CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A MIAMI 18-WHEELER INJURY LAWYER FOR FREE
Motor vehicle accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Some, of course, are more dangerous than others. There is a big difference between being hit by a regular passenger vehicle and an 18-wheeler. If you were hit by the latter, your injuries are likely to be much more severe and the damages to your vehicle much greater.
If you or your loved one has been injured by an 18-wheeler, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Miami 18-wheeler injury lawyers.
Differences Between a Regular Motor Vehicle Accident and an 18-Wheeler Accident
Aside from the fact that an 18-wheeler is much bigger than your standard personal vehicle and cause much greater havoc in an accident, there are many differences you should be aware of between regular motor vehicle accidents and an 18-wheeler accident.
Trucking Companies Must Have Much Greater Insurance Policies Than Regular Drivers
Because 18-wheelers can cause much greater damage, insurance policies for trucking companies are much more expensive. What this means for a victim of a trucking accident is that there is more money available for compensation than if the victim was injured in a regular motor vehicle accident.
There Is Much More Evidence to Sift Through
While a regular motor vehicle accident may require minimal evidence like photographs and medical bills, 18-wheeler accidents often require much more evidence, such as an investigation into the driver’s qualifications. For instance, there have been many cases of trucking companies hiring drivers who have past DUI convictions or other traffic convictions. There are also trucking companies that do not properly train their drivers. Finding out whether the driver was even qualified to drive the truck can be very important in your claim.
Another key piece of evidence you should look for is the maintenance records of the truck. Trucking companies have been known to save costs by not doing regular inspections of their trucks. As a result, a truck that may have a faulty engine may be on the road.
There is much more documentary evidence that an experienced lawyer should look for when deciding to file an 18-wheeler injury claim.
More Parties Are Involved in an 18-Wheeler Accident Than a Regular Motor Vehicle Accident
In a regular motor vehicle accident, just the driver may be at fault for an accident. However, in an 18-wheeler accident, the driver may not be the only one liable for the accident. First, the trucking company may also be at fault under the legal theory of respondeat superior. Respondeat superior simply means that an employer is liable for the faults of an employee even if the employer did not directly cause the accident.
The truck manufacturer may be another party that is liable in a trucking accident. If the manufacturer sold a faulty truck and that the defects of that truck caused the accident, the manufacturer may also be at fault for the accident.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
Though 18-wheelers can hold a lot of cargo, even they have limits to how much cargo they can carry. If they carry cargo that exceeds this limit, they can be more difficult to maneuver, increasing the probability of an accident.
Lack of Maintenance
Though truckers and trucking companies must perform routine maintenance on their trucks, this is not always done. An 18-wheeler with a faulty engine or a flat tire can mean a devastating accident.
Lack of Sleep
Unfortunately, truck drivers are on a very tight schedule. Missing a deadline can mean getting fired. This means that they may operate on very little sleep. Some drivers may even consume harmful substances to keep themselves awake. However, little sleep or consumption of dangerous substances can mean danger on the road.
Because 18-wheelers are great in length, they have a greater blind spot than the average vehicle. A driver who decides to make a turn may not be able to see a vehicle that might be on the side of it.
Some trucking accidents are simply caused because the driver of the truck is just reckless. This may mean that the driver goes above the speed limit excessively or that the driver makes erratic turns.
Typical Injuries in an 18-Wheeler Accident
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Seatbelt injuries
- Airbag injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Cuts and scratches
Trucking Company May Try to Place the Blame on You
Big trucking companies do not give in just because you file a lawsuit. Over the past decades, trucking companies have been adopting methods to lessen their liabilities. One way is to blame the victim. Whether the victim is a driver or a pedestrian, trucking companies have paid lawyers significant sums to avoid liability.
One of the perhaps less savory methods a company may try to avoid liability is to get its insurance claim adjuster to visit you while you are at the hospital. This is because while you are sedated or in pain, you are more likely to give statements that will be unfavorable to your claim. For instance, someone who may be under pain medication may give a statement to an adjuster that he or she was a fault for the accident. Though a clear case of fraud, trucking companies have managed to get away with such deceptive tactics.
Trucking companies have also been known to use blind spot defense for the carelessness of their drivers. For instance, a lawyer representing a trucking company may argue that the driver of the smaller vehicle should not have driven in the driver’s blind spot. However, it is important that drivers always put on a turn signal when switching lanes. Also, as a driver of an extremely large vehicle, drivers of 18-wheelers have a responsibility of checking their blind spots. Be aware of the defenses that trucking companies may use to lessen their liability for the accident.
- The driver was at fault for driving too close to the 18-wheeler and stayed there too long.
- The pedestrian was at fault for walking in front of an 18-wheeler at close proximity. The driver reasonably could not see the pedestrian as the driver was at an elevated height.
- The driver was at fault for not being attentive to the road by operating his or her cell phone.
- The driver was driving too fast.
- The driver drove too slowly when trying to pass the 18-wheeler.
How Trucking Companies May Avoid Liability
Though trucking companies try to blame victims for trucking accidents, they may also turn on their own employees and other parties to avoid liability. For example, trucking companies sometimes do not even own the trucks that their drivers operate. They do this by simply leasing the trucks from another company. That way, if the trucks cause injury, the trucking company simply blames the company that it borrowed the truck from. In some cases, they do not even have driver-employees. They hire independent contractors instead. In general, a company is not liable for the injuries caused by an independent contractor it hired.
Fortunately, the above tactics are not likely to work in the judicial system as federal laws and regulations have made it clear that a trucking company is responsible for the accidents caused by a truck driving under its name whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor or whether the truck is bought or leased.
The Scope of Employment Argument
Even if a truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, if the employee was not acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred, the trucking company may avoid liability. For instance, if the trucker was simply taking the company truck on a joyride for a personal affair rather than using it to move cargo from point A to point B, the trucking company may avoid responsibility if the driver causes an accident while on the joyride.
There are many questions to ask to determine whether an employee is acting within the scope of employment in the truck driving context. Below are a few:
- What was the driver’s intent while driving the truck?
- What was the time and where was the place the accident occurred?
- What kind of work was the driver ordered to do?
- How long was the truck driver engaged in his or her personal activity?
- What is the amount of freedom allowed for the trucker while operating his or her truck?
Be aware that just because a driver operates his truck for a personal activity does not automatically mean that a trucking company can avoid all responsibility. For instance, if a trucker gets into an accident while stopping at a rest stop to eat his or her lunch, it is unlikely that the scope of employment argument would hold water since a lunch break is implied in all forms of work.
CONTACT A MIAMI 18-WHEELER INJURY LAWYER FOR FREE
The experienced Miami attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your trucking injury claim. After a devastating accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.