Commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers, and big rigs travel through Columbus on a daily basis. Whether the drivers are making deliveries in Ohio or simply driving through to get to a different state, it’s rare to hit the road and not see a truck. When large vehicles like that are involved in an accident, the consequences can completely change a person’s life.
If you’ve been involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, a Columbus truck accident lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC can help. We have extensive experience representing crash victims and determining liability for truck wrecks.
Our attorneys are well aware of the struggles accident victims and their families can face after a serious collision. By consulting with us, you’ll be on the path to receiving the compensation you need to get your life back in order and put the crash behind you.
How Common Are Truck Accidents?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), across the country approximately 450,000 large truck crashes were reported to the police in 2017. Of those accidents, 23% resulted in injury and 1% resulted in death. While the majority of deaths were passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists were also killed.
Vehicle occupants are particularly vulnerable when in a collision with a tractor-trailer because trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle. There’s also the fact that it takes longer for a truck to come to a complete stop—especially when road conditions are poor.
Truck accidents are usually the result of human errors. Negligent drivers may be distracted with devices like cellphones or GPS systems, or there’s also the possibility that they are fatigued and are not stopping to rest. Not every crash, however, is the fault of the driver. Sometimes, the trucking company or auto parts manufacturer could be to blame.
Semi Crashes in Columbus
Unfortunately, Columbus sees its fair share of truck accidents—especially on Interstate 270. I-270 is the beltway loop freeway in the Columbus metropolitan area. It’s commonly referred to as The Outerbelt or the Jack Nicklaus Freeway.
While I-270 originally started as a rural bypass of Columbus, many parts of it have become more traveled and congested. One of the most notable tractor-trailer accidents happened in 2017 when a gas tanker carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline rolled over while trying to exit. The highway was shut down in both directions as massive fires resulted from the crash. The only fatality of that accident was the truck driver.
If you’ve been involved in a crash in Columbus, our truck accident attorneys are prepared to determine why your crash happened. Part of doing that involves understanding what type of wreck you were in.
Types of Tractor-Trailer Wrecks
The type of truck accident you’re in will tell your lawyer a lot about the crash, including how the crash may have happened. As with any accident, there’s always the potential for injuries. A number of truck accidents, however, are more likely to have fatal consequences. Some of the most common types of semi wrecks include the following:
- Underride accidents. If a car is traveling too closely behind a tractor-trailer, there’s the risk for an underride accident. This happens when a car collides with the back of a truck and essentially gets stuck underneath the trailer. This type of accident often results in fatalities for the smaller vehicle’s passengers.
- Override accidents. Opposite to an underride accident, override accidents happen when a tractor-trailer drives overtop a vehicle. Inclement weather and distraction are the primary contributors to these accidents. These crashes also have high fatality rates.
- Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions are more likely to happen if a truck driver is fatigued. Driving while tired is dangerous and it can result in a vehicle veering into oncoming traffic lanes.
- Tire blowouts. Tractor-trailer tires support thousands and thousands of pounds. Because of that, they require regular maintenance. When that doesn’t happen, there is an increased risk for a blowout. If that happens, a trucker could lose control and veer off the road.
- Jackknifes. In the event a truck driver loses control of their vehicle, it’s possible the truck could jackknife. This means that the trailer swings out and extends past the cab. This is particularly dangerous on busy roadways.
- Vehicle Rollovers. Because of their high center of gravity, tractor-trailers are at risk of rolling over—especially when cargo is loaded improperly. Rollovers have the potential to be incredibly dangerous, especially when the truck is hauling toxic or flammable chemicals or liquids.
- Blindspot accidents. As a driver, you know it’s important to be aware of your blind spots. That awareness is even more crucial for truckers because they have considerably larger blind spots than the average driver. Failing to ensure a blind spot is clear could result in a merging or turning accident.
No matter what type of crash you were in, a Columbus lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to determine what happened and why. Your lawyer will also thoroughly review your losses to determine what to value your claim at.
Building a Truck Accident Claim in Columbus
There are a number of steps that go into building a strong truck accident claim. A Columbus truck accident lawyer can guide you through the process and ensure nothing happens that could jeopardize your compensation. No matter what you’ve been through, the first step is to focus on your health. Once you’ve been treated, you and your lawyer can begin going over potential evidence for your case.
Gathering evidence for a truck accident claim is a multifaceted process. In addition to evidence collected at the scene through photographs and witness testimony, your lawyer will also likely request to review the information from the truck’s black box—which contains information like how fast the trucker was traveling at the time of the crash, whether they applied their breaks, and more. In addition to the black box, your lawyer may request to review the driver’s logbooks. This will give you an idea of how long they were on the road.
As mentioned, determining who is at-fault for a truck accident can be challenging. Fortunately, an experienced attorney from Bey & Associates, LLC will be able to piece together what happened and determine who is at fault and why. If the truck driver was not responsible for the accident, your attorney will work on proving negligence on behalf of the trucking company or truck manufacturer—depending on the circumstances of your crash.
To prove liability, you’ll need to show the at-fault party owed you a duty of care and breached that duty. You’ll also need to explain your injuries and the economic and noneconomic losses you’ve suffered as a result.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once fault has been determined, regardless of who the at-fault party is, it’s time for negotiations. During this phase of the personal injury claim, your lawyer will go back and forth with the opposing party and their insurance company in an effort to get you the compensation you deserve.
Some settlements are reached quickly; however, not every situation resolves in an efficient manner. It’s important to note that once a settlement is agreed upon, both parties are giving up their right to pursue further legal action.
Taking Your Case to Court
While most truck accident claims do settle through negotiations, this isn’t always the case. In the event the opposing party is unwilling to settle, or the settlement offer you receive is considerably less than what you’re owed, you have the right to pursue additional litigation in the form of a lawsuit.
With any lawsuit, it’s important to get the paperwork filed properly in accordance with the statute of limitations. In Ohio, you only have one year from the date of the accident to file. Once your lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will guide you through the process and prepare you for court. Instead of reaching a settlement, a judge or jury will impose an official verdict. Either party has the option to appeal the verdict and have the case reviewed by a higher court.
Contact Bey & Associates, LLC
If a truck accident has upended your life, you may be hesitant to file a personal injury claim. We understand how overwhelming taking legal action can seem when you’re trying to physically and emotionally recover from a serious crash. That’s why working with a Columbus truck accident lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC is in your best interests.
Working with an attorney means you will have the space you need to recover, while your legal matter is taken care of. While your lawyer will keep you updated with any case changes and ensure you are making the decisions the entire time, they will handle the difficult conversations and legal paperwork on your behalf.
Truck accident claims have the potential to be complex, especially when determining liability. Because of that, the sooner you get in touch with an attorney after your accident, the better your chances are of receiving full and fair compensation for your losses. Contact us today to learn more.