If you have ever had your car squeezed between two big rigs in traffic or had a tractor-trailer right on your bumper at 65 miles an hour, you have likely experienced the common unease and vulnerability automobile drivers feel at sharing the highway with larger trucks.
Accidents involving semi-tractor trailers and cars on Kentucky highways cause some of the most severe injuries because of the disparity in weights between cars and trucks. An 18-wheeler may weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded, while passenger cars typically weigh about 4,000 pounds. The laws of physics favor the tractor-trailer in a collision. Regardless of who caused the accident, the occupants of the smaller, lighter vehicles almost always sustain the brunt of the violent impact and the more serious injuries.
For example, in late January 2015, a tractor-trailer was headed northbound on I-71 in Boone County when the truck driver sideswiped a disabled vehicle on the side of the road, lost control, and crossed the median colliding head-on with two vehicles in the southbound lanes. The truck driver walked away without serious injuries, but the accident killed a 45-year-old man from Lexington, Kentucky driving a pickup truck and left a woman in her 60s who was driving a car with life-threatening injuries.
Collisions involving large commercial trucks and passenger cars are quite different than routine accidents involving two cars. Four out of five accidents involving large trucks are multi-vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Since semi-tractor trailers have the potential to cause greater damage, trucking companies are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance. The stakes are higher in other words. The truck driver, trucking company, trucking equipment manufacturer, and freight shipper may have separate insurance companies and separate lawyers working to protect their interests. You need an aggressive lawyer advocating on your behalf as well, to level the playing field.
You should visit a doctor and have a complete evaluation of your condition if you did not require emergency medical care immediately after the accident. A doctor’s evaluation is crucial evidence in an injury claim. Truck accident victims who are seriously injured often require hospitalization and physical rehabilitation to recover. But some serious injuries aren’t immediately apparent. See a doctor.
Contact your insurance company and report the accident. But don’t make any statements to the insurance company representing the truck driver or trucking company.
If the truck driver was at fault, an insurance adjustor representing the trucking company may contact you seeking to statement, request that you sign a medical authorization form, or even make a quick settlement offer. The adjuster may seem friendly and helpful, but quite frankly, they do not have your best interests in mind. They are working to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. The offers are usually low-ball offers and you should refuse to sign anything presented by the insurance company without having a lawyer review it. You should politely decline to discuss the accident or your condition with the adjustor representing the trucking company.
It’s a good idea to have a personal injury lawyer knowledgeable about tractor-trailer accidents review the specifics of your accident and advise you of your legal options. In some tractor-trailer accidents, more than one party is at fault. Semi-tractor-trailer crashes often require a detailed investigation by an experienced truck accident lawyer to allow an injured motorist to present a solid claim.
Trucking companies are required to keep certain records such as driver logbooks and maintenance records for a set period of time. These can provide revealing evidence that a truck was not properly maintained or that a driver had been on the road too many hours without a rest break. This evidence may be lost if an accident victim puts off hiring an attorney to investigate the accident.
As you can see, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable tractor-trailer accident lawyer and get a lawyer working on your case as soon as possible after an accident caused by another driver’s negligence. Becker Law Office is ready to assist truck accident victims and their families in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee.