The biggest difference between a car accident and a truck accident is the severity of the injuries. Permanent or disabling brain trauma, spinal cord damage or widespread orthopedic problems are common results of a collision with a semi rig.
Hiring an experienced and dedicated Massachusetts truck accident attorney is of the utmost importance when attempting to receive compensation for injuries, lost wages or the death of a loved one.
Types of Truck Accidents
- Blown Tire Causing Semi-truck Accidents
- Truck Accidents caused by Mechanical Failure
- What to do if hit by debris from a Truck causing an accident or injury
- Accidents Caused by Overloading a Semi-Truck
- Truck Accidents caused by impaired driving
- Delivery Truck Accidents
- Truck Accidents on Construction Sites
Mechanical Failure Truck Accidents
Truck maintenance is highly regulated, and accidents due to mechanical failure are often preventable. Failure could be due to poor maintenance or poor manufacturing. Possible mechanical failures include:
- Brake failures,
- Steering failures,
- Engine problems,
- Transmission issues, or
- Electrical failures.
Overloaded Truck Accidents
A trucker’s pay is based on how quickly he can transport goods. Truckers who are behind schedule or under quota may drive faster or overload trucks to get back on track.
The Issue with Overloaded Trucks
An overloaded truck is difficult to control. Overloading also strains the engine and can cause tire failure, brake failure, and transmission problems.
Flying Debris Truck Accidents
A blown semi tire or debris flying off the back of a truck can cause significant damage and serious injuries in a collision.
What to Do If Your Vehicle Is Damaged by Flying Debris
If your vehicle is damaged by debris, use these tips to resolve the situation:
- Write down the license plate number, company name and phone number, and if the truck appeared overloaded.
- Flag down the driver. Politely explain that debris came off the back of his truck and you’d like to file a claim with his company’s insurance. Ask for the company’s insurer and the person in charge. Be clear that you want to make this someone else’s problem, not his.
- Note if the driver appears drowsy, impaired, or intoxicated.
- If you’re not comfortable flagging down the driver, call the trucking company, tell them you’d like to file a claim and ask for their insurance information.
What to Do If Your Claim Is Met with Resistance
If the trucking company won’t help you, follow these steps:
- File an accident report with the police.
- Note the date, time, and any details you remember.
- Note what kind of debris came off the truck.
- Make a claim with your own insurance company, pay your deductible, and get the damage fixed. Your insurance will try to get the claim paid by the trucker’s insurer, in which case your deductible will be refunded.
Impaired Truck Driver Accidents
Many semi-truck accidents are caused by fatigue, impairment, and intoxication. If you’re in a motor vehicle accident caused by truck driver error or notice a driver is out of control, call 911.
Contact a Lawyer: Get Compensation for Your Injuries
Personal injury attorney Peter Ventura provides knowledgeable and experienced legal representation for truck accident victims in Worcester, Massachusetts. Peter has recovered millions of dollars for his clients and will fight vigorously to win the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one need legal advice about personal injury or wrongful death claims involving a truck accident case in central Massachusetts, contact the law office of Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation.
Massachusetts Truck Accident FAQs
Can I sue if I was partially at fault in the accident?
Yes. In Massachusetts, “modified comparative fault” law means that you can recover damages for a truck accident claim as long as you were 50 percent or less at fault. However, the amount you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
When Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Contact a law firm any time you’ve been in an accident with a semi truck or tractor trailer.
Semi-trucks are legally held to certain standards of mechanical maintenance, and if the trucking company has fallen short, they can be liable for the resulting accident.
Before you sue the trucking company, consult with an injury lawyer. Not all truck accidents involve negligence or misconduct by the trucking company or its employees. In the case of an accident caused by defective brakes or tires, you may need to sue the manufacturer instead. If unsafe road conditions are to blame, you may have a claim against a government agency.
Who’s responsible for an accident?
If you are in an accident, follow the same steps as you would a regular car accident:
– Get the driver’s name and insurance information, the name of the trucking company, and the license plate number of the truck.
– Call 911, especially if anyone has been injured.
– Take photos of your vehicle, the truck, the scene of the accident, and any other vehicles involved.
– Notify the police if you suspect that the truck driver might have been intoxicated or impaired while driving. If the truck driver says anything that indicates a mechanical failure was the cause of the collision, make sure to get as many details as you possibly can. Note if you suspect that the truck was overloaded.
– Give your statement to the police and ask for a copy of the accident report.
– Call your insurance company and file a claim, and let them know that you filed the accident report with the police. Give them the trucking company’s insurance information of the trucking company. – Tell the insurance company if you have any suspicions about the truck.
Is overloading grounds to sue the trucking company?
Generally speaking, yes. Although illegal, overloading is a common practice because it saves time and cuts expenses. However, overloading increases the risk that tractor-trailers will suffer mechanical malfunctions. If overloading is to blame for your injuries, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
What are other common causes of semi-truck and tractor-trailer accidents?
Other causes of truck accidents that can warrant legal claims include:
1. Distracted driving
2. Driver fatigue and falling asleep behind the wheel
3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
4. Following too closely
5. Improper maintenance and inspections
6. Improperly trained and unlicensed drivers
7. Jackknifing due to driver error
8. Mechanical failures such as faulty brakes, tire failures, and transmission problems
9. Speeding and reckless driving
10. Unsecured loads
Can I sue if I was driving in the truck’s blind spot?
While driving in a truck’s “no zones” can be dangerous, it does not automatically bar you from recovering financial compensation. Truck drivers still have a duty not to collide with other vehicles. Under the modified comparative fault, your position could limit your financial damages. For a complete case evaluation, you should discuss the details of the accident with an attorney.
How Are Lawsuits for Commercial Truck Accidents Different from Car Accident Claims?
In the United States, and here in Massachusetts, commercial motor vehicles are strictly regulated. A complex web of state and federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry, mandating everything from who can drive a commercial motor vehicle to how long a trucker can be on the road without taking a break. As a result, any claim for a tractor-trailer collision necessarily involves an investigation into whether any of these rules were violated.
In addition, truck accident lawsuits often involve more than just the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Truck drivers are typically employed by trucking companies. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers may be held liable for the negligence of their employees — and so a lawsuit may be filed against the trucker, their employer, and possibly other parties.
Truck crashes also tend to involve more serious or even fatal injuries. While any motor vehicle accident can cause severe injuries, because commercial trucks are so much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles, the potential for catastrophic injuries is much higher. To increase the likelihood of recovering for the full extent of losses in this type of case, it is important to work with a Worcester personal injury lawyer with experience handling truck accidents.
Who Can Be Sued in a Truck Accident Case?
In any car accident case, the driver to blame for the crash can be held financially liable for any injuries or losses that occurred. With truck accidents, there may be a number of other parties who can be sued for their negligence, beyond the driver. This may include:
The company responsible for loading and securing cargo, if load shifting or another problem related to the cargo was at issue in the crash;
-A third-party maintenance company responsible for performing maintenance on the truck, if poor maintenance was linked to the accident;
-The truck manufacturer;
-The manufacturer, retailer, or distributor of a defective part on the truck, if a faulty part caused the accident;
-The trucking company.
In personal injury cases, liability is typically based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. By establishing that one or more parties were negligent in some way, an injury victim can recover compensation for their losses. For example, if the trucking company failed to adequately train or supervise the truck driver who caused the accident, they may be held responsible for their negligence.
If a dangerous or defective part was to blame for the accident, then the case may involve a products liability claim. In Massachusetts, these types of cases are based on one of 3 theories: (1) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability; (2) negligence; or (3) Chapter 93A consumer protection violations. A seasoned Worcester truck accident lawyer can analyze the facts of your case to determine if a product liability case can be brought against the truck manufacturer or another party in the distribution chain.
The Trucking Company’s Insurer Has Offered Me a Settlement. Should I Take It?
After a truck accident, you may be approached by a representative of the trucking company or their insurance company. They may offer you what seems like a good amount of money to settle your claim. While it can be tempting to just accept the offer, you should never sign any documents without first consulting with a lawyer.
Both trucking and insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Insurance companies don’t make money by paying out the full value of a claim. Instead, they make millions — or even billions — of dollars each year by denying or minimizing legitimate claims.
The insurance adjuster isn’t obligated to act in your best interests. They’re working for their employer, with the goal of making your case go away for the least amount of money. While the settlement offer may seem fair, accepting it means giving up important rights, like the ability to file a lawsuit.
In contrast, a truck accident lawyer is required to act in the best interests of their client. They will investigate the circumstances of the truck crash, research the law that applies to your case, and file a claim against any and all parties who may be financially responsible for your losses in order to get you the highest possible settlement or award for your claim. In fact, research shows that injury victims who are represented by an attorney get settlements that are as much as 40% higher as compared to people who go it alone.
Most personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation, where they will listen to your story and advise you of your legal options and rights. These cases are often handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront and will only pay attorney’s fees if your lawyer recovers money for you. Even if you believe that a trucking company’s offer is fair, it makes sense to protect yourself by consulting with a truck accident lawyer before agreeing to anything or signing any paperwork.