Insights on Truck Crashes

New Law Helps Truckers Dispute Blame for Truck Crashes

By J.J. Burns

For those not familiar with the industry, truckers and trucking companies are hired by transportation brokerage firms across the country. These firms partner with manufacturers and coordinate prices for the transportation of freight from one place to another.

 

When choosing the right trucker or trucking company, brokers should take multiple factors into consideration, including:

• Price

• Timing/reliability

• Compliance, Safety & Accountability scores (CSA scores)

• Use of safety technology

• Financial stability

• Dedication to public safety

CSA scores are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to rate the quality of drivers and trucking companies. These scores are based on the number of miles driven by a driver or company, the number of power units, the frequency of safety inspections, the number of safety violations, and the number and severity of crashes. CSA scores are a determining factor for whether truck drivers or companies are hired by brokers, but they only measure compliance with the minimum requirements established by the FMCSA.

 

Brokers and shippers should be careful not to rely exclusively on CSA scores, as an unblemished CSA record is not always indicative of a motor carrier’s commitment to safe operations. For example, some smaller motor carriers may not have sufficient roadside inspections to generate data to support a score. In addition, the trucking industry has been working since 2010 to water-down the scoring mechanisms. For example, in spite of strong evidence indicating that involvement in a truck crash is a reliable predictor of future crash risk, the trucking industry was recently able to convince the FMCSA to begin a process under which a motor carrier can have a truck crash “not count” against its CSA crash score if certain conditions are met.

 

Under this new program, truckers and trucking companies will be allowed to present evidence of their choosing, and ask that the FMCSA reevaluate whether previous crashes were “preventable” or “not preventable.” If the review determines—based only on evidence provided by the truck driver or company—that the crash was not preventable, the crash will no longer count against the driver or company’s crash and safety record.

 

Basically, if a trucker can convince the FMCSA that a crash wasn’t their fault, based on any documentation they can scrape up, the negative scoring for that crash will be erased from their record. Even more importantly, victims of the crash and their families don’t have to be notified of this change.

 

The watering-down of this aspect of the CSA program jeopardizes the safety of the motoring public across the country by allowing truckers with crashes on their record to hide that information from brokers and get back on the road. It also makes the selection of safe motor carriers by brokers and shippers more difficult.

 

It is incumbent upon brokers and shippers to use proper methods of identifying motor carriers that are truly committed to safe operation and to not only use a scoring tool that uses minimum-required regulatory compliance to evaluate motor carrier safety. As more and more of our nation’s freight is being brokered out to the “bottom end” of the trucking industry, there will be more and more truck crashes that result in serious injury and death.

 

If you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any representatives of the trucking company or its insurer.

Training Truckers

By Tim Dollar

Keeping American drivers safe should be the top priority of anyone who is engaged in the legislation or regulation of American roads. As a truck crash attorney, I have seen tragedy befall far too many innocent families and worked to influence laws that prevent truck crashes. But still, these rules and regulations are only useful if we are training truck drivers to follow them.

In December of 2016, after delaying for 25 years following a mandate from Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finalized national entry-level standards for acquiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The rule officially went into effect in January of 2017. The proposed rule had gone through a procedure called “negotiated rulemaking” in which stakeholders from all aspects of the trucking industry worked together to suggest what elements the rule should contain. The negotiated suggestions for the rule included a minimum of 30 training hours behind-the-wheel that should be required for new commercial drivers; however, the final rule contains NO requirement for behind-the-wheel training. In addition, drivers and companies will not be required to comply with the updated standards until February of 2020.

Various safety groups, including the Truck Safety Coalition and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, have spoken out about the failure to include a minimum behind-the-wheel requirement.

Despite the disapproval of safety advocacy groups, trucking industry groups like the American Trucking Associations, have applauded the rule.

All other modes of freight transportation (railways, air, maritime, and pipeline) have significantly reduced the number of injuries and fatalities in their respective industries. Not trucking.

So what do we take away from this information?

If you disagree with any rules or regulations that are being passed or implemented, contact your state representative and voice your opinion.

Understanding the legislation that governs the road can only make you a better driver, and being a better driver keeps you and other Americans safe.

If you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any representatives of the trucking company or its insurer.

Trucking continues to kill thousands of motorists in truck crashes every year, including between 600 and 800 truck drivers. Still, a prospective driver can obtain a CDL without having to spend any time in training behind-the-wheel. We can surely do better than this.

Stay Safe by Spotting Distracted Drivers

By Tim Becker

Distracted drivers are everywhere.

Sometimes we have to give them a friendly horn tap to let them know the light is green. Sometimes we have to be less subtle when they’re swerving into our lane.

These incidents can be frustrating, nerve-wracking or downright scary. But none are quite as scary as when a distracted driver is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound semi truck. These vehicles can limit the driver’s sight and hearing, so a distracted, tired or impaired driver becomes an even greater threat to lives and safety.

According to cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer, operators of a vehicle are four times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are talking on the phone, which represents a crash risk similar to drivers with .08 blood alcohol content (the legal limit for drunk driving). Texting while driving creates even higher crash risk, increasing a driver’s likelihood of being in a wreck by 8 times the average.

Strayer’s studies have also shown that after using distracting technology, such as a cell phone or in-vehicle voice command system, drivers experience unsafe mental distraction for an average of 27 seconds.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study attributed 14 percent of truck crashes to inadequate surveillance, 13 percent to fatigue, 9 percent to inattention, 8 percent to external distraction and 2 percent to internal distraction. In total, 35 percent of truck crashes were due to some form of distracted driving.

The important thing to remember on the road is that you should be staying aware at all times. Maintaining this philosophy will keep you safer from truckers and your fellow civilian drivers. It will also allow you to spot a distracted driver when you encounter one, and stay clear of that vehicle. Here are some telltale signs of a distracted driver:

• Driving with eyes/head down.

• Drifting into the next lane.

• Erratic braking.

• Driving too fast or too slow for the flow of traffic.

• Lengthy pauses at intersections.

• Eating.

• Applying makeup.

• Reaching for objects in passenger seat or back seat.


If you notice a distracted driver, especially a distracted truck driver, pull over in a safe spot and contact the appropriate authorities. Avoid driving near their vehicle, especially in front or directly to the side of them. It only takes a moment of distracted driving to change the lives of a family forever.

If you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any insurance representatives. 

Why Trucks Should Be Required to Have Automatic Emergency Brakes

By Jeff Burns

Automatic Emergency Brakes (AEBs) were first offered by Toyota in 2003.

After almost 15 years this technology has leapt forward at amazing rates – from a pipe dream to standard crash prevention. Since 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation has specifically considered the effectiveness of AEBs in each new car model before awarding five-star safety ratings. AEBs come standard in new car models from Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

In 2016 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that large trucks are the striking vehicles in approximately 32,000 crashes, resulting in 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries annually. Also according to the NHTSA, automatic emergency brake systems are capable of preventing nearly 60 percent of these deaths and injuries.

Despite widespread endorsement of this new technology’s capabilities and effectiveness from across the trucking industry (most notably the American Trucking Associations), The NHTSA still does not require that newly manufactured trucks feature automatic emergency braking systems.

Why?

Because, as we’ve seen for decades, outspoken trucking industry advocates take up arms against any new safety regulations that will cost money. The trucking industry opposed seat belts when they were first introduced – likewise driver drug screenings, electronic logging devices, side guards, rear guards and trailer size limits.

As they’ve argued against safety regulations in the past, the trucking industry says that AEBs require more research before being regulated as standard equipment. While we agree that research is extremely important, it’s been well established that as the technology stands today, AEBs save lives.

We encourage anyone worried about their safety on the road to contact their state representative’s office about AEBs, and other trucking industry safety issues.

However, if you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any insurance representatives. 

Dangerous American Highways

By Tim Dollar

I believe that truck crash victims and their families should be guided to justice by someone who understands their situation and truly cares about the outcome. That is why I got into this profession, and that is what drives me every day.

However, when I consider the magnitude of the tragedies suffered by so many families across America due to dangerous trucks and lack of road safety, I believe there is something even more important than justice: prevention.

At Dollar, Burns & Becker we advocate for transportation safety measures as the first line of defense against heartbreaking truck crashes. I personally believe that keeping drivers informed and aware is just as important as advocating for responsible safety legislation. The more information American drivers have access to, the safer they are.

Below are lists of highways and states across the United States that are statistically dangerous for both civilian drivers and truck drivers.

Most Dangerous Highways (Source: Forbes)

Florida U.S. Route 1

California State Route 99

Florida U.S. Route 41

Florida U.S. Route 27

Interstate 45 (Texas)

Texas U.S. Route 83

Florida U.S. Route 441

Interstate 40 (California)

Interstate 40 (Arizona)

Interstate 95 (Florida to Maine)

Texas U.S. Route 87

Florida U.S. Route 17

Interstate 10 (California to Florida)

Florida U.S. Route 98

Interstate 75 (Florida to Michigan)


Most Dangerous States (Source: findlaw.com)

Florida

Texas

California

New York

Georgia


If you live in these states, or navigate one of these roads on your daily commute, the purpose of this information isn’t to scare you. It’s to make you more aware, because alert drivers are the best drivers. With that in mind, here are a few tips on staying alert while driving:

Whenever possible, designate a top-notch co-pilot. Let them handle navigation, music and answering questions like, “Are we there yet?”

Put your phone in the center console. This way you won’t be tempted to read any incoming texts or emails.

Don’t eat behind the wheel.

Situate yourself – adjust your seat and mirrors, car temperature and windows before shifting into drive.

Get your entertainment fix from your television at home, and let roadside distractions pass by without staring.

Do not smoke while driving.

NEVER, EVER drive if you have been drinking alcohol.

If you’re planning to move in the near future, it’s important to know which states statistically have the safest roads in the country.

Safest States (Source: autoinsurance.org)

Maine

Nevada

North Dakota

Delaware

Wisconsin

Nebraska

Alaska

Oregon

Iowa

Minnesota

The more American drivers know about their surroundings, the fewer crashes will take place. At Dollar, Burns & Becker, along with working to supply the right knowledge to drivers, we also believe in working with lawmakers to create safer roads. Because prevention means just as much to us as justice.

However, if you or a loved one has been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any insurance representatives.

Who’s Driving? The Future of Autonomous Trucks and Road Safety

By Tim Becker

With the biggest names in the automobile business racing to the finish line, self-driving cars are just over the horizon.

Sci-fi movie-caliber technology is just out of reach, and no one is more excited than the trucking industry. Automated trucks have the potential to save trucking companies billions of dollars, and some projections put these trucks on the road as soon as 2022.

In fact, the first test run was completed in October 2016 – carrying 2,000 cases of Budweiser down 120 miles of Colorado highway.

Cool … what’s it to me?

This technology is developing quickly. People are excited.

In order to keep those people safe, legislation around self-driving vehicles needs to be developed just as quickly, but also with great care. Let’s look at some numbers:

Trucks account for only 5.6 percent of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., but a whopping 9.5 percent of driving fatalities (according to Otto, leading autonomous vehicle company).

Roughly 90 percent of road deaths are attributed to human error (University of South Carolina).

These numbers would indicate that self-driving trucks would make the roads safer, but we can’t ignore that we’re entering uncharted territory here. The number of safety threats this technology poses is unknown.

Who makes the rules?

Legislation for autonomous vehicles is currently being developed at the state level. States that are home to experimental markets such as California and Nevada are already creating regulations. Other states like Texas and Michigan will need regulation in the very near future.

However, as this technology becomes more universal the federal government will step in and provide guidelines for state legislation and for internal regulation among automotive companies.

When will this stuff actually affect me?

While we won’t see driverless trucks on the road for at least a few years, some technology advancements are here right now. For example, automatic emergency braking (AEB) is available in cars and trucks already. Many trucking companies are taking advantage of this amazing safety measure by strictly buying new trucks that have AEB. Others continue to resist the technology just to save a buck.

AEB systems can dramatically reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by truck crashes. There is no excuse for a trucking company to buy any new trucks without this technology. Regulations requiring new trucks to be AEB capable would protect all of us on the road, and government agencies responsible for road safety are responsible for putting them in place.

Do I get a say?

As always, we have more influence than we choose to exercise. Researching the subjects that affect your safety is half the battle. Following the news on self-driving vehicles and understanding industry interests is half the battle. Making a phone call or sending an email is the other half.

If you want to shape the future to keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the road, take some time to start reading up. This is a great place to start.

Truckers With Deep Pockets – Lobbying within the transportation industry

By Jeff Burns

The trucking industry spends millions of dollars each year to influence our government.

Unfortunately, road safety and precautionary regulations often mean red tape and low profits for trucking companies. So these companies group together and donate large sums of money to influence these regulations and make sure the gavel falls their way.

Where’s the cash coming from?

Some companies and corporations donate to political causes under their own names, but contributions are often made through associations or other third-party organizations. These are the top five political contributors on behalf of the trucking industry from 2015-2016 (Center for Responsive Politics):

American Trucking Associations: $667,950

Prime Inc. (trucking company): $385,763

Pilot Freight Services: $347,856

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association: $261,250

Werner Enterprises (trucking company): $260,496

Who’s getting paid to play?

With more than a dozen similar organizations contributing funds in 2015 and 2016, the trucking industry paid more than $17 million to sway legislation in their favor. You may wonder who is on the receiving end of all this money. Here are the top recipients of transportation industry lobbying funds from 2015-2016 (Center for Responsive Politics):

Donald Trump: $256,909

Senator Ted Cruz: $192,374

Hillary Clinton: $125,787

Congressman Jeff Denham: $122,050

Congressman Bill Shuster: $105,250

What’s that money really for?

With huge sums of money going from private interest groups into the hands of our legislators, it’s important to know what strings are attached. While the recipients of campaign donations aren’t technically allowed to take these funds into consideration during governance, trucking industry contributors ask them for support on a number of issues that are currently under review:

Safety initiatives (side guards, inspection requirements, etc.)

Public vs. private funding for roads

Regulatory process for new legislation

Electronic logging devices (regulate drive time and paperwork)

Greenhouse gas emission standards

Automated speed limiters

Trailer length regulation

Meal and rest break legislation

Hours of service regulation

Driver vetting and testing

Self-driving trucks

It is important for everyone to track the development of these disputed topics, in order to have a louder voice in our own safety. More information about campaign contributions from the trucking industry can be found through the Center for Responsive Politics.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck crash, seek legal consultation before discussing details or negotiating a settlement with an insurance organization.

The Cost of Settling

By Tim Dollar

How making a deal now can leave you high and dry later

A truck hit your car.

After taking the immediate steps to ensure everyone’s safety, you begin the long and thorny process of sorting out the damages. If you’ve ever been hit, you know it can be quite a long journey to fair compensation. Medical expenses pile up, and not knowing if you’ll receive adequate compensation is extremely stressful.

With a trucking company on the other side of the table, things get especially complicated – more lawyers, more insurance people, more time. But let’s say you and that trucking company reach a settlement you feel comfortable with. All’s well that ends well?

Not so fast.

Future injury costs

Truck crash injuries often resurface down the road. Some can take months or years to become noticeable at all. Neck and spinal inflammation caused by whiplash can bother victims throughout the rest of their lives, and even require future operations or prevent them from working.

In the first year after a spinal cord injury, the average medical cost is $198,000 (according to SpinalCord.com). Nagging injuries like these can force victims into financial strain or debt if they aren’t properly compensated in the initial settlement.

Insurance companies have a variety of strategies for getting victims to settle their cases early, before medical expenses have a chance to pile up. Before you settle, it’s extremely important to consider the potential of ongoing medical expenses for you and your loved ones. If you or someone you love has been in a truck crash, seek legal counsel before speaking with the other party or an insurance claims adjuster. 

Underride Crashes – A simple solution

By Tim Becker

Underride crashes kill more than 200 people in America each year.

What is an underride crash? An underride crash occurs when a civilian vehicle crashes into a semi-truck and gets lodged in the space underneath the trailer. The results are often catastrophic, gruesome and deadly.

How can we prevent underride crashes? The United States Department of Transportation requires tractor-trailers to be equipped with rear guards to prevent underride crashes. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence, government agency recommendations and public outcry, the National Highway Truck Safety Committee (NHTSA) refuses to mandate side guards on tractor-trailers.

Why doesn’t the government require side guards? The NHTSA has the authority to mandate side guards, but has failed to do so for years. Heavy lobbying from the trucking industry has contributed to the agency’s lack of action. More than nine million dollars poured in to government agencies last year to prevent laws that would increase the cost of building and operating trucks.

For more details on underride crashes, side guards and the government agencies responsible for maintaining safety on the roads, read this recent NBC News report and watch the video.

Strategies Trucking Companies Use to Avoid Paying Crash Victims

By Tim Dollar

After being in an accident, truck crash victims become very busy, very quickly. In addition to the emotional shake-up, there are phone calls to make, insurance claims to file and often huge medical bills to pay. The stress of the aftermath can be overwhelming.

On the other side of the coin, the trucking companies responsible for such crashes are busy too. They are working hard to protect themselves and their insurance companies from liability. They have a number of ways to ensure that the payout for any mistakes will be low.

Here are some strategies used by trucking companies to avoid losing a potential legal battle with someone they’ve hit:

Crash Site Cleanup

Trucking companies and insurance companies have people and resources on standby in the event of a crash. They are available to rush to the scene and do what they can to limit their liability. Whether this means moving the truck in question or hauling it away completely, you can be sure that they’ll be involved at the scene. See our “how trucking companies spring into action” blog for more.

Paperwork

Drivers’ logs, drug tests, inspection reports, citations, crash records … there is an endless trail of paperwork associated with any truck crash. Trucking companies begin altering or deleting any incriminating documents they can after a crash, and certain legal loopholes can make it difficult to stop them.

Trucks are also equipped with “black boxes.” These electronic devices record all of the mechanics during a trucker’s haul and can hold crucial information about the seconds leading up to a crash. Trucking companies often manipulate or delete this information as well.

Direct Victim Contact

After a crash, many victims are contacted by a representative of the insurance agency to discuss what happened. They attempt to make the conversation seem like a quick, standard formality. Later, they try to undermine your insurance claim based on your statements.

Insurance companies also like to get in touch with victims quickly after a crash in order to offer a lowball settlement, in hopes of avoiding the bill for legal fees or delayed injury effects.

More Paperwork

Hefty legal budgets afford trucking companies some serious legal representation. These teams typically make use of the same technicalities and loopholes. A commonly cited section of the U.S. Code determines what documents they can and cannot withhold from opposing attorneys, or the entire legal system. For any paperwork they can’t change or delete, they’ll begin attempting to argue as inadmissible. Much of this crucial paperwork never makes it into a courtroom.

Stalling

Another advantage of a huge legal budget is a trucking company’s ability to wait. After entering a legal battle with a victim, they’re well aware of the bills piling up on the other side. It could be cheaper for them to wait until a lawsuit is dropped than to settle outside of court, or leave it in the hands of a judge.

Lobbying and Advocacy

While this strategy isn’t much on a case-by-case basis, it should be noted that the trucking industry as a whole invests millions of dollars every year to influence the laws that govern them. They attempt to create more relaxed regulations, lower taxes and a more favorable legal environment.

These are just a few of the ways that trucking and insurance companies protect themselves from victims. These strategies are difficult to battle alone. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck crash, seek legal consultation immediately.

Stay Safe Near Semi-Trucks in Hazardous Winter Weather

By Jeff Burns

If you’ve ever driven through a thunderstorm or a winter flurry, you know how drastically weather can affect the roads. Sometimes even the smallest puddle can cause a traffic accident. Truck drivers should be even more careful when driving through bad weather because of the sheer size of their vehicles, and the danger that they pose to civilian drivers.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 22 percent of annual crashes are weather related. Depending on the speed you’re driving, wet roads can increase the distance needed to stop a vehicle by anywhere from 80 to 340 feet.

As risky driving conditions increase it would be nice to see less commercial trucks on the road, but America’s ever-increasing shipping demands ensure that they’re out in full force each day of the year.

Here are some weather hazards to be especially aware of when driving near a semi truck:

• Poor visibility

• Lane obstruction / lane submersion

• Poor pavement friction / tire grip

• Infrastructure damage

• Unexpected traffic / slow areas

• Traffic signal control

• Speed differential

• Vehicle performance

• Driver capabilities and control

The good news is that truckers are required by law to drive carefully in nasty weather. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations state, “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions exist.”

The law goes on to state that commercial drivers must reduce their speed under hazardous conditions, and that if conditions become sufficiently dangerous they are required to stop driving altogether.

These laws may seem a little vague, but they serve to place the burden of good judgment on the shoulders of commercial drivers, and are upheld rigorously in court.

They also have another function. They give truckers leverage against their dispatchers. If a driver decides that conditions are too dangerous to drive (within reason) and misses a deadline, they can’t be fired for exercising that caution.

Despite the rules and regulations that are there to keep you safe, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Here’s a quick list of driving tips for any hazardous conditions:

• Clear all snow and ice from windows, lights, roof and hood of your car before driving.

• Leave extra room between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

• Go slow – posted speed limits are meant for dry road conditions.

• Brake early and brake slowly.

• Drive extra slowly across bridges, as they may ice sooner than other parts of the road.

• Drive extra carefully on exit ramps.

• Don’t use cruise control in hazardous conditions – the slightest touch of your brake to deactivate cruise control could cause your vehicle to lose traction.

• Four-wheel drive will help your vehicle accelerate faster, but won’t help you brake faster. Don’t be over-confident in your 4×4.

• Occasionally look four or five cars ahead of you in traffic. Quick glances ahead could help you brake early if needed.

• Don’t drive too close in front or behind large trucks.

• Wear your seatbelt. Make sure that all of your passengers are wearing their seatbelts.

How to Stay Safe While Driving in Construction Zones

By Jeff Burns

With the onset of fall, highway construction crews are out in force to try to complete repairs before winter.

Government-contracted construction projects have no sympathy for your commute time, so when weather permits the orange vests are out in full force. Work zones can be a minor inconvenience for civilian drivers, but they can turn deadly if large trucks are involved.

Construction zone crash statistics

Understanding the whole picture of construction zone crashes may help you avoid one.

68 percent of work zone crashes are multiple vehicle crashes (University of Kansas).

The three most frequent types of multiple vehicle crashes in work zones are rear-end collisions, head-on collisions and angle-side collisions (University of Kansas).

• 40 percent of work zone crashes are caused by heavy trucks (University of Kansas).

• 85 percent of deaths in work zone crashes are suffered by drivers and passengers in civilian vehicles (Federal Highway Administration).

• 25 to 30 percent of fatal work zone crashes involve large trucks (Federal Highway Administration).

• In crashes involving cars and heavy trucks, failure to slow down in a work zone is cited as the third leading cause, including the fault of both truckers and civilian drivers. (Federal Highway Administration).

Facts to remember in a work zone

Understanding where and why work zone crashes happen is half the battle, but it can also help to remind yourself of the perspective of your fellow drivers in high-risk areas.

• When traffic is stopped or substantially slowed, leave room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Keep an eye on the traffic behind you as well. If you see a big truck coming up behind you without slowing or stopping, your life may well depend on you being able to somehow get out of its line of travel.

• Aside from being potentially very expensive, speeding in a work zone is dangerous for you, your passengers and other drivers.

• Large trucks, especially overloaded ones, often don’t fit fully in narrow work zone lanes. Don’t drive next to them or try to pass them in these areas.

• Lanes can be uneven in work zones, causing you or other drivers to easily swerve into the next lane. Avoid driving directly next to anyone in work zones if you can.

• Truckers are trained to protect workers on the road before civilian drivers. If they need to swerve, they will swerve into the next lane rather than onto the shoulder.

• Trucks take longer to stop than civilian vehicles. If a trucker doesn’t see an obstruction in time, the driver may have to slam on the brakes. Don’t follow them too closely under any circumstances.

If you’re driving in a high-risk area next to a large truck, you are in significantly more danger than the truck driver. Protect yourself by staying visible and keeping a safe distance.

Injury vs. Death After a Truck Crash

By Tim Becker

When people are injured in truck crashes, they’re often in no position to deal with legal matters. They could be hospitalized, in pain and even disoriented. If someone you know has been hurt in a truck crash, stepping in as an advocate can help them get the compensation they deserve.

Make sure they receive – and document – the medical help they need. The extent of injuries suffered in truck crashes often is not apparent for a while, and many injuries and conditions grow worse with time. Keep written records of all hospital visits and other medical appointments. You should also keep track of how much time at work the crash victim missed, as well as all the money spent on in-home care, medical equipment, and treatment for any psychological issues caused by the crash. Taking the time to track expenses will keep trucking companies and their insurance adjusters from downplaying the extent of any injuries during litigation.

Additionally, pay attention to and note the ways victims have to modify, or outright abandon, particular recreational, occupational, and home-care activities. Experienced truck-crash attorneys will assist you in identifying compensable losses, limitations and restrictions.

If a loved one has been killed in a trucking crash, you and your family members may be permitted to pursue wrongful death claims against the parties legally responsible. Exactly what kinds of damages are recoverable in a wrongful death action depends upon the law of the jurisdiction(s) involved, as well as the particular circumstances of the crash, the victims, the victims’ family members, and the wrongdoers. An attorney with significant truck-crash experience will be able to walk you through the nature of any potential claims, as well as who is capable of filing a wrongful death lawsuit, who is allowed to recover damages, and what damages are recoverable.

Right after a fatal crash, often before family members are notified, trucking companies and their insurers are working diligently to create defenses to liability by trying to place the blame on the victims and others. While you are still grieving, you may be contacted with an initial settlement and urged to make a quick decision. Do not make any significant decisions without consulting an experienced truck crash lawyer.

Meanwhile, evidence of negligence on the part of the truck driver can be lost. Hiring an attorney to advocate for you and your family members will help make sure that critical evidence is properly preserved.