Compassionate Gulfport Truck Accident Attorneys Ready To Fight For You
Accidents involving semi-trucks and other large commercial trucks are among the most dangerous types of vehicle collisions. These accidents result in serious and fatal injuries at a disproportionately high rate. In the vast majority of cases (97% according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)), it is passenger vehicle occupants who suffer the consequences of truck drivers’ mistakes.
Truck accident cases present some unique and challenging legal issues. While these cases often involve claims against the trucking companies that employ negligent and reckless drivers, there are various other issues that can play a role in trucking collisions as well. Large commercial trucks are also extraordinarily complex. And when multiple vehicles are involved, it takes a detailed and thorough forensic investigation to determine who is liable for the victims’ injuries.
Commercial Trucking Accident Statistics
While the overall number of auto accidents is on a downward trend, the number of commercial trucking accidents has increased by 52% since 2009. The more disturbing number, however, is the fatality rate in these accidents. According to the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly three-quarters of these fatalities were passengers in smaller, personal vehicles like cars and SUVs. But why is this the case?
Size of Vehicles Involved in a Crash
One of the most obvious answers to this question is simple physics. Commercial trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars. In addition, most are also taller with more ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles being pulled under these trucks in crashes. The increased size and weight puts the average car or truck at much greater risk for catastrophic damage in an accident. The larger size of commercial trucks also make evasive maneuvers like sudden braking or turns much more difficult. The truck driver may see the danger, but when they are driving something so big, they may not be able to stop or react in time to avoid a crash.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) keeps data on commercial trucking activity in the United States, and in all categories, the numbers are trending upward. There are well over ten million registered large/commercial trucks in the U.S. traveling nearly 300 billion miles. In addition, our country’s economy depends on these trucks to deliver nearly 70 percent of all freight per year. This means that annually, trucks transport around $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods every year. More volume means that accidents are more likely to occur.
Experienced Legal Representation for Injured Parties of Truck Accidents
At Smith & Holder, PLLC, our Gulfport truck accident attorney has the experience required to help semi-truck accident victims and their families secure just compensation. If you are entitled to financial recovery, we can make sure you win the compensation you deserve. With an aggressive and detail-oriented approach that leaves no stone unturned, we can conclusively establish who was at fault in your accident and make sure you seek maximum compensation for your injury-related losses.
With offices in Gulfport, we represent truck accident victims throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast area. Whether you were injured in an accident involving a delivery truck in Gulfport, or you lost a loved one in a fatal semi-truck accident on I-10, our highly-skilled truck accident legal team can do what is necessary to assert your legal rights. Our injury legal team will work quickly to negotiate a favorable settlement. And if a fair settlement is not on the table, we will meticulously prepare your case for trial. Let a proven Gulfport truck accident lawyer of Smith & Holder, PLLC help you through your case.
Common Factors in Truck Accidents
Truck Safety Violations
Commercial truck operators are subject to strict federal safety regulations that govern everything from cargo weight limits to the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel. Safety violations in the trucking industry are alarmingly common, and they are to blame for a significant number of vehicle collisions.
Cargo Loading Errors
Cargo loading errors can cause truck wrecks in a variety of different ways. Improperly-balanced cargo can cause a truck to jackknife under heavy braking, and overloading a truck can prevent the driver from stopping in time to avoid a collision. Lack of pressurization of liquid cargo can cause truck drivers to lose control as well. These are mistakes that can, and should, be avoided. And individuals injured in accidents caused by cargo loading errors will often be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Truck and Trailer Defects
While a defect in any type of vehicle can be extremely dangerous, the risks of a defect are magnified for large commercial trucks. Trucks, tractors, trailers, and their individual components all have the potential to be defective, and everything from tire blowouts to failing cargo straps can cause dangerous trucking accidents.
Inadequate Truck Maintenance
Along with truck defects, inadequate truck maintenance is another common factor in commercial trucking accidents. Commercial trucks need to be serviced at regular intervals, and signs of potential failure should be addressed as soon as possible. Faulty brake jobs, failure to replace worn tires, failure to perform engine and transmission service, and various other types of maintenance issues can all easily lead to serious collisions.
Inexperienced and Untrained Truck Drivers
Due to the complexity of large commercial trucks and the dangers of failing to maintain control on the road, all truck drivers must have adequate training and experience. Unfortunately, many trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers – some even hire drivers who are not properly licensed. And these poor hiring decisions often have drastic consequences for motorists on the road.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), speeding is the most-common driver-related factor in fatal trucking accidents. Speeding trucks are more difficult to maneuver and they take longer to stop. Each of these factors can easily result in a serious or fatal collision.
Following Too Closely
Following too closely (or “tailgating”) is another driver-related factor that plays a role in a significant percentage of commercial 18-wheeler accidents. Heavy trucks need extra stopping distance. And when you add in the fact that many truck drivers are either distracted or drowsy behind the wheel (or both), it is not hard to see why tailgating trucks are often involved in rear-end collisions.
Failure to Stop or Yield
Failure to stop or yield is another common driving mistake that becomes even more dangerous when the vehicle involved is an 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck. Too often, running red lights, failing to yield the right-of-way at highway interchanges, and other risky mistakes have tragic consequences for other drivers and their passengers.
Other Forms of Truck Driver Negligence
Similar to accidents involving passenger vehicles, if a trucking accident is the result of the truck driver’s negligence, any victims injured in the collision are entitled to seek just compensation for their injury-related losses. Along with speeding, following too closely, and failing to stop or yield, other common forms of truck driver negligence include braking too harshly, driving while distracted, driving while fatigued, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and failing to look before merging.
Negligence by Other Drivers
When seeking financial compensation for a tractor truck accident, it is important not to solely focus on the truck and truck driver as potential factors in the collision. In many cases, other drivers will be to blame as well – from forcing truck drivers into dangerous situations to failing to react appropriately in order to avoid a multi-vehicle collision.
Reach out to us and find out how much you may be entitled to recover for your:
- Bone fracture
- Burn injury
- Eye, ear, or nose injury
- Facial injury
- Internal organ damage
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Other injury requiring medical intervention or surgery
Trucking accidents are particularly likely to result in a fatality because the mass and momentum of a truck far exceed that of an automobile. If the victim dies from his injuries, any personal injury claim that has been filed must be converted to a wrongful death claim. Depending on the circumstances, a wrongful death claim may be filed by:
- the personal representative of the victim’s estate;
- the victim’s surviving spouse;
- the victim’s surviving parent or child; or
- any of the victim’s surviving siblings.
When the surviving spouse files a wrongful death claim, damages that belong to relatives are split 50/50 between the spouse and the children (if there is more than one surviving child, the children share their 50 percent portion equally). If the victim has no surviving spouse or children (in the case of a child victim, for example), a surviving parent or sibling may file the claim, and these damages will be divided between the surviving parents and children.
The victim’s probate estate will receive any damages awarded for medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and compensation for damaged property. Relatives will be compensated for psychological suffering (such as loss of companionship) as well as an amount for future income lost due to the victim’s untimely death.
Answers to FAQs: Seeking Financial Compensation for Serious and Fatal Truck Accidents in Mississippi
Q: What types of truck accident cases does your firm handle?
Our Gulfport 18-wheeler accident attorneys represent individuals and families in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving all types of commercial trucks. This includes, but is not limited to, cases involving:
- Box trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Dump trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Service vehicles
- Tanker trucks
- Tow trucks
Q: Should I file a claim against the truck driver's insurance company or the trucking company?
It depends. Some truck drivers are independent owner-operators, and others work for larger trucking companies. If the truck driver is legally classified as an “employee,” then you will most likely have a claim against the trucking company by which he or she is employed. This is true even if the driver was personally at fault in the accident. Under Mississippi law, employers are “vicariously liable” for their employees’ actions within the scope of employment. The employer can be held directly liable when their own mistakes (such as hiring an inexperienced truck driver) lead to serious or fatal injuries.
Q: How can I prove that the truck driver who hit me was distracted or intoxicated behind the wheel?
Proving the cause of a trucking accident requires a comprehensive and detail-oriented investigation. In many cases, it will not be readily apparent that a truck driver was distracted or intoxicated behind the wheel. However, evidence such as the police report or the driver’s phone records may shed light on the factors involved in your collision. And if necessary, we can seek to obtain the truck driver’s sworn testimony at trial.
Q: Am I partially at fault if I was in the truck driver's blind spot or a truck no-zone?
No, not necessarily. Like all motorists, truck drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely on public roads. This means looking before changing lanes or merging and not putting others in danger by acting without a complete picture of their surroundings. Truck drivers should know that they have blind spots and no-zones, and they should operate their trucks accordingly.
But, let’s say that you were in a truck’s no-zone at the time of the accident. Does this mean that you don’t have any legal rights? Absolutely not. The fact that you were in the truck’s no-zone may or may not have been a factor in the accident. Even if it was, under Mississippi law you would still have a claim for partial compensation.
Q: How long do I have to seek financial compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death resulting from a commercial truck accident in Mississippi?
Under Mississippi’s statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims, you typically have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for financial compensation. For accidents involving commercial trucks or vehicles owned and operated by a governmental agency or its employees, however, the Mississippi Tort Claims act stipulates a one-year statute of limitations.
Regardless of the circumstances, in order to collect critical evidence before it disappears and make sure you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your financial recovery, it is important that you speak with Gulfport 18-wheeler accident lawyers as soon as possible.
Contact our Gulfport Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident in southern Mississippi, we encourage you to contact our Gulfport trucking accident lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our Gulfport truck accident attorneys will fight aggressively to win the compensation you deserve. To schedule an appointment in Gulfport, please call us or get in touch online today. We are also ready to help clients with other types of personal injury cases such as auto vehicle accidents and product defects. Our law firm is located in Gulfport, Mississippi and we serve all of Jackson and Harrison Counties with many types of legal representation.