There are many names for them, Eighteen wheeler, 18-wheeler, “semi”, “semi-truck”, “tractor-trailer”, “big rig”, “articulated truck”, “trailer truck”, “truck and trailer”, or simply “big trucks” or ‘long ones”. No matter what you call them, they are substantial and impactful. Truck accidents in North Carolina are serious and unfortunately frequent occurrences. Given the size and weight of these vehicles, the aftermath can often lead to severe injuries and significant property damage. At Bradford Law, we believe that understanding the causes of these accidents, the differences from regular car accidents, and knowing your rights is essential. Seeking the guidance of a dedicated personal injury attorney can be invaluable for anyone involved in such an incident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in North Carolina
- Driver Fatigue: Many truck drivers face long hours on the road, leading to exhaustion. This fatigue can impair judgment, slow reaction times, and increase the risk of accidents.
- Distracted Driving: With modern technology and other distractions, truck drivers can lose focus. Texting, using in-cab entertainment, or even eating while driving can result in serious collisions.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Trucks require regular checks and maintenance due to their heavy usage. Neglected issues, like worn-out brakes or tire blowouts, can cause catastrophic accidents.
- Dangerous Road Conditions: Trucks can be especially vulnerable to hazardous road conditions, such as wet or icy roads, potholes, or unexpected debris. These conditions can lead to loss of control or difficulty stopping in time.
- Inexperienced or Improperly Trained Drivers: Handling large commercial vehicles requires specialized training. Drivers who lack this training or experience can make critical errors, leading to accidents.
- Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds reduces the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, leading to difficulties in stopping and maneuvering, especially considering the size and weight of the truck.
- Aggressive Driving or Unsafe Lane Changes: Reckless behaviors such as tailgating, sudden lane changes, or failure to signal can cause collisions, particularly when visibility is limited.
- Failure to Follow Traffic Laws: Ignoring traffic signals, running stop signs or red lights, and failure to yield can result in collisions, especially at intersections.
- Intoxication or Substance Abuse: Operating a semi-truck under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain medications significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely.
Differences Between Truck Accidents and Car Accidents
Truck accidents differ significantly from car accidents primarily due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks. These large vehicles, when involved in collisions, often result in more severe and catastrophic injuries compared to typical car accidents. The damage caused to infrastructure and other vehicles is also typically more substantial. Additionally, the stopping distance for trucks is much greater than for cars, meaning that sudden braking can lead to devastating rear-end collisions.
Another distinguishing factor is the complexity of liability in truck accidents. Unlike standard car accidents, where usually one or both drivers are held responsible, truck accidents can involve multiple parties. This can include the truck driver, the trucking company, cargo loaders, and even maintenance providers. Furthermore, commercial trucks are governed by federal regulations, adding another layer of intricacy when determining fault and seeking compensation.
Injuries Resulting From Truck Accidents
Truck accidents often lead to devastating injuries, many of which are more severe than those sustained in typical car collisions. Given the size and force of a commercial truck, the potential for catastrophic harm is significantly heightened. Common injuries include traumatic brain injuries, which can result in long-term cognitive impairments or even permanent disability. Broken bones, fractures, and internal injuries are also prevalent due to the massive impact of such accidents.
Apart from physical harm, truck accidents can cause significant emotional and psychological trauma. Survivors might experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression as they grapple with the aftermath of the accident. Such mental health challenges can sometimes be as debilitating as physical injuries, requiring extended therapy and intervention. It’s crucial to understand that the consequences of a truck accident can be multi-faceted, affecting victims both physically and mentally.
- Seek Medical Attention: Immediately after the accident, prioritize your health and safety. Even if injuries are not immediately apparent, internal harm can manifest later. Always get a medical check-up to document any injuries.
- Report the Accident: Call the police and ensure a formal report is filed. This documentation is crucial for insurance claims and potential legal actions.
- Document Everything: Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damages, and any visible injuries. If possible, gather witness contact information and jot down any details you remember about the accident.
- Avoid Admitting Fault: Be careful with your words at the accident scene. Avoid making statements that could be construed as admitting fault, as these can be used against you later.
- Contact an Attorney: Reach out to a personal injury attorney experienced in truck accidents. They can guide you through the complexities of the claims process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
- Inform Your Insurance: Report the accident to your insurance company, but be wary of settling immediately. Consult with an attorney before accepting any offers.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
A personal injury attorney offers invaluable experience when dealing with the complexities of truck accidents. Their knowledge of state and federal regulations governing the trucking industry ensures that all liable parties, whether it’s the truck driver, the trucking company, or even equipment manufacturers, are held accountable. They diligently gather evidence, consult with accident reconstruction experts, and build a robust case, increasing the chances of securing a fair settlement or favorable verdict. Moreover, they can navigate the intricate maze of insurance claims, ensuring victims receive the compensation they deserve.
Additionally, an experienced attorney becomes a shield between the victim and aggressive insurance adjusters. Insurance companies often aim to minimize their payout, sometimes offering settlements that don’t fully cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. With an attorney by their side, victims are better equipped to negotiate a just settlement. If negotiations stall, the attorney is prepared to advocate zealously for their client’s rights in court.
Contact Bradford Law If You’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident
Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Bradford Law, our commitment is to guide and support you, ensuring your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today for dedicated support and experienced legal counsel during these challenging times.