Columbus Truck Accident Lawyer Recovering Compensation for Victims
Truck accidents can result in severe injuries and leave you unable to work, pay your bills, or take care of your family. Unfortunately, these cases are difficult for non-lawyers to pursue. Were you injured in a truck accident? A Columbus truck accident lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm can help you get compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. Statistics also show that collisions involving large commercial trucks are far more likely to be fatal than collisions between passenger vehicles. These risks make it especially important that trucking companies and truck drivers prioritize safety on the road.
Unfortunately, many fail to do so. From inadequate maintenance to driving while distracted, most commercial truck accidents result from issues that could—and should—have been avoided. As a result, accident victims and their families will be entitled to just compensation in most cases. Medical bills, lost earnings, and the non-financial costs of victims’ pain and suffering can easily become overwhelming; and, as a result, it is critical that those who are suffering from the effects of a serious or fatal truck accident fight for the financial compensation they deserve.
10 Types of Commercial Trucks Commonly Involved in Truck Accidents
Accidents involving certain types of commercial trucks are particularly common. This includes 18-wheelers (also referred to as tractor trailers or “big rigs”), among others. We handle claims on behalf of accident victims and loved ones following accidents that involve:
1. 18 Wheelers (Tractor Trailers or “Big Rigs”)
An 18-wheeler has 10 wheels on the tractor (the front portion of the truck where the driver sits) and an additional eight wheels at the rear of the trailer (the rear portion of the truck that holds the truck’s cargo). While some trailers are built to hold cargo, most are flat and carry shipping containers that are filled with products shipped from various locations around the world.
There are several different types of 18-wheelers, including:
- Flat Roof Sleepers
- Mid-Roof Sleepers
- Raised-Roof Sleepers
- Day Cabs
- Slope-Nosed Trucks
2. Box Trucks
Businesses from catering companies to furniture manufacturers use box trucks, and consumers can borrow box trucks from home improvement stores and rental companies as well. In box truck accidents, factors ranging from negligent driving to neglected repair needs can be to blame.
3. Car Haulers
A car hauler is a type of commercial truck that is specifically designed to carry other vehicles. Many of these trucks have multi-level trailers that allow them to carry upwards of 10 cars, pickup trucks and SUVs during a single trip.
4. Concrete Mixers
Concrete mixers are extremely heavy when they are full, and they have lots of moving parts. Both of these factors increase the risk of rollovers and other accidents. Accidents involving concrete mixers frequently happen because their drivers don’t realize how long it takes to stop a fully loaded truck in time to avoid a rear-end collision.
5. Construction Trucks
Construction trucks range from pickup trucks to heavy-duty trucks carrying cranes and other equipment. Whether construction truck drivers are distracted, inexperienced, being reckless or rushing to get to a job site on time, they can put multiple people’s lives at risk when they make dangerous mistakes.
6. Delivery Trucks
Delivery trucks are becoming more and more common on Ohio’s roads. With more people doing their shopping online, Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other delivery trucks traverse many of the state’s roads on a daily basis. The more often these trucks are on the road, the more likely they are to be involved in serious and fatal accidents.
7. Dump Trucks
Similar to concrete trucks, dump trucks can be extremely heavy when fully loaded, and this can significantly change the way dump truck drivers need to drive. When dump truck drivers aren’t being as careful as they should be, they will often find themselves unable to avoid causing dangerous collisions.
Flatbed trucks carry everything from vehicles to construction materials. Driver negligence, maintenance issues, defects, wide loads and improper cargo loading are all issues that can (and frequently do) lead to flatbed truck accidents.
9. Garbage Trucks
Garbage trucks are also ubiquitous on Ohio’s roads. From reckless driving to garbage flying out of the truck and onto the road, numerous factors can lead to accidents involving garbage trucks as well.
10. Tanker Trucks
Tanker trucks can carry thousands of pounds of liquid cargo; and, to keep this cargo from sloshing around, their tanks must be properly pressurized prior to departure. Failure to pressurize is one of several issues that can lead to truck accidents involving:
- Fuel Trucks
- Septic Trucks
- Oil Trucks
- Water Trucks
How Truck Accident Claims Differ from Car Accident Claims
Many people assume truck accident cases are the same as car accident cases. As a result, they either do not need a personal injury lawyer or consider an attorney who handles car accident cases will be sufficient. Unfortunately, this is a mistake. Truck accidents are unique in many ways, and you should, therefore, consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Columbus truck accident lawyer.
Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are much larger and heavier than the average passenger vehicle. When traveling at highway speeds, they can cause tremendous damage, serious injuries, and sometimes even death when involved in a collision. Other unique factors are often overlooked:
- Trucks require a greater stopping distance. Due to their size and weight, trucks take much longer to stop than smaller vehicles. As a result, it is much harder for them to stop quickly to avoid an accident.
- Trucks have larger blind spots. Because of their long trailers, it is much more difficult for drivers to see vehicles in their blind spots. Blind spots result in unsafe lane changes and cause many truck accidents.
- Trucks are less maneuverable. Trucks require special skills and experience to drive safely. Sharp turns, swerving, or over-correcting can easily lead to accidents.
- The cargo can also be a factor. Tractor-trailers often carry heavy and sometimes hazardous cargo. An unbalanced load can make the truck even more challenging to maneuver. An overloaded truck can require an even longer stopping distance. Flammable or otherwise hazardous materials can result in additional damage or injuries in the event of an accident.
Each of these factors can play a unique role in causing an accident. Understanding how these factors may have contributed to your accident is critical to recovering compensation in your case.
Identifying Fault with a Columbus Truck Accident Lawyer
In addition to the unique factors discussed above, truck accidents often have unique causes. Many truck accidents are the result of the following:
- Mechanical failures. Semi-trucks spend thousands of hours on the road and travel hundreds of thousands of miles. As a result, they require much more maintenance than the average passenger vehicle. Trucking companies may neglect to keep up with fleet maintenance out of carelessness or in an attempt to reduce overhead. Unfortunately, bald tires, failing brakes, or other mechanical failures can result in catastrophic accidents.
- Lack of driver training or experience. As mentioned above, driving a tractor-trailer requires a special skill set and substantial experience. Many accidents are caused by inexperienced drivers or drivers who do not have sufficient training.
- Driving while drowsy. Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel and are under intense pressure to make deliveries on time. Due to these conditions, truck drivers often drive drowsy, impacting their ability to react to hazards, and avoid accidents.
- Failure to supervise. Trucking companies are obligated to manage their drivers to ensure they are driving safely. Companies must hire drivers with the appropriate amount of training and experience and a clean driving record.
- Dangerous corporate culture. In some cases, trucking companies may encourage and even require drivers to engage in unsafe behavior.
- Aggressive driving. Tailgating, merging without enough room, running red lights and stop signs, and other forms of aggressive driving are common factors in truck accidents. While these driving behaviors are dangerous with any type of vehicle, they are especially dangerous with a truck that weighs 35,000 pounds or more.
- Driving while distracted. Distracted driving is also especially dangerous when the driver is behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or other large commercial truck. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, and as a result many turn to texting, scrolling social media and even watching movies to keep themselves entertained.
- Driving under the influence. Driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications are also common factors in truck accidents. There is no excuse for driving under the influence; and, when truckers make this mistake, they and their employers deserve to be held accountable.
- Speeding and other traffic violations. Speeding and other traffic violations are also more dangerous when the vehicle involved is a large commercial truck. When truck drivers break the law—and when their illegal conduct results in an accident—this provides grounds for victims and their families to seek just compensation.
- Overloading the truck. Exceeding a truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or towing capacity can significantly increase the risk of an accident. These limits exist for a reason; and, when companies exceed these limits, they put motorists in harm’s way.
- Failing to secure the truck’s cargo. Failure to secure a truck’s cargo can significantly impair the truck driver’s ability to stop safely. Unsecured cargo can also come loose and fall into the roadway. In either scenario, victims who suffer injuries and families who lose loved ones deserve to be fully compensated for their accident-related losses.
- Jackknifing. Jackknife accidents happen when the trailer on an 18-wheeler pushes the rear of the tractor (or cab) forward, causing it to turn sideways. These accidents most often happen when the truck driver brakes too harshly. For obvious reasons, jackknife accidents can be extremely dangerous, and they will often result in multi-vehicle pileups, numerous injuries and substantial losses for everyone who was unfortunate enough to be involved.
Many truck accidents also result from the same causes of other motor vehicle accidents such as speeding, distracted driving, or tailgating. A Columbus truck accident attorney can help correctly identify the cause of your accident as it may determine who may be held liable for your injuries.
Liability is Complicated in Ohio Truck Accident Cases
In most car accident cases, determining who you should pursue a claim against is relatively straightforward; it is most often against the other driver. However, in a truck accident case, multiple parties may be responsible for your accident.
In many cases, the trucking company may be held liable for the driver’s negligence through the concept of vicarious liability. However, this does not mean the trucking company is automatically responsible for your accident. There are layers of potential liability that must be considered:
- The driver. Many truck drivers are independent contractors. If the accident was caused purely by the driver’s negligence, you might have to pursue the driver independently. However, there are exceptions, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney.
- The trucking company. As mentioned above, trucking companies are obligated to maintain their trucks properly and adequately train and supervise their drivers. The trucking company may be held liable for your accident when they have failed to operate their company responsibly.
- The cargo loaders. Semi-trucks rarely travel empty, and it’s common for the truck to carry cargo on the return trip. As a result, a different company may have loaded the trip improperly, which led to the accident.
- Other drivers. Another driver’s negligence may have caused the accident in addition to the truck driver or the trucking company.
There may be multiple parties responsible for your accident, and as a result, you will have to navigate a complicated web of insurers. A Columbus truck accident attorney can pursue your claim against the appropriate parties while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
What if Neither the Truck Driver Nor the Trucking Company Was at Fault in the Accident?
While commercial truck accidents usually involve truck driver or trucking company negligence, this is not always the case. If an investigation reveals that neither the truck driver nor the trucking company was at fault, your lawyer will need to determine what other options you have available. Depending on the circumstances involved, other options may include:
- Filing a defect claim against the truck’s manufacturer
- Filing a negligence claim against a shop that worked on the truck
- Filing a claim against another driver involved in the crash
- Filing a claim against the government agency that is responsible for the road where the accident occurred
Thus, even if you’re not sure if you have a claim, you may be overlooking some key options for recovery. Your best bet is to consult with a Columbus truck accident attorney to see if your case is worth pursuing.
4 Steps to Prove Liability in a Commercial Truck Accident
Here is an overview of the five major steps involved in proving liability following a serious or fatal collision involving a large commercial truck in Ohio:
1. Conducting a Thorough On-Scene Investigation
Following a commercial truck accident, a prompt and thorough on-scene investigation is crucial. Proving liability requires evidence, and the accident scene is a key source of evidence after any type of vehicle collision. Your lawyer will send an investigator to the scene of the accident as soon as possible to collect critical evidence before it disappears.
2. Gathering Evidence from Other Sources
In addition to the on-scene investigation, your lawyer will work to gather evidence from other sources as well. In commercial truck accident cases, this often involves obtaining records from the trucking company. Was the driver properly trained and licensed? How many consecutive hours had he or she spent behind the wheel? The answers to these types of questions can point to driver negligence as the primary factor in your (or your loved one’s) crash.
3. Examining All Possible Forms of Truck Driver Negligence
After conducting an investigation, your Columbus truck accident lawyer will carefully examine the evidence in order to determine what factor (or factors) led to your crash. For example, the evidence may point to forms of truck driver fault including:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Braking harshly
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
These are just a small sampling of numerous driver-related factors that can cause and contribute to serious and fatal commercial truck accidents.
4. Using the Available Evidence to Prove Liability
With a clear understanding of what happened, your lawyer can then use the available evidence to prove that the truck driver was at fault. This may result in an insurance settlement, or it may involve presenting your claim in court. In either case, being able to conclusively prove fault is essential, and this requires the knowledge, skills and insights of an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer.
Truck Accident FAQs
Can I sue for a truck accident in Ohio?
It is possible to sue for a truck accident in Ohio in many cases. To determine if you can sue (and if so, who you need to sue), you should engage a law firm to investigate the accident as soon as possible. During this investigation, your law firm will work to gather all available evidence of liability, and it will preserve this evidence so that it will be admissible in court.
However, you might not need to sue. When you engage a law firm to represent you, your law firm will first deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company directly. If the insurance company accepts liability and negotiates in good faith, your law firm may be able to help you obtain a settlement without going to court.
How long after a truck accident can you sue in Ohio?
In most cases, you have up to two years following a truck accident to file a lawsuit in Ohio. This applies to cases involving injuries and cases involving wrongful death.
When should you hire a Columbus truck accident lawyer?
You should hire an attorney any time you are seriously injured or you lose a loved one in a fatal truck accident in Ohio. Even if you are clearly entitled to financial compensation, recovering this compensation will not be easy. You will need your attorney to prove liability, and you will need to work closely with your attorney to calculate your financial and non-financial losses.
While accident victims and families generally have up to two years to file a claim after a truck accident in Ohio, you do not want to wait any longer than necessary to speak with an attorney. If you have a claim, it will be important for your attorney to get to work right away, and any unnecessary delays could jeopardize your financial recovery.
Contact a Columbus Truck Accident Lawyer at Malek & Malek Today
Our injury attorneys have been helping truck accident victims in the Columbus area for over 30 years, and we understand the challenges you face. Let us help you get back on your feet. We can get you compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To schedule a free consultation with a Columbus truck accident lawyer, call us today at 888-444-7440 or contact us online.