When you compare a truck accident with another type of motor vehicle accident, you’ll soon realize truck accidents have more serious consequences. These cases can get quite complicated, often involving multiple parties that may or may not be at fault. Individuals and families who have been impacted by a truck accident need representation from a truck accident attorney with experience handling these very issues in Billings, MT.
What Happens if You Get Hit by a Truck?
A semi-truck and empty trailer weigh approximately 35,000 pounds. Commercial truck laws allow for weight up to 80,000 pounds or 40 tons when loaded. The average sedan weighs between 3,500 and 4,000 pounds, or about 1.5 to 2 tons. This vast difference in weight often results in devastating accidents, whether you are driving at highway speeds on I-90 in Billings, MT, or are involved in a crash on State Ave. If the accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries occur in the ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The sudden impact with a truck can jolt your body, causing the soft tissue to overstretch. The result can be strains and sprains in the arms, legs, and neck. Muscle spasms, bruising and swelling can also occur and are often painful. They can limit your range of motion and routine activities.
Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI is known as the invisible injury, as there may be no outward appearance of bruising, bleeding, and torn tissue. It typically results from a jolt or violent blow to the head. Mild TBI may affect your brain cells temporarily, but severe injuries may cause long-term complications or death. It can take days or weeks before you understand the full extent of damage from the accident.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries affect the bundle of nerves that run down the center of your back, protected by the vertebrae. They transmit information from your body to your brain and back, making it an integral part of your life. If the nerves are compressed, severed, or otherwise damaged, it can disrupt the communication between the brain and parts of your body. Paralysis, organ damage, loss of bladder control, and various other consequences can occur due to these injuries.
How Often Do Truck Drivers Get into Accidents?
There were nearly 165,000 crashes involving big trucks in 2019 and more than 700 large truck accidents in Montana alone. While many accidents occur due to poor weather and road conditions, human error also plays a role. Distracted driving, driver fatigue, and inexperience or lack of training are among the common causes of driver error.
However, in many cases, improper loading and vehicle maintenance, including tires, can make handling the truck more challenging. Hours of service regulations, safety equipment, and specialized training requirements are in place to help improve safety within the trucking industry. If drivers or trucking companies violate truck accident laws, they may be liable for damages.
Can I Sue if I Was Hit by a Semi-Truck?
Truck accidents are often more complicated than other motor vehicle crashes. There are several different factors to be considered. The driver may be independent or an employee of a commercial trucking company. This can determine who you file a claim against.
- A trucking company can be liable if they cut corners and ignore safety requirements. They can also be at fault if they hired a driver without proper training or pushing beyond the safety limits to meet deadlines.
- The truck driver might be at fault if they become careless or negligent because of a distraction. If they have a health condition that caused the accident or were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be held liable.
- Big rig accidents can occur if the cargo was not loaded correctly or securely. If the freight is over the weight limit or was not inspected, the company that loaded the cargo might be liable for your accident.
- Many tractor-trailer trucks have equipment that is intended to improve vehicle safety. The truck manufacturer may be at fault if the safety systems fail.
Our experienced truck accident law firm can investigate your accident and determine who may be at fault.
How Can Truck Accidents be Prevented?
A strong trucking industry is a sign of a healthy economy. Freight volumes are expected to grow more than 35% between 2020 and 2031, which means you’ll likely continue sharing the road with an increasing number of big trucks. Driving near tractor-trailers is different than passenger vehicles. Due to size and weight, the truck’s blind spots are more prominent; it needs more room to maneuver and extra time to stop. You can take steps that may reduce the chances of being in an accident with a big rig.
- When you are following a semi-truck, make sure you can see the side view mirrors. If you can’t, the driver likely cannot see you either.
- After passing a large truck, make sure you can see the cab before pulling back into the lane in front of it. This ensures you are not cutting it close, and the driver doesn’t need to take evasive maneuvers to avoid hitting you.
- Commercial vehicles need more room to make right turns than passenger cars. They must often swing left to make a right turn and cannot see you if you approach from the right side while they are turning.
- Maintain a steady speed when driving near big trucks and slow down slightly when one passes you. This allows the truck to get by, faster, reducing the chances of a collision.
Understanding proper etiquette and taking extra precautions is critical for safely sharing the roads with big trucks in Billings, MT. If you were injured in a crash with a commercial vehicle, contact RMK Law today. We can assess your situation and help you file a claim, and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for your injuries.
Choosing RMK for Your Truck Accident
At RMK, we provide the same sophisticated and in-depth legal services you’d find in a large law firm, but provide those services with attention to detail only a small firm can offer. Some other reasons we’re your first choice for a truck accident lawyer in Billings include:
- We offer affordable services without any sacrifice in quality.
- We have lawyers who are Montana natives, so they understand the unique issues and legal challenges you face.
- Our attorneys’ legal experience spans over a collective 40 years.
- We represent anyone from the typical Montana citizen to Fortune 500 companies, making our experience varied and complete.
Why Truck Accidents Are So Common
If you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s important you understand whether it was an actual truck accident, or is just considered a car accident. In these scenarios, trucks refer to big rigs, tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks, refrigerated trucks, box trucks, and other similar vehicles.
The weather and landscape of Montana pose a unique risk for these trucks and have been determined as some of the causes of truck accidents, though the percentages are low. Unfamiliarity with the terrain in Billings, MT, can also be the cause of these accidents, as can a variety of other issues, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2017.
Some other causes include:
- Decision – This is when the truck driver made a conscious decision to drive too fast, follow too closely, turn in front of another vehicle, or other similar decisions. This made up 38% of truck accidents.
- Non-Performance – When the driver fails to perform correctly due to physical limitations such as heart attack, seizure and even falling asleep at the wheel, it’s considered non-performance.
- Performance – This is when a driver overcompensates, panics, or exercises poor directional control, resulting in an accident. 9% of truck accidents were due to performance.
- Recognition – 28% of truck accidents in 2017 were due to recognition, which is when a driver gets distracted, observes a situation incorrectly, or becomes inattentive for one reason or another.
- Vehicle – Vehicle parts fail due to wear and tear manufacturer defects, and a variety of other reasons. Vehicle failure caused 10% of truck accidents.
After a truck accident in Billings, MT, you’re going to have questions. As your truck accident law firm, we’ve got answers.
- Who might be responsible for a truck accident? – It’s not always the truck driver. We’ll seek liability with the driver’s employer, the truck owner, the truck maintenance shop, and/or the truck manufacturer.
- How long do I have to file a lawsuit? – The truck accident statute of limitations in Montana is three years, so we’ll have that amount of time to collect evidence, put a case together, and get it filed.
- How long do truck accident cases take? – Every truck accident has its own unique set of circumstances, so your case could take a few months up to a few years. The number of involved parties, the complexity of the case, and some other issues will impact this time frame.
- What types of damages can I seek? – If you were injured in a truck accident, you could seek damages such as medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
- Is my case worth pursuing? – In most cases, yes, but there are those rare cases that aren’t worth pursuing. To determine the worth of your case, we’ll look at your medical bills, property damage, disfigurement, emotional trauma, lost wages, future medical care, loss of enjoyment of life, and a variety of other consequences from the accident.
Contact Us Today for More Information
You deserve proper compensation after being injured in a truck accident in Billings, MT. Contact your truck accident lawyer today at RMK Law Firm. Call us at (406) 601-1400 or fill in our form and we’ll get in touch.
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