Truck Driver Fatigue: Liability & Damages in Crashes
Serious truck accidents can have catastrophic consequences for those involved. Due to the size and weight of large commercial vehicles, a single collision can result in serious injuries or death for people inside cars, on motorcycles, or pedestrians.
Heavy loads being hauled in tractor-trailers create an even more dangerous situation when spilled materials lead to secondary collisions.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have handled hundreds of serious truck accident cases over decades of practicing law. Our legal team understands the best way to protect victims' rights when dealing with large trucks and commercial vehicle collisions on our state's highways.
Contact a truck accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free legal consultation. Our truck accident law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means you don't have to pay us unless we get a favorable settlement or jury award on your behalf.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our Columbus truck accident lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Truck Accident Statistics
As the trucking industry expands, commercial trucking accidents also rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 400,000 large trucks are on the road daily.
Truck crashes average four million accidents annually, with approximately five people killed in each collision.
To make matters worse, about half of these accidents are caused by truck drivers who do not take their prescribed medications, or they drink alcohol while driving. Data reveals:
- 23% of trucking companies hire drivers with driving violations.
- 40% of truck drivers drive with a blood alcohol content of .04 – .08, which is illegal for the average driver.
- 28% of drivers do not take their required rest periods and continue to drive without adequate sleep. Only 1 in 14 truck drivers gets 8 hours of sleep or more daily.
In Ohio, truck accident statistics reveal:
- In 2019, 1,023 crashes involving large trucks in Ohio resulted in 157 fatalities and 794 injuries.
- Most Ohio truck accidents occur on rural roads, although the number of serious accidents on urban roads is increasing.
- Most Ohio truck accidents are caused by driver error, including speeding, following too closely, and improper lane changes.
Large truck accidents can also be caused by faulty equipment, poor road conditions, or bad weather.
Although most truck/motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial vehicles are caused by driver error, this is not always true.
For example, if a truck crash is caused by faulty equipment or poor road conditions, you will need an attorney who understands Ohio's product liability laws and how they apply to your case.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident
Truck accident victims must understand what to do immediately after the collision to ensure their health and the well-being of others.
Firstly, victims of truck/auto accidents should not move their vehicle until the police have determined it is safe. Then, if necessary, they should move their vehicle to a safe place off the road. Secondly, victims should not admit fault to anyone at the scene of an accident – it includes the other driver, the police, the insurance adjuster, and witnesses.
Remember that you may not be aware of all the facts at the time of the truck accident, and it is unfair to decide who was the at-fault party for the truck crash before all of the evidence has been collected.
Finally, victims should seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if they do not believe they are injured. Many injuries – such as whiplash – may not be immediately apparent, and it is essential to have a doctor examine you to ensure you do not have any hidden injuries.
Were you involved in a truck accident? If so, you should contact an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, for a free case evaluation to discuss your rights and options.
Who Is at Fault in a Trucking Accident?
Many people assume truck accidents are the same as accidents involving passenger vehicles because both involve vehicles on the road. It is far from accurate!
Truck accidents often cause more extreme injuries than other crashes due to their size and weight.
The driver of the smaller vehicle is usually at fault in a truck crash because trucks are much larger and heavier than cars, and they take longer to stop.
As a result, if you are hit by a truck, you will likely be injured.
Determining the At-Fault Party
Determining who is responsible for the crash often involves investigating what happened and getting a copy of the police report.
In some incidents, personal injury attorneys hire truck accident reconstruction experts who can re-create the crash through analysis, videos, or computer graphics.
Identifying how the truck crash happened and who initiated the collision with this data is often easier. Often, the analysis shows how traffic laws were broken, leading to the truck accident. Having your accident lawyer and expert witnesses is of the utmost importance when dealing with the insurance adjuster.
At this point, our Columbus truck accident attorneys can pursue compensation on behalf of the truck accident victims against the at-fault party whose negligence led to the truck accident.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Semi-trucks are much larger and heavier than the average passenger vehicle.
As a result, traveling at high speeds can cause tremendous damage, severe injuries, and sometimes even death to other motorists on the road.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the most common injuries in truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: The sudden blunt force trauma to the head can cause a severe traumatic brain injury, leading to permanent disabilities and cognitive impairment. Traumatic brain injuries last a lifetime, significantly altering the victim's life and causing ongoing medical expenses.
- Spinal cord injuries: Any trauma to the back or neck can cause significant damage to the spinal cord. Any deep laceration can separate the neck and the spinal cord and cause significant nerve damage and paralysis, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, and tetraplegia.
- Broken bones: A common injury in any accident, but they are especially prevalent in truck accidents when victims collide with a much larger vehicle. Bones can take a long time to heal, leading to chronic pain, restricted mobility, and permanent disability.
- Severe burns: Exposure to intense heat and fire commonly cause severe burn injuries in high-speed accidents when the victim's skin comes into contact with hot surfaces, such as asphalt or engine parts. Burn injuries are harrowing and take a long time to heal, leading to scarring.
- Cuts and lacerations: Victims of truck accidents frequently collide with the hard surfaces of commercial vehicles, causing broken bones and lacerations. Lacerations may require stitches or staples to close but can also lead to dangerous infections.
- Internal organ damage: Victims of truck accidents may sustain severe blunt force trauma to the internal organs such as the spleen, liver, and kidneys. Severe damage can lead to life-threatening internal bleeding and organ failure.
- Scarring: Most of the above injuries can cause severe scarring, especially if the victim requires surgery to repair the damage. Cuts and lacerations can become infected, requiring antibiotics or even emergency surgery. Burn injuries require lengthy treatments with skin grafts and plastic surgery to restore function and appearance.
- Internal bleeding: The blunt force trauma of a severe impact during a truck/semi-truck accident can cause internal bleeding, reducing blood supply to the brain and other organs. Not treated quickly and effectively can cause organ damage and even death.
- Wrongful death: Surviving family members who lost a loved one in a horrific trucking accident can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages, and loss of consortium.
Trucking accident lawyers understand these injuries are too common in truck accidents and that the recovery process for victims and their families is often long and challenging. Therefore, if you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, please do not hesitate to contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Filing a Truck Accident Insurance Claim
If you are injured in a truck/semi-truck accident, you must get legal help as soon as possible.
The laws surrounding these trucking accidents involving commercial trucks are complex, and an experienced truck accident attorney can help you get the fair compensation you deserve.
An attorney working on your behalf will use various means to pursue compensation through a claim, including:
- Obtain the accident report filed by the Ohio State Highway Patrol or local law enforcement that arrived at the accident scene identifying all parties involved. The police report will be beneficial in your truck accident claim.
- Review the victim's medical records to identify the extent of injuries, the length of time for healing, and the need for ongoing rehabilitation and therapy.
- Gather evidence from the accident scene, including photographs of tire skid marks and property damage.
- Gather evidence from eyewitnesses to help determine how the accident involving a commercial truck happened.
- Consideration of any traffic cams or video surveillance footage that might have recorded the crash that might reveal distracted driving.
- Consulting with accident reconstruction expert witnesses.
You can see that a lot of work goes into successfully filing a semi-truck/auto insurance claim.
Are you the victim of a large commercial vehicle due to the negligence or recklessness of commercial drivers? Was the other driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
Our team of Columbus truck accident lawyers specializing in semi-truck accidents will represent your interests against big insurance companies whose priority is their bottom line (profits) rather than justice for victims like yourself. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What Are Third-Party Claims?
Determining who caused the tractor-trailer/motor vehicle accident is often a clear-cut decision where the evidence proves that the truck driver or other motorists were negligent in the moments before the collision. The police report is usually an excellent start to determine who was the responsible party.
However, other parties may be at fault or partially responsible for causing the crash over and above the negligent driver.
When the Trucking Company Is at Fault
In some incidents, the trucking company failed to provide sufficient training to their employee (the truck driver).
A truck driver is subject to hours of service requirements. The driver typically needs a valid CDL (commercial driver's license). The driver must undergo training and pass a biannual physical exam with vision, hearing, and communication requirements. Some rules apply to pre-trip inspections and securing cargo.
Trucking companies must ensure that the driver has all the requirements above.
Other times, trucking companies are at fault because of the following:
- Inadequate hiring processes where inexperienced drivers or those with bad driving records are employed and given the responsibility of operating semi-trucks
- A failure to ensure that the driver can drive the vehicle safely and within the proper guidelines of the industry
- A failure to ensure that their vehicles are properly maintained and safe for operation on public roadways, especially when transporting hazardous materials
In these instances, a truck accident claim can be filed against the trucking company for personal injury and property damage.
When the Truck Manufacturer Is Responsible
Sometimes, truck makers design, manufacture, and sell commercial trucks with defective components and parts.
The truck manufacturer may be liable under strict liability laws for selling defective equipment in these cases.
In Ohio, strict liability is a product liability cause of action based on negligence. However, it is an exception to the general rule requiring proof of fault or negligence in Ohio products liability claims.
Typically, strict liability (liability without fault) applies to cases where the defendant makes and sells a defective and unreasonably dangerous product.
Their manufacturer would be liable in a truck accident case in these circumstances.
When Other Motorists Are at Fault
In multi-vehicle collisions, one or more motorists are also legally responsible for causing the crash.
In these cases, a personal injury attorney working on behalf of the victim will likely hire an accident reconstruction expert to accurately determine what happened and who is responsible for all damages.
There may be other insurance companies involved in the case other than the truck driver's insurance company in these cases.
These accidents sometimes have multiple parties filing claims and lawsuits based on which party caused what and who initiated the chain reaction.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
Typically, third-party claims are filed over and above the initial truck accident case involving a truck driver or trucking company. These accidents are often highly complex and require the skills of an experienced Columbus truck accident attorney.
Usually, the time to file a third-party claim is the same as any other truck accident case or lawsuit. However, in Ohio, the statute of limitations restricts that time to two years from the accident date.
If you are considering filing a third-party claim against other trucking companies and truck drivers, you must speak with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
So often, evidence disappears, and memories fade over time. Speaking with an attorney will help you understand your rights and ensure that you can protect them in court. They will be with you throughout the process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your damages.
Truck Accident Cases and Workers Compensation
Sometimes, truck drivers involved in collisions are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits through the truck driver's employer (trucking company).
In these cases, the workers' compensation insurance will likely become involved in the personal injury lawsuit.
In many instances, the workers' compensation carrier may take responsibility for the full extent of the damages.
In other cases, they may protect their interest by offering the injured party a 'settlement' amount to avoid going to trial.
If the semi-truck driver was working as an independent contractor at the time of the collision, there might be additional legal remedies for financial compensation to recover their damages.
A competent Columbus truck accident lawyer can assist the negligent truck driver in ensuring they receive the maximum compensation available under the law.
A third-party claim involving the driver or trucking company may be filed in these cases.
Therefore, you must speak with our experienced truck accident lawyers for assistance if you consider filing a third-party claim against the truck driver or company.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits: When Surviving Family Members Can Seek Compensation
Surviving family members who lost a loved one in a catastrophic trucking accident have legal remedies to secure compensation.
Qualifying family members usually include the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.
Under Ohio civil tort law, family members can file a claim within the statute of limitations that usually restricts that time to two years from the date of death.
To prove a wrongful death claim, family members must typically show that the loved one who died would have been entitled to a lawsuit for severe injuries and damages if they were still alive.
In many cases, the survivors have the burden of proof and must undertake the initial effort of investigating and determining liability for truck/car accidents. Again, an experienced Columbus truck accident attorney can often help.
When There Is No Will Executor
If the decedent passes on before making a will or naming an executor, the Court system typically steps in.
The judge handling the decedent's estate will appoint an administrator to manage the estate and seek financial compensation on behalf of the family.
A wrongful death lawsuit provides a powerful legal tool for the loved ones of those killed in a semi-truck/car accident.
With the help of an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer, these family members can seek the financial compensation they need, including
- Payment for past hospital costs and medical bills
- Funeral and burial bills
- Lost wages and future lost earnings
- The decedent's pain and suffering before passing
- The family's pain, suffering, grief, emotional distress, and mental anxiety over losing a loved one
Wrongful death lawsuits have an enormous impact on the lives of surviving family members. If you have lost a loved one in a Columbus truck accident, you must speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Columbus, OH, Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Under civil tort law within Ohio, most truck accident lawsuits typically settle within one to two years. Settlements usually take less than six months.
However, the truck accident case can go on much longer if both parties cannot agree on a settlement. If the case goes to trial, it can last a few days or weeks.
The court will order each party to exchange information, known as "discovery," before the trial.
Discovery can include having each party answer written questions under oath, called interrogatories, and request any relevant documents, such as medical records or requests for the production of documents.
After discovery is complete, each party may file motions with the court. Motions are requests for the court to rule on a specific issue in the case.
For example, a party may file a motion to dismiss the case, asking the court to end the lawsuit without a trial.
Another motion might request that the other party produce additional documents or ask the opposing party to be deposed or questioned under oath.
When Going to Trial Is the Only Option
The case will go to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement. The parties present their evidence and witness testimony before a jury at trial.
The jury will decide the outcome of the case based on the evidence presented.
Dealing With the Insurance Claims Process in Ohio
Under Ohio civil tort law, the insurance claims process could be clear-cut. Typically, the insurance business will assign an adjuster to the case who will work with the truck driver's insurance company to try and reach a settlement.
However, if the insurance company and the injured party cannot agree on the claim's value, a lawsuit may be filed in court seeking damages.
There may be instances where a defendant and the plaintiff agree to settle out of court. These settlements usually involve payment from one party to the other, but they do not always require exchanging money.
A settlement could also involve some service being performed for the other party.
How Long Will the Claims Process Take?
The time it takes to complete an insurance claims process varies depending on several factors. For example, settlements could take as little as a few weeks or several months.
However, a lawsuit can last for years, though most are settled out of court.
What Kind of Damages Are Available in Truck Accidents?
A few additional damages may be available in a truck/commercial vehicle accident. These include compensatory damages, punitive damages, and emotional distress damages.
- Compensatory damages: A successful personal injury claim can result in a claimant recovering compensation for financial and non-financial losses.
- Punitive damages: It is an additional sum of money that, in some cases, might be awarded to punish the defendant.
- Emotional distress damages: When a person's emotional health has been damaged due to an accident, recovering compensation might be possible.
Paying Doctors for Your Health and Recovery
From the moment after the serious accident, you likely needed extensive medical attention at the emergency room, urgent center, or doctor's office.
Unfortunately, paying the doctors upfront or turning in claims to your health insurance company can take time and often be denied or payment delayed.
Our Legal Team Ensures You Receive the Help You Need
Our Columbus truck accident lawyers are concerned about our client's health and returning to everyday life as quickly as possible. Our law firm handles truck accident cases, ensuring that victims and their families can access the best healthcare available without paying any upfront costs.
As a part of a personal injury lawsuit, we ensure that our clients can see any doctor needed for care, with billing set up and paid by insurance companies when the case is resolved.
For example, we represented a driver rear-ended by a truck in one case. The force of the impact sent her car into a telephone pole, resulting in a broken neck.
Even though she had health insurance, the bills were piling up, and her insurance company denied payment for some of the care she needed to recover. Our legal team helped the family deal with the company and ensured she had the care she needed.
Forcing Insurance Companies to Pay
Our semi-truck accident attorneys took immediate action and turned her truck accident case over to our injury lawyers, who got the insurance company to pay the costs of her care and get her bills cleared up.
By doing this, a Columbus, OH, truck accident lawyer from our law firm was able to get our client back on track and not have to worry about the financial stress that was delaying her health and recovery.
Setting Up Financial Help with Our Client's Doctors
In another case, where a truck accident victim had been in a coma for weeks, our attorneys worked with our client's doctors to ensure they were paid when the case was resolved. Again, this agreement was written by attorneys and agreed to by the doctors.
Our law firm also handles workers' compensation for workplace injuries, including being in an accident when driving a company truck or car.
Our legal team ensures that the injured employee receives fair compensation to the workers, program, and additional third-party claims against the truck driver, another motorist, the vehicle manufacturer, and others.
Truck Accident Lawyer Columbus, Ohio FAQs
Our truck accident lawyers understand that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with insurance companies after being involved in commercial vehicle accidents. A personal injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.
Call our national trial lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call), use the contact form for additional information, or schedule a free consultation.
Should I get a lawyer after a truck accident in Columbus, Ohio?
After any truck accident in Columbus, Ohio, it is important to seek legal advice. An experienced lawyer can help you assess your options and advise you on the best legal action.
A knowledgeable attorney can also review all paperwork related to the crash, such as police reports, medical bills, and insurance claims to ensure that you are fully compensated for any damages.
If necessary, an attorney can also represent you in court for personal injury claims or other legal matters presenting evidence from trucking industry experts.
How does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulate trucking companies?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates trucking companies in the United States. The FMCSA establishes safety and operational standards for truckers, equipment, and companies to ensure that all vehicles and cargo hauled on public highways are safe.
The FMCSA also sets regulations on driver fatigue, vehicle inspection, hours of service, drug testing, and much more to ensure truckers follow proper safety procedures.
Additionally, the FMCSA has a website with resources for commercial truckers and the general public to help understand the rules and regulations regarding trucking in America.
What is a good settlement offer for a large truck accident with injuries?
The amount of a good settlement offer in a large truck accident with injuries will depend on several factors.
These factors include the type and severity of the injuries sustained, any other medical treatments required, the amount of property damage caused, who was at fault for the accident, and any applicable insurance policies.
In addition to these considerations, other factors such as legal fees, court costs, and lost income may also affect your settlement offer. An experienced lawyer can review all aspects of your case and help you determine an appropriate and fair settlement offer that considers all possible damages.
How do I maximize my insurance settlement?
If you are seeking a maximum insurance settlement, there are several steps you can take to accomplish this goal.
First, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the legal aspects of your case and can provide sound advice on maximizing your settlement.
Additionally, document as much information about the accident as possible, including pictures or video footage, police reports, and witness statements.
Ensure that all medical treatment is properly documented and that you submit receipts for related expenses such as medication or rental vehicles. Finally, be aware of any legal deadlines in your area and never accept the first offer from the insurance company without consulting with an attorney.
How common are tractor-trailer accidents in Ohio?
Truck accidents are, unfortunately, a common occurrence in Ohio. According to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, truck accidents across the state increased by 4.2% from 2020 to 2021, and fatalities caused by these collisions rose by an alarming 10%.
In addition, truck safety data show that more than 21,000 commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes occurred in Ohio during 2021 alone. To protect yourself from truck driver negligence, it is important to be aware of tractor-trailers on the roads and to drive safely around them at all times.
How much do Columbus truck accident attorneys charge to resolve a compensation claim?
The amount a Columbus truck accident lawyer will charge to resolve a compensation claim depends on the complexity of the case and the amount of work required.
Typically, attorneys offer “contingency fee arrangements,” which means they do not collect any money upfront but take a percentage of whatever settlement is reached when the case is successfully resolved. This arrangement allows accident victims to hire an attorney without paying out-of-pocket costs in advance.
Fees can range anywhere from 25% to 50%, depending on the attorney's experience and reputation. It is important to discuss these fees with an attorney before making a decision about representation.
Hiring Ohio Truck Accident Lawyers to Resolve Compensation Claims
Were you the victim of a severe truck wreck, or did you lose a loved one through driver negligence?
The Columbus truck accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can ensure that your family can recover compensation for all your damages.
Call our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal representation or schedule a free legal consultation.
Then, let us deal directly with the insurer to resolve your truck accident claim and receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages on your behalf.
Our law firm accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement.
This agreement ensures you pay nothing until your truck accident lawyer resolves your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.