It is everyone’s worst accident scenario: colliding with a massive tractor-trailer. The unequal match in weight and power causes these accidents to frequently result in very serious injuries or fatalities.
And they are happening more often. If you have been injured, please contact a Truck Accident Attorney in NC.
Earlier this year, a North Carolina deputy released a statement of gratefulness to a police officer from Virginia who saved his life. The deputy accidentally drove his cruiser underneath a tractor-trailer loaded with plywood while responding to an emergency call. The Virginia officer was off duty but nevertheless used the deputy’s radio to call for help and, with the help of another man, pulled the deputy from his patrol car just as it began to catch fire.
The deputy escaped with a broken left hip and right knee from an accident that could have been much, much worse.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The DOT recently reported an increase in the number of deaths after tractor-trailers collisions.
In a recent tragic example of what can happen in a tractor-trailer accident, a chartered school bus and FedEx truck burst into flames after colliding, killing 10 people. The FedEx truck also jumped an interstate divider, injuring 30 more people. Both the bus and truck driver were killed, along with five students and three chaperones, Reuters reported.
According to the LA Times, three lawsuits have been filed against FedEx – two wrongful death suits by parents of students who died, and one personal injury lawsuit.
While this example is tragic, it also shows the devastating potential of large trucks.
In even more alarming news, according to recently released DOT statistics (2012) there has been a 4% increase in fatalities from accidents involving large trucks over the prior year. In 2012 alone, 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 injured in collisions with large trucks.
There is no clear explanation for the increase in tractor-trailer accidents, but the possibility for tragic injuries and fatalities is more likely when these large vehicles are involved.
It is hard to protect yourself on the road from tractor-trailers, but finding representation after an accident with a tractor trailer can help ensure that your rights are protected.
Due to the grave nature of trucking accidents and their complexity regarding insurance coverage, it is important to take action quickly and proceed with caution. Seeking representation immediately can be beneficial in many ways.
- Multiple insurance policies – First, you can learn how to speak with the insurance company in such a way that you will not run the risk of losing rights to any compensation. Trucks are often covered under multiple insurance policies, but if you say or do the wrong thing, you could lose out on some potential compensation.
- Out-of-state – Because tractor-trailers often operate across state lines, it’s possible their insurance policy was not issued in the same state in which the accident occurred. Since different states have different laws regarding accidents and insurance coverage, it is important to know which laws will apply to your situation. A lawyer can help to make sure you are properly protected.
- Violations – Since trucks are so dangerous, there are many state and federal rules truckers and trucking companies must follow — such as a limit on consecutive hours of driving, intended to prevent fatigue. A personal injury attorney with experience in tractor-trailer accidents is trained to look for potential violations of these rules by the driver or trucking company. The rules have been designed to keep you and your families safe. Disregarding them may be the cause of the accident or have contributed to its severity.
- Evidence – Ideally, an experienced law firm should review the facts and circumstances of a collision as soon as possible after the incident, including an examination of physical evidence. Thorough review can uncover many factors that may have contributed to the collision or resulting injuries. For example, take the recent North Carolina trucking accident referenced above involving the trooper and the plywood truck. While it might seem like an open and shut case to the untrained eye, the fact that the deputy’s cruiser was somehow able to get underneath the trailer could be indicative of missing or faulty under-ride guards, which are put in place to prevent an incident, such as the one resulting in serious injuries to the deputy. However, if an investigation is not conducted early enough, the wreckage might be discarded and evidence of missing or faulty guards might be lost.