Helping You Navigate Complex Truck Accident Claims
A fully loaded semi truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. In an accident between one of these trucks and a passenger vehicle, there is extremely strong potential for life-changing or even fatal injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries and broken bones are just the beginning of the types of injuries victims can suffer in these accidents.
These cases require thorough investigation and careful preparation in order to succeed. We have the experience and the resources necessary to obtain justice for you and your family, and we are committed to properly handling your case. We are the Sioux Falls injury firm known for getting results. Over the years, we have fought for truck accident victims, obtaining favorable results in truck crash cases.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any truck accident is understanding who should be held accountable for your injuries. There can be many different parties that may share in the liability, including the driver, trucking company, manufacturer, parts supplier and others. We work hard to determine the precise cause of the accident and diligently pursue the responsible parties.
Truck accident claims are complex, and we want to answer all your questions:
What Are The Common Factors That Cause Or Contribute To Semi Accidents?
There are many to be aware of. A partial list includes:
- Truck driver error, distraction or negligence
- Truck driver fatigue (often linked to a grueling driving schedule and tight delivery deadlines)
- Failure to regularly inspect and promptly repair truck mechanical problems (especially worn-out brakes and balding tires)
- Trucking company decisions to keep unsafe vehicles in service to save money
- Cargo loads that are too heavy, improperly secured or unbalanced
- Failure to respond to inclement weather or poor road conditions
- Poor driving conditions (ice/black ice, snow-packed roads, high winds, etc.)
Whatever the reason for your accident, our skilled attorneys are ready to thoroughly investigate and help you hold the at-fault parties accountable.
According to the statistics provided by the South Dakota Department of Transportation, some of the more common causes of semi-truck accidents over the last three years were:
- Failure to yield
- Failure to keep in lane
- Distracted driving
These factors have led to 290 injuries and 17 deaths in South Dakota since September of 2019.
What Are The Most Common Injuries After A Truck Crash?
Because of the size, strength and power of a commercial truck, you can see any injury at virtually any level of severity from an accident with one. These injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Injuries to the head can range from mild to severe and lead to long-lasting complications and intellectual disability. Some people never fully recover from brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: Injuries to the neck and spine can paralyze a person indefinitely. While rehab and clinical technology can make some return to function possible, it is not uncommon to need a lifetime of care.
- Amputation or crushing injuries: The sheer force of an accident is more than enough to amputate a limb. Additionally, these injuries result in lifetime disabilities and may force a person into a new career.
- Burns: Depending on the truck’s cargo, you may find yourself exposed to chemicals that burn or receive burns in other ways. Burns are extremely painful and can be hard to treat.
Often, a trucking accident will lead to the death of a loved one. Hospital bills sustained for the injuries prior to death may be expensive, however, it would require significant compensation that trucking companies would fight at every step.
What Types Of Compensation May Be Available After A Semi Truck Accident?
Depending on the details of the case, we can help you seek compensation for:
- Hospital bills (present and future)
- Lost wages (from time spent unable to work)
- Vehicle/property damage
- Permanent disability
- Physical disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
If the accident was fatal to one or more vehicle occupants, we can help you seek additional damages in a wrongful death claim.
Semi truck accidents are far more likely to result in catastrophic injury and death than other auto accidents. Therefore, settlements and jury awards tend to be significantly higher.
How Is Responsibility Determined After A South Dakota Truck Accident?
The accident will be investigated to determine its cause or causes.
If the truck driver or trucking company is found to be entirely at fault, there are no barriers to seeking compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. If you share some fault, however, things become more complex.
South Dakota has a unique negligence law that prohibits the more innocent of two parties from seeking compensation unless their level of negligence was “slight.” Because this isn’t clearly defined, however, it’s important to work with a skilled attorney who will advocate aggressively for your interests.
Was Your Truck Accident Caused By Violations Of Federal Regulations?
Semis and other commercial trucks are dangerous even when driven responsibly. They are so much larger and heavier than other vehicles that they threaten the safety of everyone on the road. Accidents involving semi trucks are likely to result in catastrophic injuries or deaths.
For this and other reasons, the trucking industry is subject to strict federal regulations, overseen and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). When a serious truck accident occurs, chances are good that it can be attributed to violations of one or more of these regulations.
Did The Trucking Company Violate Hiring And Training Requirements?
Trucking companies are responsible for hiring, training and monitoring their drivers to ensure safety. While most truck drivers are well-trained and responsible behind the wheel, some are not. If a driver causes an accident due to inexperience, poor training or an untreated health condition that should have been detected during the hiring process, the company may be held liable.
Drivers must also be monitored regularly for issues like drug abuse. Companies must test drivers at the time of hire, randomly after that, and whenever there has been a crash or another incident. Too many trucking companies fail to administer these tests or keep records of results. Some companies lie about failed tests in order to keep their drivers on the road.
What Can Go Wrong When Truck Drivers Violate Shift Regulations
The FMCSA has strict hours-of-service (HOS) rules that limit how many hours a driver can be behind the wheel in a single shift and how much rest time is required between shifts. This is to prevent dangerous fatigue. Truck drivers are also required to keep logbooks recording compliance with hours-of-service rules.
Unfortunately, some truck drivers violate HOS rules in an effort to make more money or meet a tight delivery deadline. They may also falsify logbooks to cover up their violations. These drivers are a serious threat to themselves and all others on the road.
Equipment Maintenance And Repair Violations
FMCSA regulations require truck drivers to inspect their vehicles regularly and for trucking companies to do the same. Any problems discovered during these inspections need to be fixed immediately.
Unfortunately, some trucking companies/drivers make only cursory inspections, if they inspect at all. Even if problems are found (like balding tires or worn-out brakes), they may indefinitely delay making repairs to save time and money. This is a gamble that will eventually lead to serious injury or death and liability for the company.
Identifying And Addressing Problems With Cargo
Too many accidents occur because trucks have cargo loads that are unbalanced, overweight or improperly secured. Loading and securement are the responsibility of numerous parties, including the driver, the trucking company and the workers loading the truck at the beginning of its route.
How Soon Should You Contact An Attorney After A Truck Accident?
It is important to seek legal help quickly after any auto accident. With truck accidents, however, it is critical. Insurance companies will send investigators to the scene within hours after the crash. Their goal will be to take control of the evidence and build a narrative that absolves the trucking company and the insurance company of blame/liability. You need someone tough and experienced on your side as soon as possible.
Can You Work With Any Personal Injury Attorney?
Legally speaking, you can work with any attorney. But you should seek help from an attorney who is highly experienced in and knowledgeable about truck accident litigation. These cases are incredibly complex, and the defendants are well-funded insurers and trucking companies.
You need a lawyer who has a detailed knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations and who won’t hesitate to fight back against insurance company tactics.
What Are My Options If A Loved One Was Killed In An Accident Involving A Semi Truck?
Our compassionate attorneys can help you seek maximum compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company. In addition to the damages mentioned above, a wrongful death action can also help you seek compensation for things like funeral/burial expenses, estimated lifetime earnings of the victim (if they were a family income earner), and loss of love and companionship.
We understand how difficult these cases are for plaintiffs, and we are honored to help you fight for justice and compensation. When you work with the compassionate team at Hoy Law, you will feel like you are part of our family.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Deadly?
Truck accidents have many potential causes, but they are so dangerous for a few straightforward reasons:
- Size: Semi trucks are – on any given road – the largest vehicles around. The drivers sit well above everyone else, and their blind spots can be huge.
- Weight: Because these trucks are so large, they weigh more than the typical vehicle, and the heavy loads they transport simply add to the heft. With a fully stocked trailer, a truck has enormous weight behind it if it gets into a crash.
- Strength: To move around that much metal, the semis are made of solid materials and powered by enormous engines.
The power and mass of a commercial truck far outclass any car, truck or motorcycle. When trucks lose control, the other vehicles bear the brunt of the damage, which leads to extreme injuries and death.
What To Do After Losing Someone To A Truck Accident?
When you’ve lost a loved one to any car accident, you and your family have three years from the date of the person’s death to pursue a claim. While that seems like a long time, it can take a while for a family to realize they need to act.
Speak With A Sioux Falls Attorney About Your Truck Wreck Injuries
The trucking company will be on the phone with its corporate attorneys hours after the crash, preparing its defense to limit your recovery. You can rely on us to provide the strong representation you need for your truck accident claim.
We invite you to contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney. You can reach us by phone at 605-937-8371 or via email for an appointment.