Semi truck accidents can be much more catastrophic than an accident between two passenger vehicles. A typical, fully loaded semi truck (such as a big rig, 18 wheeler with a tractor-trailer or dump truck) can weigh at least 25 times as much as a typical car. Due to this weight disparity and the basic laws of physics, most big rig truck accidents with other vehicles result in serious – even fatal – injuries.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a semi truck, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries by bringing a legal claim against the responsible parties. This article provides a general overview of such claims. However, first and foremost, you should meet with a Chicago truck accident lawyer who is familiar with trucking industry regulations, like Mario Palermo at the law firm, Palermo Law Group, for a free consultation and legal representation.
The Unique Dangers of Semi Truck Accidents
While statistics show that truck drivers generally are professional drivers who understand their responsibility to other drivers on the road, large truck crashes still accounted for over 4,995 fatalities and over 106,000 injuries in 2016.
In addition, truck accidents can be made worse by the freight the truck is carrying. For example, if hazardous or flammable materials (such as gasoline or industrial waste) are on board a big rig involved in an accident, secondary injuries from the dangerous cargo can result.
Proving Your Case
As is true in most personal injury cases involving vehicle accidents, the main legal theory of liability in commercial truck accident cases is “negligence.” Therefore, a person injured in a semi truck accident must show that:
- Defendant (driver, trucking company, etc.) owed the plaintiff the duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury, under the circumstances (all drivers on the road owe a legal duty of reasonable care to fellow drivers, passengers, and pedestrians);
- Defendant failed to exercise such reasonable care, or in legal terms “breached” the duty of reasonable care; and
- Defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care was the cause of injury suffered by the accident victims.
In order to collect for injuries suffered in a trucking accident, it is important to identify as many potential defendants as possible, which may not be limited to the driver. In many cases, trucking companies, contractors, employers, and insurance companies may be obligated to compensate you for your injuries.
If an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and a trucking or shipping company, the company may be held legally liable for the driver’s negligence. Your attorney would need to show that the company exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course of the employment relationship.
This can become problematic when a truck driver is an independent contractor of a larger company. In this case, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising done by the company. The potential liability of trucking companies, employers, and contractors is a key factor in assessing recovery through insurance coverage, as all these entities will likely carry separate policies.
Occasionally, the manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials carried by truck also may be held liable for injuries caused or made worse by the truck’s cargo. This typically relates to the manufacturer or shipper’s duty to inform the trucker or trucking company of the materials’ potential dangers.
If you are involved in a truck accident in which the truck driver was at fault, you may be entitled to damages — financial compensation for physical, emotional, and/or financial losses resulting from the accident.
Special Considerations In Semi Truck Accident Cases
The operation of large commercial trucks (especially big rigs) on highways and roads presents certain unique dangers that are not a consideration where ordinary passenger vehicles are concerned.
- Jackknifing: Large vehicles such as eighteen-wheelers are prone to jackknifing under certain conditions, especially during sudden braking and turning. The driver of a truck needs to be aware of conditions on the road and drive in a manner that allows him to be able to stop in time to avoid crashes or jackknifing.
- Turning Accidents: Semi trucks can be difficult to turn, often requiring the use of two lanes to make a right turn. Truck drivers need to drive their truck and trailer in a manner that enables them to account for the path of their trailer.
Get Free Help With Your Truck Accident Claim Today
Accidents involving large commercial trucks often result in serious physical injury and property damage. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a truck accident, you should consider having attorney Mario Palermo (630) 684-2332 evaluate your claim at no charge. There is no obligation, and the free consultation could make all the difference in whether you collect on your injury claim.