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The supply chain across the United States is a complicated system that is always evolving to meet America’s demand for next day delivery. If the roadways and railways are the veins of America’s supply chain, then it’s the truck drivers that are part of the lifeblood that guarantees everything arrives on time. The need for a faster supply chain system means more big rigs and courier trucks are on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week, shipping everything from oranges to flat screen televisions and even the smart phones we use order more things.
However, truck drivers are only human and mistakes can happen. The increased pressure on the supply chain means semi truck accidents are also on the rise. The number of truck accidents per year for both commercial and non-commercial trucks was 5,601 in 2021, which was up 13% from the 4,965 accidents in 2020. Any accident involving a semi truck can cause serious and life-threatening injuries, leading victims to ask, “Can I sue for being hit by a semi truck?” The answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think, and knowing if you should sue the driver or the company is where things get complicated.
If you or a loved one needs help with a semi truck lawsuit, you’ll want an experienced law firm like Avrek Law to help you navigate the insurance companies, associations and corporations that can easily afford legal representation to help defend their drivers and financial interests.
Getting Hit by a Semi Truck: What Do I Need to Know?
Even a minor fender bender can cause all sorts of muscle, ligament and joint pain for weeks, months or years after an accident. The reason why injuries after getting hit by a semi truck are so common is simple physics: The force of an accident is determined by the weight of the vehicle and the speed it is travelling. The average car weighs around 4,000 pounds. An accident at 10 mph can make the seat belt feel like a 1,000-pound weight is being pressed against your chest — increase the speed to 50 mph and it feels like over 24,000 pounds. The legal maximum weight of a fully loaded semi truck is 80,000 pounds, and if you are struck at any speed the force literally feels like hitting a ton of bricks.
Whether you are hit by a semi truck or a regular vehicle, the process of collecting information after an accident is the same. However, there are a few differences in the details you need to confirm with the driver of the commercial vehicle that hit you. Make sure the driver’s Commercial Drivers License (CDL) matches the type of truck they are legally allowed to operate. For example, semi trucks, big rigs and 18-wheelers all require a Class A CDL. Delivery trucks with a combined weight (truck and cargo) of more than 26,000 pounds require a Class B CDL.
In 2019, according to the American Trucking Association, there were a total of 37.9 million trucks that traveled 300 billion miles in a single year within the United States. One would think that the majority of these trucks would be represented by a handful of companies, however, the opposite is true. Of all trucking companies registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation, 91.5% operate six or fewer trucks.
Semi Truck Accidents: Who Should I Sue?
It’s important to know which state the truck is registered in, as many trucking associations work with legal teams across the United States to help support their drivers. For example, the California Trucking Association works with many legal partners to represent their members in semi truck accidents. However, many truck drivers are self-employed and may not be registered with any association. This means you would have to seek any compensation for damages through the driver’s insurance company and potentially the driver.
Make sure you get as much information from the driver as possible, especially if you are struck by a corporate vehicle like a UPS truck. A UPS truck accident happens more frequently than you think — about once every three hours. In 2019, UPS trucks were involved in 2,627 crashes, including 948 that caused injuries and 55 fatalities. If you are in an accident with a large company like UPS, it’s important that you can prove negligence on behalf of the driver. In order to prove this, you have to demonstrate four things:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care
- The truck driver breached that duty
- There is actual or proximate causation in the case
- You suffered damages as a result of this negligence
Find Representation From a Truck Accident Law Firm
If you’re in an accident with any type of commercial vehicle and looking for compensation, it’s important to work with a law firm that understands the many different types of insurance and legal options that America’s trucking industry uses. Your legal case could change depending on the size of the trucking company and how drivers are registered. This is why questions like, “Can I sue for being hit by a semi truck?” Are not simple to answer.
Avrek Law has more than 50 years combined experience representing cases in several states and they are experts in helping people who have been injured by commercial trucks. The consultation is free and you’ll get advice from a law firm with more than $1 billion recovered in more than 45,000 cases. View one of our locations or contact us for a free accident consultation.