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What happens when an 18-wheeler hits a pedestrian?

One type of accident we see all the time are those in which an 18-wheeler strikes or runs over a pedestrian. While it's true that the majority of these kinds of accidents are not the fault of the truck drivers, there are hundreds more that are the fault of the driver.


Questions Answers on This Page:

  • What laws cover pedestrian and 18-wheeler accidents?
  • How can you determine who caused a tractor-trailer and pedestrian accident?
  • What will the trucking company have to pay?
  • Will the 18-wheeler driver who killed a pedestrian go to prison?

We'll try to answer those questions below. These types of accidents have their own nuances and subtleties, but at the end of the day are still truck accidents.

When 18-wheelers hit pedestrians, many laws and regulations impact how a court rules in your case

Truck accident cases are not simply big car wreck lawsuits. By this, we mean that in normal car wreck cases, the defendant driver is judged by what is vaguely called a "reasonable person" standard. That's to say, a jury doesn't have some magical checklist of bad behaviors for which a defendant can be held liable. Instead, juries in car wreck cases must determine whether anyone in the position the driver was in should have performed as they did.

That's not exactly the case in truck accident litigation. Instead, we hold professional drivers in 18-wheelers to a much higher standard, that of a reasonably prudent professional. For example, there is no law in Texas that indicates those who text and drive are committing some kind of crime. However, the federal government has issued regulations in the last few years that specifically make cell phone use of any kind while behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer against the law. Similarly, while auto drivers generally are considered to have a duty not to drive their cars in unsafe condition, truckers are required by law to do a pre-trip safety check before every time they get out on the road.

How does all this impact your case? Your attorney not only must know the thousands of regulations, but be able to apply them in the atypical situation where a pedestrian is struck by an 18-wheeler. How he does that will be greatly impacted by the next topic.

Determining who's at fault in when a tractor-trailer hits a pedestrian

Typically, when an 18-wheeler strikes a pedestrian on a sidewalk, it does so while trying to make a sharp right turn. Trucks are unwieldy in tight situations like this. It takes a skilled driver paying close attention to safely pull a large trailer in and around areas where pedestrians are.

However, as difficult as any sort of maneuver may be when driving an 18-wheeler, the driver of that truck still owes a duty of care to operate his vehicle in a manner that does not injure anyone else sharing the road, including other drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians. When a truck driver fails to operate his vehicle in a responsible manner or does not comply with the federal and state regulations, he can be held liable. But your attorney needs evidence to prove any of these allegations. He must prove, with courtroom-style evidence, that the driver misbehaved. This will require painstaking work to interview witnesses, locate and secure important documents, and obtain testimony from the driver himself through deposition.

In all likelihood, again, the truck driver and his employer will be the main defendants in your lawsuit. However, there can be other parties that might have also played a role in causing the accident. If the driver was intoxicated, for example, the bar, restaurant or other alcohol-serving establishment that may have over-served the driver after they should have cut them off could be held liable. If there was a cargo shift in the trailer that caused the driver to over-steer and led to the accident because the truck was carrying too much weight, the company that negligently loaded that cargo could be targeted with legal action.

You may think that only the driver can be sued after the accident, but the reality is there could be multiple defendants in your case. One of the main reasons you will need to hire a lawyer is to conduct a proper investigation into the accident, so that you can accurately identify and hold accountable all of those that may have contributed to your suffering.

What pedestrian victims and their families can expect from the trucking company

Far too often, victims in cases involving pedestrians pass away. That leaves their families without their loved one and all of the benefits they contributed to their lives. The death also leaves behind a torrent of pain and suffering that devastates the spouses, children, and parents left behind. In cases where the victim was killed, the law generally allows you to recover for the following:

  • Lost income. The person who died contributed financially to your household. Your attorney should make a claim for whatever your loved one would have contributed in the future.
  • Pain and suffering. You've endured enormous misery as a result of the accident. While it's difficult to quantify that in monetary terms, juries are allowed to force the defendant driver and his company to compensate you nonetheless.

In cases where the victim is thankfully still with us, he or she can pursue all the personal injury compensation allowed by law. But the main financial awards you can pursue are the following from the defendant:

  • Medical bills: After a serious accident like an 18-wheeler striking a pedestrian, the victim will clearly need extensive medical treatment. This includes potential future medical care that will likely be needed.
  • Lost income: Victims in these accidents are almost always forced out of work to attend to their recovery. It's not fair that you should bear the financial burden that naturally comes with getting injured.
  • Pain and suffering: Just like in wrongful death cases, juries can require the defendant to attach a dollar amount to what you've gone through.

The bottom line in these cases, however, is that trucking companies are required to maintain $1,000,000 in insurance. While money alone will never heal all your wounds, there are substantial monies to pursue.

After an 18-wheeler driver hits a pedestrian, will he go to jail?

We've received this question from clients in virtually all our tractor-trailer/pedestrian cases. We're not criminal lawyers, so the most honest answer we can give is: it depends. The police will investigate the accident, and if they determine that the driver behaved in a criminal manner then it's very likely he'll be at least charged with a crime. Whether or not the driver serves time in prison is up to the criminal justice system. We don't have any influence over that process, but we always keep a close eye on the criminal proceedings.

It's time to call us

Please do not miss your opportunity to get justice from the person and companies that hurt you. If you have been injured in a pedestrian truck accident or lost a loved one, call Grossman Law Offices as soon as possible at (855) 326-0000 (toll free) for a confidential and free consultation to see how we may be able to help.


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