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Truck Accident Laws
In truck collisions, federal regulations require that a commercial carrier maintain certain essential evidence for only a limited amount of time. For instance, a carrier may destroy a truck driver's log after six months unless a potential plaintiff obtains a court order or takes other immediate action.
Federal regulations also require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of materials hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket. Minimum insurance levels ensure that an innocent victim does not face the burden of paying for property damage as well as damages resulting from injuries or deaths.
In order to successfully collect compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or for the wrongful death of a family member, a plaintiff must establish that the driver or commercial carrier operated or maintained the truck in a negligent manner. The threshold question for negligence is whether the party failed to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. Thus, if a driver acted in a way that a reasonable person would consider unsafe, negligence exists. Depending on the state, a showing that the driver or carrier failed to adhere to safety regulations can create a presumption of negligence.
Once a plaintiff has established the negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's negligence caused the accident that resulted in complained of injury. "Causation," in a legal sense, can be a complex issue, but suffice it to say that if the negligence of the party resulted in the injury to person or property for which the plaintiff has sued, causation exists.
Finally, in order to maintain a negligence suit, a plaintiff must prove that he or she has suffered damages. Damages include economic injury, such as lost income or wages, medical and funeral expenses, lost support and services, and replacement value or repair costs of personal property damaged in the accident. In addition, damages may include non-economic injuries such pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience as a result of bodily injury that result from the accident.
Often times a truck company may not pay medical bills immediately. In these cases, the driver's insurance will often contain medical payment provisions to pay for bills ranging from funeral costs to medical expenses. While many people do not wish to involve their own insurance company in any medical claims process, most policies require the car owner to notify the insurance company of any collisions.
After a serious collision, a trucking company's claims adjuster begins to protect the trucking company's interests immediately. An investigator for the company may begin to collect evidence to defend or minimize the claim. It is usually in the victim's best interest not to sign a medical release or give a statement to the trucking company or any insurance company before contacting an attorney. The trucking company may also attempt to steer a victim away from legal counsel, because they know that with an attorney, a victim will likely receive a greater settlement. Submit your Truck Accident Claim
Financial Loss from Large Truck Crashes
The impact of large truck crashes goes beyond the numerous injuries and deaths that result from such crashes each year. Large truck crashes have a notable effect on the national economy, costing over an estimated twenty-four billion dollars each year. Large truck crashes have an even more profound impact on those individuals involved in these accidents. The estimated cost of police-reported crashes involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $75,637. The cost of crashes in which the truck involved towed two or three trailers represented the highest among all crashes at an average of $117,309 per crash. These costs represents the present value of all costs over the victims' expected life span that result from a crash. They include medically related costs, emergency services costs, property damage costs, lost productivity, and the value of the pain, suffering, and quality of life that the family loses because of a death or injury.
The average cost per crash when at least one person suffered an injury, at $217,005, is much higher than the overall average cost per truck crash. As one would expect, fatal crashes cost more than any other crash. Fatal crashes involving trucks with two or three trailers represent the highest average cost among all fatal crashes at $3.54 million per crash. The crash costs per 1,000 truck miles are $259 for single unit trucks, $138 for single combination trucks, and $134 for multiple combinations. All of these cost estimates exclude mental health care costs for crash victims, roadside furniture repair costs, cargo delays, earnings lost by family and friends caring for the injured, and the value of neglected schoolwork or lost study time.
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