Truck accidents are catastrophic in nature with severe or fatal consequences. Learn what an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer may be able to do for you.
Trucks are helpful as they help transport goods and food items to different parts of the United States. In Columbus, Ohio, there are several trucking companies as the city has a diverse economy. In addition, the presence of vibrant steel and energy sectors in the metropolitan state capital means a high need for commercial trucks. Unfortunately, it also means that there are many trucks on Columbus roads, increasing the possibility of a trucking accident.
When this type of accident happens, it is crucial to determine liability as truck drivers are not always the at-fault party. However, doing this by yourself might be challenging, and it may prove to be easier to work with experienced attorneys. So, if you're the victim of a large vehicle crash, consider reaching out to a Columbus truck accident lawyer at Babin Law to see if they can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
Commercial vehicles like semi-trucks and 18-wheelers are essential to Ohio's economy and the United States. According to the American Trucking Association, trucks move roughly 72.5% of the nation's freight by weight. In addition, the association reported that in 2019, the US recorded $791.7 billion in gross freight revenues.
However, as crucial as trucks are, they are prone to crashes. Some of the common types of commercial truck accidents are:
This accident type happens when a large vehicle collides with a smaller one head-on. Accidents like this are common at intersections and when one of the drivers crosses over to the opposing lane on an undivided roadway. Since head-on collisions are high-impact accidents, smaller vehicle occupants are more prone to severe injuries. If the truck driver were the negligent driver, they would be liable to compensate the accident victim.
A rear-end semi-truck or 18-wheeler accident often turns into a fatal accident. This is because the large vehicle would most likely drive over the back of the passenger car. Conversely, the smaller vehicle might rear-end a large truck and end up getting pinned underneath it. Both types are incredibly harmful to the smaller car, with high risks of physical injuries.
This happens when a truck brakes suddenly, and their trailer swings out to a ninety-degree angle. A semi in jackknife accidents can easily roll over or overturn, posing a danger on the road.
Blind Spot Accidents
Trucks have a lot of blind spots and may not see a vehicle coming from behind. For this reason, smaller vehicle drivers are to avoid tailgating or trying to overtake a truck without adequate warning. If a motor vehicle accident arises from a blind spot, it is crucial to determine if the car driver or the truck operator was at fault. Determining liability helps decide who to file a personal injury claim or wrongful death action against.
Most rollover truck crashes happen when the truck's tire loses contact with the ground. When this happens, the vehicle falls to its side spilling its goods. Sometimes, the truck's content can be hazardous materials, posing a danger to other road users. Overloaded trucks are more likely to have a rollover crash.
This accident type is one of the deadliest Columbus truck accidents. It happens when a truck stops suddenly and approaching vehicles to get stuck under the tractor-trailer. When this happens, the smaller vehicle's top would likely get ripped off. However, a trucker or trucking company can prevent underride accidents by using side guards on semi-trucks.
Because semi-trucks and 18-wheelers travel long distances, their tires are prone to wear with time. Thus, large commercial trucks often have tire blowout accidents. This accident is avoidable if truckers change tires when carrying out routine maintenance. Failing to do so would amount to negligent behavior.
What Are the Causes of Columbus Truck Accidents?
A 2019 report stated that 5,005 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash in the United States. In Ohio, 21 large truck occupants lost their lives in fatal truck accidents. These otherwise avoidable crashes happened because of negligence and other contributing factors.
Below are some of the common causes of commercial trucking crashes.
- Drunk Driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving above the speed limit
- Drowsy driving
- Mechanical failure (e.g., brake failure)
- Reckless driving
- Improper truck maintenance
What Type of Injury Can You Sustain in a Trucking Accident?
A truck crash hardly ever ends in minor wounds. Most people who live sustain catastrophic injuries and may require life-long care. Some of the common injuries sustained are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Fractures and lacerations
In addition to injuries, victims can have property damages. Therefore, you can get compensated for both your physical injuries, emotional injuries, and loss of property. An experienced trucking accident attorney may be able to help you commence the compensation claim process.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
Auto accidents of any kind take a toll on a person's physical and mental state. However, you have to pull yourself together and take some necessary steps after the crash if you hope to get fair financial compensation. Below are things you must do after truck collisions.
Make an Accident Report
It is crucial to report the accident to the authorities. To do this, remain at the crash scene and call 911 if you are able. The call would send first responders consisting of the police and paramedics to the accident scene. When the police arrive, they'll ask you questions about the crash. If you can't talk, they'll wait until you can to take your statement. Try to stick to the facts and avoid saying anything that might implicate you or jeopardize your injury claim.
Get Medical Treatment
It's improbable that you'll survive a trucking accident unscathed. Thus, ensure you get medical treatment at the crash scene or the hospital. Your medical records are vital to your personal injury claim. It will detail the severity of your injuries, the prescribed treatment, and whether you need physical therapy. It will also show whether you'll need future medical care and the cost of past, current, and future treatments.
In civil cases, the person who claims the existence of a thing must prove it. It means that the onus is on you to show that a truck driver or a trucking company are the liable parties. To this end, you need evidence. The latter includes photographs of the vehicles involved, witness statements, accident reconstruction specialist’s reports, and police reports. You should also get expert witnesses if it helps your case.
Contact the Truck Driver's Insurance Provider
Before leaving the accident site, you should exchange contact, vehicle, and insurance information with the trucker. If your injuries prevent you from doing this, you can ask the police for the info. Once you have it, you can file an insurance claim with the fault party's insurance representative. Ohio law makes it mandatory to have auto insurance before driving a vehicle, which applies to truckers.
Contact a Trucking Accident Lawyer
Like in motor vehicle accidents, it might be a good idea to reach out to an attorney to discuss your accident. With truck accidents, you might not be dealing with a single at-fault party. Thus, you need to be able to identify all the appropriate parties before commencing the claims process. If you hire an experienced trucking accident lawyer, they will be able to help you with this.
Who Can You Sue for a Columbus Truck Accident?
Truck crashes may not be straightforward. While you might think that the truck driver is the responsible party, it is not always the case. You may be able to file a claim or sue any or two or more of the under-listed parties.
Commercial truck drivers could be responsible if their negligent act caused the accident. It means that commercial drivers driving while intoxicated may pay a settlement to the victim from their auto insurance policy.
Under the tort doctrine of vicarious liability, employers are vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees. It means that trucking companies will be responsible for an accident caused by one of their employees. So, for example, if a truck company fails to train its drivers properly, they will be responsible.
Similarly, a company that hires a driver with a drunk driving conviction history will be responsible if they cause an accident while impaired. The preceding is on the grounds of negligent hiring. However, such an employee must be a full-time employee and not an independent contractor. Also, the employee must have had the crash during working hours.
Cargo Shipper or Loader
When a cargo gets loose from the truck, it will spill cover and likely cause an accident. When this happens, the cargo shipper would be held liable for a crash. Therefore, those that fall within the preceding category are the cargo originator, shipper, and loader.
Truck Parts Manufacturer
If a defective part caused the accident, the manufacturer would be the liable party. Here, you must show that the defect either wholly or partially caused the accident. If it is partial, then the manufacturer and the driver or truck company will pay the compensation. If wholly, then only the manufacturer will be liable. Note that you may be able to pursue a claim against a mechanic who failed to fix a defect appropriately and inadvertently caused the crash.
A third party is a driver other than the truck operator and none of the people mentioned above. For example, suppose a small vehicle car suddenly overtakes a truck or veers in front of it. While trying to avoid colliding with the vehicle, the semi might enter your lane, causing a head-on collision. The liable party would be the small vehicle driver.
What Damages Can You Get as a Truck Accident Victim?
As a victim, you will get the following compensation if your claim succeeds:
This compensation covers monetary losses suffered from the crash. You can calculate them to a fixed dollar amount and ask for that exact sum from the fault driver. The amount would cover:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Wrongful death benefits like burial and funeral expenses
Non-economic damages cover intangible losses, and you cannot calculate them to a fixed dollar amount. The compensatory sum covers:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death benefits like loss of consortium, loss of companionship, etc.
Courts award punitive damages to punish grossly negligent truck drivers. It also serves as a deterrence to other drivers to discourage them from similar conduct. Insurance companies do not grant punitive damages.
What Could a Columbus, OH, Truck Accident Lawyer Do for You?
If we're able to take on your case, a truck accident lawyer at Babin Law could help you commence the claim process against the negligent truck driver. We will negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company and fight to get you maximum compensation. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us until we win. Contact us today for a free case review.