Truck accidents are often severe. These large vehicles can cause a lot of damage to other vehicles, drivers, and passengers. Even at low speeds, crashes can result in serious injuries that will affect individuals for years to come. There are certain steps the victim of a truck accident can take after the crash to protect their legal rights. Shepherd and Long, PC may be able to help truck accident victims answer the question: How can I protect my rights after a truck accident? Call (865) 982-8060 to learn more or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Tennessee truck accident attorney.
The Importance of Protecting Your Rights After a Truck Crash
A five- or six-axle semi-trailer (the most common forms of semi-truck on the road today) can legally weigh in the range of 80,000 pounds in most states, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s guide to Freight Management and Operations. In comparison, the average passenger car weighs about 4,000 pounds, with compact cars weighing closer to 2,600 pounds. The simple difference in mass between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle makes truck crashes much more likely to harm the passenger car occupants compared to the truck driver. This common-sense interpretation of the implications of relative size is supported by statistical information as well—the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that bigger, heavier vehicles provide more crash protection than smaller, lighter vehicles.
In addition, semi-trucks are often owned by businesses and may be protected by highly sophisticated trucking insurance companies. These entities deal with truck accidents virtually every day, and they can use their experience and knowledge to take advantage of truck accident victims. As a precaution, individuals and families should take steps to protect themselves from a legal perspective after a truck crash.
Steps To Take After a Truck Crash
The average truck accident is similar to a car accident. However, there are some important differences as well. There might be more than one entity involved, and the truck driver is often more likely to have no injuries at all after a crash. If a truck accident occurs, consider taking the following steps.
Get Medical Attention Immediately
Because injuries following a truck accident are more likely to be severe, it is even more important to get medical care right away after an accident. Even if the injuries may seem minor, having a thorough examination by a medical professional can help catch life-and-death injuries, such as internal bleeding or nerve damage.
Call The Police
Having a police report can be very helpful after a truck accident. The police officer will usually not only get the driver’s name, but he or she will ask about who the driver was working for, what they were carrying, and insurance information. All of this data will be very helpful if a legal claim is necessary. The officer can often also make a determination about the cause of the accident and fault in some situations.
The State of Tennessee also requires that drivers report some accidents within 24 hours of its occurrence. Drivers can do that through a form or by calling the police to the scene to create the report.
Document the Scene
Taking photos of the scene and the damage can be very helpful. Even something as simple as noting the weather can be beneficial for any legal action. Take photos of damage, and any evidence of the crash on the road, such as debris, skid marks, other vehicles, and anything else involved in the crash. Getting the names of nearby witnesses can also be helpful as well.
Consider Working With a Tennessee Truck Accident Attorney
An attorney can help truck accident victims gather information and understand their legal rights. Shepherd and Long, PC might also be able to help those involved in a truck crash assert their rights when speaking with an insurance adjuster or, if necessary, in the courtroom.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Many commercial truck accidents are caused by the same factors over and over. For someone who is in a passenger vehicle, there may be little they can do to avoid these accidents. However, if drivers are aware of potential causes, they may be able to spot problems before they result in a crash.
Driver Decision Error
The number one reason that commercial truck accidents occur is due to poor driver decision-making. Truck truckers may drive too fast, misjudge the distance between vehicles, or follow other cars too closely, for example.
In addition to making poor decisions, a truck driver may also fail to recognize dangerous situations around him or her. Distraction is a serious concern for truck drivers, but there are any number of reasons that a driver may have failed to recognize a hazardous situation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported in a study that they found that “non-performance” was the primary cause of roughly 12% of all commercial truck accidents examined. Non-performance means that the driver was not capable of driving at the time of the crash. This could be due to falling asleep, a disabling health condition (seizure or heart attack, for example), or another reason that would physically inhibit a driver.
The FMCSA also found that another 9% of accidents were caused by performance issues. These accidents occur when the driver over-corrected or over-compensated for an error, panicked, or used poor directional control of their vehicle.
Other Contributing Factors
While some truck accidents are caused by driver error, there are also a wide variety of different factors that may contribute to a crash. These factors may cause a situation where the driver has trouble reacting or responding. However, they are often not the sole cause of the collision. These other factors may include:
- Fatigue or drowsiness (especially common in nighttime truck accidents)
- Brake problems
- Loading errors
- Prescription or over-the-counter drug use
- Traveling too fast for the conditions
- Unfamiliar roadways or areas
- Road maintenance problems
- Traffic flow problems or interruptions (sudden stops, traffic, etc.)
The same factors that affect passenger vehicle drivers will influence truck accidents as well. The consequences are often merely more severe because trucks are larger and harder to control.
Get Legal Help With Your Commercial Truck Accident
Dealing with the severe injuries often associated with truck accidents can be very physically and emotionally draining. You do not have to deal with the legal aspects of your claim on your own. A commercial truck accident attorney may be able to help protect your rights. Contact the experienced professionals at Shepherd and Long, PC, by calling (865) 982-8060 to discuss your legal options.