When you’re in a car accident, the injury case can get complicated just dealing with other drivers and an insurance company. When the accident involves a big rig such as an 18-wheeler or large construction vehicle, it can be even more complex as large companies get involved and fight tooth and nail to avoid responsibility. What are you to do to get compensated for your injury? Learn your options when you’re hurt in a big truck accident, and why it’s essential to have an injury attorney in your corner.
Big Truck Accidents
The questions of who is responsible and liable for damages when someone is hurt in a big truck accident are even more complex than other kinds of accidents. This is because there are multiple entities involved with that vehicle. It would be nice if it was just down to the drivers, but often, the owner of the truck, the trucking company behind the vehicle, the insurance agencies and a number of other parties can be responsible.
This is especially unfortunate when you learn that over the past 20 years, the number of accidents involving big rigs has gone up by a full 20% according to the FMCSA, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The trucking industry is governed by the federal government, which sets minimum standards for the operation and repair of these vehicles. There is a huge network of players at work in any trucking job, and responsibility may be assigned at any level, depending on the circumstances of the accident. These can involve:
- The driver of the truck
- The owner of the truck (not always the same as the driver)
- The truck leasing company
- The vehicle’s manufacturer, or the manufacturer of any parts deemed defective
- The shipper, loader or cargo company
Worse, these parties often end up arguing amongst themselves over responsibility, which can sometimes drag cases on for what seems like forever. The trucking company or other entities might try to even distance themselves from the driver, washing their hands of the incident. You should know that current federal laws do not permit this behavior.
The exception to this is if the trucker owns the vehicle outright and is acting as an independent contractor. In this case, they will bear the brunt of the responsibility. It can, however, be tricky to cut through the haze and get to the truth.
How to Proceed
The process of what happens after a big truck accident for the victim isn’t much different than that from a regular car accident. You’ll want to document the accident, get medical treatment for anyone in need and exchange information with the other driver as well as securing a police report. Make sure you contact your insurance company and give them the whole, honest story about what happened.
Because of the complexity and seriousness of these accidents, however, it is absolutely vital that you contact a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with these kinds of accidents. An attorney will know how to cut through the bureaucracy, red tape and in-fighting that will occur with the many entities responsible for the accident; an attorney will not only make sure that you are compensated for your injuries, damages, loss of potential, and pain and suffering, but that the timeframe is not dragged out by unnecessary blame-shifting.
Have you been hurt in a big truck accident in New Jersey? If so, contact our law offices and let us put over 25 years of experience to work in making sure you get the compensation you need to recover your life once more.