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The trucking industry is vital to the health of the U.S. economy. Without truckers the shelves of our grocery stores would be bare, and nobody would be enjoying the convenience of getting all your goods delivered right to your door. What would be even worse is the life saving medicine we get from our pharmacies would be unavailable as well as the supplies that our hospitals use to save lives. Those big rigs you see barreling down the highways are literally driving our economy.
But what happens when one of those big trucks causes an injury causing accident? This is where a good injury attorney will come into play. The sheer number of semi-trucks on the roads cause nearly 500,000 trucking accidents per year in the U.S. Many of these accidents cause injuries and even deaths. Outside of getting a consultation with an injury attorney, our professionals here at Justice Law Center put together a list of FAQs so that you are armed with the essential information if you or a loved one have been injured by a big rig on the road.
What is Considered a Commercial Truck?
Nevada law adopts the federal definition of what is considered a commercial vehicle. This means that any vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 lbs., or more is classified as a commercial motor vehicle. This weight is calculated as the “gross combination weight rating.” Meaning that it is the combined weight of the vehicle itself, as well as the weight of any trailers that it may be towing.
Regardless of the weight of the vehicle, if it is designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, it is considered to be a commercial vehicle. Also, regardless of the weight or number of passengers that it can carry, if the vehicle is rigged to transport any hazardous materials, it is considered to be a commercial vehicle.
Basically, a full-sized pick-up truck, such as a 2021 Chevy Silverado will weigh right around 7,000 lbs. So, if you are injured in an auto accident where the driver of a vehicle that is bigger than a full-sized pickup truck, chances are it will be considered a commercial vehicle. In a situation like this, it is important that you immediately retain an experienced injury attorney.
What to Do When Injured by a Tractor Trailer
If you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident caused by a semi-truck, your injuries can be devastating. The sheer size and weight of one of these vehicles can cause some of the worst accidents on the road. The drivers of these trucks need to have a specialized license called a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL. A CDL is only gotten after completing a training course where you must demonstrate your abilities while driving a commercial vehicle.
Unfortunately, just because you have obtained a CDL doesn’t mean that you are a good and safe driver. There are many other factors that can come into play in an injury causing accident. Many commercial drivers work long ours and often suffer from fatigue which will impair their ability to drive. In some instances, there could be drugs and alcohol involved as well. In instances such as these, and more, the crash will be due to the truck drivers “negligence.” This means that the driver of the truck owed you a “duty of care,” in this case, the duty was to not crash into you. Since the driver failed to uphold that duty of care, they breached that duty which causes injuries and damages.
This situation gives you the ability to file a lawsuit against the driver and the insurance company that insured the driver. Normally, an insurance agency would want to avoid a lawsuit and the expense that a lawsuit would bring so they would offer you a cash amount with the hopes that you would take it without consulting a lawyer.
Nearly always this initial offer from the insurance agency will be far below what is right and fair. People who have been injured that take this first offer find that they will not even be able to pay the medical and hospital bills out of this payout and end up in debt. This is why you need to have an experienced injury lawyer representing you.
What if You Were Partially at Fault?
There are certain circumstances where you can be partially to blame for the accident that caused your injury. As long as the driver of the tractor trailer was 50% at fault or more, you can still get compensation. The percentage of fault would normally be determined either in court, or between your lawyer and the insurance agencies legal department while negotiating a fair payout.
Some common examples of how you could be held to be partially at fault in a semi-truck accident are:
- Trying to drive in between two tractor trailers when there isn’t enough space between them to safely drive.
- Underestimating the speed that the semi is driving when merging or making a turn.
- Trying to pass the truck when there isn’t enough space to safely do so.
- Failing to use your turn signal when switching lanes in front of the semi-truck.
- Tailgating or driving in the trucks clearly labeled blind spot.
Things like traffic cameras, GPS records and eyewitness reports will be used to evaluate your percentage of fault in the accident. In these situations, it is vital that you have an experienced injury attorney to represent you. The insurance agencies will try to make it seem like you are more at fault that you were so they can justify a lower payout.
Hire an Expert Injury Attorney at Justice Law Center
Our team of personal injury lawyers at Justice Law Center have been fighting with the insurance agencies to get what is right for the people of Ely, and all over Nevada for over 25 years. We know all the tricks that insurance agencies try to pull in order to save themselves money and to shortchange you on your payout.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, when the driver of a commercial semi-truck is at fault, there could be a great deal of money that you can be compensated with for your injuries and pain and suffering. Do not take the first offer from the insurance companies, until you have spoke to an injury attorney.
We offer free initial consultations, so that we can discuss your case in detail. If you do decide to hire Justice Law Center, you will never have to pay us a retainer to represent you in your injury case. All our fees will be taken out of the money that we will win for you.
Call us today.
Josh is writer and paralegal, with over 10 years of experience in family law, personal injury, criminal defense and more.