It can happen in a moment, and it often has devastating consequences. Being hit by a commercial truck can result in severe, serious injuries. If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident in Austin, TX, there are some important steps you can take to help with your recovery.
What Counts as a Commercial Truck?
Commercial vehicles, generally, include motor vehicles used to transport goods or paying passengers. According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, this includes light commercial vehicles, such as minivans; heavy trucks used for the carriage of goods, including tractors, trucks, and vehicles designed to tow semi-trailers; and coaches and buses, which are used for the transport of passengers.
The definition of a commercial vehicle is often set by federal and state regulators, as well. According to federal safety regulations, a commercial vehicle is one that:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous
What Types of Accidents and Injuries are Common with Commercial Vehicles?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 127,000 accidents involving large trucks and buses in 2019 alone. That same year, 5,237 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes. There are many reasons behind those crashes, including:
- Driver error, such as failure to observe traffic rules or exceeding the speed limit
- Distracted, impaired, or drowsy driving, whether due to drugs, alcohol, electronics, sleep deprivation, or another reason
- Mechanical failures, such as brake issues
- Overloaded cargo
- A failure by the trucking or bus company to properly inspect and maintain its vehicles or train its staff
An accident with a commercial vehicle can mean very serious and severe injuries or even death. Due to their sheer size and weight, commercial vehicles can crush the occupants of smaller vehicles, which will be the ones absorbing most of the impact from the crash. Moreover, many accidents with commercial trucks happen on highways, at high speeds, which can make injuries worse. Traumatic brain injuries, head injuries, spine and back injuries, and even paralysis are not uncommon in truck accidents.
What should you do if you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
- At the scene:
- First, be sure you stop safely and out of the way of any potential danger.
- Most importantly, be sure you obtain the medical help you need, both at the scene and if necessary, in the hospital.
- Take down contact information for the other parties involved, the first responders, as well as any witnesses to the accident.
- Take photos of both your vehicle and the truck, as well as the area where the accident occurred.
- Be careful about what you say at the scene: while answering factual questions is generally fine, you should not discuss who is responsible for the accident, apologize, or offer any gratuitous information.
- When you get home:
- Contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney, so that you can discuss your rights, options, and next steps.
- Start a folder for important documents, such as police reports, insurance information, medical documentation, and bills for any damages you have incurred.
- Be careful about talking with insurance adjusters or anyone representing the other side. Keep in mind that the goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible—this means a goal to reduce your recovery.
- In the weeks and months that follow:
- Continue seeking the medical treatment you need.
- With the help of your attorney, file your insurance claim and begin settlement negotiations.
- Keep meticulous records of correspondence, invoices, and other documentation regarding the accident and your claim.
- Communicate with your attorney about the steps in your claim and potential lawsuit and the ways in which you can assist your attorney in building your case.
- If settlement negotiations cease, work with your attorney to file a lawsuit in the appropriate court.
If you’ve been hit by a commercial truck, having the right attorney following your accident can make all the difference in recovering from your injuries. Most often, a truck accident will result in a claim of negligence, which means you’ll need to prove that the truck driver, trucking company, or both failed to take proper care on the road, causing your injuries. An experienced and knowledgeable Austin truck accident lawyer can help not only prepare your case, but also negotiate with the truck driver, trucking company, and insurance companies involved, in order to obtain a favorable settlement on your behalf. Contact our truck accident lawyers for a free consultation about your case.