Commercial trucks play a vital role in our economy, making sure that stores are supplied with all the goods that we need. Driving a truck requires a great deal of training, skill, and care. Most truck drivers drive their rigs for hours a day, days on end with no incident.
However, on some occasions, truck drivers or trucking companies may get careless or try to cut corners, leading to a truck accident.
Due to the size and speed of commercial trucks, the occupants of other vehicles involved in truck accidents frequently suffer serious, life-altering injuries. When a truck accident is caused by the negligence or recklessness of the trucking industry, the injured victims of a truck accident should not bear the financial responsibility for their injuries and damages.
If you have been involved in a Decatur truck accident that wasn’t your fault, our experienced attorneys want help you pursue the financial compensation you need and deserve. Contact the law firm of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., today to schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Decatur
Some of the most common reasons for a truck accident include:
- Distracted driving, such as when a truck driver is distracted by a cell phone, the radio, navigation systems, or maps.
- Drowsy or fatigued driving. Truck drivers must comply with federal regulations limiting the number of hours they spend behind the wheel. When drivers exceed these hours, often to meet strict delivery deadlines, they can end up feeling drowsy or fatigued while still behind the wheel.
- Following too closely. As trucks require greater distances to slow down and come to a stop, following too closely to vehicles in front creates the risk of a rear-end collision.
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions.
- Unsafe lane changes, such as failing to signal or failing to check mirrors and blind spots.
- Improper turns, including swinging wide before a right turn.
- Failure to yield the right of way.
- Driving under the influence. Truck drivers may sometimes turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with long hours on the road, leading to situations where they get behind the wheel while under the influence.
- Defective trucks or truck parts, which can cause a driver to lose control if the truck or a part prematurely or unexpectedly fails.
- Unsafe loads or overloaded trucks, which can also cause a driver to lose control if an unbalanced or unsecured load shift during travel, or if the truck is loaded beyond its hauling capacity.
Types of Truck Accidents in Decatur
Most truck accidents typically fall into one of six general categories:
- Rear-end collisions, or when a truck collides into the back of another vehicle; usually occurs when a truck follows too closely to the vehicle in front and does not have enough space to safely slow down or stop.
- Head-on collisions, when a truck collides head-on with another vehicle, usually when a truck driver fails to yield the right of way on left turns, makes an unsafe right turn, or travels the wrong way down a road or highway.
- Side-impact collisions, also known as a T-bone collision, when the front of a truck collides into the side of another vehicle.
- Underride collisions, when a vehicle ends up underneath a truck’s trailer, either due to rear-ending the trailer, or when a truck driver makes an unsafe lane change and collides with a vehicle in the next lane.
- Jackknife accidents, which involve the truck and trailer folding into an acute angle like a pocketknife.
- Rollover accidents, which involve the truck and/or trailer rolling off their wheels.
Potentially Liable Parties in Truck Crash Lawsuits
While most motor vehicle accidents involve only the motorists operating the vehicles in the crash, truck crash lawsuits could include many more parties, each of which may share some of the fault for a truck accident.
Examples of parties that may bear potential liability for a truck crash include:
- The truck driver – When a truck driver operates their rig in a negligent or reckless manner, they may be held accountable if it leads to an accident.
- The trucking company – Trucking companies can be subjected to employer liability when they employ negligent drivers or may be held liable for their direct negligence for negligently hiring, training, or supervising drivers (such as by ordering drivers to exceed their hours of service limits or speed).
- The truck’s owner – If different from the truck driver or trucking company when an accident is caused by deferred maintenance on the truck.
- The truck’s manufacturer – When an accident is caused by a defective design or a defectively manufactured truck.
- A truck part manufacturer – When a part in the truck is defectively designed or manufactured and causes an accident when it prematurely fails.
- The truck’s mechanic – If an accident is caused by negligent or improper maintenance of the truck.
- The freight company – When an accident is caused by an improper or unsafe load that was packed by the freight company.
Types of Compensation for a Decatur Truck Accident
After you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Decatur, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have incurred and will incur as a result of the accident and your injuries.
Damages you may be compensated for after your accident include:
- Medical expenses, such as surgeries, physical and occupational therapy, other medical procedures and treatments, prescription medication, mobility, and other medical equipment, or home health care.
- Lost wages or income for the time you miss from work while recovering from injuries
- Lost earning capacity or potential, if your injuries disable you from being able to return to work.
- Pain and suffering and lost enjoyment or quality of life.
- Loss of consortium, which compensates your spouse for the loss of your companionship and society.
- Property damage, including the cost to repair your vehicle or the cash value of your vehicle if it is totaled.
Finally, in some rare cases, if the truck driver or trucking companies acted in a particularly dangerous or reckless manner, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages. These damages don’t compensate you for any loss but instead are intended to punish the at-fault parties for their actions and to deter others from committing similar actions in the future.
Truck Accident Statistics in Alabama
In a single recent year, there were 10,079 accidents across the state of Alabama that involved some type of commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler, delivery truck, or tow truck. These accidents resulted in a total of 2,629 injuries and 121 fatalities, according to a report from the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The top five causes for truck accidents in Alabama include:
- Improper lane change or use (13.4 percent of accidents)
- Failure to yield the right of way (9.2 percent of accidents)
- Failure to observe an object, person, or vehicle (8.8 percent of accidents)
- Tailgating (8 percent of accidents)
- Failure to properly judge stopping distance (5 percent of accidents)
Other common reasons for truck accidents include:
- Defective equipment (4.3 percent of accidents)
- Improper turns (3.3 percent of accidents)
- Driving too fast for conditions (3.1 percent)
Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Although you are not required to have an attorney to make a claim for compensation for injuries and damages you’ve suffered in a truck accident, having an experienced truck accident attorney in your corner could greatly improve your chances at recovering compensation on your claim and can help you maximize the amount of money you do recover.
The trucking companies and their insurers will fight to get you to accept as little money as possible in your legal claim, even if you end up with less money than your medical treatments and lost wages will cost. An experienced truck accident lawyer knows the tricks and tactics that insurance companies and defense lawyers use to avoid liability or paying injured accident victims the full amount of their damages.
A truck accident lawyer can thoroughly investigate the accident to recover the evidence needed to definitively show who was really at fault for the accident. A lawyer will also have the experience to calculate the value of your claim and seek a financial recovery that will provide you with the resources you need to cover your past, ongoing, and future medical costs, lost wages, and lost earning capacity.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in Decatur Today
If you have been hurt in a truck accident in Decatur, you deserve to hold the at-fault parties accountable to compensate you for your injuries and damages. Let our dedicated, experienced truck accident attorneys handle the heavy lifting in your claim and seek the maximum financial recovery you deserve so that you can focus on healing from your injuries and getting back to your normal life.
Contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with a Decatur truck accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and options and to learn more about how having our firm in your corner can improve your chances of getting the best possible outcome in your legal case. Contact us today by phone or online.