Whether it’s a half-ton pick-up or a mammoth commercial 18-wheeler, trucks are one of the most imposing vehicles on the road. Their sheer size and weight mean that any smaller vehicle involved in an accident with a truck is usually more damaged. And if a person (pedestrian, cyclist, motor vehicle driver or passenger) is hurt during these collisions, their risk of suffering catastrophic injuries is much higher than in many other types of collisions.
Damaged property can be replaced, but if you have suffered a serious injury causing permanent disability or a loved one has been severely injured or killed in the accident, you will feel a profound sense of loss. Even more minor injuries can sometimes significantly impact your enjoyment of life or your ability to work to provide for yourself and your loved ones. While no amount of money can ever replace what has been taken from you, it can help pay for treatments and counselling, medical devices, cover income loss and give you funds to start to rebuild your life as best as possible.
Litco Law Edmonton truck accident lawyers are experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury advocates who can help you access benefits and claim compensation for your losses. As we have expertise in this area of law, we work with you and your loved ones to build strong cases that encourage insurance companies to offer fair settlements. And, if their offers aren’t acceptable, we know our cases are court-ready and persuasive to judges and juries who may award you damages if an accident was not your fault, or only partially your fault.
Protecting Yourself From Truck Accidents
While some accidents can simply not be avoided, there are some important measures you can take to better protect yourself from being involved in an accident with a large commercial transport truck. These vehicles are not as agile as smaller vehicles and should be given more space on roads. Moreover, by ensuring your own vehicle is visible to drivers and that you’re using your signals to indicate your intentions, you can help these transport drivers take their own precautions.
When you’re driving near a truck:
- stay out of its driver’s blind spot as much as possible. If you can see the driver in their mirror, they can probably see you;
- maintain a safe distance while following a truck or when stopped behind a truck while on an incline. Often trucks drift backwards when first starting up while on a hill;
- try to avoid travelling between two trucks as one or more drivers may have trouble seeing you;
- reduce your speed if a truck is passing you to avoid poor visibility from spray or dirt coming off the truck’s wheels;
- always give sufficient time to signal if you’re passing, turning or stopping; and
- if you’re passing a truck leave a good amount of space between the vehicles before you re-enter the lane.
Commercial truck drivers are often required to take additional safety training to protect themselves and others on the road and many trucking companies have implemented programs and technology to help their drivers stay safe. These safety features include:
- accident avoidance technology (lane departure and forward collision warning systems, stability control, and blind spot cameras);
- fatigue management systems (including sleep time/drive time guidelines); and
- encouraging use of rest stops to break up driving time
Truck Accidents Statistics and Safety
While trucks are statistically less likely to be involved in collisions than other types of vehicles, the fatality rate for these crashes is very high (almost 30%). More than half of all truck collisions which cause injuries and four out of five collisions resulting in a death happen on highways. High speeds on these roads are a significant reason for the severity of these crashes. As you might expect, larger vehicles travelling at high speeds need much more time and distance to slow to a complete stop. While cars need about 300 feet to stop after braking, large transport trucks need well over 500 feet. One American study found that brake problems were the top cause of large truck crashes.
Other mechanical and load distribution issues can also lead to damaging truck accidents. Wheel separations, once a major concern for heavy commercial transport trucks, are now more common among light-duty trucks. A wheel that comes loose from a vehicle often occurs at high speeds. This kind of mechanical failure can not only cause the driver of a vehicle to lose control, but a wheel on the road can strike other vehicles or people or obstruct other drivers. Safety experts suggest retorquing wheels shortly after changing them.
Improperly distributed cargo or a load that is too heavy can also cause problems for truck drivers if it shifts and impacts maneuvering and control of the vehicle. Sometimes a sudden shift to one side of a vehicle can lead to a rollover accident. If a load is not secured well, it can also spill onto the road or fly off a truck bed, hitting other vehicles or people or leading to dangerous driving conditions.
Other common causes of trucking accidents include:
- driver fatigue;
- driver under time pressure to complete a trip;
- distracted driving;
- unsafe passing or parking on the road;
- drifting between lanes;
- taking dangerous wide turns;
- failing to use reflectors and lights; and
- alcohol and drug impairment
Government transportation ministries inspect commercial vehicles frequently and the industry is well-regulated, and statistics suggest that these actions are creating safer conditions. Commercial truck drivers are actually less likely to be found at fault in accidents than other drivers or persons on the road. However, if these drivers or their companies are at fault for an accident that injured you or a loved one, you may be able to claim compensation for your pain, suffering and losses.
What Should I Do If I’m Involved In A Truck Accident?
Above all else, you must ensure your own safety and seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. If you are able to safely move away from the scene of the accident to avoid any other hazards, do so as quickly as possible, and put your hazard lights on. Since many truck accidents occur on highways, being on the road or close to the damaged vehicles can be especially dangerous. If you are unable to get out of your vehicle without risk of further injury, ensure a call is made to get the police and an ambulance on scene quickly.
Many accident victims are in a state of shock or pumped so full of adrenaline that they don’t realize the extent of their injuries. If you have non-visible injuries such as head trauma and internal bleeding, you may not think you need to be seen by a medical professional. However, it is extremely important to be assessed both on the scene and at a medical provider’s office or hospital – not only for your own health and well being, but also to protect your ability to make a compensation claim for your injuries.
If you are able, try to collect the contact information of other accident victims and witnesses, and the insurance information of any other driver involved. A police report should have this information if you can’t get it. Photos or video of the scene and your injuries can be useful for a future lawsuit, as are notes of anything you can remember about how the accident happened or other important factors (the weather, road conditions, etc.).
There are also some things you should never do at the scene of a truck accident. Never admit fault and it is rarely advisable to agree to an offer to settle without getting insurance involved. These offers are virtually always significantly lower than what you could get by going through the proper channels.
Dealing With Insurance And Making A Claim
Within 24 to 48 hours of the truck accident you should contact your own insurance provider, or the insurance provider of one of the other drivers if you are a passenger, cyclist or pedestrian without motor vehicle insurance. Litco Law Edmonton truck accident lawyers know that people are often nervous about talking to insurance because they fear saying something wrong or agreeing to something without having all the information they need to make a decision. A free, no obligation initial consultation with our team can help you understand your rights. If you choose to work with us, we can be with you as you make the call or deal with them on your behalf.
Anyone involved in a truck accident in Alberta is entitled to Section B benefits, regardless if they were at fault for the collision. Section B benefits provide up to $50,000 for medical expenses with some internal limits for popular treatments, like massage and chiropractic. If you have private insurance you may be required to exhaust it before using some Section B benefits, however this benefit may cover some costs for physiotherapy, massage therapy, medications, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, dental treatment, ambulance rides, medical supplies or equipment, and others. Section B benefits also provide $600 or 80% of pre-tax income per week (whichever is less) for income replacement, and additional funds for death benefits and grief counselling.
An insurer can ask for you to visit one of their doctors if you are drawing on these benefits for an extended period of time. A Litco Law truck accident lawyer has the expertise to help fight an early withdrawal of benefits or an outright denial.
If the truck accident was not your fault, or only partially your fault, one of our lawyers can assist you in making a claim for compensation against the at-fault driver, the trucking company, or both. The aim of these tort cases is to recognize how your injury has impacted your life and to claim damages for pain, suffering and your many losses. Since drivers of commercial trucks are required to keep detailed logs of their activities, deliveries, and vehicle servicing, there is often more evidence available from which to establish negligence.
Why Choose Litco Law Edmonton Truck Accident Lawyers?
Selected as one of Canada’s Top 10 boutique personal injury firms (Canadian Lawyer Magazine), we are recognized by our peers as industry-leading experts in our field. Our reputation has been over 40 years in the making, and it is largely due to the incredible word-of-mouth support we receive from satisfied clients.
For example, David, the owner of a car business where referrals are so important, recalls: “Originally, I was referred to Larry (Litwiniuk) because of an accident I had been embroiled in with a truck running into me. A few years later, I had another situation, went back to Larry and was very satisfied. Over the years I’ve sent him friends, family and many of our clients and everybody has been tickled pink with the outcome.” David says Litco Law is the only legal firm that he refers his clients to because he knows we will treat them with honesty and compassion.
Looking For A Truck Accident Lawyer in Edmonton? Contact Us.
We service the Edmonton and surrounding area, including the counties of Parkland, Leduc, Strathcona, Sturgeon. When you need a Truck Accident Lawyer in Edmonton, think Litco Law Personal Injury Lawyers.