Rhode Island Semi Truck Accident Lawyer
When a tractor trailer slams into another vehicle, the violent impact can be life changing. The occupants of cars and other small vehicles typically sustain more severe injuries in large truck crashes. You may be entitled to recover compensation through a personal injury claim if the commercial truck driver or trucking company caused your injuries. If you have been seriously injured by a semi truck in southern New England, you should speak with our experienced truck accident lawyers.
Types of Compensation After a Truck Crash
After a serious truck accident, you may seek compensation for a range of losses associated with your injuries that were caused by another driver’s negligence. The specific types of compensation that you may be entitled to claim depend on factors such as the extent of your injuries, the amount of your medical expenses, whether you have disfiguring injuries or permanent impairments, whether you will have ongoing medical care expenses and whether you will be able to work again.
The types of losses that you may claim compensation for after a truck accident include:
- Medical Bills—These include the cost of ambulance transport, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, medical tests, doctor visits, rehabilitation and other medical expenses related to your injuries sustained in the truck crash.
- Lost Income—If you were out of work after the accident and lost income, you are entitled to seek compensation. You may seek compensation for lost wages, even if you were paid sick leave or used paid vacation during your absence from work.
- Future Medical Expenses—If your injuries will require ongoing medical care such as in-home nursing care, medical equipment, or remodeling of your home to make it more accessible, you may claim compensation for these expenses.
- Reduced Earning Capacity—If your injuries will leave you unable to work again or limit the type of work you can perform and force you to take a lower paying job, you may be entitled to compensation for lost earning capacity.
- Non-Economic Damages—A serious injury may have a profound effect on the quality of your life. You may also seek compensation for other losses that require more legal experience to calculate such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.
A misstep that individuals dealing with insurance companies on their own often make is underestimating their losses or accepting an unjustly low settlement. Recognizing and substantiating all your damages including future losses requires a high level of legal skill. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to develop an accurate estimate of your present and future losses and seek full restitution for your injuries and losses.
Five Ways a Tractor Trailer Accident Differs from a Car Accident
To understand why it is so important to have an experienced Rhode Island auto accident lawyer handle your truck accident claim, look at some of the ways that truck wrecks differ from crashes that involve only passenger vehicles. Five key differences are:
Tractor-trailers and large trucks usually weigh much more than passenger cars, and carry more momentum as a result. This means that trucks have longer stopping distances and are more difficult to maneuver. It also means truck impacts have greater force, increasing the odds that the collision will cause serious injuries or even death for occupants of passenger cars.If the truck driver, trucking company or another party was at fault for the crash, the accident victims may be entitled to seek money to cover all losses, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. This means that truck accident claims typically are settled for larger amounts of money to compensate those injured for the extraordinary harm they have suffered. This makes it essential to have an experienced attorney.
After a typical car accident, a victim can sue the driver who caused the crash. In some cases, there may be other defendants, such as the car’s manufacturer or the agency that was responsible for designing or maintaining the road.In truck accident cases, it is more common for multiple potentially responsible parties to be involved. An accident victim may pursue a claim against the truck driver, trucking company, cargo shipper, cargo loading company or truck manufacturer, depending on facts of the accident. For example, trucking companies may be held legally liable if the company is negligent in its policies or practices and may be held responsible for the careless actions of its truck drivers and other employees. In certain cases, the mechanic responsible for maintaining the truck, the owner of the trailer or the shipper that contracted for the freight service may share responsibility for the collision.
An attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and identify all of the parties that may be held responsible. Holding accountable all of those who caused an accident increases your chances of recovering full compensation for your losses.
Truck drivers operate their vehicles over long distances. A collision may involve a trucker and an interstate trucking company based in another state. This can make it more complicated to determine where to file your truck accident claim.While most traffic accident cases are filed in state court, it may be possible under certain circumstances to bring a case in federal court. A truck crash lawyer can review the facts and circumstances and help determine the best option for filing your lawsuit.
In truck accident cases, truckers are expected to obey the safety rules that apply to all drivers. However, many truckers also are subject to federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations include hours of service limitsthat restrict the number of hours behind the wheel, licensing requirements and other rules.
These anti driving fatigue rules, regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), include:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit – Truck drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit – Drivers cannot drive beyond 14 hours of consecutive on-duty time.
- 60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit – Drivers cannot operate their trucks after driving for 60 or 70 hours over 7 or 8 consecutive work days, and they must take a minimum 34-hour break before restarting their work week.
These rules prevent unsafe driving habits. However, many truck drivers disregard such rules and may be pressured by their employers to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines or to receive bonus incentives. There may be more situations in which a victim may point to a safety violation to show that the trucker should be held liable for the injuries suffered in an accident.
Our experienced truck collision lawyers are familiar with the federal and state rules that apply to commercial drivers. This means your attorney can help you to take the most strategic approach to bringing a truck accident claim.
Trucks transporting property must have at least $750,000 in insurance coverage, according to the FMCSA. If the property being transported is hazardous, the minimum insurance coverage could rise as high as $5 million. Rhode Island requires passenger cars to carry liability insurance with limits of just $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.The higher insurance coverage that commercial trucks are required to carry often means that more money is available in truck accident cases to compensate victims for the extraordinary damages truck accidents often cause. Knowing the limits of the insurance coverage is important when negotiating a settlement.
Types of 18-Wheeler Accidents
Truck accidents include common collisions such as rear-end accidents, head-on crashes, and roll-over accidents. The weight and size of large trucks may make these accidents more severe. When a truck crashes into a passenger car, the truck can crush the passenger compartment of the smaller vehicle, even at relatively low speeds.
Truck drivers who drive too fast for road or weather conditions put others at risk and may cause serious harm as a result of their disregard for safety. Because of their weight, trucks take much longer to stop. If a truck driver is driving too fast or following another vehicle too closely, the trucker may be unable to stop in time if traffic grinds to a halt. Rear-end accidents are a common type of truck accident.
Trucks can also cause accidents unique to the vehicle, such as:
- Shifting cargo in improperly loaded trailer;
- Runaway trailer; and
- Hazardous material spills.
These accidents can result in widespread damage to the surrounding area and multiple vehicles.
Frequently Asked Questions After Being Hit by a Truck
Can I Take Legal Action Against an Impaired Trucker Who Caused a Collision?
Commercial drivers must be sober and alert when behind the wheel. Truckers are considered to be impaired if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent or higher. This is half of the legal limit of 0.08 for most other drivers.
If an impaired truck driver causes a crash, this may make the trucker legally responsible for the damages that result. Driver intoxication or impairment creates a presumption that the trucker was unreasonably careless. This means you may need to show that the truck driver’s actions were the direct cause of your injuries.
In most truck accident cases, an injured victim has a right to take legal action against a legally impaired driver and against the trucking company that employed him or her. A trucking company may be held legally liable for any negligent behavior of employees on the job and for the company’s own negligence. If the company did not do routine drug tests according to industry standards or failed to have a reasonable anti-drug policy in place, the company may be liable.
You may still seek compensation for injuries in a truck accident in Rhode Island even if you were partially at fault. The amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, let us assume that you are found to be 30 percent responsible for the accident, and the truck driver is found to be 70 percent at fault. If a jury awarded you $100,000 in damages, your award would be reduced by 30 percent, so you would recover $70,000.
A truck accident may have multiple contributing factors, and some may not be apparent amid the flashing lights and sirens after a crash. It is important to have a knowledgeable truck accident attorney at Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP review the details of your accident and explain your legal options. You may still be entitled to recover compensation even if you were partly at fault for an accident. Seeking guidance about your legal options allows you to make well-informed decisions.
A trucking company may be held liable for the injuries caused by its employee’s negligence or wrongful act. A trucking company contributes to an accident by failing to do regular routine maintenance such as adjusting the brakes or replacing worn tires. The trucking company may fail to take an unsafe commercial driver off the road, even after the driver has a history of driving violations.
Trucking companies are required to maintain maintenance records, driver logs and personnel records for a certain period of time. An experienced truck accident lawyer will act quickly to preserve records that may show evidence of negligence on the part of the trucking company or truck driver. It is important to have a lawyer review the specifics of your accident as soon as possible.