Truck accidents are among the most fatal personal injury incidents that occur in Massachusetts. The seriousness of these accidents often result from the driver’s failure to notice and stop for pedestrians crossing at road junctions. Particularly, the enormity of dump-trucks and semi-trucks make it difficult for truck drivers to detect passing pedestrians or quickly maneuver the vehicle to avoid striking victims. Often times, truck drivers will leave the scene of an accident without ever noticing a pedestrian was struck. These types of truck accidents often result in unfortunate fatalities or extremely severe injuries to pedestrian victims.
In unfortunate circumstances, the pedestrian may be killed or sustain such severe injuries that he or she may never be able to lead an ordinary life again. In addition to pedestrians, other victims, such as cyclists and motorcyclists, may sustain injuries resulting from a truck driver’s negligence. These incidents often occur when the victim, whether pedestrian, driver, or cyclist, is not within the truck driver’s plain view. Due to the large size of these trucks, and the potential physical harm they can cause, it is imperative that truck driver’s exercise a great deal of caution when operating these vehicles for long periods of time.
Types of truck accidents
In many accidents involving large trucks, even a slight impact can cause serious injury and property damage to a victim. Some of the most common truck accidents are rear-end accidents caused by the truck driver’s failure to stop when driving behind another vehicle. These rear-end accidents frequently take victims by surprise, throwing them forward with no time to prepare for impact. Not only are the occupants taken by surprise, but even slight impact can cause serious injuries to the neck, head, and back. If the truck driver is speeding at the time of the accident, the other vehicle may be completely crushed, causing devastating, life-altering injuries to the driver and passengers.
Another common type of truck accident is called an under-ride. This occurs when a small vehicle strikes the back of a truck, causing its front end (known as the chassis) to become completely submerged under the rear-end of the truck. Injuries sustained by victims in these types of accidents often include crushed torsos, internal organ damage, serious spinal injuries, and severe brain trauma. Oftentimes, these types of injuries are permanent and significantly alter the victim’s ability the carry out regular daily activities.
If you were injured in a truck accident in Massachusetts resulting from someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.
Causes of truck accidents
Many truck drivers travel hundreds of miles per day with very little sleep or rest. As a result, some truck driver’s lose their ability to drive appropriately and take caution on differing road conditions. Speeding commonly causes truck accidents as drivers are anxious to reach their destination or are attempting to meet certain deadlines. In some circumstances, drivers may be distracted by their cell-phones or radios. A driver attempting to eat dinner while on the road may get distracted and cause an accident. In some unfortunate situations, a driver who has misused drugs or alcohol may take to the road. Other causes of truck accidents may include poor maintenance of the trucks or the installation of cheap, defective parts.
Personal injury compensation
If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver, you may be eligible to file a personal injury compensation claim. Compensation for your claim may include:
- the cost of medical bills for injuries caused by the trucking accident;
- future medical expenses for your accident-related injuries;
- the cost of at-home care during your recovery;
- suffering from permanent disfigurement resulting from the accident;
- emotional damage, psychological trauma, pain and suffering;
- lost wages from time out of work during your recovery; or
- the repair of property damage to your vehicle.
Truck accident claims, insurers and attorneys
When a truck accident occurs, the vehicle’s insurer expects serious damage and injuries to result. Once the insurer has been notified of the accident, an insurance representative will be sent to the scene of the accident to conduct further investigation of the claim. During the investigation, the insurer will attempt to find evidence relating to the accident, intending to relinquish their insured’s responsibility for the accident. In this way, the insurer intends to minimize the likelihood of having to pay damages for the victim’s claim. Some insurers, who are acting in faith bad, will even conceal evidence favorable to the victim in an attempt to reduce their insured’s liability for the accident.
For these reasons, it is important to consider hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you with your claim. These attorneys will take action against insurers who act in bad faith to ensure that you are awarded the compensation you deserve. Experienced truck accident attorneys understand the life-altering nature of the injuries you may have sustained and will work diligently to ensure the insurer pays full compensation.
Determining fault in a Massachusetts truck accident
In order to file a successful truck accident personal injury claim, it must be proven that the truck driver acted negligently in his or her vehicle operation. If the accident was caused by improper truck maintenance, the claimant must show that the truck owner was negligent. However, if the driver erred in judgement while driving the truck, he or she will be held liable for causing the accident.
In some circumstances, a truck accident is caused by defective truck parts, such as poor tire quality, faulty brake accessories or malfunctioning steering components. Occasionally, the manufacturer of the defective auto part will be liable for causing the truck accident.
Comparative negligence in Massachusetts
When a settlement is negotiated or a judgement is awarded, the responsibility of both parties for the accident will be calculated. If it is determined that you are more than 50% liable for causing the accident, you will not be entitled to any compensation for a personal injury claim. However, if it is found you are less than 50% liable for the accident, the compensation you are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of your liability for the accident.
For example, assume that the value of your claim is calculated to be $10,000. After an investigation of your claim, it was determined you were 10% responsible for causing the accident. Consequently, your damages will be reduced by 10% and you will only receive $9,000 in compensation.
The Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts
In order to file a valid personal injury compensation claim, you must do so within (3) three years of the date of the accident. If the full effect of your injury is not discovered until sometime after the accident, the Statute of Limitations may be extended to allow (3) years from the discovery of your injury to file a claim. This is known in Massachusetts as the “Discovery Rule.”
Accident victims are usually effected by the Statute of Limitations when a settlement cannot be negotiated with the insurer in a timely fashion. If the insurer and your personal injury attorney cannot reach a reasonable settlement, a lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party in a Massachusetts court of law. Cases exceeding $2000 in value can be filed in a Massachusetts District Court. Cases that do not meet the $2000 minimum can be pursued in a Massachusetts Small Claims Court.