When You Can’t Avoid a Head-On Truck Collision
October 04, 2021
Head-on truck collisions cause some of the most serious – and costly – injuries of all auto accidents. Injury victims have the right to receive compensation for their financial and emotional losses. When a head-on collision causes serious injuries, a victim is entitled to serious compensation. Learn more about why head-on truck collisions are so likely to be fatal, wrongful death claims in truck accident cases, the common causes of truck accidents, and what accident lawyers do to protect their clients’ legal rights after a truck accident.
Why Head-On Truck Collisions Are More Likely To Be Fatal
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety reports that 57 percent of all traffic fatalities reported in a recent year occurred in head-on collisions. The next highest collision type (side impact) was less than half of this total at 23 percent. Whether the vehicle was a car, a pickup truck, or an SUV, head-on collisions were the most fatal type of impact. But why is this?
The basic physics of a car crash dictate how much force the collision will generate. Sideswipe accidents create a “glancing blow” that does not transfer the full force of that vehicle’s momentum. Rear-end accidents generate force from only one vehicle. But when two cars collide head-on, the full momentum of each vehicle is added together, and this creates the maximum possible force in a collision.
Any accident involving a large, heavy truck is also more likely to be fatal. This, too, is because of physics: a heavy vehicle will create more force in a collision than a lighter vehicle. As a result, head-on collisions involving heavy trucks have one of the highest fatality rates of all auto accident types. Surviving family members need to hold negligent truck drivers accountable—especially when their negligence is so severe as to cause the death of an innocent victim.
Wrongful Death Claims In Truck Accident Cases
IIHS data shows that over four thousand people died in truck accidents across the United States in a recent year. Yet again, the most deaths occurred in accidents where the point of impact was head-on. Truck drivers must be accountable for the deaths they cause through negligence. If an accident victim can no longer enforce their own legal rights, it is up to the survivors to provide accountability and deter other truck drivers from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act allows surviving family members (or legal heirs) to file a lawsuit against a negligent individual or company who caused the victim’s death. The Act has specific provisions for who may sue, when they must file the complaint, how claim investigation should happen, what damages claimants may recover, and other critical issues.
Survivors need to work with a truck accident lawyer who has specific experience handling Florida wrongful death cases. These claims involve technical legal issues, and an attorney without experience handling such a claim before might not be ready to protect the survivors’ legal rights.
An experienced lawyer can also better prepare survivors for what to expect in the litigation process. Wrongful death cases can be incredibly difficult on the survivors who file them. They must relive painful memories of their loved one in the cold atmosphere of a courtroom or deposition. The defense attorney might even try to smear the victim’s reputation or blame them for their own death.
These difficult situations can continue for a long time as the case slowly works through the lengthy court process. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can prepare survivors for what to expect in court and work to prepare them from insensitive or disrespectful parties and insurance companies.
The Common Causes of Truck Accidents
There are many reasons why trucks crash. The person who caused the crash is found legally at fault (“liable”), so your attorney will need to investigate your case to determine the cause of the crash and find all potential defendants. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents:
Distracted driving has become a major public health risk in recent years. As cell phones became more and more common, texting and driving started to cause thousands of road deaths every year. The problem has become even worse as more and more features become standard in new vehicles. Now, drivers can be distracted by a navigation program, entertainment options, and calls without ever touching a cell phone. Drivers have a legal obligation to ignore distractions to safely operate their vehicles.
Distracted driving is a surprisingly common problem among truck drivers. Driving a large, commercial vehicle requires more attention and motor control than driving a smaller passenger vehicle. Truck drivers must pay even more attention to potential hazards on the road to maintain control of their vehicles. Still, some truck drivers succumb to the temptation to use their phones after monotonous hours of driving. This can cause serious accidents and injuries – and all too often, death.
It might be hard to believe, but some truck drivers do operate their vehicles while impaired. Regulations prevent commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders from using drugs or alcohol while operating a commercial vehicle, and of course, impaired driving laws still apply to truck drivers. But not every case is quite so clear.
What if a truck driver is taking prescription medication as directed? It might not be possible to file criminal charges against the driver or revoke their CDL. They are still, however, liable for any damages their negligence caused in operating a vehicle while under the influence.
Truck crash victims have the right to file a negligence claim against any truck driver who caused an accident while impaired by alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription medication, medical marijuana, or any other substance. A truck accident attorney can help victims seek the financial recovery they deserve following a head-on truck crash due to impaired driving.
In some cases, negligence occurs before a truck ever gets on the road. Poor maintenance can leave trucks susceptible to obstacles in the road and more likely to crash. For example, tire blowouts are a major problem on eighteen-wheelers and other large trucks. A single blowout can cause the driver to lose control of their heavy load and cause a serious accident. If trucking companies or drivers do not regularly monitor, rotate, and change out tires as needed, this can constitute negligence that causes a truck accident.
Poor maintenance can lead to liability for a truck owner, the driver, or even a maintenance supervisor who negligently performs repairs. Experienced truck accident lawyers know how to investigate maintenance issues to prove all potential causes of a truck accident.
Hours of Service Violations
The federal government sets limits on how many hours a commercial truck driver may operate a vehicle without a rest break. Violations of these rules can not only lead to suspension or revocation of a CDL, but they can also constitute negligence. Until recently, truck drivers only had to log their hours on physical logbooks that they maintained themselves. This meant that some unscrupulous drivers could alter their hours and miles to try to fit in more driving without a required rest break.
The federal government now requires electronic logging devices on commercial trucks. These devices wirelessly transmit information about a driver’s hours and miles to a remote server, where the driver cannot tamper with the information. This ELD rule helps enforce hours of service requirements to improve truck driver safety. Still, some drivers ignore these hours of service regulations. This is negligence. Tired truck drivers who cause accidents are liable for the damage and injuries they cause.
How a Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Legal Rights After a Truck Accident
An injury victim’s legal rights are in jeopardy the moment a truck accident occurs. Other parties and insurance companies can use things you say or do at the accident scene against you. They can twist something as simple as “I didn’t see you!” into an admission of fault on your part to limit their liability. Truck accident lawyers start fighting for their clients’ legal rights as soon as you hire them. Learn more about what a truck accident lawyer does to protect your legal rights before, during, and after filing a personal injury claim.
(1)Injury lawyers protect you from saying things that can hurt your case.
An accident lawyer is not, of course, on the scene of an accident to stop you from saying something that can hurt your case. But the sooner you hire an injury attorney, the sooner he or she can protect you from saying or doing anything that can hurt your claim.
As soon as the insurance company learns that you have counsel, they may no longer contact you directly about your claim. All communications must go through your attorney’s office. Your attorney will advise you what to say – and more importantly, not say – about your case. Your attorney will also advise you what you should not post on social media. Anything you post online can also adversely impact your claim. Insurance companies hire investigators who can uncover posts, photos, tags, and all sorts of other information about your life. You should not post anything about the accident until your case resolves.
(2)An attorney knows who all the potential defendants are.
Any individual or company whose negligence caused your injuries can be a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. It is important to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer who knows how to find all potential defendants and theories of liability in a personal injury case. If not, you might not have access to the compensation you deserve. Injury lawyers also know how to find all applicable insurance policies and prove that their coverage extends to your injuries. This, too, ensures that you have access to the compensation you deserve.
(3)An attorney can fairly advise you whether to accept a settlement offer or take your case to court.
Injury victims must get advice about the value of their claim from their own attorney. The insurance company might try to lowball you, but remember, their job is to pay out as little as possible. You should not believe someone who is actively working against you when they say that your claim isn’t worth very much, or that a jury would not view your case favorably, or that your pain and suffering wasn’t as bad as someone else’s.
Your attorney will give you an independent assessment of what your claim is fairly worth. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, you must decide whether you want to take the risk of going to court. Your attorney will discuss the risks and benefits of litigation with you. Your lawyer can also advise you to take a settlement offer or file a lawsuit, but ultimately, that decision is yours.
(4)An accident lawyer will protect your legal rights at all stages of litigation.
Once your lawyer formally files a lawsuit against the other driver on your behalf, you have different legal rights that need protection. Litigants have the right to request evidence from the opposing attorney. This includes documents, photographs, written questions, and depositions. Litigants also have the right to cooperation from the other party with these requests and associated deadlines. Your lawyer can submit any disputes about evidence to the judge for a decision.
Your lawyer will protect your rights against any attacks from the opposing side throughout this pretrial process. Your lawyer will also continue to work toward a settlement during the discovery process. Often, evidence arises that makes one or both sides decide to settle the case out of court and before trial.
If your case is one of the rare ones that does go to trial, your lawyer will protect your legal rights throughout that process, as well. This starts with jury selection. Your lawyer can also object to questions of witnesses, trial procedure, or even a judge’s evidentiary rulings. And even after the jury reaches a verdict, your attorney can file an appeal if necessary.
“These lawyers are not only very efficient, but caring as well. I would not hesitate to refer them to anyone.”
MATTHEW T. / FORMER CLIENT