Your attorney will act in your best interest, representing you with aggressive professional representation and a kind, compassionate understanding of the physical and emotional struggles you face as the result of someone else’s negligence.
It is never too soon to contact a truck accident lawyer and discuss the details of your case. At Siegfried and Jensen, we are prepared to address your concerns and answer your questions throughout the process. Our legal team has experience standing up to large trucking companies with extensive legal resources, and we will put together the evidence and information you need to build a strong claim for damages and negligence. Our job is to ensure you have what you need to recover your former life or adapt to a new way of living. Contact Siegfried and Jensen at (801)845-9000 to schedule your risk-free case evaluation and start the process of healing.