There are approximately 2 million big rig trucks traveling the roads and highways in this Country. Around 130,000 people are injured in 18-wheeler wrecks each year, with many accidents happening on the interstate and highway systems throughout Mississippi.
The number of people killed in wrecks involving these big trucks has increased by approximately 25% in the last 10 years. Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. People traveling in smaller vehicles are more vulnerable to death or serious injury because big trucks often weigh 20-30 times more than passenger cars, and their higher ground clearance permits smaller vehicles to underride them in crashes.
Truck braking capability is a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers require 20-40 percent farther distance than typical cars to stop, even more on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. Truck driver fatigue is also known to contribute to wrecks.
Commercial trucking companies and drivers are subject to many federal laws and regulations that don’t apply to most automobile drivers on the road. Because of the complexity of legal issues that may arise in relation to an 18-wheeler wreck, and the severity of injuries and/or death that often results from these wrecks, they should be handled differently than ordinary automobile crashes. Following are some suggestions of what steps to take if you or a loved one are involved in a wreck with an 18-wheeler:
Protect Yourself and Others
If you are involved in a wreck with an 18 wheeler, the first thing to do if physically able is try to move all occupants to a safe place, away from the big truck and other traffic. Trucks have large fuel tanks, and often transport flammable cargo that can ignite and cause dangerous fires or explosions following a wreck. Obviously, some injuries may not permit the victim to be moved, but get those who can be moved as far away as possible from the wreckage and oncoming traffic.
Contact Emergency Personnel
Contact the police or other emergency personnel after trying to transport occupants and others involved to a safe location. Advise them whether anyone appears to be in need of emergency medical care, and whether there is a fire or apparent fire risk. If you are seriously injured contact a friend or relative if you are able and ask them to meet you at the scene so they can record necessary information.
Take Notes and Pictures
If you are physically able, after you contact emergency personnel take notes and pictures to record the accident. Write down what you remember about the accident as well as the other drivers’ contact information and the names, numbers, and addresses of any witnesses. Try to take pictures at the scene. You’ll want pictures of all the vehicles involved and their position, as well as road conditions, and anything else you feel may be important such as skid marks from the accident.
After the wreck, a team employed by the trucking company will usually come take information down from the truck’s black box about the wreck. This black box stores all kinds of information like the speed, location, braking distance, steering maneuvers, and precise moment of impact. They also have a team collect hours of sleep the driver had, time on the road, and distance travelled. This information is required by law, and is intended to help keep us all safe from harm. Although the trucking company will rarely voluntarily provide this information, it is usually discoverable through legal action.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
You and/or your loved ones and passengers will probably be contacted soon after the wreck by a representative of the trucking company’s insurance company, who will want to take a recorded statement. You don’t have to talk to them the first time they call. Wait until you are ready. Once you and your loved ones have received appropriate medical care, it is a good idea to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Most personal injury lawyers provide free consultations and advice; and can help you prepare to speak to the trucking company’s representative and help you decide the best course of action going forward.
If you or someone you know is injured or harmed in an 18-wheeler accident in Mississippi and decides to pursue a claim, find a lawyer who is willing and able to stand up against the trucking company and its insurance carriers. Many trucking companies have whole departments and teams of lawyers dedicated to responding to accident claims; and are experienced in fighting against individual claims. You or your loved ones may still be in the hospital recovering from injuries while the trucking company and its insurers are busy hiring experts and accident reconstructionists to help in their defense.
That’s where experienced Mississippi 18-wheeler accident attorneys, such as Van Cleave Law, can help. Van Cleave Law knows that trust is not given, trust has to be earned. If you or a loved one has been involved in a wreck with an 18 wheeler, and want to know what your rights are or just get some advice on how to proceed, contact Van Cleave Law.