How to Proceed After Being Injured in a Truck Accident
In 2017, 450,000 truck accidents occurred on the roads in the United States with 4,237 of the accidents resulting in a death and 344,000 causing injuries. Studies have determined that most of these fatal collisions between trucks and other vehicles occur on highways, in rural areas and at night. Lastly, most fatal collisions between large trucks and other vehicles occur on a weekday.
Truck Accident Causes
Accidents between cars and commercial trucks can have devastating consequences for the victims because the trucks outweigh the smaller vehicles by a significant amount. These crashes can be caused by factors that don’t have anything to do with impaired or negligent driving. For example, the training that the driver received may have been inadequate, or the truck may have been designed with a defect. Inclement weather may also be the cause of some collisions.
Several other possible causes of truck accidents include:
- Reckless driving, such as texting
- Consumption of alcohol
The Guilty Parties
Identifying the party who was responsible for a truck accident can be challenging. This is the case because so many people may be involved in contributing to the wreck. The most likely person to be targeted in a lawsuit is the truck driver, but the story doesn’t end there. For example, government officials, a number of different businesses and other individuals may also be found partially responsible and could face lawsuits. A truck accident lawyer must name each responsible party at the time that he or she files the lawsuit. If anyone is left out, your attorney may not be able to add the individual later.
Some of the other people who may be named as defendants include:
- The company that employs the truck driver
- The truck’s manufacturer
- Manufacturers of truck parts that failed
- Any mechanics that have worked on the vehicle
- The company that maintains the truck
After your truck accident attorney gathers the names of each defendant, he or she will need to demonstrate that the defendants are liable for the accident. In most cases, your lawyer will need to show that the defendants were negligent and that this caused the crash. An experienced attorney is necessary in these cases because it can be extremely difficult to demonstrate that someone else besides the truck driver is responsible for the collision.
If your attorney names the truck driver as a defendant, the case will be fairly simple. For the other defendants, your lawyer will need to approach the case differently. The trucking company’s attorney will need to ensure that the company adequately trained the driver and performed an extensive background investigation. If not, your attorney may be able to claim negligence on the part of the trucking company.
To establish fault, one of the first things an accident attorney will do is obtain the police report. It will contain the most extensive evidence with each driver’s account of the accident, the witness statements and the police officer’s personal observations. Your attorney may also enlist the help of a mechanic so that he or she can determine how fast the car was going upon impact. Your lawyer will also examine the traffic laws in order to determine with whom the fault lies.
Most likely, you will have sustained injuries during your collision with a large truck, and your vehicle would have been damaged as well. Your attorney will be required to demonstrate the extent of your damages, and expert witnesses will also be needed for this portion of the case. For example, you will need to be examined by a physician so that your lawyer can present a professional opinion to the court regarding the injuries that you sustained in the accident.
Sometimes, truck accident attorneys hire economists to demonstrate that their clients’ earning potential was diminished because of the accident and that they were unable to earn an income for a period of time after the incident occurred. An economist can also establish a monetary value for the damages that a victim incurred.
Truck accidents can cause very serious injuries, including:
- Concussions, which occur when a person’s head is damaged during a collision with a truck
- Contusions, or bruises, that appear on the brain, which are much more serious than bruises on other body parts
- An object penetrating the brain during a collision
- Overextension of the head, which can tear the brain’s structures
Along with the injuries listed above, it is also common for people to experience whiplash and broken bones. Their ligaments, tendons and muscles may be damaged as well. Lastly, emotional injuries also result after a collision with a truck. Symptoms that can last long after an accident took place include anxiety, depression, panic and chronic pain.
Long-Term Consequences of Truck Accidents
You may suffer from the consequences of your truck accident for several years after the fact, and you may need money to assist you during that time. Truck accidents cause emotional trauma that can prevent you from ever feeling emotionally ready to get behind the wheel of a car again. The very thought of driving may cause accident victims to experience panic attacks. This situation may ultimately require that you see a psychologist for your emotional injuries.
Many truck accidents can cause paralysis. If this has happened to you, you are going to need to have enough money to have your home retrofitted so that you can adjust to your new limitations as soon as possible.
Head injuries are not necessarily permanent, but they can be permanently disabling. In this case, you may require extensive medical care until the injury is resolved. An experienced truck accident attorney will be equipped to fight for adequate financial support for your psychological and physical care.
Compensatory or Punitive Damages
After being injured a truck accident, an attorney can help you obtain monetary compensation for all the years that you will be affected by your injuries. The damages will be compensatory, punitive or both.
After victims suffer losses in an accident, they may be entitled to receive a monetary sum that compensates them for their losses. These benefits are known as compensatory damages. These damages are meant to compensate you for your medical bills and the repair bills for your car.
Compensatory damages can also reimburse you for non-economic losses, which may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of joy
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or disability
Punitive damages are meant to compensate you for your losses, but they also serve the purpose of punishing the at-fault party for his or her negligence. It is less likely that you will receive punitive damages than it is that you will receive compensatory damages.
If you have been hurt in a truck accident and need help figuring out the next steps you should take, contact the law firm of Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P., in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at (732) 247-3600 or in Somerville, New Jersey, at (908) 448-2560. At RAM Law, we will take the necessary time to learn every facet of your case.