Even a minor fender bender on the way to soccer practice can leave confident drivers feeling shaken. The reality is that when two — or more — vehicles collide, the parties involved often walk away unharmed, relieved that it was not a worse incident.
Sometimes, though, an accident is more serious. When a commercial vehicle, like an 18-wheeler truck, is involved, the potential for devastating and even deadly consequences is high.
Why Are 18-Wheeler Wrecks So Devastating?
Because of the sheer size of semi-trucks, the risk of severe injury or death is significantly higher. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when full of cargo, which is 20 times more than the average passenger car weight and 33 times the weight of a compact car.
When an 18-wheeler collides with a passenger vehicle, the force of the impact on the passenger vehicle is enormous, which increases the risk of injury for the passengers inside. Common injuries experienced by victims of 18-wheeler accidents include:
Additional factors that contribute to the substantial physical and emotional harm caused by 18-wheeler wrecks include:
- Cost of medical bills. With an increased risk of injury comes an increase in the amount of medical bills sustained, which can start accumulating from the moment you are placed in an ambulance at the scene. When you factor in the long-term care that might accompany the most common collision injuries sustained — neck and back injuries — the costs add up quickly and may not have a clear end in sight.
- Inability to work. When you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, you may not be able to work. Whether you are out of work for a week or indefinitely, the income loss is an additional burden on top of the physical recovery.
- Dangerous cargo. In addition the sheer size of a commercial trucking vehicle, the cargo it transports can carry an additional risk. Hazardous cargo can be toxic, flammable, or otherwise more dangerous to the people involved in the accident and on the scene.
- Time to investigate. Because of the nature of commerce and the extent of the damage sustained in semi-truck accidents, the investigation into who and what factors are at fault can be lengthy. During this time, victims of the collision may struggle to meet their financial obligations or even find closure.
Speaking to an injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident can help you understand your situation and timeline more clearly, which can empower you to make decisions about your future that are in your best interest.
How Common Are 18-Wheeler Wrecks?
In 2018, there were 4,415 fatal crashes involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That year, Texas saw more of its trucks in fatal crashes than any other state, with 658 trucks involved in a fatal wreck. While there are numerous causes of accidents, some of the more common causes of collisions involving 18-wheelers are:
- Bad weather
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Drugs or alcohol
- Lack of training
Unfortunately, when money is involved, such as with commercial trucking, drivers and even the companies they work for take shortcuts to increase profit. Companies may be inclined to get more drivers on the road without proper training in order to increase the amount of cargo they can haul or reduce the amount of money they spend on maintenance to pad their bottom line.
On the other hand, drivers can feel immense pressure to perform, as well. In many companies, the pay structure is arranged in such a way that encourages unscrupulous drivers to make choices that increase the risk to themselves and other drivers on the road. For example, drivers who are paid hourly may be offered generous overtime, whereas other drivers may be paid by the mile.
All of these circumstances increase the risk of injury and death on the road. While many drivers take the responsibility of being in control of such a large vehicle seriously, some do not. Personal injury cases are about helping people recover from the harm they experience as well as preventing future harm to others.
How Much Is the Compensation for an 18-Wheeler Wreck?
In Texas, personal drivers are required to have only $30,000 liability coverage. This means that if you are hit and injured by an everyday driver in their personal vehicle, the insurance company is generally obligated to compensate you only up to that amount.
However, commercial trucking companies are subject to much higher insurance limits, and when combined with the civil penalties for which companies may be responsible, this means your attorney will be in a stronger position to advocate for your financial recovery. A commercial truck award is intended to provide compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and even future damages.
The amount of compensation for an 18-wheeler wreck can vary widely, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some of the factors that impact the amount of damages awarded are:
- How extensive your injuries are
- The cost of your medical expenses
- How much damage was done to your property
- The accident’s impact on your quality of life
- The amount of fault you may share in the accident
- The actions of the driver before and during the collision
- The actions and policies of the trucking company
Juries often engage in commercial trucking accident cases as corporate watchdogs, seeking to send a message to drivers and companies that putting public roads — and the people on them — at risk for a profit is unacceptable.
How Can an Injury Attorney Near Me Help?
When it comes to a semi-truck accident, the driver or trucking company might have records they would not want openly shared, such as text messages, emails, or even their truck’s electronic logging device. An experienced attorney knows what kind of information to seek out during the investigation and what questions to ask to get it.
Should the case go to jury trial, your lawyer can provide jurors with the knowledge they need about the rules of litigation and how the jurors themselves can hold corporations responsible when they have engaged in unsafe practices to turn a profit.
At FVF, we are committed to helping you understand your options when you are injured in an 18-wheeler accident. We accept only cases we believe we can add substantial value to — enough to pay for the cost of fighting for your case and then some.
For us, it’s about people, not cases. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you always know what to expect, and our free, no-commitment case consultations are intended to help you feel empowered and informed. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.