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September 13, 2023

Auto Accident with an 18-Wheeler: What to Do

by Evan Breaux | Auto Accidents | 0 comments

Our nation’s economy continues to grow, with more large and small businesses and global commerce at our fingertips. With the advent of technology, more commercial and delivery vehicles are on the road to meet consumer demand.

So, what does that mean for you?

Well, with more vehicles on the road, shorter deadlines, longer work hours, and overworked drivers, that may mean more accidents involving big rigs or other commercial vehicles on the road. If you do get into an accident with 18-Wheeler or Commercial Vehicle, you’ll want to understand what steps to take and what laws are on your side.

First, it’s important to know what commercial vehicles are, because establishing the type of vehicle you’ve been in an accident with will determine insurance coverage and payout.

What is a Commercial Vehicle?

Commercial vehicles are not only trucks but can include vehicles such as vans, buses, and smaller trucks. A commercial vehicle, according to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety Office of Motor Vehicles, is one that is used on public highways for business use, with the exclusion of vehicles used for religious purposes. Along with this clear definition are specifications on weight limit, material transportation, and how many passengers can be present in a commercial vehicle.

Common Causes of Trucking and Commercial Accidents

When an 18-wheeler is loaded to capacity, it can weigh in the tens of thousands of pounds. Due to size and weight alone, an accident can be catastrophic. It is extremely vital to pay attention to the common causes of trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, which include:

  • Negligent driving by the driver of the truck or commercial vehicle, including driver fatigue, error, and drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Vehicle negligence, including malfunction of the vehicle
  • Inability to follow commercial trucking rules, such as speeding
  • Insecure connections or improperly loaded material

Other accidents occur when driving conditions are hazardous or difficult, which include:

  • Jackknifing is when a big rig’s trailer spins out from behind the cab and forms a 90-degree angle, and which is often caused by a truck driver breaking too hard
  • Wide turns
  • Tire blowouts can cause severe damage to other cars, especially if rubber shoots out from under the truck and into cars traveling behind it
  • Hazardous road conditions such as ice or sleet, cause a truck driver to lose control of the trailer, especially if speeding
  • Blind spots, which occur when a truck is changing lanes or backing out of a spot, and are one of the most common causes of trucking and commercial vehicle accidents


4 Things to Do When in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of being injured in a trucking or commercial vehicle accident, it’s important to hire legal representation. Lawyers are prepared to act as quickly and as thoroughly as possible to ensure their client receives what is due to them in terms of payout. But first, you’ll want to go through the following checklist to ensure you can provide all the necessary information you may need to secure a lawyer’s help:

  1. If you’ve been in an accident with a big rig or commercial vehicle, there will probably be a significant amount of damage to your vehicle and/or property. Or worse, you may have sustained injuries. Calling the police and filing a report is the first step in documenting the incident. In fact, according to the law in Louisiana, damages in excess of $100 require a police report.
  2. Next, assessing the extent of the damage and establishing how the accident occurred can help in seeking out fault. If the accident does not appear to be a driver error, it could still be from the negligence of the vehicle, which is the company’s responsibility.
  3. Begin to gather all evidence of not only the accident, but the aftermath, especially if a serious injury has occurred. What that means is gathering medical bills, property or vehicle damage reports, police reports, eyewitness accounts, and any photographic or video evidence to start a claim with your insurance company.
  4. Get a lawyer. Lawyers for trucking and commercial transportation companies as well as insurance adjusters will be working hard to reduce liability. A personal injury lawyer can help check the black box on the truck, determine fault by checking mobile phone records, see if the driver has any past history of negligence, or if the vehicle inspections are up to date.

Insurance Coverage for Commercial Vehicles

When a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the company that employs the driver will have lawyers and adjusters investigate the incident from their end. That is why it’s important for someone who finds themselves involved in an accident with a commercial truck to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The truth is, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents are not like regular car accidents simply because the size of the vehicle will most likely cause significant damage, and that means the coverage of a trucking or commercial vehicle will be more than that of a regular-sized sedan.

In order to avoid liability, insurance adjusters will find ways to avoid paying out large sums of money to the injured, especially because the payouts are in the millions of dollars. If for any reason the adjuster can decrease the blame of the driver and instead turn the blame on the other party, there is a chance the claim can be denied or reduced. By the same token, they may offer a significant amount of money if there is no way to deny driver fault and that in itself will deny someone their rightful claim for injury.

A personal injury lawyer, like the attorneys at Breaux Law Firm, can help you deal with insurance adjusters, determine if the driver of the truck was not following federal motor carrier safety regulations, get you the compensation you may need for injuries or property damage, and get your medical bills sorted out.