Central Tennessee and the Nashville region has become a hub for the trucking industry over the past decade. With more trucks passing through, Nashville has experienced the massive 20 percent increase in tractor-trailer accidents all across the nation over the past 20 years.
Oftentimes, this type of accident is devastating for the people involved due to the massive size and weight of large trucks. Injuries from commercial vehicle wrecks can take years or even a lifetime to heal. The severe impact of these accidents takes away one’s ability to live the life they once did, potentially resulting in broken relationships and depression.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a trucking accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible to obtain compensation for your injuries and any property damage. At Mitch Grissim & Associates, we have the knowledge and experience to handle these complex cases. The legal system is not straightforward, so consulting a truck accident lawyer will be to your advantage. In order to determine your legal rights, our truck accident lawyers will need to review the various aspects of your case.
The Frequency of Commercial Truck Accidents
Unfortunately, semi-truck accidents have become increasingly common over the past several years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “In 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a nine percent increase from 2016.” While large commercial truck accidents cover a small portion of all automobile accidents, the damage they cause is more likely to be severe and potentially life-threatening.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
Large commercial vehicle accidents occur for countless reasons. Some of the leading causes of semi-truck accidents include:
Sometimes, 18-wheelers crash due to a defective part. If the collision was caused by a faulty part, our attorneys will know who to hold responsible for the wreck.
Although the American Trucking Association has strict regulations that drivers must abide by, these rules are not always followed. For example, truckers are required to take adequate rest breaks, however, many ignore this rule and continue driving in order to meet their deadlines.
Truckers spend a lot of time away from family and friends due to the nature of their job. This can be difficult to manage and causes some drivers to turn to alcohol to cope with the solitary life they live on the road. Many trucking accidents are caused by truckers who decided to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.
If cargo is not safely secured, it can create serious risks for both the driver and other motorists on the road. Cargo should always be properly secured on the carrier.
With such large amounts of cargo being shipped across the country every day, drivers must reach their destinations by certain deadlines. For this reason, many drivers speed to ensure they deliver their cargo within the strict time frame.
Poor truck maintenance
If tractor-trailers do not receive regular maintenance checks, it can result in accidents. Maintenance is vital to ensuring trucks are functioning correctly and do not need repairs or new parts.
Although these are some of the leading causes of 18-wheeler collisions, there are plenty of other reasons an accident can happen. If you are involved in a large commercial vehicle wreck, it’s important to know how to proceed.
What to Do After a Semi-Truck Accident
The moments immediately following a semi-truck accident can have a major effect on any compensation you may be entitled to receive. For this reason, it’s imperative that you know what steps to take to protect your legal rights. If you or someone you know is involved in a tractor-trailer crash, consider implementing the following tips:
1. Remain at the Collision Scene
It’s important to remain at the collision scene after an accident. If you decide to flee the scene of the accident, you could face criminal charges. Furthermore, you need to remain at the scene, so a police officer can write a report on the facts of the wreck. In most cases, insurance companies need to know exactly how the wreck occurred. Without a police report, it can be difficult to determine liability.
2. Contact Emergency Responders
Injuries and property damage will likely occur in a commercial vehicle accident. It’s vital to call emergency responders immediately after a collision. If medical attention is necessary, the paramedics can transport the injured individuals to a hospital.
3. Seek Medical Attention
After a tractor-trailer accident, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Even if you don’t feel immediate pain, you should still be evaluated by a medical professional. Being examined by a doctor can make all the difference, especially if you sustained an injury that might not manifest for weeks or even months. Additionally, if you wait to be seen by a doctor and your condition worsens, it can damage your chances of obtaining compensation.
4. Gather Evidence Pertaining to the Mishap
Evidence is important when attempting to file a claim to receive compensation. If possible, it’s important to gather any evidence you can at the scene of the accident before it is eliminated. This can include photographs of your injuries and any property damage, witness statements, and the police report. Evidence can significantly help your claim.
5. Exchange Contact Information
It’s vital to exchange contact information with the party or parties involved. Contact information can include the following:
Driver’s license number
Name and phone number of the trucking company
Address of the commercial vehicle company
License plate number
6. Contact an Experienced Attorney
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles often lead to serious injuries and property damage. Furthermore, this type of case involves numerous complex details and possibly third parties, such as the manufacturing company of the truck or the company who requested the shipment.
Proving Negligence After a Tractor-Trailer Wreck
Proving who is responsible for the wreck is the core issue of many big rig accident cases. If you decide to take legal action, proving fault will be essential to obtaining compensation. However, the party or parties at fault is not always clear. Some of the parties that may be held liable in a commercial vehicle accident include:
Vehicle parts manufacturers
Loading and shipping companies
Trucking companies, in particular, tend to adopt unhealthy habits that place them at fault more frequently than the actual drivers. This can include improper training and rewarding drivers for long hours and high speeds. Enforcing unrealistic schedules will likely push a truck driver to drive unsafely and cause an accident. These poor decisions and negligent habits on behalf of the truck driver and the trucking company place other motorists in danger.
It’s essential to have an attorney who is familiar with trucking industry laws in your corner in order to cut through non-payment insurance tactics, efforts to pass blame, and the murky nature of proving fault. This will give you a better chance of obtaining the full amount of compensation you deserve for:
If you were partially at fault for the accident, you may still be able to pursue a claim.
When both parties share liability, the amount of compensation owed is determined by the comparative negligence law. If you share 49 percent or less of the responsibility for the wreck, you may be able to collect compensation for damages. However, if you are found to share 50 percent or more of the blame for the wreck, you will not be awarded damages.
Your percentage of fault for the accident is the amount at which your compensation may be reduced. However, this only applies if you’re found to be under 50 percent responsible for the accident.
For example, if you share 10 percent of the blame for an accident and you’re owed $10,000 in damages, you would likely only receive $9,000.
Insurance Adjuster and Trucking Company Tactics
No insurance company wants to pay for damages, so if they can avoid it, they will. In fact, many companies pay lawyers to argue against your claim and deny you the compensation you deserve. That’s why it’s so important to have a truck accident lawyer in your corner who can help you fight back.
Trucking companies also adopt various strategies to avoid liability in the event of an accident. Many will lease trucks rather than buying them outright, so when a claimant seeks the owner of a truck after an accident, they can’t come to the trucking company.
Both insurance and trucking companies may use tactics, such as these, to pay little to no compensation for your injuries and property damage. For this reason, it’s imperative to consult an attorney about your legal options to ensure you’re not taken advantage of by these companies.
Call Mitch Grissim & Associates to Learn More About Your Legal Options
At Mitch Grissim & Associates in Tennessee, we are strong advocates for injured victims. We understand the frustration and stress victims face after a wreck that wasn’t their wrongdoing. If you or a loved one suffered injuries directly caused by a negligent 18-wheeler driver, we can help.
We know the tactics of both the insurance and trucking companies and will not allow you to fall for their schemes. Our experienced truck accident lawyers will assist you with your claim and make sure the responsible party and/or parties are held accountable for your damages. If you experienced the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be compensated for your loss.