18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys
Truck accident cases are more complicated than car accident cases because they involve several rules and regulations from different government agencies in play. The trucking industry has federal and state safety and insurance regulations and industry standards that must be followed. There are also local traffic rules and ordinances that apply to large trucks and their drivers. Overall, no fewer than three federal and two state-level agencies are responsible for regulating trucking.
These standards and laws require that any Connecticut 18-wheeler accident lawyer have specialized knowledge and skill to take on these technical cases. Our firm has combined decades of experience handling truck accidents, and we have the resources to take on cases involving insurance companies, the biggest trucking businesses, and governments.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a truck accident in Hartford County, our experienced legal team can help. First, you must get expert advice as quickly as possible following your accident involving a semi or larger truck. Successfully preserving the evidence is critical in successfully litigating these cases, and it’s hard to beat a thorough and prompt investigation. Our staff of qualified truck accident lawyers will take care of everything involving your case while you heal and return to your new normal.
Connecticut Trucking Industry
The trucking industry in Connecticut is a huge part of the economy. It’s common to see many large trucks traversing the highways and roads as they transport products and goods throughout the state. Geography is also an essential factor that impacts the trucking industry, and you’ll see a mix of rural and urban areas that can bring out unique challenges for any trucker.
You can find several ports throughout the state, including the second largest one, the Port of New Haven. This port is a vital container shipping hub and is a significant gateway for the international trading industry. The trucking industry plays a prominent role in transporting things to and from these ports, and they connect Connecticut to the global economy.
Large trucks routinely transport various products, including consumer goods, food, construction materials, and machinery. The state has several major highways running through it, including the I-84 and I-95, and they make it easy for truckers to deliver their cargo throughout the region and across the state.
What Makes 18-Wheeler Accidents So Deadly?
Truck accidents tend to be deadly because of the weight and size discrepancy between the vehicles that share the road and the trucks. For example, a fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and the average automobile weighs roughly 4,000 pounds. The height also factors in as big commercial trucks tend to tower over other vehicles, and they have bigger wheels and more substantial parts.
The size and weight of these trucks mean they require a longer stopping distance, and it’s easy for a serious accident to happen if the trucker isn’t paying attention. According to Truck Smart, a typical car needs roughly 315 feet to stop at 65 mph, but a fully-loaded 18-wheeler needs over 500 feet to come to a stop.
This longer stopping time and distracted driving contributed to the 4,965 deaths in 2020 from 18-wheeler accidents. Additionally, 71% of the fatalities from these accidents were occupants in other vehicles. Crash Stats also found 146,930 injuries due to accidents involving commercial trucks.
Types of Truck Wrecks and Their Causes
Although there are several types of truck wrecks, some are more common than others. Five types of accidents and their causes include:
- Rollover — A rollover is a scary accident where the truck rolls over onto the side or roof. Tractor-trailers and large commercial trucks have a much higher center of gravity, making it easier to roll them. Other causes of truck rollovers include speeding, overloading or improper weight distribution, tire blowouts, and driver error.
- Rear-End Collision — We touched on how a large truck requires more room to stop, but if they don’t have it, they can easily run into the back of another vehicle and crush it on impact. Distracted driving, following too closely, fatigue, and brake failure are all common causes of this type of accident.
- Jackknife Accidents — When a large truck jackknifes, the truck’s trailer will swing to the side of the truck, usually into another traffic lane. Hard braking, turning too sharply, wet or icy roads, or equipment failure can all cause this accident.
- Blind Spot/Sideswipe Accidents — In several instances, this accident happens when a truck and vehicle travel side by side and the trucker tries to switch lanes without checking their mirrors. The vehicles collide on the sides, and the smaller of the two can easily get pushed into the ditch or lose control.
- Head-On Collisions — When drivers are negligent, reckless, fatigued, or lose control of their vehicle, they can drift into oncoming traffic and collide head-on. These accidents can happen at stop signs, red lights, or intersections.
Whose Fault Is It?
The negligent party, possibly several people or entities in a truck accident claim, is responsible for the truck accident. To establish the negligent party, the injured person would have to show the following:
- A trucking company or driver owed the other motorists a duty of care
- They breached this duty
- Their breach of duty caused another driver injury or harm
Luckily, establishing a duty of care is easy as all trucking companies and their employees owe a duty to any motorist they share the road with to drive safely. The company must also ensure that every employee follows local, state, and national regulations.
It’s slightly more challenging to prove a trucking company or driver breached their duty of care. The breach could happen if they fail to follow the regulations and rules of the road. For example, the injured party could prove that the trucker was distracted, speeding, or under the influence during the accident. On the other hand, the trucking company could breach this duty when they overload the trucks, fail to do background checks on their drivers, or don’t do proper safety inspections on the vehicles.
However, even when the injured plaintiff can prove that the trucking company or driver was negligent, the injured party may share the blame. If the judge or court finds that you’re partially to blame for the accident, this can impact your ability to get compensation under the comparative fault law. This ruling allows the court to split the blame between the defendant and plaintiff, reducing the compensation amount of the percentage you were found at fault. So, if the judge granted you $1,000 for your injuries but found you 20% to blame, you’d get $800.
If your truck accident lawyer finds that a defective part caused the accident, you could file a product liability claim against the part manufacturer. When these cases center around manufacturer negligence, they require proof that:
- The part was used as the manufacturer intended.
- The part was unreasonably dangerous and defective.
- The part’s condition hasn’t changed since the company bought it.
Product liability cases usually have a strict liability basis attached, which doesn’t require proof of negligence on the seller or manufacturer’s part. Instead, you simply have to prove the product was defective.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Many victims don’t survive the collision because truck accidents are so severe. If you file a wrongful death claim, you or your 18-wheeler accident lawyer will have to prove that if the trucker acted carefully and safely, your loved one wouldn’t have died. If you lost a loved one in an accident and want to file a wrongful death claim, allow our experienced attorneys to guide you.
The Trucking Company Reps Are Calling Me, What Do I Do?
If you have been involved in a trucking accident and the company representatives are calling you, you must be cautious and protect your rights. Here are some steps you can take::
- Don’t speak with the trucking company representative until you have talked to a truck injury attorney.
- Politely decline to give a recorded statement or sign any documents until you have spoken with an attorney.
- Document everything about the accident, including taking photos of the scene and getting contact information from any witnesses.
- Seek medical attention for any injuries you sustained, even minor ones.
Contact an 18-wheeler accident attorney with experience in these cases to protect your legal rights and help you seek compensation for any damages or injuries you suffered.
What Is The Average Truck Accident Settlement?
It can be challenging to figure out an average truck accident settlement amount, as each case is unique and settlement amounts can vary widely depending on factors such as the severity of injuries, the extent of property damage, and liability issues. However, according to the US Department of Transportation, the average cost for police-reported accidents involving 10,000 pounds or more trucks was $91,112. They also found that:
- Truck-tractor crashes with two or three trailers cost roughly $289,549 a crash.
- Collisions with straight trucks without a trailer were approximately $56,296.
- Property damage-only truck accidents cost $15,114.
- A non-fatal injury collision averaged out to $195,258.
- Fatal truck accidents had an average settlement amount of $3,604,518.
Experienced Connecticut Lawyers
If you need to retain an experienced and reputable 18-wheeler accident attorney in Connecticut, Hassett & George, P.C. can help. We offer a team of dedicated personal injury attorneys who have built a reputation for fighting for our clients to get them the compensation they deserve. Contact us to set up a consultation.