Semi-trucks, or more properly semi-trailer trucks, are those behemoths on the road you don’t want to be in a truck accident with. They are huge, gleaming and 18 wheels worth of heavy steel that can spell catastrophe if you ever get into a collision with one.
The big rig, or a semi as it is also referred to in the US, is a towing engine attached to semi-trailers for carrying cargo. The semi-trailer is attached on a metal projection of the towing engine, or tractor, just forward of the rear-end axle so that some of the weight is carried by the tractor. This makes it distinct from the usual truck and trailer where the trailer is attached completely behind the prime mover.
There are different configurations to a semi-trailer truck, and carrying purposes. Common types include tankers (for gas and oil, mostly), reefers, vans, side lifts and flatbeds (for containers without wheels). There are specialty trailers that are refrigerated, heated or pressurized. Some even have movable wheels enabling them to comply with weight distribution laws as necessary. Because they often travel interstate, semi-trailer truck drivers must be conversant with the laws governing each state to avoid trouble.
You will often see these lumbering giants on the highway as they speed interstate or haul cargo to airports or piers for international freight forwarding. They represent an important part of commercial trading, which makes them an essential part of the economy. But that doesn’t make them any less dangerous on the road. There are smart ways to handle a semi on the highway, but sometimes accidents still happen. If you have been in a truck accident with a semi and sustained injuries and extensive property damage, you may be able to claim for additional compensation over and above what you are entitled to from your insurer. Contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to know your options.
Have you ever noticed that trucks usually have a sign at the back that says “Caution Air Brakes” or something similar? This is because heavy vehicles and trailers use a different type of brakes from the usual ones used in regular automobiles. Air brakes are designed to prevent truck accidents, but it may also be the reason for a truck accident if you aren’t careful.
In your sedan, SUV, pickup trucks and other smaller vehicles, hydraulic brakes are used. This braking system makes used of hydraulic fluid to provide the pressure needed for the foot brake to work. In larger and trailer-type vehicles, however, air is used instead of hydraulic fluid and to engage the brake the air is released. The reason trucks have that warning sign at the back is because air brakes are much more powerful than regular hydraulic brakes, powerful enough to stop a heavily loaded cargo truck in its tracks. If you are following too closely, there is a good chance you won’t be able to stop in time and you will complete your stop against and under the rear bumper of the truck.
Depending on the speed upon which you were traveling and the point of impact, this can have dire consequences. If you are lucky enough to escape with little or no injury, you still have to consider the damage to your car, which is bound to be considerable. And since you rear-ended the truck, you are most probably at fault, which in Texas means you probably won’t be able to claim from your insurance.
However, if you can prove that the driver was negligent i.e. driving while intoxicated then you will be able to claim for the damages to your car from your insurance, and you may even file a personal injury claim.
There are some things you have to do when you are involved in a car accident to ensure that your rights are protected. One of the most important of these is documenting the scene of the car accident through photos or videos.
Pictures and videos don’t lie. It tells the story without fear of misinterpretation or misrepresentation, and you need to preserve the evidence in situ. This is important if you find yourself defending your position in an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Thanks to advances in technology, you will probably have a camera handy through your mobile phone or tablet which takes decent photos and videos. Photos and videos are persuasive arguments in proving your case. In the event that you don’t have such a facility or it is unavailable i.e. low in battery, any camera will do. Use the date and time stamp if the feature is available to provide information that may have relevance later on.
The scene of the accident includes the position of the vehicle or vehicles at the point of contact. You also need to document the surroundings to provide context i.e. at an intersection at night during a storm. If you can, document using at least three different angles, and take near and far shots. Other details that may escape your notice at the time will be captured and may prove to be crucial during an investigation. At the very least, photographic documentation will help refresh your memory when you recount the car accident to your insurer, lawyer, during a deposition or at trial as the case may be. Take as many photos or as long a video as you can manage. If storage or film is limited, capture the important details first.
Here is a list of things that you should prioritize:
- The vehicles and the damage sustained
- Skid marks
- Crash debris
- Site of the accident
- Weather conditions
- Any injuries sustained
Check the photos and videos you have taken before leaving the scene of the accident to make sure that you have enough usable ones. If you think you have a personal injury claim, take your evidence to a car accident lawyer for an assessment.
Being involved in a car accident is an incredibly scary experience. The fear of sustaining an injury or losing your life causes a huge surge of adrenaline that can make it difficult to keep a level head directly afterwards. However, it’s important to remember what you should do after being involved in a car accident, since forgetting some of these steps can make getting an insurance claim or medical costs covered exceedingly more difficult than they should be.
One of the very first things you should do is check to see if anyone is seriously hurt. If so, call 911 immediately. If everyone seems to be in decent condition, call the police anyway. Their presence can serve as a mediator between you and the other driver and they can also generate an accident report, which will prove valuable when it comes time to make an insurance claim.
Be sure to photograph the scene of the accident, including damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved.
When talking to the other driver or the police, never say that you are unhurt. Some car accident injuries do not surface for days or even weeks. Additionally, do not apologize to the other driver, as that implies that you are at fault for the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver. Be sure to get his or her name as well as some form of contact information. This way you will be able to get in touch if you have further questions later on.
While being in a car accident is a jarring experience, being confident in what to do afterwards can help make it a little bit easier to handle.
One of the most difficult aspects of recovering from a car or motorcycle accident can sometimes be claiming compensation from an insurance company. It is stressful, time-consuming and usually frustrating. It would probably be a good idea contact a car accident lawyer to find out something about the process beforehand so that you know what to expect if it happens to you, and to make the most of your claim.
Rushing your claim can often work to your disadvantage. Without a clear and complete understanding of every aspect of your coverage, accepting a settlement for the sake of resolving the matter quickly may mean you are shortchanging yourself. By taking the time to see the matter through carefully and competently you can help to protect your rights and interests.
Here’s how an auto accident insurance claim should go:
- Immediately after the accident, contact your insurer and give him the facts of your accident.
- Make records of everything, and keep your documentation in one folder for easy access. This includes police reports, receipts, estimates for property damage, medical and hospital bills in case of injury, and all other expenses pertaining to the accident. Include loss of income due to missed work.
- Get a valuation for your car and/or cost of repairs. Use this as a basis of comparison to the proposed value provided by your insurer to see if you are getting a fair deal. If there is a discrepancy between the two values, you will have a basis for your counter proposal.
- Have an auto accident insurance lawyer go over your policy to find out what you should be getting when the time comes so you can negotiate intelligently with your insurer.
- Let the claims adjuster know that you have done your homework so that he or she will deal fairly with you. Keep in mind that the adjuster works for your insurer, not you. It is their duty to look after the insurer’s best interest, which is to keep your claim as low as you will allow. Don’t be afraid to push for what you are entitled to.
- Carefully review any settlement that is offered you, preferably with an auto accident insurance claims lawyer. If you think the settlement is too low, negotiate for a higher amount. Adjusters usually have some leeway when it comes to negotiating.
Don’t be afraid to take control of your auto accident insurance claim. Ignorance can cost you a fair settlement, so educate yourself.