Trucks traveling at high speeds can hit with devastating force. When they do, serious injuries or fatalities often occur. After a semi-truck accident, what can you do? How can you ever recover? Where can you turn for help?
At Eisenberg, Cutt, Kendell & Olson Attorneys at Law, we help victims of trucking accidents and their families obtain compensation for their losses and suffering. But in a greater sense, we help them rebuild their lives.
For a free consultation with Eisenberg, Cutt, Kendell & Olson Attorneys at Law, call (801) 901-3470 or contact us online.
Understanding Car vs Truck Accidents
Anyone who drives the streets and highways of Utah has likely had a close call with a large commercial truck or a sense of uneasiness when sharing the road with a massive 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig. When a car-truck accident does occur — as you may recently have been painfully or tragically reminded — the damage and costs are often tremendous.
The opponent in a lawsuit arising from a commercial semi-truck accident is likely to be a major insurer or a financially strong trucking company. It’s wise to work with a collaborative team of attorneys and a sound, successful law firm that is up to the challenge of nailing down truck accident causes and proving negligence to a jury.
What is a commercial truck, and why is it more likely to cause injury?
A: Often referred to as 18-wheelers, big rigs, semi-trucks, or tractor-trailers, commercial trucks are vehicles used in the course of business and/or for the transport of commercial goods. While some businesses use pick-up trucks or other vehicles for their day-to-day activities, commercial trucks are typically very large, and drivers must have a commercial drivers’ license or CDL.
Commercial trucks are dangerous because of their enormous size and weight. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and the average eighteen-wheeler is 70 to 80 feet long and 13.6 feet tall. Truck drivers generally have less control of their vehicle, as well; they need 40% more time to stop than passenger vehicles and have a smaller turning radius.
When an 80,000-pound truck collides with a 3,000-pound passenger car, the laws of physics do not favor the smaller vehicle. The car and its occupants will, unfortunately, bear the brunt of the impact or even be crushed by the collision. Tragically, but unsurprisingly, this leads to a higher likelihood of severe injuries and deaths in car-truck accidents.
How common are truck accidents?
In 2017, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,761 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks. Large trucks accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and were 20% more likely than passenger vehicles to be involved in fatal-multiple vehicle crashes. More than 1 out of 4 accidents occurred on interstates and a notable number of crashes involved curves in the road, left or right turns, head-on collisions, or rear-end accidents.
Other common truck accidents include:
- Tire blowouts
- Improper lane changes (blind spots)
- Underride accidents (from the side and the rear)
- Lost load events
- T-bone accidents
While some of these accidents can occur with any type of vehicle, many of them, such as jackknifes and lost loads, are related specifically to 18-wheelers.
What causes truck accidents?
Like any other collisions, truck accidents are frequently caused by driver error. Nevertheless, countless other factors can influence or contribute to truck accidents. For example:
- Commercial trucks are ill-equipped to handle severe weather and poor road conditions
- Drivers may be given access to a big rig without a CDL, adequate training, and/or experience
- Trucks may be improperly maintained or malfunction
- The truck may be improperly loaded or overloaded
Any driver on the road can behave negligently or make a mistake, but truck drivers face a unique set of challenges and an accident they cause may not be entirely their fault.
Who is liable for my truck accident?
In the majority of truck accidents, more than one party will be liable for your accident.
If the truck driver is in any way at-fault for the crash, their insurance company will be at least partially liable for your accident and any damages you incur.
Depending on the driver’s behavior and their relationship with their employer, you may also be able to recover compensation from the trucking or shipping company they work for. This is because Utah state law holds employers responsible for any negligence their employees exhibit within the course of their employment.
If a defect with the truck causes or contributes to your accident, the truck’s manufacturer may also face liability. This same factor applies to those charged with maintaining the truck if a maintenance error caused or contributed to your accident.
Similarly, the company that loaded the truck could be held liable in the event the truck was too heavy or improperly loaded.
Sometimes, any of the services described in this section are performed by another company or a third-party. For this reason and several others, a thorough investigation of your accident will be necessary to paint a clear picture of liability.
Many questions related to truck accidents can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. This is why we encourage you to come in to our Salt Lake City offices for a free consultation.
Call (801) 901-3470 to get started!
In 2001, our founding partner Jeffrey D. Eisenberg tried the case of a young boy who suffered brain damage and tragically lost his family in a car-truck collision. A semi-trailer rig gone out of control struck the family’s car, and a Salt Lake County jury found the trucking company liable and awarded over $16 million for our client’s future care, pain and suffering, lost support, and other economic damages. As of late 2009, this remains the largest-ever jury award to an individual in a Utah personal injury case. You can view other significant case successes on our results page.
Within the realm of car-truck accidents alone, these include:
- A settlement exceeding $4 million for a trucking accident victim left with quadriplegia (paralysis due to spinal cord injuries)
- A $1 million settlement for a car-truck accident victim with a traumatic brain injury
Walk-aways from accidents between two or more cars are relatively common. When a large commercial truck is involved in a wreck, the likelihood of catastrophic injuries or a wrongful death increases dramatically. Our truck accident lawyers in Salt Lake City are committed to deploying the most qualified investigators and pursuing every angle on our clients’ behalf.
Call us today at (801) 901-3470 to speak with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys in Salt Lake City.