18 Wheeler Accident Claims: How Much Compensation Am I Owed?

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18 Wheeler Accident Claims

Let’s say you've been in an 18 wheeler accident and are ready to make a claim for your damages. You may be wondering, “How much compensation am I owed?” If the truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer’s negligence contributed to the cause of the accident, it could be quite a lot depending on the severity of the incident.

18 wheelers are extremely heavy vehicles, and the weight makes them harder to control. The risks of wrecking an 18 wheeler increase because of factors that are inherent to the job. For example, long driving hours cause the driver to become bored, so they may use their cell phone even though it's against the law. Drivers may also use their cell phones to help them on their routes. 

Exceeding the weight limit on the truck can cause the truck to overturn while making a sharp turn, and puts the truck at risk for the brakes to fail and the tires to blow out. Even though there are laws and regulations in place, not everyone follows the rules.

Lack of proper training also puts regular motorists at risk. It requires training and skill to control 18 wheelers; if the trucking company puts an unskilled driver behind the wheel, they may not have the experience to control the vehicle under unusual circumstances like rainy weather or high winds. An unskilled driver may also panic in emergency situations.

Other factors that can cause an 18 wheeler wreck are driver fatigue, the use of alcohol or drugs, speeding, or aggressive driving. Some big rig drivers may be overly confident in their skill since it's their profession and endanger other drivers by operating the vehicle negligently.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What are 18-wheeler accident statistics?

    According to a 2019 report by the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 5,005 fatal accidents involving large trucks, which is a 43% increase since 2010. NSC defines a large truck as a vehicle with a gross weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. These are often called 18 wheeler trucks, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, or big rigs. The same year's reporting shows 118,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that caused injuries. 

    The number of 18 wheeler accidents has been increasing every year even though there has been a general decrease in regular car accidents. Since freight on the nation's roadways is at an all-time high, the chances of crashes inevitably increase. The death rate from 18 wheeler accidents with a weight exceeding 26,000 pounds increased 5.8% in 2017 over 2016. However, the Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes that advanced technologies in new trucks like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and rearview cameras will change the tide.

  • What is the average semi-truck accident settlement?

    There is no average settlement for a semi-truck accident because each case is different. The amount of compensation for a personal injury claim always depends on the total and actual damage done. The severity of your injuries is the single most significant factor in assigning a price tag for the person or company at fault to pay. If your injuries or damages are severe, you're entitled to a higher settlement. If someone died due to negligence, the damages could go into millions.

    The best way to find out how much compensation you're entitled to from a truck accident is by consulting with a personal injury lawyer that specializes in 18 wheeler accidents like Morgan & Morgan Lawyers.

  • How are accident settlements calculated?

    Insurance companies and personal injury lawyers use one formula or another, but many are dictated by the following:

    • Medical expenses even if you used your insurance.
    • Property damages are the actual cost of damage to your vehicle.
    • Lost earnings from missing work due to your accident.
    • Future lost income if you need ongoing medical treatment for your injuries and will lose income.
    • Estimated future medical expenses if you will require future treatment.
    • General damages are your pain and suffering. The more severe, the higher it will be.
  • Who can I sue for being hit by an 18 wheeler?

    That all depends on the circumstances. If the accident was due to the driver's negligence, the trucking company's negligence, or if the fault lies with the truck manufacturer, it's possible to bring a lawsuit to get compensation for your damages. 

  • How can a truck driver be negligent?

    Truck drivers can be negligent for many reasons, and they are subject to laws that regulate how they work. For example, there are hours-of-service regulations from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that dictate how many hours a property-carrying driver can drive and how much rest is required between hauls. They must take a 30-minute break every 8 hours too. These hours are detailed in the truck driver logbook, now called electronic logging devices. Drivers that violate DOT regulations or companies that put pressure on drivers to break their rules are subject to federal criminal prosecution. If the violation results in an accident, it can be cause for civil action as well.

    Of course, as previously mentioned, a driver can be held liable if they are operating the 18 wheeler under the influence of drugs or alcohol like anyone else. Furthermore, they can be found at fault for driving while distracted, speeding, or any other moving violation.

  • How can a trucking company be sued for negligence?

    The trucking company can be sued for negligence for a variety of reasons. Operating a trucking company is expensive, and this can lead to corners being cut to save money. However, trucking companies that put profit over the safety of others will pay for it should an accident occur due to their policies. 

    Trucking companies can be held liable for the actions of their employees under the legal term vicarious liability since the employee is an extension of the company. The trucking company can also be found negligent for hiring or retaining a driver with DUI's or a poor safety record. Finally, the trucking company can be on the hook for damages if it's proved their maintenance or inspection of the trucks were substandard.

  • How can a truck parts manufacturer be negligent?

    The manufacture of truck parts can be negligent for things they knew could fail. For example, parts that should have been recalled as defective but were not. The driver couldn't know; the trucking company couldn't know. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to alert their clients so they can remove faulty parts. Some common causes of 18 wheeler crashes are tire defects, defective brakes, weak load straps, cab and trailer coupling systems that connect the power to the payload, inadequate locking systems that can cause cargo to be released and failed power steering.

  • What is the difference between an 18 wheeler accident and a car accident?

    An 18 wheeler is a monster of a vehicle and because of size and weight, crashes between an 18 wheeler and a regular car usually result in more severe injuries. The force of the impact can be massive and cause head and back injuries, loss of life or limb, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal injuries. 

    Another difference is the insurance coverage can be much more substantial. Trucking companies usually carry large insurance policies to protect them should an accident occur. Because of the truck's size, it's expected that damages and injuries will be more significant, thus costing more than a regular car accident.

    Determining who is at fault is more complicated than a regular car accident too. In a car accident, you usually have two parties that can be at fault. With an accident involving an 18 wheeler, you must look at the driver, the trucking company, the manufacturer, whoever loaded the cargo, and even the cargo manufacturer. Some or all of these entities could be fully or partially at fault for your accident.

  • Do semi-truck accidents go to trial?

    Semi-truck accidents can cause catastrophic damage, which will cost lots of money. Higher stakes accident claims can end up in the courtroom because insurance companies don't necessarily want to pay out massive settlements without a fight. 

    Because liability is more complex in a semi-truck accident, the issue of who is liable to pay is questioned. That is why it's critical to present proof of liability upfront. Liability can be proven with medical records, police reports, the truck driver's driving history, driving and maintenance logs, and eyewitness accounts. 

    Your claim may also go to trial because the trucking company is determined to defend its reputation. Nobody likes bad press, especially when it comes to being the cause of serious injuries due to negligence. Although it is possible by the same token, they may settle generously out of court, so they don't appear to be ruthless in the public eye.

  • Why should I choose Morgan & Morgan to represent me in my 18 wheeler accident claim?

    We are highly familiar with the tactics insurance companies will use to make sure they pay as little as possible for your injuries, property damages, and pain and suffering. We've been at this for over 30 years and have lawyers that specialize in 18 wheeler accident lawsuits. Insurance companies fear us by our reputation because they know we will take them to trial. 

    Our trial records show that we get as much as twenty times more for 18 wheeler accident claims than what was offered at pre-trial. So it's a no-brainer for insurance companies to negotiate fairly with us on behalf of our clients.

    You or your loved one have already suffered enough. We will find the witnesses and evidence needed to make your case a successful one. Don't try to go this one alone. Some trucking companies will even try to protect themselves in an underhanded way by destroying critical evidence. We make sure they don't by sending a spoliation letter right away that legally obligates them to retain records and black box information.

    Morgan & Morgan lawyers offer free case evaluations, and you pay nothing out of pocket if we don't win your case. We're motivated and very passionate about the law. Making things right for our clients is critical to each of us here and we're ready to fight if you are. Contact us today.

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