Each year, millions of people are involved in accidents resulting in tragic injuries and deaths. When a large truck is involved in a crash, the consequences can be devastating. This is why trucking is a highly regulated field, requiring that truck drivers comply with both Connecticut laws, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (“FMCSA”).
While truckers provide valuable service to society, and strive to follow safety rules, crashes do occur. Common causes of trucking collisions include speeding, failing to see what there is to be seen, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and failing to adjust driving for weather conditions. In fact, Connecticut’s CDL Manual states that: “to be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of accidents.”
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a tractor-trailer collision, do not wait to contact a Waterbury truck accident lawyer. A dedicated injury attorney could help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation to pay for your many losses.
Most Common Truck Accidents
We see many common trucking accidents in Waterbury, including:
- Overrides—a truck slams into a car in front, often because the truck driver is going too fast or is distracted. Occupants suffer catastrophic injuries in these wrecks.
- Underrides—a smaller vehicle can slide under and get pinned beneath a trailer, which sits up high above the ground. Truck drivers often cause these accidents by cutting someone off.
- Rollovers—an imbalanced truck can slide onto its side, landing on top of people and causing catastrophic injuries. Other causes are speeding or trucker overcorrection, leading to a truck crash.
- Head-on collisions—a trucker can end up slamming head on with a car, sometimes because the trucker fell asleep and drove into oncoming traffic. These are often fatal accidents.
- Blown tire accidents—truck tires are under incredible stress, and a truck can crash as soon as one tire blows. Truck drivers should regularly inspect their tires, and trucking companies should replace old or worn-out tires.
- Flying debris—cargo or debris can come flying out of a truck, forcing a motorist to take defensive action and possibly go off the road.
- Jackknifes—a tractor trailer can fold in on itself, with the trailer mowing down other motorists on the road.
- Backing-up accidents—because trucks have large blind spots in the back, a trucker backing up could strike a pedestrian trying to scoot across.
Truck Accident Injuries in Waterbury
Trucks are larger than most vehicles, meaning they can cause devastating damage if they crash into other cars. Tractor-trailers can crush smaller passenger vehicles, leading to severe injuries for the car’s occupants. People involved in these collusions usually suffer catastrophic injuries, including but not limited to:
- Spinal cord damage or brain trauma
- Severely fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
Many truck wreck claimants also experience chronic pain, disfiguring scars, and limitations to physical mobility following a collision. Often, injured people find it hard to deal with these profound life changes and must seek treatment for their emotional trauma.
Because injuries from trucking accidents are so serious, survivors frequently face expensive medical care. An individual’s injuries may also prevent them from returning to work. However, an experienced team of attorneys in Waterbury could help a truck collision plaintiff recover financial compensation for their losses.
What are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Waterbury, Connecticut?
Commercial truck accidents can happen for a wide range of different reasons. Though, most semi-truck accidents share a core commonality: They could have been prevented if proper safety precautions were taken. Here are some of the leading cause of these crashes:
- Speeding: Truck drivers who exceed the speed limits or drive too fast for road conditions pose a significant risk. Speeding reduces a truck driver’s reaction time.
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Truckers engaged in texting, calls, or other activities are putting themselves and other people at serious risk.
- Fatigued Driving: Truck drivers often work extended hours and cover long distances, leading to fatigue. Exhaustion significantly impairs a driver’s ability to drive safely.
- Improper Maintenance: A well-maintained truck is essential for safe travels. Improper maintenance leads to unexpected breakdowns and malfunctions.
- Poorly Loaded Trailers: Overloaded or unevenly distributed cargo affects the stability and control of the truck. Poorly loaded trailers can cause serious wrecks.
All Semi-Truck Accidents in Waterbury Require a Comprehensive Investigation
Involved in a serious tractor trailer crash in Waterbury? It is imperative that your crash is proactively investigated by an experienced attorney. Truck accidents are complicated—and they may be multi-causal. To get justice, you need to know exactly what went wrong and why. Each crash is unique. Your collision requires a careful examination of all factors involved. Do not rely on the trucking company or its insurance company to conduct a proper investigation. A top-tier Waterbury, CT semi-truck accident attorney will protect your rights and your interests.
Understanding the Importance of Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim (Establish Liability)
While there are federal regulations in place to help ensure the safety of commercial trucking, semi-truck accident injury claims are largely governed by state law. It is crucial that tractor trailer accident victims in Waterbury understand how liability operates under Connecticut law. Here are the key things that you should know about truck accident liability in Connecticut:
- Liability for a Semi-Truck Accident is Based on Fault: Connecticut is an at-fault motor vehicle accident state, including for large truck accidents. What implications does this standard have for your claim? To hold a truck driver, trucking company, or any other party legally responsible for your crash, you must prove that they were at fault. In general, this requires presenting comprehensive, compelling evidence proving that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence actions/inactions contributed to the collision.
- Connecticut is a Modified Comparative Fault State: Truck accident claims are complicated. More than one party may share fault for the same crash. Under Connecticut law (C.G.S.A. § 52-572(h)), semi-truck accident injury claims are subject to a modified comparative fault standard. You can still recover compensation even if you were partially at fault for a crash—so long as you were not deemed at fault for the majority (51 percent) of the crash. That being said, but your financial recovery will be reduced by your degree of blame. If you are found to be 30 percent responsible for your own truck accident in Waterbury, you would bear liability for 30 percent of your damage.
Who is Negligent in a Trucking Collision Case?
Cases involving tractor-trailer wrecks are sometimes more complicated than those involving other motor vehicle accidents. In addition to the likelihood of severe injuries, trucking crashes often have more than one legally responsible party.
Truck drivers often make the same mistakes as other motorists. For instance, distracted, reckless, fatigued, and drunk driving often lead to truck accidents. Additionally, truckers frequently feel pressure to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines. As a result, they might push themselves to drive longer than federally mandated, causing them to make reckless decisions and careless mistakes behind the wheel.
Often, commercial vehicle companies are more interested in protecting themselves financially than ensuring people’s safety on the roads. Trucking companies might intentionally or unintentionally hire inexperienced drivers or encourage their truckers to drive for longer than legally allowed. A commercial truck corporation that employs careless drivers or encourages this behavior might also be legally responsible for any accidents or injuries that ensue.
When a loading company fails to safely secure cargo in a tractor-trailer, innocent drivers can get hurt. Poorly secured cargo can leak or spill onto the road, causing other vehicles to slip and crash. Unbalanced loads might also cause a trucker to lose control of their vehicle and overturn.
Trucks require regular inspections and maintenance. If a maintenance company fails to notice and repair any malfunctioning parts, this oversight could have devastating consequences. In the event that an accident occurs because of this negligence, the maintenance company could be held accountable.
If a truck had defective parts, the original manufacturer or the company that supplied the replacement parts could be legally responsible for collisions that occur as a result of these malfunctioning parts.
Third Party Motorists
In some cases, a third party motorist may be legally responsible for a semi-truck accident. For example, another driver may have acted in a negligent manner and caused a semi-truck to run into your vehicle. You have the right to pursue a claim against any negligent third party.
A skilled lawyer in Waterbury could investigate the evidence of a tractor-trailer collision and determine who is responsible for a person’s injuries.
The Most Critical Pieces of Evidence in a Truck Accident Case
Truck accident claims turn on the quality of evidence. Our Waterbury truck accident attorneys know how to find compelling evidence to show how the accident happened and who is ultimately responsible. Allocating liability is critical, because no one has to pay compensation unless they bear some responsibility for the collision.
Some of the most important pieces of evidence for a truck accident case include:
- Driver logs
- Trucker employment records, including disciplinary history
- Any trucker drug tests or physical exams
- The freight manifests
- Black box data
- Pre-trip inspection records
- Maintenance history on the vehicle
The trucking company has much of this evidence in its possession. Unsurprisingly, they might not turn it over easily. You need a Waterbury truck accident attorney to ensure the trucking company doesn’t delete or “lose” it.
Other evidence is found at the accident scene. Truck accident victims can preserve evidence by talking to witnesses and taking photographs of the vehicles involved. This evidence allows insurance companies to “see” how the accident unfolded.
Why Trust Our Firm with Truck Accident Cases?
Our attorneys have investigated and litigated trucking collisions. We have worked with accident reconstruction experts, human factors experts, and truck safety consultants to hammer the trucking company and their driver for all of the harms and losses they have caused our clients.
Victims of trucking accidents must understand that time is of the essence. Trucking companies and their insurance companies move fast to defend themselves. They have protocols in place to defeat you. Specifically, they are known to have attorneys, investigators, and safety experts, ready to be deployed on a moment’s notice. We have seen cases where, for example, defense attorneys and accident reconstructionist experts have been deployed to the accident scene on the day of the collision. This allows the defense to have a first-hand look at the evidence, and quickly formulate a defense.
Compensation for Truck Accidents
A truck accident case should seek compensation for your injuries and other losses. Someone with severe injuries could miss work for months, undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, not to mention needing to replace their car.
Our clients often request compensation for:
- Economic losses like medical bills, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, lost income, lost benefits, and car damage.
- Non-economic losses, such as emotional distress, PTSD, physical pain, sleeplessness, and reduced quality of life.
- Future losses, such as expected future medical bills and loss of earning capacity, as well as future pain and suffering.
Our truck accident lawyers are happy to meet with you to discuss what kind of compensation you might receive in a settlement. We can also discuss what factors might reduce your compensation, such as any contributory negligence. If you were speeding or tailgating, your compensation could get lowered based on your degree of fault. In situations where you are more than 50% responsible for a truck crash, you can receive nothing.
Take These 10 Steps after a Truck Accident
After a Waterbury truck accident, you should do everything possible to begin building a claim. We recommend following these 10 steps:
- Call the police to come to the accident scene and complete a police report.
- Swap your personal information and insurance details with the trucker, if you are not in immediate danger or in too much pain.
- Talk with witnesses. Ask for their name, contact information, and what they saw.
- Use your phone to get pictures of the accident scene. Take photographs from many different angles and distances.
- Go immediately to the hospital after finishing at the accident scene and remember to always follow your doctor’s orders.
- Keep copies of all medical bills and receipts.
- Preserve your most recent paystubs or evidence of self-employment income.
- Call a Waterbury truck accident lawyer at Etemi Law to go over what you should do in the days and weeks following an accident.
- Never give a recorded statement to an insurance company, but instead direct them to talk with your attorney.
- Document your pain and emotional distress by keeping a daily journal where you record how you feel.
Do Not Handle Your Own Truck Accident Insurance Claim
Truck accident cases are unlike other motor vehicle accidents. They are quite different from simple car wrecks involving two passenger sedans that collide in the parking lot. Some of the major differences include:
- More potential defendants. Some of the defendants include the trucking company, truck driver, loading company, mechanic or body shop, truck manufacturer, and others. Our Waterbury truck accident lawyers can comb through the evidence to identify the correct defendants.
- Harder-to-find evidence. The trucking company has electronic data on the truck, as well as other records in their possession. This evidence could prove vital for your case. A truck accident lawyer knows how to gain access to it.
- More severe injuries. Trucks are so heavy that they can lead to catastrophic injuries, often sidelining victims for several months. It’s hard to pull together an insurance claim when you are so badly hurt. Our truck accident attorneys can handle all paperwork and negotiation for you.
- Aggressive defendants. Trucking companies vigorously defend themselves. They have investigators on the payroll who work night and day to help them fight off legal liability. You need a lawyer on your team.
Truck Accident Deadlines
Connecticut law gives truck accident victims only a limited window of time to protect their rights: two years, to be exact. That is the statute of limitations, and the clock usually begins on the day of the crash.
Should you go past this deadline, then the unthinkable will happen: the defendant will ask a judge to dismiss your case, and you will probably not receive any compensation for severe injuries suffered in a truck accident.
Work with a Waterbury Truck Accident Attorney Today
Given the tactics that commercial vehicle companies and their insurance corporations use to combat claims, you should contact a Waterbury truck accident lawyer immediately to commence an investigation. This allows us to investigate the circumstances surrounding the truck crash, obtain and preserve evidence, and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Call today to get started on your case. From our office in Waterbury, we handle semi-truck accident injury claims in New Haven County and throughout the surrounding region in Connecticut.
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