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Trucking Accident Lawyer

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most fatalities and injuries from tractor-trailer accidents involve pedestrians and passengers in other cars. Are you a victim? Have your expenses and quality of life suffered as a result of the collision? Was your car damaged, maybe even totaled? With our Utah truck accident lawyers, you can get the help you need to stay on top of your bills and fair compensation by calling our office today.

Let Our Utah Truck Accident Attorneys Handle the Hassle of Your Truck Accident Lawsuit

At Christensen & Hymas, you are not just a case number to us. We strive to put our clients first and ensure that every case gets the time and personal attention it deserves. With us, you can rest assured that you’ll get fair compensation for your medical and car expenses as well as your pain and suffering after a truck accident.

Commercial Trucking Accident Case Details and Information

The majority of fatal trucking crashes happen in rural areas. Nearly four out of five fatal accidents happen on the weekend. More than a quarter of truck drivers involved in fatal truck crashes have prior convictions for speeding or driving recklessly—compared to a fifth of all passenger car drivers involved in fatal crashes.

What Common Defects Set the Stage for Tractor Trailer Accident Crashes?

Most defect-related tractor-trailer mishaps involve failed brakes, bald or otherwise failing tires and wheels, transmission issues, and steering engagement issues.

If You or a Family Member Has Been Hurt by a Tractor Trailer Crash, Who Might Be Liable for Damages?

  • The driver
  • Owners of the tractor-trailer
  • The insurance company for the victim
  • The insurance company for the truck owner
  • Vehicle manufacturers
  • A state or county responsible for maintaining the roads
  • Other drivers who may have contributed to the accident
  • Insurance companies of those other drivers

What Damages Can You Seek in a Tractor Trailer Accident Liability Suit?

In a tractor-trailer accident liability suit, you may seek the following types of damages:

  • Pain and suffering for your injuries
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages and business opportunities
  • Reimbursement for medical costs
  • Reimbursement for legal costs
  • Payment for mental health care treatment
  • Compensation for a changed lifestyle
  • Punitive damages in extreme accident cases

Gloria’s Story

On August 19, Gloria was driving along I-15 near Fillmore, Utah, where the roadside had been charred by the Milford Flat fire. High winds combined with smoke and dust from the fire resulted in dangerous driving conditions. With limited visibility, Gloria slowed her car. 

As she came to a stop in traffic, a 40,000-pound semi-truck slammed into the back of her car, leaving her seriously injured. A bystander rushed to give Gloria first aid. Gloria was transported to Fillmore Hospital, and from there, she was life-flighted to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. 

Gloria worked her whole life to maintain a good credit score, but now she wasn’t sure how she could pay her bills. She had never dealt with an insurance claim before and had several questions. Ultimately, Gloria met with us, and—after becoming a client and working closely together—she was able to receive a significant settlement without going to trial. 

Now, Gloria is a great friend and is part of our law firm’s family of satisfied clients. Like Gloria, you may also be suffering from the consequences of a truck accident. We want to help you understand your rights and obtain the compensation you need so you can begin rebuilding your life.

Our Utah Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys Are Here To Help You

“I’m so glad I called Christensen & Hymas after my accident; I don’t know what I would have done without them . . . They don’t fit any of the stereotypes I had about personal injury lawyers.” —Gloria

Our Utah truck accident personal injury attorneys are here to help. If you have any questions about our services, feel welcome to browse our pages, order one of our free accident books, or call us at 801-506-0800 and schedule a free initial consultation. We aim to provide you with personal, compassionate service.

Common Causes of Semi and Commercial Truck Accidents

Some common causes of semi and commercial truck accidents include:

  • Driver Error – Operator errors may result from carelessness, fatigue, or a lack of knowledge about the laws. Driving mistakes may include poor lane changes, disregarding traffic signals, and failing to account for the weight of the commercial truck while driving.
  • Failed Brakes – The health of the vehicle’s brakes are extremely important in a commercial truck. Failed brakes may cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle, causing a collision.
  • Speed – Driving at a high rate of speed is especially dangerous for a commercial vehicle. Operating at speeds that are too fast makes it difficult for the driver to control their truck.
  • Failed Tires – Truck maintenance is critical to safe driving, including regular inspection and proper inflation of tires. Failed tires may result in an accident.
  • Drunk Driving – Even though a commercial driver should never take to the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drunk driving is a common cause of semi and commercial truck accidents.

What Can The Christensen & Hymas Attorneys Do for My Truck Accident Case? 

When you need fast, experienced, and personalized legal representation, the Christensen & Hymas truck accident attorneys are here to fight for you. If you’re hurt in a truck accident, your life is thrown upside down. You may be unable to work. Medical bills may be piling up. You may not even know where to start.

Our team can pursue every part of the case on your behalf. When you need help the most, you don’t have to fight alone. Let our team build your case and walk through the claims process for you so that you can focus on your recovery. Our goal is for you to have a fair settlement that fully represents your losses while working through the claims process as quickly as possible.

Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?  

You may know that you need and deserve compensation after a truck accident. But you can’t get the compensation that you deserve without making a legal claim. And you may not even know what the value of your case actually is. You’re going to need to build the evidence in your favor. Plus, there are mistakes along the way that can derail your case. 

All of these questions and issues are reasons that you need a truck accident lawyer—getting the compensation that you deserve can put you on the path to recovery. You only get one chance to pursue your case and get justice. Don’t leave it to chance. Let an experienced truck accident lawyer work for you and with you for the compensation that you deserve.

What to Do if You Are Hit by a Truck

Being hit by a truck can be life-changing. Not only is your chance for serious injuries quite high, but severe damage to your car is likely. If you happen to sustain only a minor injury, here are some of the things that you should do:

  1. Do not leave the scene of the accident. Wait for the authorities.
  2. Do not move your vehicle, except if you are creating a traffic hazard. Valuable information might be lost if you do.
  3. Call the police yourself if you have a cell phone, or ask a bystander to call the police.
  4. Call 911 for an ambulance if other occupants of the vehicles are injured.
  5. When the police arrive, cooperate and give information when asked. Do not utter comments such as, “I was in a hurry,” or “the truck came out of nowhere,” etc. Comments will be reflected in the police report and increase the possibility of liability or fault.
  6. Do not talk with the trucking company’s insurance adjusters at the scene. Never give any statement in writing or sign anything without first retaining the services of a lawyer. Notify your insurance carrier about the truck accident. Have your own insurance information on hand and know what your policy is.
  7. Take pictures. Take photographs of your vehicle and of the truck. Capture the position of the two vehicles from various angles. These photographs can serve as evidence when you need to present your claims.
  8. Get information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, etc., for all parties involved. Also, get drivers’ licenses and license plate numbers for all parties and vehicles involved. Get the insurance company name and policy numbers of the other driver, and also provide your information to the other driver. If possible, get names and all contact information for any and all eyewitnesses to the accident.
  9. Seek medical treatment. Even the most minor collision can result in severe injuries, which may require hospitalization, doctor visits, physical therapy, and even surgery. You may be left with high medical costs. Consult a licensed medical practitioner to document any injuries you sustained from the collision. Documentation of your injuries is extremely important to any case.
  10. Get a competent personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. They help you file the claim and get the compensation you deserve. If it can be proven that the driver of the semi-truck was at fault, then you are going to be compensated fairly for your losses.

Utah Trucking Laws

Utah trucking laws are designed to require truck drivers and companies to operate their vehicles safely. They also provide a legal remedy for victims of trucking accidents. It’s important to understand your rights and what is expected of you as you pursue your case. Of course, we cannot help with specifics regarding your case unless we have agreed to take it, but we want to give you free information to help you avoid making any big mistakes in an already difficult time.

Truck Accident Claim and Time Limits

Seek legal help immediately after a truck accident. Evidence can start to disappear quickly. For example, log books keep records of the hours the truck driver has driven to make sure they conform to federal regulations. But trucking companies usually only maintain these logs for a few months.

If you wait to find an attorney or pick someone without expertise in trucking laws, then you may find your case destroyed because of lost records. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states how long trucking companies must preserve documents:

1) Driver Logs

  1. Hours of service records: 6 months (395.8(k))
  2. Supporting data for “Periodical Reports of” hours of service: 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart K)
  3. Dispatch records: 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart K)

2) Driver Files & Records

  1. Driver qualification file: 3 years following termination in most cases (391.51(d))
  2. Driver personnel files: 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart E)
  3. Payroll records: 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart E)

3) Accident Claim Records

  1. Accident register: 1 year (390.15)
  2. Claim records: 1 year from the settlement (379 Appendix A Subpart F)
  3. Insurance records: 1 year from the settlement (379 Appendix A Subpart F)

4) Equipment Inspection and Maintenance

  1. Vehicle inspection reports: 3 months (396.11)
  2. Maintenance records: 18 months after departure from motor carrier’s control (396.3(c))
  3. DOT roadside inspections: 1 year (396.9)
  4. Periodic inspections: 14 months (396.21)

5) Drug & Alcohol Testing: 1-5 years depending on the type of data (382.401

6) Shipping Records

  1. Bills of lading, freight bills, and other shipping documents – 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart I)
  2. Loading and unloading records – 2 years (379 Appendix A Subpart J)
  3. Weight tickets – 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart J)

7) Lost Records List: For the remainder of the prescribed period (379 Appendix A Subpart M

As you see, the list is long and confusing, making it difficult for you to know which records to get and when. Our commercial truck accident lawyers can help with our expertise.

Which Trucking Laws Really Matter?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act has 1,000 regulations in about 50 sections. Of those, only 10 sections really matter (Holmes Ten Commandments):

  1. Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use and Testing (382)
  2. CDL Standards, Requirements, and Penalties (383)
  3. Safety and Fitness (385)
  4. Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility (387)
  5. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (390.5)
  6. Qualification of Drivers (391)
  7. Driving of Motor Vehicle (392)
  8. Parts and Accessories (393)
  9. Driver’s Hours of Service (395)
  10. Inspection, Repair, Maintenance (396)

These laws cover pages of regulations that need to be sifted through in order to ensure your case succeeds. Hiring a competent lawyer is the key to winning your case.

How Many Hours Are Truckers Allowed To Work?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets out the number of hours truckers can drive. Drivers can log 11 hours total before they have to take 10 consecutive hours off. They also can only work for 14 hours total before having to take this 10 consecutive hour break, including driving time as well as other work duties. Further, truckers cannot work more than 60 hours in a 7 day period or 70 hours in 8 days.

What Utah Laws Specifically Apply to Truckers?

In Paulos v. Covenant Transport, the Utah Court of Appeals confirmed that courts may allow trucking handbooks, like the American Trucking Association Handbook, to be informative for proper safety for truckers. Utah law limits both the length and weight of semi-trucks. It allows semi-trucks to have one trailer of 48 feet or less or two trailers of 61 feet or less total and 10,500 to 80,000 pounds based on the type of axle. Semi-trucks must also have a cover or flap behind the back tires to “prevent, as far as practicable, the wheels from throwing dirt, water, or other materials on other vehicles.

If carrying hazardous material, semi-trucks must follow the U.S. Department of Transportation rules, including having a sign indicating the hazardous material and the location of fire extinguishers. Truckers must also use warning signals if stopped on the side of a road. Truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) and follow the CDL rules. This includes the weight limits for truckers, reasons for the suspension of the license, and regulations for out-of-state drivers. They also must meet certain physical qualifications. They must spend 15 minutes inspecting their truck before driving and receive a full inspection every year (Utah Trucking Guide). Utah law also requires the trucking company to carry $1-5 million in insurance because of the potentially large amount of damage that accidents can create (Utah Trucking Guide).

What Other Important Trucking Accident Claim Information Should I Be Aware Of?

You should be aware that it’s important to have a unique legal strategy for your trucking accident claim. Other law firms will use the same accident expert for all trucking cases without realizing that this expert will miss important differences. For example, they may use the first single tire skid marks on the roadway as the initial braking, not realizing that the rear dual tires will leave the first skid marks because of the air-brake system. This would destroy all estimates and potentially ruin your case.

At Christensen & Hymas, we have successfully helped others with their Utah trucking accident cases. We can help bring some peace of mind to you during a difficult time.

Trucking Accident Statistics

Truck accidents result in a high rate of deaths, injuries, and property damage. Other vehicles involved in an accident with a commercial truck will sustain greater damage due to the truck’s weight and load.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines a large truck as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. A bus is defined as a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 10 passengers, not including the driver. In the study entitled, “The Large Truck Causation,” conducted in July 2007, four main categories are mentioned as reasons for trucking accidents:

  • Non-Performance: The driver fell asleep, had a medical issue or was otherwise impaired
  • Recognition: The driver was inattentive or failed to observe the situation adequately
  • Decision: The driver was speeding or following vehicles too closely
  • Performance: The driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control

Truck maintenance issues can also be a common cause of accidents. Even though companies are legally obligated to maintain their vehicles, long hours and ever-changing weather conditions can cause equipment failures that may result in a crash.

Facts About Trucking Accidents

Large truck and bus crash facts from the FMCSA:

  • The number of truck and bus crashes continues to rise. In 2018, there were 5,096 fatal truck accidents in the United States, a 1% increase from 2017. 
  • There are approximately 121,000 truck injury crashes each year.
  • City buses account for 12% of truck crashes.
  • From 2017-2018, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 1%. 
  • Over the past year (from 2017 to 2018):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 1 percent.
    • Injury crashes increased by 5%.
    • Property damage crashes increased 14% to 414,000

Trucking Health Statistics

People who drive trucks for long periods of time have an increased risk for cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Typical sleeping hours on a working day are under 5 hours. Some drivers work 94 hours per week or more.

Truck drivers are 2.5 times more likely to get injured than the average American worker. They are 7 times more likely to lose their life. 

We created the Semi-Truck Smashup Infographic as a visualization of data and other information to help you understand trucking accidents. We sourced all of the data on the infographic from studies produced by the U.S. Government. The data helps paint a comprehensive picture of the state of trucking and accidents in the United States.

Trucking Accident FAQs

What are the common causes of accidents between commercial trucks and other vehicles?

Willful disregard of the rules and regulations governing the use of roads and highways often results in accidents. Poor truck maintenance, driver fatigue, and operating under the influence are also contributors to a number of accidents between commercial trucks and other vehicles. To avoid accidents, truck drivers must be aware of the truck’s characteristics and performance capabilities, including acceleration, braking limits, and visibility limitations.

Is there a difference between automobile and truck insurance policies?

Yes, there is a difference between automobile and truck insurance policies. Trucks are required to carry higher amounts of insurance coverage than automobiles to cover severe injuries and damages that may occur.

Is there a difference between an automobile driver’s safety standard and a truck driver’s?

Because truck drivers are commercial operators, there is a difference between an automobile driver’s safety standards and a truck driver’s safety standards. Trucking companies are liable when their drivers are involved in traffic accidents; they must hire only safe drivers and train them properly. Drivers must log the number of hours they are on the road and take required breaks. Also, because trucks travel in interstate commerce, they are subject to many federal regulations that do not apply to other vehicles. Drivers are also subject to alcohol and drug testing.

What should I do if my car was hit by a truck and I sustained “minor injuries” only?

Even if you sustain only minor injuries when your car is hit by a truck, you should take photographs of the vehicles involved in the accident, submit a report to your insurance company, and seek medical attention immediately. You need to document your physical injuries by getting an evaluation from a medical professional. If possible, submit a report to the DMV. Make sure police reports are filed. Do not talk to the claims adjuster of the trucking company. Seek legal advice if planning to claim compensation.

Who can sue the driver and trucking company if the other party sustained serious injuries or died as a result of the accident?

The injured victim, and in some cases the spouse, can sue the driver and trucking company for injuries or death as the result of an accident. In a wrongful death action, the spouse or a trustee for the family can bring a claim or suit against the truck driver and trucking company.

If the semi-truck driver was at fault but is financially constrained, who can be sued?

If the semi-truck driver is at fault but doesn’t have sufficient financial resources to pay a claim, the owner of the truck and the company identified on the trailer can be sued. In some circumstances, the loading facility that placed the contents in the trailer and possibly the owner of the contents of the trailer may be included in the lawsuit.

How soon should I contact a lawyer to file my personal injury case after a trucking accident?

Ideally, contact a lawyer to file your personal injury case right after a trucking accident. This is for the lawyer to immediately access evidence to use in your claim. An initial consultation with many truck accident lawyers is free. However, even if you waited to contact an attorney, you may still reach out to learn about your case and your legal options. You may have a valid claim, but you must take action to receive compensation, and time is limited.

What is a contingency fee in a trucking accident case?

Some personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee in a trucking accident case is an agreement that you don’t have to pay for your attorney unless and until you receive your compensation. It means that you only pay attorney’s fees if you are successful in making a recovery.

If I may have been partially at fault for the accident, am I still entitled to compensation?

It’s possible that you may be entitled to compensation even if you are partially at fault for a trucking accident. The court compares the negligence committed by the plaintiff and defendant. The portion of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages he or she must pay. In most states, you can’t recover anything if you are 50% or more responsible for the accident.

What does “No-Zone” on a commercial truck mean?

The “No-Zone” on a commercial truck refers to the areas behind and beside a commercial truck where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility. A driver should not travel too closely to a commercial truck because of this limited visibility. 

Contact our Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys for Your Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a trucking accident, please do not hesitate to contact us at Christensen & Hymas to discuss your case by calling (801) 506-0800.