As summer approaches more and more Americans will be hitting the road for summer road trips. As traffic increases on our interstate highway system, it serves as an important reminder to drive defensively and be aware of semi-trucks on the road.
Big rigs, such as tractor trailers, semis, semi-trucks, tankers, flatbeds, and other 18-wheelers are involved in a disproportionate number of highway accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tractor trailers account for four percent of all registered vehicles, but account for eight percent of vehicles in fatal crashes. And, it goes without saying that because of their sheer size and weight, when a truck crash does occur, typically the occupants in the other vehicle suffer the brunt of the injuries.
Commercial truck drivers and the companies that employ them must adhere to strict state and federal regulations regarding testing and licensing, vehicle height and weight, drivers’ hours of service, driver log-books, and truck maintenance records. If any of these regulations are violated, the driver and the driver’s employer can be held liable if a crash occurs.
When a crash involving a semi-truck occurs, there can be multiple liable parties. There is the truck driver and the driver’s insurance company, as well as the trucking company and their insurance company. On top of that, each of these parties may have their own legal counsel. All of these factors make any resulting personal injury case very complicated.
If you or a loved is ever injured in a semi-truck accident, it is wise to be prudent and follow these important steps:
- Call the police immediately
- If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately
- Collect the name of the driver and the name of the trucking company
- Gather insurance information from the driver and the trucking company
- If possible, gather names of witnesses and take pictures of the accident site
- While it is fresh in your mind, write down everything about the accident
- Do not admit fault
- Do not give a statement to the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company
- Do not sign any papers from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company
- Contact your insurance company right away
- Seek guidance from an experienced personal injury law firm that specializes in truck accidents
Matt Devoti is a partner with Casey & Devoti, a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. He handles a wide variety of personal injury cases, including: automobile, truck and train accidents, medical and legal malpractice, elder and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death.