According to a 2011 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), injuries caused by large truck crashes decreased by 48 percent over a ten-year period. And while that is very good news, it is of little comfort to those who have been seriously injured or have suffered the wrongful death of a family member in a truck accident.
Whether you call them big rigs, semis or tractor-trailers, accidents between trucks and cars often cause the most catastrophic injuries. At Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP, we understand the fear and confusion that you are feeling if you or someone you care about has been injured. We have compiled a list of answers to those questions we are most commonly asked. While not intended to replace specific advice about your case from one of our truck accident attorneys in Hanover, we hope you find them to be helpful:
- What are the most common causes of truck accidents?
- What should I tell the trucking company’s insurer about what happened?
- Will the trucking company investigate the accident?
- What kind of compensation am I entitled to receive?
Contact our experienced Hanover truck accident lawyers
To schedule a free consultation with Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP to discuss your case, please call us at (443) 749-5111 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our office is conveniently located in Hanover, MD and serves Annapolis and beyond. We are available 24/7 to assist you.
Q. What are the most common causes of truck accidents?
A. Truck accidents can be caused by anything from poor weather or road conditions to speeding or failing to follow traffic laws – but there are unique issues often associated with truck accidents:
- Truck driver inexperience: Trucks are far more complicated to operate than cars, and an inexperienced driver often makes mistakes.
- Truck driver fatigue: Drivers often feel pushed to make deliveries quickly, and all too often ignore federal regulations that limit the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel before taking time off.
- Jackknifing: A fully loaded tractor-trailer truck traveling at highway speeds can take more than a football-field's length to come to a complete stop – or 40 percent longer than an automobile. Faulty brakes, bad tires, speeding or following too closely behind another vehicle can be an accident waiting to happen.
- Poorly balanced or excessively heavy load: A semi that is carrying more than the legal limit or that has been incorrectly loaded is harder to control – especially in turns – and may be more prone to rollovers.
Q. What should I tell the trucking company's insurer about what happened?
A. You should not discuss any details of a truck accident with any adjuster or representative from the trucking company or their insurer – and you should definitely not sign anything! Your lawyer has experience in dealing with truck drivers, trucking companies, leasing companies, truck maintenance providers and their insurance companies. We work to make sure that your best interests are protected and that you will get the highest possible compensation for your injuries.
Q. Will the trucking company investigate the accident?
A. Yes – and they will be looking for anything that can minimize their liability – and the amount of money they will have to pay you. For instance, they may look for evidence that you were passing the truck illegally or in some way had partial responsibility for the accident. If they can prove contributory negligence, under Maryland law (as well as Washington, D.C. and Virginia), you would receive nothing for your injuries – no matter how severe. As your attorneys, we employ our own investigators and accident reconstructionists to build a solid case and make sure you are able to recover damages.
Q. What kind of compensation am I entitled to receive?
A. As in most personal injury claims, you are entitled to receive special damages, which include medical bills, loss of wages and loss of earning capacity. You may also be entitled to receive general damages, which include pain and suffering. While punitive damages are rarely awarded in a Maryland personal injury case, if it can be proven that the defendant acted with “actual malice” (for instance, deliberately running you off the road), you may also be able to collect those damages.