18-Wheelers Can be Held Liable for Sideswipe Collisions
Semi-trucks can often weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and usually take up an entire lane on roads and highways. As a result, if a truck driver is not giving his or her utmost attention to driving and watching out for other people on the roadway, they could easily enter into your lane and sideswipe your vehicle. Because of their enormous size, almost every collision with one of these trucks has a strong chance of substantial injuries, with long-term consequences for victims.
This article will discuss how the driver, as well as their employer can be held accountable in these cases. If you've read previous articles about different types of truck accidents, you'll remember the trucking company's liability is a result of the legal doctrine of respondeat superior (translated literally as "let the master answer"), meaning that employers are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees.
If you've been injured in an accident other than a sideswipe, you can check out our list of truck accident common fact patterns. In most accidents, but especially in a sideswipe collision, ignoring basic safety protocols like keeping a careful lookout, checking before changing lanes, or ensuring sobriety and alertness before beginning a trip, cannot go unpunished, and therefore, both the driver and employer are liable when someone is injured or killed.
Questions Answered on this Page
- What are some causes of sideswipe accidents?
- How can a trucking company try to hurt my sideswipe truck accident claim?
- Who pays for the injuries I've sustained in a sideswipe accident?
- What do I need to do after my truck accident?
Sideswipe accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few we have litigated:
Below are just some of the fact patterns of sideswipe accidents we've been a part of:
- In a case out of west Texas, a family was traveling on a highway when an 18-wheeler began to change lanes into the lane our clients were traveling in. The man driving our clients' car---a small passenger vehicle---was forced to swerve off the road. Sadly, the car then crashed into another vehicle, killing several passengers. The trucker kept driving, even after this catastrophic crash. A good Samaritan who'd witnessed the whole thing chased down the truck and got its information. One of our attorneys and an expert accident reconstructionist were on the scene the very next day. Not only were we able to hold the driver accountable, but later, we determined that he was on drugs at the time of the incident.
- We had another case near San Antonio where a truck driver apparently forgot to check all of his mirrors before sideswiping our clients' car off the road. Safety regulations require trucks to have numerous mirrors, so that the driver can see whether cars are coming from any angle. The driver, perhaps due to fatigue or just poor training, didn't see our clients. The accident caused a death and several serious injuries.
- In the final example, we represented the family of a trucker killed in north Texas by another trucker. The other 18-wheeler was driving too fast for the slick and icy road conditions, and at a corner, was unable to negotiate the turn. Our client's family member's 18-wheeler was sideswiped into a guardrail and flipped, killing the driver. Trucks driving within the speed limit -- but too quickly for the actual weather, time of day, road conditions, or traffic conditions -- cause many sideswipe accidents.
We've seen any number of combinations of bad decisions that lead to sideswipe accidents. At the end of the day, though, it was someone's fault that led to enormous suffering.
How the trucking company will try to deflect blame onto you
Of the hundreds of truck accident cases we have handled, in almost every one, the defendant trucking company tries to blame our client for the accident. They will say that you are actually the one who sideswiped the truck, that you were not paying attention to the roadway, and the entire accident was caused by your negligence. If you've ever been falsely accused by someone when it's their fault, you know how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, we've been successful in combating this strategy time and again. We have numerous ways to prove that you are the innocent victim and establish that the truck driver was at fault.
One of the best and most obvious means to determine fault is to inspect the scene of the accident. We start working immediately to assess the scene and the damage to both vehicles, because we know that every minute that passes creates a potential for loss or destruction of evidence. Through the strong working relationships we have built with expert investigators, we often are able to inspect the scene of your accident the very next day. Through this process we can document important pieces of evidence like tire tracks and skid marks on the road, which our experts can use to show fault in the accident.
Our critical first step is to preserve evidence
The very first thing we do in every truck accident case is send formal legal notice to the trucking company advising them of their legal obligation to preserve any evidence that's potentially relevant to your case. This notice helps to prevent the defendant from destroying, changing, or discarding pieces of evidence like ECM data, so that we can effectively use it to prove the trucking company's liability. Every 18-wheeler truck has an ECM data monitor. Much like the so-called "black boxes" contained in airplanes, the ECMs on trucks document and record almost every detail about the truck prior to the accident. Through the black box, we can show when the truck driver braked, how hard they were braking, which way they were turning the vehicle, and whether there were any mechanical or electrical malfunctions which contributed to the accident.
By acting quickly to request this information and by preserving this valuable evidence early on, we can ensure that the best evidence is available for proving your claim. More importantly, we can make sure that the defendants do not manipulate the facts to avoid responsibility for the accident.
We handle every case with an equal amount of dedication
We know that you've likely never gone through anything like this before and you've experienced a staggering amount of trauma. That is why we work so hard, from the very beginning, on every case we handle. Because of our more than 25 years of practicing law related to truck accidents, we know that even though you may appear to have relatively minor pains now, your injury could drastically progress into a much worse condition. It is important to us that we first establish and effectively prove fault, and then fully assess over time your long-term damages and harm suffered.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible. We want to work with you from the very beginning of your claim so that we can ensure that all necessary evidence is collected and properly preserved for trial. Though you may believe your injuries to be minor, they could easily turn into a much bigger problem down the road and you need to be prepared to hold the negligent defendant accountable. For a free consultation about your potential claim, contact our truck accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000.
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