Large commercial trucks are a part of the American landscape. These trucks bring consumer goods from ports and domestic manufacturers to distribution centers and warehouses, then from these locations to their retailers. In the United States, there are more than 15 million trucks in use for this important job. Approximately two million of them are tractor trailers.
Collisions between cars and commercial trucks are often deadly for the car’s driver and occupants. This is because large trucks are so much larger and more powerful than cars. If you have been involved in a collision with a truck, you could suffer from a significant or even permanent injury. In some cases, you could even lose your life. Filing an insurance claim after a truck accident can be confusing because not all truck drivers are employees of the companies whose products they are driving – some are independent contractors who take jobs on a contract basis. These individuals, known as owner operators, must carry their own insurance policies.
Determine How to Seek Compensation
If you have been injured in a truck accident, work with an experienced attorney to determine whether the truck driver was an employee or an owner operator. In the former situation, you must file your claim with the employer’s insurance policy. In the latter, your claim must go through the driver’s motor carrier insurance policy.
In either case, you will need to gather evidence to prove that the truck driver’s negligence caused your injury. This evidence can include photographs of the accident scene, a record of your medical treatment, and a record of your lost wages. Other pieces of evidence that your attorney may obtain include the driver’s phone record to determine if he or she was using his or her smartphone while driving or a digital reconstruction of the accident from a reconstruction specialist.
Be Wary of Truck-Specific Accidents
There are certain types of accidents that are more likely to occur with tractor trailers. Some are even exclusive to them. A few examples of these accident types include:
- Jackknifing. This happens when a braking error causes the trailer portion of a truck to skid away from the tractor into a v shape;
- Stopping accidents. Large trucks need much more space to come to a complete stop when braking. If a truck does not have adequate space to stop, a collision can occur; and
- Turning accidents. Because of their size and the shape of their bodies, tractor trailers need a much wider area to turn than smaller vehicles. On narrow roads, turning a tractor trailer may require the truck’s wheels to go over the curb and onto the sidewalk.
By knowing how large trucks move and operate, you can anticipate their challenges on the road better and prevent a collision with one. Always give these trucks appropriate space and following distance when sharing the road with them. Remember, a truck driver sits much higher off the road than a car driver, which means that his or her point of view is different from yours. You could easily enter a truck’s blind spot without realizing it. Always pay attention to the warnings on the back of these trucks that read “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.”