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In an Accident With a Semi Truck? Here's When You Can (and Cannot) SueSalem-News.com
Do your due diligence and tough decisions will come easier.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Getting into a motor vehicle accident with another car is one thing. Getting into an accident with a semi truck is another thing entirely.
For one thing, their size and weight mean that smaller vehicles are at an extreme disadvantage when the two collide. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are fatal because of the sheer damage big rigs can do to passenger cars and trucks.
Often, a crash between a semi truck and a smaller car is the fault of the passenger vehicle driver because they think they can outrun the bigger truck and don’t think about how much stopping time a rig requires when they’re cut off.
But, sometimes, it’s the driver of the 18-wheeler who’s at fault and in those cases, you may be able to sue both the driver and the company they’re driving for.
Who is Responsible for the Accident?
Before you can sue for any accident, including one involving a semi truck, you have to determine who is at fault. If you caused the accident, you probably won’t be able to sue because the semi truck driver may not have been able to avoid the accident if you made a mistake.
In fact, you could be sued for damages to the truck or injuries to the driver. This is why you must call the police at the time of the accident to make sure all evidence is preserved and witness statements are fresh.
Many semi-truck accidents are the fault of the truck driver, though, especially if they’re fatigued from a long haul or they’re distracted for some reason.
The police officer who responds to the scene will interview the semi truck driver and assess their condition to determine if there was an underlying cause that led to the accident, including being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Even if there isn’t anything wrong with the driver’s condition, they may have been driving aggressively before the accident, which is something the officer will decide after taking all statements from you, the other driver, and any witnesses.
In some cases, another party may be what caused the driver to be in the condition they were in when they had the accident.
For example, if they’re working for a company that’s pushing their drivers too hard and working them longer hours than allowed, the company may be liable for your damage and injuries. Or perhaps the company didn’t do their due diligence when hiring the driver and wasn’t aware that the driver had a poor driving record and should not have been behind the wheel of a truck.
You don’t have to worry about this situation at the scene, though. This will be something that will be uncovered during the subsequent investigation. But, you don’t want to leave such an important investigation to the police or the insurance company.
You want to get an experienced investigator on your case to make sure the company is held responsible for their part in the accident. Hiring an accident attorney will give you access to such an investigator who can look under every rock to ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve.
Since accidents involving semi trucks often result in more serious injuries to the drivers of smaller vehicles, the medical bills arising from the crash can pile up to astronomical amounts.
You may have to sue the driver or the truck company to be able to cover your charges. This is especially true if you aren’t able to work because of these injuries. No income plus staggering medical costs equals a very bad situation that you shouldn’t have to deal with.
Even if you were at fault in the accident, you may still be able to recover some money for your medical bills through a court case if you were seriously injured. But, this possibility will take a skilled negotiator and litigator who knows what they’re doing in a courtroom.
By retaining a skilled accident attorney, you can be sure that they will play hard ball with the insurance company, truck driver, and trucking company to get your medical bills paid.
If this means taking them to court to have a judge or jury decide if your injuries are severe enough for compensation and how much compensation you deserve, then that’s what they’ll do.
You May Not Need to Sue
A lawsuit is not always the end result in semi truck vs passenger car accidents. In fact, most of these cases never even see the inside of a courtroom because an experienced accident attorney can settle with the insurance company out of court for an amount of money that will cover your medical bills and make you whole.
This is not always an easy thing to do because it’s difficult to prove and assign a dollar amount to non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Accident lawyers have access to experts who can accurately calculate the amount of loss you’ve incurred as a result of the accident so that they know how much they should seek in negotiations with the insurance company.
This is not something you should try to do yourself because insurance companies want to pay the least amount possible and will go to great lengths to get you to settle for less than your claim is worth. They don’t do this as much with experienced attorneys because they know they can’t get away with it.
No matter what, though, if you’ve been in an accident with a semi truck, don’t ever accept the first offer from the insurance company without speaking to an attorney first. Once you accept an offer, you can’t go back for more if it turns out to be less than you need to pay your bills and cover your income.
An attorney will ensure that your rights and needs are always at the forefront of negotiations. The last thing you need when you’ve been in a crash with an 18-wheeler is to have to deal with the legal aftermath. Let your attorney do that for you. After all, that’s what they’re there for.
Source: Salem-News.com Special Features Dept.
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