According to the United States Department of Transportation, it is estimated that there are over 500,000 truck accidents each year. Although trucks are three times less likely to get into an accident compared to a passenger car, nearly 5,000 people are killed in truck accidents each year. Sadly, one person is killed or injured in a truck accident every 16 minutes in the US. Since it is further estimated that there are over 15.5 million trucks operated on our roads, the odds are good that at some point in your lifetime, you will have an unfortunate encounter with one.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you will likely have many questions about how to get better and recover compensation against the truck driver or truck company. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in representing victims of truck accidents. Over the decades, we have represented countless victims of truck accidents successfully recovering compensation while providing them with access to superb medical care for their injuries. This article aims to explain what our clients or other victims can do to improve the compensation that is available to them from a successful truck accident claim.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The overwhelming majority of truck accidents are caused by driver error. However, there are a few reasons that commonly contribute to these incidents.
There are laws and regulations about how many hours a truck driver can drive in a shift, when rest breaks must be taken, and sleep guidelines. These rules are designed to minimize the risk of a tired driver. Of course, the rules are not perfect, and even if followed, do not guarantee that a truck driver will never experience fatigue when behind the wheel. Driving a truck is a tedious job and there is a lot of pressure to deliver a load on time. Therefore, fatigue is common among all drivers and increases the chances for a truck accident.
Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Compared with passenger vehicles, you wouldn’t expect truck drivers to have high rates of drug or alcohol use. However, you may be surprised how frequently these problems occur. According to a study, 50% of truck drivers admitted at some point to drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel, 30% have used stimulants, 20% have used marijuana, and 3% have used cocaine!
Distracted driving is a problem not simply related to truck drivers. But, when a driver, like a truck driver, is stuck on the road and bored, it is human nature to look for something to break the monotony. Thus, distractions from phones, radios, or even GPS devices are always a risk for a truck driver.
Pressures to make shipping deadlines can lead to a driver increasing their speed. If a shipment does not arrive on time, a driver is at risk of losing their job or that customer. Sometimes, the only way to make up time is to speed. When a truck travels at a high speed, there is then a higher risk of an accident.
Improper Loading of Cargo
When a truck is loaded improperly, it increases the odds that the load will shift or that the truck will not be able to maneuver properly. This is a preventable danger that may be outside of the control of the driver, but still the responsibility of the truck company.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Truck Accident?
In order to get yourself proper medical care and to improve the value of the truck accident claim, we always recommend that you call 911 and get the police and ambulances to the scene. If you need emergency medical care, go to the hospital or an urgent care center immediately. While at the scene, cooperate with the police. The calmer and clearer you are in recounting what happened, it is more likely that the police report will be written in your favor. Also, make sure after you exchange information with the other driver, you obtain any contact information for any other witnesses to the accident. Please do not rely on the police to obtain this information or to accurately write it down. Finally, take pictures. Take pictures of the people who were involved in the truck accident, the damage to the truck and your vehicle, as well as anything else you feel that may be important to document. If you have visible injuries, make sure that you take pictures of them too.
You are under no obligation to report the truck accident to your insurance company at the scene. While many people call their insurance company immediately, your contract with them only requires them to be notified within a reasonable time. This means that if you want to speak to a truck accident attorney before the insurance company, you have every right to do so. While there is often no danger to your case in simply reporting the accident and setting up the claim, many people simply want to be guided through this process to make sure the insurance company doesn’t play any dirty tricks.
What Evidence Should I Gather To Assist My Claim?
After you have left the scene of the accident and have begun your medical treatment, you can still do a lot to improve the value of your case. When a client is organized and communicates with my office, there is always a better experience for us both.
Some items that your lawyer will need to process your claim is proof of lost wages. Normally we prove that with a pay stub to show how much you are paid per hour. A note from your employer also is helpful.
We also like to see pictures of how visible injuries heal. Periodic pictures and any scarring are necessary. If you have had a surgery, we encourage pictures of the surgical site immediately and then healing progress photos.
While we pull your medical records as a matter of course, often large facilities, such as hospitals, are very difficult to work with. When our clients volunteer to pull those records for us, it really helps free up our time and makes the claim go faster.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we have handled countless truck accident cases throughout St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area. Because of the high population in the area, trucks are ever-present on our roads, and a constant danger. We understand how difficult an unexpected truck accident resulting in serious injury or even death can be to a family. We handle every case with compassion while aggressively pursuing compensation for the loss. If you have any questions about a truck accident claim, please contact us for a free consultation.