Total Loss Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents are among the most devastating of motor vehicle accidents. Any kind of collision with these behemoths of the highways can lead to a total loss of your vehicle not to mention catastrophic injuries in many cases or death.
Although there are fewer trucks on the roadway than cars, nearly 10 percent of all motor vehicles involve large trucks in the US and over 22 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities involve multiple vehicles. Only about 2 percent of those killed in passenger vehicle versus truck accidents were truck drivers.
Along with collisions with passenger vehicles, a jackknifed truck or one that loses its load can lead to a total loss of your vehicle as you may have little to no opportunity to avoid the impending disaster.
Because trucks are complex vehicles and are regulated by state and federal laws as common or commercial carriers, it takes the experience of a well-seasoned truck accident lawyer like Boston truck accident lawyer Neil Burns to fully understand the issues involved and who must possess the educated eyes necessary to review complicated truck accident evidence if you want the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries.
Duty of a Truck Driver and Carrier
As a common carrier and commercial driver, trucking companies and their drivers are held to the utmost standard of care in operating their vehicles and must take great care and diligence to ensure that the trucks are well maintained and their drivers alert and well trained. Even the slightest negligent act can lead to a determination of liability. Still, it often takes a resourceful truck crash lawyer carefully gathering evidence of a truck accident to support liability since trucking companies have been known to take great pains to hide or destroy evidence of culpability in an accident.
Drivers are subject to drug and alcohol testing and companies must keep and submit reports on their drivers and company operations. There are numerous rules regarding cargo weight, administration of safety rules, drug testing protocols and maintenance requirements.
Truck drivers are required to maintain detailed logs for each trip and to conduct pre-trip inspections of their vehicles such as checking tire pressure and tread, securing and balancing the loads, checking the engine and the brakes. A failure to do so that leads to an accident can be the determining factor in an accident.
Factors in Trucking Accidents
Fatigue is one of the most prevalent causes of total loss trucking accidents since truck drivers spend long hours on the road or highway. Federal regulations restrict drivers from driving more than 11 hours in one day and must spend no less than 10 hours between shifts and drive no more than 60 hours in one week. Studies have shown that driving more than 8 hours in a day can lead to drivers being twice as likely to have accidents. In addition, driving long hours, even if within prescribed hours, can still be monotonous, cause sleep deprivation and lead to errors in judgment and lack of focus.
Other factors include:
- Road debris
- Impairment from drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Overloaded trucks
- Improperly secured cargo
- Tire failure
- Steering failure
- Separation of trailer from main body of truck
- Faulty or defective brakes
- Equipment failure
Collecting on a Total Loss
If you car or motor vehicle was damaged in a trucking accident, the trucker’s insurer, if it accepts liability, will pay for your towing and storage costs. It will also appraise the damage and market value of your car. It will declare your car a total loss if the cost of repair exceeds the market value. If so, the insurer need only pay you the market value of your car, which is the value of similar cars in your area or the Kelly Blue Book value.
You can decide to keep the car if it is a total loss but you will have to pay the salvage value to the insurance company. Should you have a loan on the car that is more than the fair market value, you will have to pay the outstanding loan balance.
Damages in a Truck Accident
Besides the total loss or other property damages, you are entitled to compensation if the trucking company is held responsible for your injuries. In many truck crashes, the damages can be enormous. You can collect for both your economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage loss
- Lost employment benefits
- Wage and benefit loss from delay into labor market
- Physical therapy costs
- Rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering for as long as your treat, or even permanently
- Psychological trauma such as PTSD
Proving future medical and wage losses will require expert testimony from medical specialists and forensic economists. In permanent injury matters such as brain trauma or paralysis cases, you will need testimony from rehabilitation experts and those from specialized medical fields to explain how your life has changed, the pain you experienced and will continue to endure and your prognosis.
In wrongful death cases, your surviving heirs may collect:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of love, companionship and moral support
In a survival or wrongful death action brought by the decedent’s estate, the heirs can collect for medical expenses, the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering preceding death, if any, and lost earnings for financially dependent beneficiaries. Only the immediate family of the decedent may file and collect damages.
Retain Truck Accident Lawyer Neil Burns
Prosecuting a trucking accident injury claim means ensuring that the trucking company retains important and relevant documents and that your attorney is up to researching and finding federal and state regulations that are applicable to your case. Neil Burns is a Massachusetts truck crash lawyer who has successfully represented the claims of trucking accident victims since 1985. Contact him today if you or a loved one has experienced an injury or fatality in a truck accident.