Today’s passenger cars and trucks are much safer than the ones people drove in the 1990s. Similarly, today’s large trucks are bigger and heavier than they were in the 1990s. Today, a fully loaded large truck weighs up to 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, these vehicles usually carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, often in external tanks. This combination often leads to serious injury. More on that below.
Because of these serious injuries, these victims need and deserve substantial compensation. They need it to pay crash-related medical bills and otherwise put their lives back together. If an insurance company pays these bills, we all pay them in the form of higher insurance premiums. They also deserve justice for their emotional distress and other noneconomic losses. Crash victims should never have to suffer in silence.
Compensation is available, but insurance companies do not simply give it away. Instead, a well-prepared London, OH truck accident lawyer from Kruger & Hodges must fight for it in court. We have successfully handled truck crashes and other personal injury cases for decades. Our proven methods have enabled us to obtain life-changing results for our valued clients in the past. We will fight to obtain the same kind of results for you and your family.
Truck Crash Injuries
Mostly because of the long-term truck driver shortage, which will only get worse in coming years, today’s truck drivers are younger, less experienced, and under more pressure than ever before. Indeed, the number of large truck crashes has increased significantly since 2020. These crashes usually cause catastrophic (life-threatening) injuries, such as:
Severe Burns: Diesel fuel and ordinary gasoline burn at different temperatures. Furthermore, many truck crash victims are pinned underneath flaming trucks until emergency responders can free them. This combination usually causes third or fourth-degree burns, which require expensive and extensive treatment at specialty burn centers.
Broken Bones: As mentioned, most victims are often pinned underneath large trucks. The tremendous weight usually crushes their bones. When these victims reach hospitals, doctors must use metal parts to painstakingly reconstruct these bones. Because this surgery is so invasive, some permanent loss of function is almost inevitable.
Head Injuries: The extreme, violent motion of a truck crash usually jostles the neck. This jostling often causes whiplash, a head-neck injury that’s very difficult to diagnose. This injury is also difficult to treat. Without prompt and proper treatment, this injury could cause permanent paralysis.
Spine Injuries: Truck crash motion often jostles the spine as well. If this long chain of bones and nerves is locked out of alignment, the misalignment causes catastrophic consequences in other areas of the body. Spine injuries are difficult to treat. Usually, the only options are risky surgery and addictive pain pills.
The medical bills in a catastrophic injury case usually exceed $150,000. Typically, group health insurance policies exclude injury-related costs. Therefore, the victim could be left holding a very large financial bag.
So, our London, OH, truck accident lawyers connect victims with doctors who focus on injury-related conditions. Usually, these doctors charge nothing upfront for their professional services. As a result, instead of focusing on bills they cannot pay, truck crash victims can focus on getting better.
Evaluating a Case
The police accident report is usually the most important tool in a case evaluation. This significant tool might or might not be accurate.
Frequently, multiple agencies investigate major truck wrecks. Multiple agencies usually have significant resources and do not face strict time deadlines to complete their reports. Additionally, two heads (or three or four heads) are usually better than one. Multiple investigators have multiple perspectives, and they all bring something different to the table.
Other times, a single agency, and usually a single first responder, investigates a truck crash. This solitary first responder might be very experienced, but s/he is not an accident reconstruction professional. Furthermore, single-agency investigations are usually memory-based investigations. The agency is so busy securing the scene and tending to injured victims that the official report is an afterthought. Typically, the responder throws this report together at the last minute under pressure from a supervisor.
If a single agency generated the police report, a London, OH, truck accident lawyer must take its conclusions with a grain of salt. They might be inaccurate, especially in light of a commercial operator’s higher duty of care.
Noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. Commercial drivers have a duty of utmost care. They are not quite insurers of safe conduct, but they are close. Therefore, a one-off mistake for a noncommercial driver is normally negligence, or a lack of care, for a commercial driver.
The evidence collection process, which is outlined below, confirms the conclusions that a London, OH, truck accident lawyer draws from the police accident report.
We discussed the standard of care in truck crash cases above. If a driver’s behavior falls below that standard of care, that driver is negligent, and the victim is entitled to compensation.
The proper duty of care is usually a legal matter for the judge to decide. A jury typically decides if the driver breached the duty of care based on the evidence presented. In addition to the police accident report and related items, such as medical bills and witness statements, a London, OH, truck accident lawyer often uses electronic evidence, such as the truck’s Event Data Recorder, to prove a breach of care.
A large truck’s EDR resembles a commercial jet’s black box flight data recorder. EDRs measure and record operational information, such as:
Steering angle, and
A skilled attorney, often in partnership with an accident reconstruction engineer, uses these dollops of evidence like colors on a canvas, combining them to form a compelling picture for jurors.
As a bonus, human eyewitnesses are often legally incompetent to testify, or their credibility is suspect for one reason or another. But if a computer is working properly, its data is never biased or incorrect. So, it is almost bulletproof in court.
Large truck EDRs are well-built devices that normally survive even the most catastrophic crash. This sophistication means an attorney needs much more than a laptop and a screwdriver to access and download the information inside this gadget. Basically, an attorney needs the proper physical tools as well as the proper professional tools.
All this assumes the EDR is available. Whenever possible, insurance companies “accidentally” destroy these devices, denying victims the vital evidence they contain.
Only a spoliation letter, which creates a legal duty to preserve potential evidence, stops the intentional or unintentional destruction of valuable proof in a negligence case. Unless an attorney sends this letter within a few days of the accident, the insurance company probably will not receive it before they destroy the wrecked vehicle.
He who hesitates is lost. If an attorney misses this opportunity and this vital electronic evidence disappears, an attorney must go to Plan B.
In addition to the driver’s lack of care, the proof in a truck wreck case must also establish causation and damages.
Basically, the cause is a connection between the breach and the damages. In Ohio, negligence must substantially cause a crash. If Tom cannot see through a thick fog and he rear-ends Larry, bad weather contributed to the wreck. But Tom’s negligence, specifically his failure to control his speed and maintain a proper lookout, substantially caused the crash.
Usually, damage is any physical or property injury. Sometimes, an unexpected medical condition fulfills this requirement. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a good example.
Let’s go back to Tom and Larry and change the facts a bit. Assume Tom slams on his brakes and stops just short of hitting Larry. The extreme terror of a semi-truck barrelling towards him from behind alters the chemical composition of Larry’s brain. His amygdala (part of the brain that controls emotional responses) enlarges and crowds out the hippocampus (logical responses).
In other words, PTSD is a physical injury and not a processing disorder. Therefore, Larry could be entitled to compensation, as outlined above.
A few final words about vicarious liability in a truck crash case. In Ohio and most other states, employers could be liable for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
The law defines all these keywords in broad, victim-friendly terms. For example, an “employee” may not receive a regular paycheck and a W-2 at the end of the year. Independent contractors and owner-operators are employees, at least for negligence purposes. In fact, unpaid volunteers are also generally employees as well.
Vicarious liability is often critical in truck crash claims. Because the aforementioned injuries are so severe and costly, many individuals do not have enough commercial insurance to cover these losses. But trucking, shipping, and other such companies usually have deep pockets.
There’s a downside as well. The responsible company is usually an out-of-state holding company. Additionally, since the company has such vast resources, it is able to hire a small army of legal professionals to defend the claim in court. So, vicarious liability makes an already complicated case even more difficult to successfully resolve.
Rely on a Compassionate Madison County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in London, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law, by going online or calling 513-894-3333. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.