Accident With a Large Truck or 18-wheeler? We Can Help.
Every motor vehicle accident has the potential to take a devastating toll physically, emotionally, and financially. Accidents uproot the lives of not only the victims involved but also their families. You are now faced with the reality of paying for stacks of medical bills, lost wages, and life-changing injuries that leave the victims forever changed.
Trucking accidents can be especially costly not only in dollars but also the loss of independence, ability to work, and in severe cases, lives. The severity of a motor vehicle accident can be multiplied when a truck or 18-wheeler is involved due to the size and weight of these vehicles.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it’s important to know that you don’t have to face this difficult time alone. You have rights, and the Oklahoma City trucking accident lawyers are here to help you fight for the financial compensation you need.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle-related accidents claimed the lives of 36,096 people in 2019. Losing a loved one in a truck accident is devastating, and while you can’t bring a loved one back, you can take action to hold the negligent party responsible and recover financial compensation to help pay for medical bills and other expenses related to the accident. At the Abel Law Firm, our Oklahoma City injury lawyers are here to help you take legal action against truck drivers and trucking companies for their irresponsible actions. Contact us today at (405) 239-7046 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Why You Need a Trucking Accident Lawyer?
Many truck accident victims aren’t sure why they need a personal injury lawyer to help them recover damages. While it’s true that you can work directly with the trucking company’s insurance company, it’s important to understand that they are not on your side and do not have your best interest in mind. Insurance companies are for-profit companies and want to pay as little money as possible following an accident. On the other hand, the Oklahoma City trucking accident lawyers of the Abel Law Firm have your best interest in mind and will fight for you to make sure you recover the financial compensation you need.
Why Choose Us?
The aftermath of a trucking accident can be a whirlwind. With seeking medical treatment, dealing with insurance companies, and figuring out how to piece your life back together, you need someone by your side every step of the way to get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Our team of professional OKC trucking accident lawyers have a combined 130 years of experience and offer proven legal advice to handle every step of your case and get you the financial results you deserve. We take the time to get to know our clients and won’t rest until you get the results you need, even if that means taking your case to court. Contact the Abel Law Firm today and take control of your future.
What You Should Do If You Sustain Injuries In A Truck Accident
Your actions in the immediate aftermath of a crash and even weeks or months later could have a significant impact on your case. There are steps you should take to protect your rights and ensure you can recover from your injuries, as well as things you should never do during the legal process.
Abel Law Firm knows what insurance companies look for while reviewing claims and how defense attorneys will defend their clients after a truck accident. We’re familiar with state laws and the tactics we can use to recover the maximum financial compensation possible. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guideline of the Do’s and Don’ts after a trucking accident, so you don’t make a mistake that causes you to walk away without any money.
Do seek medical treatment. Some injuries aren’t immediately apparent. You might think you were able to walk away from the crash with minor cuts and bruises. However, a concussion could cause brain swelling, something you can’t see. Without proper medical intervention, the results could be fatal.
Go to a hospital immediately after leaving the accident scene so a doctor can evaluate your injuries. If they refer you to follow up with another doctor, follow their orders. You should continue attending your doctor’s appointments until you recover or your medical providers determine you have reached maximum medical improvement. That means your condition likely won’t improve any further with additional medical care.
Don’t make a habit of skipping doctor’s appointments or making your own decision about the treatment you need. If you stop treatment before you heal, you will likely end up with much less compensation than you need. You might eagerly accept an insurance settlement for your expenses only to find out you require further physical therapy or surgery. Since your claim is already closed out, you won’t be able to pursue more money from the insurance company to pay for your other medical bills.
Do hire a lawyer. Accident victims will choose not to seek legal representation because they assume they can handle their case alone. That could harm your case. Abel Law Firm has seen many people suffer due to the unfair practices of insurance companies. If you don’t know your rights, you might be tempted to accept whatever lowball offer they give you. Or, you could run into a roadblock that you don’t know how to overcome. Our Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys can take on the responsibility of your case and handle every single step so you receive the money you’re owed.
Don’t talk to the truck driver’s insurance company. They might call to ask questions about the accident. Despite believing it’s an innocent conversation about the facts of your case, the insurance adjuster is likely looking for reasons to deny your claim. If you say the wrong thing, such as admitting partial blame for the crash, they could reduce their view of your case’s monetary value. We will handle all communication with them on your behalf to ensure you receive full and fair compensation.
Do maintain thorough records. You should keep a copy of every document related to the case. Medical bills, prescriptions, out-of-pocket expenses, and medical records are crucial evidence. You’ll need it to prove the injuries you sustained in the accident. Abel Law Firm can also request adequate evidence during our investigation to determine the value of your case and show another party was responsible for the crash.
Don’t post any details of your case online. Insurance companies and the attorneys defending the truck driver can view your public social media accounts to find compelling evidence that proves you lied about the severity of the injury or didn’t get hurt at all. If you post a picture on Facebook showing that you participated in a recreational sporting event, it will be apparent that you didn’t actually break your leg.
Abel Law Firm Can Investigate Your Case to Determine the Compensation You Deserve
Our Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys have the resources to thoroughly investigate this type of case and find a way to prove another person’s negligence led to your injuries. We can visit the accident scene to look for evidence left behind. If a police officer investigated immediately after the crash, we could review their report to determine who they believe was at fault.
We will also need to obtain specific evidence to build a strong case. Some of the evidence we might need includes:
- Video surveillance footage
- Eyewitness statements
- The truck driver’s driving history, qualifications, and licensing
- Copy of the policy report
- Copies of your medical records and medical bills
- Accident scene photos
- Repair estimates of the damage to all vehicles involved
- The trucking company’s maintenance and inspection logs, repair records, and hiring practices
- Copies of all available insurance policies to determine the amount of coverage we could pursue
We’ll perform our investigation while you’re treating your injuries. Make sure you update us on your treatment progress and send us a list of all your doctors, facilities, and treatment dates. We can request updated copies of your medical records throughout your case to ensure we submit documents showing your full recovery progress.
Compensation You Could Pursue from the Truck Driver or Trucking Company
The amount of money you’re entitled to after a truck accident will depend on various factors. Every client’s case is unique. Some people only suffer minor injuries, resulting in a low settlement amount. Others sustain life-threatening injuries, requiring significant financial compensation to afford all necessary medical treatment.
We can review the facts of your case to determine the monetary value so you can cover your total past and future losses.
These losses could include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium (for the losses suffered by a spouse)
We know you need compensation to pay your medical bills and other associated costs so you don’t face economic hardships while recovering from your injuries. Many of our clients can’t afford upfront payment for their treatment or live off a reduced income when they’re unable to work.
We will review the circumstances of your case to determine the full and fair compensation you need and deserve to cover your losses. Some contributing factors might include:
- The severity of your injury
- Disability, impairment, or disfigurement resulting from the injury
- Amount of coverage from the available insurance policies
- Time spent away from your job for doctor’s appointments and other reasons related to your case
- Duration of your recovery
- Total expenses you incurred from the accident
- Cost to repair your vehicle
- Effect of the accident on your daily life, routine, and family
- The estimated cost of medical treatment required in the future for chronic pain, permanent injury, or other issues related to the crash
Some accident victims end up with debilitating injuries, leaving them unable to work or care for their children. When that happens, you should receive a monetary award that fully compensates for the suffering you’re likely to endure in the future and the bills you’ll receive from ongoing medical care.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
It is the truck driver and trucking company’s responsibility to operate the vehicles safely, provide proper training, and provide routine maintenance to their trucks to keep innocent people from harm. When drivers behave recklessly or are drowsy behind the wheel, the results can be catastrophic physically, emotionally, and financially.
When you are injured in an accident with a truck or 18-wheeler or another commercial vehicle, you not only have to deal with medical bills and potentially rehabilitation costs, but also insurance companies, representatives from the trucking company, and even their lawyers. Dealing with all of this while trying to recover from your injuries should not be your responsibility. This is where the Oklahoma City trucking accident lawyers shine. We’ve made it our mission and purpose to fight for those who feel helpless and alone following a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to handle the following types of cases:
- Drunk driving – While non-commercial drivers cannot exceed a .08% blood alcohol concentration while operating a motor vehicle, truck drivers face much stricter laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes that a truck driver operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .04% is driving under the influence.
- Distracted driving – Manual, visual, and cognitive distractions prevent an adequate response time to an emergency, noticing road hazards, or operating a vehicle safely. If a truck driver becomes distracted by their cell phone, they likely won’t be able to avoid a crash if another driver cuts them off or stops suddenly in front of them.
- Hiring or training failures – Trucking companies must perform background checks on prospective employees. The background check should include their driving history, employment history, prior accidents, alcohol and drug use, and criminal offenses. Failing to confirm someone’s experience and qualifications could place a dangerous driver on the road.
- Truck defect/malfunction – Commercial trucks have many parts and systems that must function properly. Common defective parts that can lead to an accident are brakes, engine, transmission, tires, and steering system.
- Trucking company negligence – Federal laws require trucking companies to meet specific safety and operational standards. Violating a regulation, such as failing to repair damage to a truck, could result in a malfunction, causing the driver to lose control and crash.
- Truck driver error/negligence – Operating a large truck takes great skill and experience. They’re much larger and heavier than a passenger car and contain cargo on the back. An error or negligent action could put the driver on a collision course with another vehicle.
- No-zone truck accidents – Just like small cars and trucks, commercial trucks have blind spots. However, they’re significantly larger. Truck drivers must thoroughly check for other vehicles before changing lanes, merging, or turning to avoid an accident.
- Truck Rollover Accidents – A high center of gravity makes it easier for trucks to roll over in a collision. Crashing into a pothole, car, or stationary object could lift the tires off the ground, tilting the whole vehicle onto its side.
- Jackknife Accidents – A truck jackknifes when the front cab and back trailer fold towards each other at a 90-degree angle. A small car could become pinned between the truck’s sections or end up underneath as the trailer swings towards the cab.
- Overloaded Vehicle/Vehicle Debris Accident – Improperly loaded cargo could shift during transport, throwing the entire vehicle off-balance. The trucker won’t be able to maneuver safely and could lose control of the truck.
- Underride Accident – Cars end up underneath a truck during an underride accident, typically leading to life-threatening injuries and fatalities.
Any of the above scenarios can cause serious, life-altering injuries or in extreme cases, even death. The sheer mass of commercial vehicles and 18-wheelers makes even low-speed accidents costly in terms of damage to your vehicle and also injuries to everyone involved. While the average vehicle weighs 2.5 tons, a large truck can weigh close to 40 tons. You need an experienced and tough attorney on your side to take action and stand up for you against the trucking company and their attorneys. At Abel Law Firm, we treat every case like it’s our only case and won’t rest until you get the compensation you need to avoid financial ruin.
Understanding Vehicle Weight and Stopping Distance
A common cause of truck accidents is the driver failing to understand the vehicle’s weight and how it affects stopping distance. The average 18-wheeler or semi-truck weighs an estimated 16 times more than an average motor vehicle. Because of this weight, it takes much longer for an 18-wheeler to slow down and come to a stop. Knowing this and staying an appropriate distance behind other motor vehicles can make all the difference no matter how fast you travel.
Injuries Often Associated With Accidents Involving Large Trucks
Large trucks carrying cargo can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. The occupants of a smaller car typically suffer more severe injuries than the truck driver during a collision. Truck accidents, especially those occurring at high rates of speed, can have devastating results.
You probably have a long road to recovery ahead of you. Although some people are lucky enough to walk away with minor scrapes and bruises, others suffer debilitating injuries requiring months of physical therapy. Truck accidents can cause chronic pain, psychological damage, and permanent disability.
The most common injuries sustained in truck accidents are:
- Soft tissue damage, such as a pulled muscle or torn ligament
- Broken or fractured bones
- Loss of limb
- Traumatic brain injury
- Crush injuries
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Mental and emotional trauma
Life-threatening injuries can require surgery followed by extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy. Medical care is expensive, putting many accident victims into significant debt. You should not be responsible for these expenses when someone else was at fault for the crash. At Abel Law Firm, we fight hard to get our clients the maximum money they need to compensate for the losses they suffered.
Abel Law Firm Legal Fees and Costs
Our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers don’t want you to face additional financial hardships while pursuing a legal case. We take all cases on a contingency fee basis. That means there won’t be any upfront fees or costs to receive dependable legal representation. We don’t expect payment of our legal fees unless we recover compensation for our clients. If we lose, you will never owe us any money for our services.
Laws You Should Know About If You’re Pursuing A Truck Accident Case
Trucking companies have a legal requirement to purchase liability insurance for their drivers. Coverage limits should adequately compensate for an accident victim’s injuries and resulting costs. These limits depend on the weight of the truck and cargo being transported. They are:
- $300,000 for non-hazardous materials carried on a vehicle weighing under 10,001 pounds
- $750,000 for a truck over 10,000 pounds and transporting non-hazardous cargo
- $1 million for commercial vehicles containing oil or hazardous materials
- $5 million for trucks carrying other hazardous freight
You could file a claim with the liability insurance company for a settlement covering the total losses you suffered. Trucking company minimum insurance requirements are significantly higher than the auto insurance required for the drivers of passenger cars. That’s because commercial trucks tend to cause more severe injuries and property damage when they collide with small vehicles than two small cars in an accident.
You could file a lawsuit against the truck driver or their employer after an accident. You must comply with a strict deadline known as a statute of limitations. This is the timeframe for suing someone for compensation in a personal injury case. Oklahoma law requires following a two-year statute of limitations. You would only have two years from the accident date to file suit; otherwise, you’ll lose your right to seek legal action in this matter.
Frequently Asked Questions
The majority of individuals have either never been in a serious trucking accident before or have never gone through the process of filing a personal injury claim. At the Abel Law Firm, this is our passion and our life and we are here to help you through every step of the process and answer every question you might have about your rights, the legal process, and trucking accidents.
An accident with an 18-wheeler or another commercial vehicle can be absolutely devastating to every part of your life. Often, these cases can be more complicated than normal car accident cases because they deal with other parties who are either fully responsible or partially responsible for the crash due to a defect or malfunction. Because of this, the cases are nuanced, extremely detailed, and require a heavy amount of research and investigation. If you have a question about your case, don’t hesitate to call us. Below are some answers to a few questions you frequently hear.
What are the Statistics involving 18 wheeler crashes?
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel by 2030 road accidents are expected to become the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, meaning that the current number of 37,000 people that die in road crashed each year is only expected to increase. This equates to about an accident every 13 minutes in the U.S.
However, what’s even more troubling is that fact that of the near 6.3 million auto accidents involving injury or property damage occur every year, and of these, 500,000 involve an 18-wheeler. In 2017 a total of 4,102 people died in crashes involving a large truck or 18-wheeler. 68 percent of these deaths were the occupants of cars and of the remaining deaths, not including those of the 18-wheeler operators, 14 percent were motorcyclists, bikers, and even pedestrians. This may already seem like quite a high percentage, but between 2009 and 2017 this number has already risen nearly 30 percent. Deaths related to these collisions comprised about 11 percent of the total motor vehicle crash deaths in 2017.
Yet, in the event of a two-vehicle collision the passenger fatality rate rises dramatically to a frightening 97 percent, meaning that of the 2,157 deaths that occurred in these two vehicle collisions, 2,227 of them were the occupants of the smaller vehicle. It is quite clear that the proportion of these deaths is directly related to the fact that 18-wheelers tend to be significantly larger than any other vehicle on the road, as 66 percent of large truck occupants killed in multiple-vehicle crashes in 2017 occurred in collisions that involved another large truck. These collisions involving multiple vehicles can prove just as deadly seeing that 12 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths and 22 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes in 2017 occurred in crashes with large trucks.
When and where are these crashes most likely to occur?
According to the same study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a majority of these 18-wheeler accidents occur on major roads like highways. In total, 52 percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2017 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 32 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, and 15 percent occurred on minor roads.
In regards to the time of day that these accidents are most likely to occur, the data found that 18-wheeler accidents most often happen during the day as opposed to the evening, and have a larger rate of occurrence than those not involving large 18-wheelers. A total of 49 percent of large truck crash deaths in 2017 occurred from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. compared with 30 percent of crash deaths only involving small vehicles exemplifying this fact. It was also determined that the most likely day these 18-wheeler accidents occur is over the weekend, with 16 percent of large truck crash deaths in 2017 occurring on Saturday and Sunday, compared with 35 percent of crash deaths not involving large trucks.
Another key cause of the alarming fatality rate associated with 18-wheeler collisions is the higher than average role over rate associated with them. 48 percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2017 occurred in crashes in which their vehicles rolled over. This was slightly higher than the percentage of SUV related deaths and pick up related deaths that occurred in rollover crashes and much higher than the percentage of occupant deaths in cars (22 percent) involving rollovers.
Trucking accidents often occur in various manors and positions. Thirty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck in 2017 were in vehicles struck head-on by the truck and another 25 percent were in vehicles that were side-struck. Twenty-two percent involved the front of the passenger vehicle striking the rear of the large truck.
Furthermore, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety reports that the total number of 18-wheeler truck accidents averages around 5,000 a year. Each year nearly 100 people die from these 18-wheeler accidents. Moreover, nearly 1,200 of these accidents result in some form of personal injury, 200 of which were debilitating. Like the rest of the country, within Oklahoma, a majority of these 18-wheeler accidents occurred on major roadways. However, unlike the rest of the U.S., most of these accidents normally occur during the work week.
If you have any questions about these statistics be sure to reach out with one of our talented personal injury attorneys who are available at any time via our live chat.
For many people involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle or 18-wheeler, they simply don’t know their rights and that they have legal options to pursue financial compensation to pay for medical bills and other financial hardships. We are committed to helping you get the assistance you deserve and hold negligent drivers and trucking companies liable. To learn more about how we can help you, contact the Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys at the Abel Law Firm today at (405) 239-7046 and take control of your future.