Somerset County, located directly between Philadelphia and New York City, sees an unusually large amount of tractor-trailer traffic delivering goods to east coast cities. Because it is a pass through for so many commercial trucks making deliveries, a number of tractor-trailer accidents unfortunately occur on Somerset County roads. Tractor trailer accident attorneys know that large trucks present dangers that are not present in accidents between regular passenger vehicles and as a result, truck accident injuries are often debilitating or fatal.
Tractor trailer characteristics and dangers
Tractor trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They also do not stop quickly and they do not change lanes or swerve swiftly when presented with an emergency situation. When they attempt a forceful stop from a high rate of speed, tractor trailers have a tendency to jackknife (the trailer swings out to the side of the cab) and the truck driver loses all control of the vehicle.
Liability and damages
In order to negotiate effectively with insurance companies and prepare for a trial when necessary, a solid case backed by evidence of liability and injuries must first be constructed.
Liability – Collecting liability evidence may require hiring experts to conduct a forensic investigation and accident reconstruction. Attorneys will interview witnesses, review statements made at the time of the accident, and accident reports. Since commercial trucks are heavily regulated, attorneys will look in the truck driver and trucking company’s rules and regulations compliance. Attorneys will look for violations such as:
- Evidence of distracted driving at the time of the accident
- Hours of service violations
- Evidence of drug or alcohol use
- Cargo loading or securing violations
- Compliance with required safety training
- Proper background checks conducted prior to hiring the driver
Injuries and damages – Due to the size and weight of tractor trailers, injuries are often catastrophic in large truck accidents. Common injuries include broken bones, amputations, paralysis and other neurological disorders, brain injuries, and death. Truck accident recoveries may include medical expenses including disability accommodations, lost wages, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, property damage, and wrongful death.
It is often necessary to hire medical experts for expert testimony and to conduct a medical evaluation. Medical experts’ evaluation and review of medical records will help to determine a value for injuries and damages suffered. This valuation is important so that plaintiffs do not settle with insurance companies for less than their claim is worth and it can also be persuasive in negotiations. Insurance companies know that juries are unpredictable and if injuries are significant, insurance companies may not want to take the risk of a jury award being larger than a plaintiff’s settlement demand.