Steps to Take after an 18 Wheeler Truck Accident


Due to the considerable difference in size and weight when comparing 18 wheelers to passenger vehicles, you may assume that truck accidents are far more deadly than other traffic-related collisions.

This assumption is valid according to date compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

There were 4,889 fatal truck crashes in 2017 and another 102,000 injury-causing incidents.

These figures are disturbing because they represent a 42 percent increase in the number of truck accidents since 2009. However, the statistics don’t provide the full picture of how victims and their families suffer.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

There are many reasons that can cause an 18 wheeler truck to get in an accident. Some are common among all vehicle accidents, and some are unique to these larger vehicles.

Common causes include:

  • Speeding – commercial trucks have to cover a long distance, sometimes in a short amount of time. This means that speeding may occur if a driver feels they are behind schedule and want to reach their destination sooner.
  • Fatigue – drivers keep long hours, and though the amount of time they are allowed spend driving is regulated, these rules can be broken. If if they stay within the regulation, long hours of driving can easily cause fatigue.
  • Distraction – distractions can happen to any driver given the number of distraction available in today’s world. Distractions can be anything from cell phones, tablets, navigation systems, daydreaming and not watching the road, etc.
  • Stopping Distance – 18 wheeler trucks can weigh 40 tons, so it’s much harder for them to stop than a normal-sized vehicle. This longer stopping distance can be the cause more accidents.
  • Malfunction – there are a lot of mechanical and technical components that make up a commercial truck. As such, there are many more parts that may malfunction than a normal car would have. These malfunctions may result in accidents.

You Do Have Rights

Fortunately, you do have rights as the victim of an 18 wheeler crash. With the help of an experienced attorney, it’s possible to recover compensation for your losses.

However, success in getting the monetary damages you deserve does require some work on your part.

What should I do if an 18 wheeler hit my car?

Here are the 7 steps to take after an 18 Wheeler accident to protect your interests as an injured victim.

1. Seek Treatment for Your Injuries:

Your health is your first priority after a crash, so take proper precautions regarding medical care. For life-threatening injuries, excessive bleeding, loss of consciousness, or respiratory issues, head to the emergency room right away.

You may consider an urgent care center for injuries that are less serious but still require same-day care. These facilities can treat such medical issues as:

  • Cuts and abrasions;
  • Minor broken bones;
  • Whiplash or other soft tissue injuries; and,
  • Many others.

Proper medical care is essential to return to health after an accident and avoid exacerbating your injuries.

In addition, seeking treatment is also important in protecting your legal rights.

When you file a claim for your injuries, the insurance company will meticulously review your medical records.

2. Don’t Delay

If there’s a significant delay between the date of the crash and the date you visited a health care provider, the claims adjuster will contest the severity of your injuries.

The assumption is that you would have sought immediate medical treatment if you were hurt badly. An insurer could take advantage of the delay and use the information as grounds to offer a lower settlement amount.

The best rule of thumb is to seek care the same day of the truck collision, or at least within 72 hours afterward.

3. Exchange Information with the Truck Operator:

As with any motor vehicle crash, you should obtain basic contact and insurance details from the operator of the truck. However, with a truck accident, it’s also important to get information regarding that person’s employment – if possible.

You may have a claim against the driver’s employer, trucking company, or other entities involved with operating the truck as a business.

4. Gather Information and Evidence:

If you’re physically able based upon the nature of your injuries, try to get as much detail from the scene of the accident as possible. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the surrounding area, noting traffic signals, signs, lanes of traffic, obstacles to visibility, and other factors.

If there are individuals who may have witnessed the collision, obtain their contact information as well.

In addition, if there are businesses in the immediate vicinity, you may approach them regarding the presence of security cameras. The video footage may have captured important details that relate to fault accident.

5. Don’t Make Statements to the Insurance Company:

There are many DO’s involved with trucking accidents, and one very important DON’T. Other than notifying the truck driver’s insurance company about the crash, never make any statements to employees.

As mentioned, insurers are typically working against you as the victim of a crash. They don’t have your best interest in mind, so you put your rights at risk by discussing the accident and your injuries.

6. Consult with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer:

As soon as possible after the incident, you should reach out to a lawyer that focuses on truck accident claims.

Your attorney can handle the claims process with the insurance company, including:

  • Conducting an investigation;
  • Collecting and reviewing your medical records;
  • Preparing claims forms and supporting documentation; and,
  • Negotiations with the insurance company.

Attorneys know the tricks insurers use as a basis for denying payment or offering a low-ball settlement amount, such as blaming the accident on you or contesting the severity of your injuries.

If your lawyer cannot reach a fair, reasonable settlement amount with the insurer, the next step is taking the matter to court.

7. Litigation

Litigation involves technical, complex areas of law, along with very strict court procedural rules. Your 18 wheeler accident attorney will fight for your rights throughout the legal process, through such tasks as:

  • Drafting the complaint to initiate the crash lawsuit;
  • Attending all court hearings and conferences;
  • Raising motions that favor your position;
  • Defending motions brought by the defendant;
  • Engaging in discovery, including requests for documents and written interrogatories;
  • Taking the depositions of the truck operator, employer, witnesses, and other entities involved in the case; and,
  • Preparing for and representing you at trial.

Read: Trucking Accident, Who Do I Sue?

Learn More About 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents

Full Episode Transcript

Welcome to Legal Squeaks. I’m Dennis VanDerGinst. If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to subscribe to Legal Squeaks on your favorite podcast platform.

Today I’m going to talk to you about commercial truck accidents. From a lay perspective, it may not seem important to distinguish these type of accidents from other traffic accidents, but they are very different and distinct from accidents that only involve passenger vehicles. So this is a topic that’s definitely worthy of its own discussion.

And I have a special passion about this topic because I have served on the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice for many years, and I currently serve on the National Advisory Council for the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.

As an attorney, I’ve handled numerous cases involving big rigs and other large commercial trucks. And on a personal level, I’ve had loved ones who have been involved in these accidents. So I, I know firsthand the devastation that these types of accidents can cause.

So the term commercial vehicle usually indicates any motor vehicle that’s used to transport goods or paying passengers, but when I use the term commercial trucks, I mean the types of vehicles that can really create havoc and serious accidents on the roadways. For instance, the vehicles that are sometimes referred to as big rigs or tractor trailers, semis, 18 wheelers.

Similar concerns would exist for tanker trucks, busses, box trucks, any large truck of that nature. These vehicles are held to a heightened safety standard due to that size and power.

Drivers are required to undergo specific training to operate them, and the vehicles themselves are subject to regular inspections. Accident cases involving those types of vehicles can be considerably more complex than a regular car accident might have been. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2018, nearly 90,000 people died in the United States because of crashes involving large trucks and busses. During that same period of time, over 1.8 million people were injured in accidents involving big trucks and busses.

Now, obviously, people can be injured or killed in regular traffic accidents as well. You know, it doesn’t have to involve a commercial truck, but the risk of death or serious injury resulting from these accidents is much higher due to the size and weight of these types of commercial vehicles. Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of truck drivers are safe and thoughtful drivers. In fact, I’ve got several family members who either are currently or have in the past been over the road truck drivers. In addition, most trucking companies adhere to the applicable state and national regulations regarding training and supervision of drivers and the inspection and maintenance of vehicles.

And accidents involving large trucks are often, you know, not their fault, often it’s the fault of people driving smaller cars around them who fail to take into account the size of the trucks, the lack of maneuverability, or the large blind spots that some, sometimes exist with trucks, especially older trucks. But having said that, large truck drivers do cause their fair share of accidents as well. And one of the main concerns with this type of vehicle is that given the fact that it has extremely high inertia, it means that it takes longer for it to stop.

And if a driver doesn’t leave adequate room between that commercial vehicle and the car in front of it, he or she might end up rear ending someone with disastrous consequences. So, like I mentioned, regular maintenance of big rigs and other large commercial vehicles is extremely important, and that’s because commercial vehicles are required to adhere to certain safety standards for their air brakes. Large commercial vehicles are notorious for brake problems, and inspecting the vehicle after an accident can reveal important information about the state of its braking system, including brake lining adjustments and durability tests.

Equipment malfunction is often a contributing factor in these types of accidents. Trucking companies have to keep a record of the vehicle maintenance, but they’re allowed to discard those records after a certain period of time, you know, and it’s very, very common that those records are crucial to evaluating accident cases. So it’s really important to gain access to them right away before all the relevant maintenance records are either destroyed or discarded somehow.

Another source of negligence might be the company who loaded and secured the cargo in the tractor trailer. Sometimes loads are too heavy or they’re not properly secured so that they shift when the vehicle is moving or making turns. And that causes the vehicle to become unstable and perhaps tip over or again, get the momentum going in such a fashion that they cannot, the driver loses control of the vehicle causing an accident.

Speaking of the driver losing control, driver error may be a cause, obviously, of big rig accidents as well. Truck drivers have the same distractions as other drivers on the roadways, including sometimes being distracted due to texting or phone usage. But in addition to those other typical distractions that we all face when we’re driving, truckers can have long hours on the road, which can cause fatigue, which often, often is going to contribute to accidents.

In addition, there’s there’s the stress of constantly rushing to meet deadlines with respect to deliveries, and that can play an adverse impact on physical and mental health. Intoxication can be a part of the puzzle. It’s always good to do an extensive search into the driving histories in order to determine what the exact nature of the delivery was, and that can be useful for building a case.

If an operator, for instance, has a poor driving record, it’s much more likely that the accident was a result of his or her human error. Speaking of drivers, a commercial driver’s license, CDL, is the driver’s license required to operate large, heavy or placarded hazardous material vehicles and commerce. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act established the minimum requirement that must be met when a state issues a CDL. And there are different classes of licensure and endorsements which are going to determine what types of vehicles a person is allowed to operate.

Sometimes there are other outside factors that contributed, that may contribute to these types of accidents, including weather conditions, road conditions, road work, dangerous roadways. These are all factors that need to be evaluated to see what impact they may have had on any given scenario when we’re talking about an accident involving a large truck, or a big rig or, you know, a tanker truck, for instance. Speaking of injuries from a commercial vehicle accident can also be complicated.

Obviously, there’s the risk of serious bodily injury or death, but if the vehicle was carrying a harmful substance such as chemicals, then the victims are at risk for suffering a myriad of other medical problems.

In the worst case scenario, sometimes the cargo might even increase the risk of cancer or respiratory problems, which could affect the person’s quality of life and employment opportunities for the rest of his or her her life. So there are a number of things that are pertinent to large truck accident cases that just don’t usually arise in your typical passenger vehicle car accidents.

That’s why it’s important that if you’ve had an accident that involves this type of consideration, that you have an attorney helping you, that is familiar with the rules and regulations that impact these types of accidents, I hope this information has been useful. And I also hope you never have to use it.

If you have any questions, VanDerGinst Law is always honored to help.

Again, please be sure to subscribe and review Legal Squeaks as well as our other podcast, Uncommon Convos.

Also, check out, where you can suggest topics for upcoming podcasts.

So please have a great day. Stay safe. And I love you all.

How Contacting a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

Contacting a lawyer right away after a truck collision is an advantage in ensuring you get the compensation you deserve as an injured victim. With an attorney’s help, you’re in a better position to recover the full amount of monetary damages you’re allowed by law, including:

  • Medical costs, such as surgery, emergency care, long-term treatment, rehabilitation, and others;
  • Lost wages, if you’re out of work because of your injuries;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional anguish;
  • Scarring and disfigurement;
  • Decreased quality of life and enjoyment; and,
  • Losses based upon how your injuries affect your personal relationships.


Discuss Your 18 Wheeler Accident Claim with an Experienced Attorney

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a truck crash, skilled legal representation is essential.

To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact VanDerGinst Law, PC to set up a free consultation with our lawyers.

We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.

The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win. Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391. The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.

We can tackle the legal challenges involved with filing an insurance claim, and we’re equally prepared to advocate on your behalf in court.

The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.


What to do After Your Truck Accident?

As with any motor vehicle crash, you should obtain basic contact and insurance details from the operator of the truck. However, with a truck accident, it’s also important to get information regarding that person’s employment – if possible.

Should I Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

There are many DO’s involved with truck accidents, and one very important DON’T. Other than notifying the truck driver’s insurance company about the crash, never make any statements to employees.

Should I Consult With a Truck Accident Attorney?

Contacting a lawyer right away after a truck collision is an advantage in ensuring you get the compensation you deserve as an injured victim. With an attorney’s help, you’re in a better position to recover the full amount of monetary damages you’re allowed by law.

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