Truck accidents often cause severe and catastrophic injuries, which means that the accident victim might not work for months, if ever. The biggest worry of a truck accident victim, other than recovering, is how they will take care of the family. If the truck accident was not your fault, you could recover damages to help pay medical bills and support your family. Whether you settle or litigate your case depends on several factors, including the truck driver’s actions and/or inactions.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Many factors could cause a truck driver to crash. In some cases, it is not the truck driver’s fault, nor is it your fault.
Some of the causes of truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- A fatigued driver
- Sudden illness
- Weather, including the sun in the driver’s eyes and the torrential downpours during the summer that Florida is known for
- Poorly maintained roads
- Debris in the road
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Improperly loaded/balanced cargo
- Aggressive driving
- Speeding and/or excessive speeding, especially in sharp curves
- Improper inspections
- Defective parts
- Defective truck and/or trailer
- New parts installed incorrectly
- Bad tires
- Another driver who is driving recklessly, tailgating, or cuts a truck driver off
- Drivers ignoring a trucker’s blind spots
Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
A tractor-trailer truck could weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. If the truck is carrying an oversized load, it could weigh significantly more. Because of the size and weight of the truck, anyone involved in an accident with it could suffer severe or catastrophic injuries.
Some of the injuries you might suffer if you tangle with a truck include:
- Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and cuts
- Strains and sprains
- Road rash
- Chemical and/or thermal burns
- Pulled and/or torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries
- Face and eye injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Amputation of a digit or limb
- Simple and compound fractures
- Crushed bones
You could also suffer from secondary injuries, such as infections of open wounds, whether directly from the accident or open wounds due to surgery to repair accident injuries. Those with a compromised immune system are more likely to develop infections because they take longer to heal. The at-fault driver could also be held responsible for these types of injuries.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
If you can move around without causing additional injuries to yourself, call first responders and check on other drivers. You should also take photos of the accident scene. Make sure you get pictures from all angles, plus pictures of any damage to the road and nearby property.
Allow the emergency medical technicians to check you over. Finally, give the police officer your version of the facts. Before you sign the police report, read it carefully to ensure that everything is correct.
Once the officer releases you from the scene, seek medical attention immediately, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Some injuries do not manifest for hours or even days later. Finally, contact a truck accident lawyer so you can start the process of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Recoverable Damages After a Truck Accident
You can recover damages after a truck accident, including compensatory damages and punitive damages.
The court orders compensatory damages in the form of special and general damages in an attempt to make you whole again. Special damages (sometimes called economic damages, have a monetary value), while general damages (sometimes called non-economic damages) do not have a monetary value.
Special damages might include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property and if you lost a loved one in a truck wreck, funeral, and related expenses. In some cases, you might also recover additional expenses, such as probate court filing fees and other probate expenses.
General damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of companionship and/or consortium
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function
- The inconvenience of hiring someone to do the chores you would otherwise do yourself
The court only orders a defendant to pay punitive damages if you can prove that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional. The court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for their actions or inactions, not to make you whole again. It is difficult to recover punitive damages, but in cases where it is clear that the at-fault driver was negligent, it can be worth the hassle.
Surviving Until You Receive a Settlement or Trial Award
Often, those in an accident cannot support their family and pay medical expenses because their injuries preclude them from working. Until you recover a settlement or a trial award, you can file a claim against your own insurance company. Depending on the terms of your policy, your insurance will pay medical expenses and lost wages. You pay your insurance company back once you receive a settlement or a trial award.
You can also use your health insurance to cover medical expenses until you receive a settlement or a trial award. As with vehicle insurance, the health insurance company recovers the costs from the settlement or trial award. Because you are the insured and the accident was not your fault, your insurance company should not be the one to take the hit the at-fault driver’s insurance and/or the at-fault driver should be liable for your injuries. Since your settlement or trial award comes from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you must reimburse your insurance companies.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.