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Truck Accidents: What to Do When It Happens to You

September 30, 2013
Truck Accidents: What to Do When It Happens to You

If you are a trucker you already know that you have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. The average trucker can work more than 4,400 hours per year and average around $38,000 in income putting the rate of pay below ten dollars per hour for more than 50% of the transport drivers on the road. No one deliberately chooses to be a truck driver but rather they enter the industry with the potential to earn more money with longer hours. And most truckers (contrary to misconceptions) are family men with children and a wife to support. 


Frequently truck drivers are not appreciated the way they should be. After all very few goods that we purchase are not provided through over-the-ground hauling. In most cases truckers bring food, fresh water, clothing, electronics and other essentials to our local stores. Without truck drivers the entire Nation would grind to a halt without mechanical parts, medical supplies and other essentials that are shipped in every day on long haul trucks.


The Frequency of Truck Accidents


In addition to being one of the hardest professions to earn a living, truckers are exposed to a variety of perils on a daily basis from poor weather conditions to other bad drivers on the road. Driver fatigue is a culprit that the mainstream media likes to use to put the fault on transport truck drivers for the number of highway accidents and fatalities which involve long haul vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation data released in 2006 reported that other drivers were ten times more likely to cause an accident rather than weather, road conditions or vehicle malfunction.


Between the years 2001 and 2003 there were 1,127 large truck accidents in the United States alone with 251 fatalities and 1,408 injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reported that in the United States in 2010 there were 276,000 large truck accidents which resulted in 3,675 fatalities and injuries to 80,000 more individuals.


Regardless of the cause of truck accidents they are common in the United States, and they create thousands of individuals within the profession who need supports and financial compensation from their insurers to allow for their rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of the injury and the type of physical loss sustained it may or may not be possible for the truck driver to resume their pre-injury occupation due to chronic pain, impacted mobility, loss of visual acuity or other impairments.


Assessing Post Accident Loss


The most important part of your recovery is having the income to cover your medical expenses while continuing to maintain your quality of life. You shouldn’t have to choose one or the other, but often unfair insurance settlements put injured truck drivers exactly in that predicament. Do you really trust the insurance company to give an honest, fair assessment of your injury and projection of the cost of your rehabilitation and medical care? It’s their job to pay you less to maintain their profitability, even if it is your very own insurance company.


Immediately following an injury a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. Understand that the job of the claims adjuster is to ensure that you receive the minimum payment required by law through your contractual agreement with the insurer. In other words, you can’t count on them to be compassionate when it comes to assessing your health and income needs after a serious accident. And some insurers can even pressure you to take a lesser settlement successfully if you are not aware of the laws regarding compensation. If your family is in financial distress due to loss of income post-accident, it can be hard to resist a lump sum payment and hold out for a settlement that better provides for your medical and financial needs. That’s where a personal injury law firm comes to not only defend you and guide you through the legalities but also to advocate on your behalf to make sure that the settlement you do receive is fair and reasonable for your personal loss.


Important Steps for Truck Drivers


Immediately following the accident there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are protecting your legal interests and your liability entitlement from the insurer. 


1. Notify the authorities and report the accident appropriately. Receive a copy of the accident report and retain the original police report.


2. Record the names and license numbers of any witnesses to the accident.


3. If you suspect that you have sustained an injury, proceed to a medical facility for an evaluation of your injury. Not only will this diagnose any significant injuries or concerns but it will also ensure you have documented your immediate post-accident loss.


4. Do not sign any agreement or settlement with the insurer until you have sought legal guidance. Once you have signed a settlement it is difficult and sometimes impossible to renegotiate the terms of your settlement.  Do not let the insurer determine the value of your injury or loss without consulting with a qualified legal team and truck accident lawyer


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