Merced Truck Accident Lawyer (209) 227-1931
Getting hit by a large commercial truck like a big rig or 18-wheeler is one of the worst types of collisions that can occur on a Merced road or highway. The occupants of the vehicle hit by the big rig routinely suffer catastrophic bodily harms including spinal cord damage, a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, torn ligaments and tendons, nerve damage, and so forth. The medical expenses and lost wages for a truck accident victim can be in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. That is why it makes sense to hire an experienced Merced truck accident lawyer to pursue financial restitution from the truck operator and their employer.
How Truck Wrecks Happen, Even When a Commercial Truck Driver is Specially Trained
Operating a large commercial truck is not easy, which is why it requires specialized training and testing before someone can legally operate a big rig. This training, if completed properly, results in the truck operator receiving a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Despite the extensive training that most truck operators go through (or should at least be required to go through), serious accidents happen that are caused by the negligence of the truck operator.
Truck Driver Fatigue
A reason commonly cited for a collision between a big rig and a smaller vehicle is driver fatigue. Truck operators routinely have to meet strict delivery deadlines, incentivizing the operator to push themselves to stay on the road as long as possible. As a result, the operator can get fatigued and fall asleep behind the wheel. A prime example was the truck accident that made national headlines involving comedian Tracy Morgan. His party limo bus was hit by a Wal-Mart 18-wheeler. The collision caused multiple deaths and severe injuries. For example, Tracy Morgan suffered a brain injury and multiple broken bones. An investigation into the accident revealed that the truck operator had been on the road for more than 24 hours without ever taking a break.
Another cause of serious truck accidents is speeding. Commercial big rigs are much larger than your average sedan or SUV. This means they take much longer to slow down when a big rig approaches a congested highway, a traffic jam, a light change, etc. If the big rig operator is speeding and applies their brakes too late, this can cause a deadly collision.
In addition to fatigue and speeding, a common cause of truck collisions is distracted driving. Like many motorists operating sedans and SUVs, big rig operators check their phones and text while they are behind the wheel, even though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned the use of all hand-held communication devices while a big rig operator is on the road. This federal prohibition includes texting, sending emails, visiting web pages, etc. Nevertheless, accidents still occur where a big rig operator was texting and driving or was looking down at their phone when a collision occurred.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol
Along with distracted driving, drug and alcohol use is a cause of serious accidents between big rigs and other vehicles. In the trucking industry, abuse of prescription drugs and stimulants is quite common. Many truck operators abuse amphetamines and speed to try and stay awake so they can remain on the road for a longer period of time.
In other circumstances, the truck operator may not have been negligent. Instead, the wreck was caused by negligent maintenance. Truck companies may neglect to maintain the big rig’s brakes, tires and other equipment. When this happens, it creates the risk that the big rig will suddenly malfunction on a road or highway causing the truck to veer into oncoming traffic or jackknife causing a major wreck.
How Accidents Involving Large Commercial Trucks are Unique
An accident involving a commercial truck is quite different from other types of traffic accidents for a number of reasons. First, there may be multiple parties who could be held liable for your harms and losses. When two cars collide, the other driver is typically the only party who could be held liable. In a big rig accident multiple parties, including the operator, the truck company, and/or the manufacturer of the big rig could be liable for your injuries.
Employers Can Be Held Liable for Their Drivers
An employer can be held liable for the negligence of an employee under respondeat superior. This is a legal doctrine meaning that when an employee acts negligently while within the scope of their employment, the employer is liable for any harms that are caused by the employee’s negligence. As a result of this doctrine, some commercial trucking companies are now designating truck operators as independent contractors as a way to limit their liability. Fortunately, courts are not beholden to a truck operator’s employment status. They consider a myriad of factors when analyzing whether an employment relationship existed when assessing liability.
Benefit of Having an Experienced Merced Truck Accident Lawyer
Having an experienced Merced truck accident attorney on your side will be beneficial when fleshing out which parties may be liable in your accident. If you try to handle a claim on your own, there is a risk that a liable party may be missed.
When there are multiple parties who may be liable for your injuries, there will need to be multiple claims filed which means multiple adjusters you will need to negotiate and coordinate with during the litigation process. Negotiating with one insurance adjuster is frustrating enough. Negotiating with three or four adjusters can be a nightmare for someone who is also trying to juggle recovering from their injuries, trying to pay bills, etc. Again, this is why having an attorney on your side is so beneficial. They take that burden off your shoulders so you can focus on your recovery.
Limited Amount of Time to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit
If you or a family member was seriously injured in an accident involving a truck, you have only a brief period of time to file a lawsuit in a Merced court. Make sure to speak to an attorney in order to file your claim within the statute of limitations.Merced Truck Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Merced Truck Accident Lawyer. If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident, I can help. Please reach out to me at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice with no obligation. I am also available online at AutoAccident.com.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Forum. This association honors injury lawyers who have achieved settlements and verdicts in excess of one million dollars for their clients.
See some of my past Verdicts and Settlements here.
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