Pre Settlement Funding on Big Rig Accident Litigation
Big rig truck accidents are a very specific type of lawsuit that entails many complex factors. For one, trucks are much larger than the usual motor vehicle seen on the road. Accidents involving trucks are more complicated because drivers of this type of vehicle have more laws and and regulations to abide by as compared to the ordinary motor vehicle driver.
Due to the large size of the vehicle, accidents are naturally more extensive when involving trucks which cause a lot more fatalities in individuals who are riding in motor vehicles that are relatively smaller, as compared to fatalities of individuals who were passengers in the truck. Accidents involving semi-trucks — a tractor or towing engine connected to a trailer — are also included in the classification of truck accidents.
Another factor that adds to the complexity of truck accident lawsuits is the multitude of possible parties that can be held liable for financial recovery of the plaintiff. These parties may either be the truck driver, the trucking company, or a third party. Any one of these parties may have caused the negligence that led to the accident, so it’s important for plaintiffs to immediately take legal action when involved in a truck accident so as to obtain evidence that will help determine the liable party, as well as the other factors that are needed to successfully win a truck accident lawsuit.
Plaintiffs need only prove that the negligence of the defendant/s was the cause of the accident, which, in turn, was the reason for the plaintiff’s injuries. However, proving such negligence in truck accidents may be difficult, especially when dealing with alleged truck part defects or third parties. Plaintiffs who file suits can claim for compensatory damages for medical expenses (including rehabilitation expenses, if applicable), lost past and future wages or income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and even wrongful death, in the case of family members filing lawsuits for the death of a loved one due to a truck accident. In some cases, plaintiffs may also receive awards for punitive damages against the defendant.
Lawsuits of truck accidents are much more complicated than the usual motor vehicle accident lawsuits. The reason for this is because the sizes of the vehicles are larger; therefore causing more large-scale accidents involving higher insurance limits, complex causes and many potential parties are financially responsible.
Plaintiffs only need to prove that the negligence of the defendant/s were the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Truck accident lawsuits make victims of driver and trucking company negligence eligible to gain compensation for damages that were done during the accident. Coverage of the compensation may include medical expenses, loss of past and future wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and funeral expenses in the case of accidents that resulted in death.
Some lawsuits are also able to recover for punitive damages which are intended to punish trucking companies for the negligence and willful violation of trucking laws and regulations. These lawsuits are also intended to serve as a guideline for trucking companies and truck drivers to prevent any more future accidents that were a result of their negligent actions.
On a general legal basis, negligence happens when a person’s actions or inactions are inadequate as compared to the actions or inactions of a reasonable person to prevent harm or injury onto others. In the case of truck accidents, negligence comes in several forms including the failure to stop at a stop light or sign, failure to yield to a pedestrian, and driving while being distracted.
With regard to commercial trucks, negligence can include driving over the prescribed hours of service, not getting adequate time of rest, driving with fatigue or tiredness, using different prescriptions drugs, disregarding speed limits, executing illegal maneuvers, failure to follow state and federal regulations, the failure to exercise caution or proper evasive maneuvers to prevent accidents from ever occurring, and other general driver negligence.
However, some truck accidents can be attributed to the negligence of the trucking company. These kinds of negligence include poorly maintained vehicles, lack of proper inspections, unreasonable deadlines that force drivers to take unsafe risks [to meet the deadlines of moving the products], improper loading or overweight trucks, and failure to follow state and federal regulations. Third party negligence may also be the cause of some truck accidents, and these types of negligence may also include defective brakes, defective tires, defective computer systems, poor third party maintenance, and the negligence of other drivers.
When death or injury arises from negligent driving, the injured party or the party’s family members are eligible to file a lawsuit against the driver of the commercial vehicle, the owners and/or operators of the vehicle, and those responsible for the maintenance of the truck. In these kinds of cases, claims may include negligence, wrongful death, and personal injury.
The industry of trucking also has to adhere to the set of regulations called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, aside from the traffic laws that all drivers have to follow. The regulations cover various aspects of trucking, including requirements regarding licensing of truck drivers; required documentation; limitations on the consecutive work hours or the hours of service; weight, size and route limitations; and minimums on trucking insurance.
Limits and guidelines for truck drivers with regard to drug and alcohol used are also set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. As stated in the guidelines, truck drivers are prohibited from using alcohol or driving under the influence of alcohol within four hours of operating the commercial vehicle or of going on duty. Truck drivers are disqualified if and when they drive the commercial motor vehicle with 0.04 percent or higher of the blood alcohol level, or if they are under the influence of drugs. Drivers are also disqualified when they refuse to take drug or alcohol tests.
Injuries that result from truck accidents include back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries, whiplash, and broken bones. However, if the injuries sustained from the accident were because of a defect found in the truck, then the truck driver may also be able to file a suit against the truck manufacturer or the companies that manufacture the components of the truck. Trucking companies may also be held liable for the safety of the truck drivers, depending on the stipulations of the contract of the truck driver with the trucking company.
Defective parts or truck components can also play a significant role in truck accidents, thus, the accidents caused by defective truck parts can lead to injuries or death of the other people who may be involved in the accident. These people can either be pedestrians or other passengers of other vehicles also involved in the accident. Other factors that can cause semi-truck accidents may be inadequate driver training, overweight vehicles, dangerous or reckless driving, poor driving conditions, failure to leave proper space in between vehicles, and aggressive driving.
Background on Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents can be disastrous due to the size of the vehicle. In most cases of fatal truck accidents, it is more frequent that the fatality is on the passengers of the other vehicles rather than the passengers of the trucks. This is attributed to difference in size of the truck and the other vehicles. Thus, other vehicle drivers and passengers are more prone to severe injuries than those in trucks or semi-trucks.
Because the United States Department of Transportation is the governing body over commercial motor vehicle regulations. Federal regulations have stipulated rules regarding hours of service for truck drivers who drive these trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. The hours of service rules state that the driving limit is set for 14 hours. This means that truck drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 14 consecutive hours succeeding 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers are also responsible for regularly updating log books which record the driving hours of each driver.
When drivers go beyond these standard hours of service and fatigue has been shown to be a factor in a truck accident, then the truck accident driver, operator or owner, and the company which employed the driver can all be held liable for the accident. There are also laws that concern inspection, repair, and maintenance of trucks, transportation of hazardous materials, and truck size and weight route designations.
Truck Accident Statistics
In 2008, as reported by the United States Department of Transportation, 4,229 fatalities were found in large truck crashes. Of that number, 3,139 individuals were in other vehicles, 677 were in the trucks, and 413 were not in any vehicle. In contrast, in 2007, there were 4,822 fatalities in large truck accidents. Out of those fatalities, 3,608 were individuals in other vehicles, 805 were individuals in the trucks, and 409 were not in any kind of vehicle.
The United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Analysis Division also reported that in 2009, 10 percent of 33,808 people killed in motor vehicle accidents were in accidents involving semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and other large trucks. Additionally, 74,000 people were injured in these accidents. In the same year, there were more than 9,000 accidents involving tractor trailers in Illinois alone, as reported by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
There are more than 500,000 accidents that involve large commercial vehicles (18 wheelers) in the United States every year. Thousands of Americans are killed each year because of negligent trucking companies and truck drivers. Trucking accidents actually account for 1 of 8 fatalities related to trafficking.
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