18 wheeler trucks, also known as semi trucks or big rigs, are an essential part of the transportation industry, moving goods across the country. However, these massive vehicles also pose serious dangers on the road. When an 18 wheeler is involved in an accident, the injuries sustained by regular passenger vehicles and their occupants can be catastrophic. If you or a loved one has been harmed in an 18 wheeler accident in San Antonio, contacting an experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyer should be your top priority.
Why You Need an Attorney After an 18 Wheeler Accident
- Complex legal claims – There are multiple parties that can share liability in a truck accident, including the driver, trucking company, parts manufacturers, cargo loaders, etc. An attorney can help identify all responsible parties.
- Access to resources – Trucking companies and insurance carriers have vast legal and financial resources. An attorney levels the playing field.
- Maximize compensation – Experienced lawyers ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve, including damages for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
- Handle negotiations – Your attorney deals with insurance adjusters so you can focus on recovery. Adjusters may try to lowball injury settlement offers, but a lawyer won’t let that happen.
If you try to handle an 18 wheeler accident claim yourself, the trucking company and its insurance team will take advantage. Their goal is to pay as little as possible. Don’t let them get away with it – hire a lawyer to fight for you.
Common Causes of 18 Wheeler Accidents
- Truck driver fatigue – Drowsy driving is a major issue, as drivers often violate Hours of Service regulations. Fatigued big rig drivers cause 100,000 crashes per year.
- Speeding and aggressive driving – Large trucks require much more time and distance to brake than passenger cars. Speeding trucks can’t stop quickly enough to avoid a crash.
- Impaired driving – Drug and alcohol use is too common among truck drivers. Intoxicated driving puts everyone on the road at risk.
- Poor truck maintenance – When trucking companies fail to properly maintain vehicles, tire blowouts, brake failure, and other mechanical problems can occur, leading to a crash.
- Inadequate driver training – Many drivers lack the advanced skills and experience needed to safely operate an 18 wheeler. Insufficient training causes accidents.
- Hazardous weather – Icy, snowy, rainy, foggy, and windy weather presents trucks with dangerous driving conditions. Adverse weather is a factor in many big rig crashes.
The negligent actions of trucking companies and drivers put profits over safety. But an attorney can hold them fully accountable.
Injuries Commonly Suffered in 18 Wheeler Accidents
When a loaded 18-wheeler collides with a smaller passenger car, the people in the car often sustain catastrophic injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – The violent strike to the head can cause concussions, hemorrhages, paralysis, memory loss, and other severe harm. TBI effects can be permanent.
- Spinal cord injuries – Crush damage to the vertebrae or spinal cord can lead to paraplegia or quadriplegia. Regaining mobility and sensation is difficult.
- Internal organ damage – Massive blunt force trauma ruptures or impairs vital organs like the liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach, and more.
- Broken bones – Fractures, dislocations, crushed bones in the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, and toes are common after collisions with big trucks.
- Amputation – Severe limb injuries may require amputation of legs, arms, hands, fingers, etc. Prosthetics provide limited mobility.
- Burns – Friction with the roadway or fire due to gas tank rupture or explosions can cause disfiguring burn wounds.
- Wrongful death – When injuries are too severe, truck accidents lead to fatalities. Families suffer the devastating loss.
No amount of financial compensation can erase these catastrophic injuries. But it can help accident victims pay for surgery, rehabilitation, and lifelong medical treatment they now require.
Steps to Take After an 18 Wheeler Accident
If you’ve been in a trucking collision, some of your actions after the crash can affect your legal claim. Here’s what to do:
- Remain at the accident scene and call 911. Report injuries and request medical assistance. Don’t leave until police authorize it.
- Cooperate with first responders. Answer questions clearly and honestly when providing a statement.
- Take photos and video of the crash scene, vehicles, skid marks, debris, road conditions, weather, traffic signs, etc. Document all property damage and injuries.
- Exchange insurance and contact info with the truck driver and witnesses. Obtain copies of police reports.
- Seek immediate medical evaluation and treatment. Follow all doctors’ orders. Keep records of diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
- Notify your insurance provider about the accident, but do not make any statements about fault.
- Consult with an experienced 18 wheeler accident attorney as soon as possible before talking to any insurance companies.
Follow these steps, and your lawyer can build the strongest case. The trucking company will have teams of adjusters, investigators, and attorneys working against your claim. A qualified lawyer will level the playing field.
Filing an Injury Claim After an 18 Wheeler Accident
Pursuing compensation after a trucking collision involves filing an injury claim against the responsible parties and their insurance companies. This is a complex legal process. Key steps include:
- Proving liability – Your attorney must establish negligence through crash analysis, witness statements, driver logs, company records, federal regulations, and other evidence.
- Assessing damages – The value of your claim depends on the medical evidence of crash injuries and their long-term implications, as well as the financial losses they create.
- Demand letter – The lawyer presents a demand letter to the insurer summarizing liability facts, damages, and a settlement amount to resolve the claim.
- Settlement negotiations – After investigating the claim, the insurance company will make settlement offers. Your lawyer will negotiate aggressively to maximize compensation.
- Personal injury lawsuit – If the insurer won’t offer fair compensation through settlement, then your attorney can file a lawsuit. They’ll skillfully argue your case in court.
- Trial – If a settlement can’t be reached, the case proceeds to trial. Your lawyer will advocate for full damages by presenting evidence and questioning witnesses before a jury.
Handling an 18 wheeler claim requires comprehensive legal knowledge and extensive trial experience. Don’t go it alone – hire a qualified truck accident attorney.
Elements Needed to Prove Liability After a Trucking Accident
In any personal injury claim, the victim must establish liability – proof that someone else’s negligence directly caused the accident and injuries. Truck accident lawyers prove liability by gathering evidence of:
- Negligent driving – The trucker violated traffic laws or drove recklessly based on eyewitness accounts and crash forensics.
- DOT violations – Evidence shows the driver violated allowable hours or vehicle safety regulations.
- Company policy breaches – The trucking company pressured drivers to exceed limits or skip required rest periods.
- Improper hiring & training – The company failed to adequately screen and train the driver for safe 18 wheeler operation.
- Poor truck maintenance – Records indicate overlooked or delayed repairs contributed to a mechanical failure.
- Dangerous loading practices – Improperly distributed or secured cargo could have caused control issues.
- Manufacturing defects – Products liability may apply if faulty truck parts caused a malfunction.
- Fatigue, intoxication, distractions – Circumstances suggest the truck driver’s impairment played a key role.
A skilled attorney thoroughly investigates to uncover all liable parties and maximize claim value. Strong evidence equals more compensation.
Why Semi Truck Accident Claims are Complex and Take Time
Resolving an 18 wheeler accident injury claim takes patience and perseverance. These cases are far more complex than typical car crash claims. Factors adding time and complexity include:
- Multiple defendants – The driver, trucking company, parts suppliers, cargo loaders, etc. may share liability. Naming all responsible parties is key.
- Limited evidence access – Trucking companies drag their feet providing driver logs, inspection records, personnel files, and other critical claim evidence.
- Insurance delays – Carriers use delay tactics hoping injured claimants settle fast for low amounts or give up entirely.
- Retaining witnesses – Crucial eyewitnesses like other drivers may move away or fade from memory over time. An attorney must act quickly to preserve testimony.
- Proving damages – Gathering medical evidence, prognosis reports, income loss data, and calculating future costs takes months.
- Settlement refusal – Insurance carriers often deny reasonable settlement demands, forcing court filing.
- Crowded court dockets – Injury lawsuits may wait years for a trial date if courts are backlogged.