Commercial trucks are an important part of our economy, transporting more cargo across the United States than railroads and airlines combined. Unfortunately, because trucking is such a crucial arm of the transportation industry, truckers are often pressured to ignore the life-saving safety rules imposed by the government, driving far longer shifts than regulations currently allow. When truckers exceed their shift limits, they can easily become fatigued or even fall asleep at the wheel, often resulting in disaster.
If you or one of your loved ones was injured in a truck accident in Salt Lake City or the surrounding area, injury lawyer Jay Sheen may be able to recover compensation on your behalf. Depending on the circumstances of an accident, Utah injury victims can generally be compensated for medical bills, hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other hardships. With over 33 years of experience representing truck injury victims in the Salt Lake City area, Jay knows exactly what to look for when handling these complex claims.
To learn more about your rights as an injury victim, call Jay at (801) 618-3580 for a free and confidential legal consultation. Please don’t hesitate to call during evenings or weekends.
Driver Error: Common Causes of Large Truck Crashes
According to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 21 trucks and 268 passenger vehicles were involved in large truck crashes in Utah in 2013. Sadly, these crashes resulted in 20 fatalities, most of which claimed passenger vehicle occupants.
Like other types of automotive accidents, crashes involving large trucks like 16- and 18-wheelers can be caused by a variety of factors. Often, these factors involve careless mistakes and human error. According to NHTSA data on large truck accidents:
- Physical driver impairment, such as falling asleep, is a factor in 6% of crashes.
- Driver performance errors, such as overcompensation, are a factor in 6% of crashes.
- Driver recognition errors, such as inattention, are a factor in 16% of crashes.
- Driver decision errors, such as misjudging other drivers’ speeds, are a factor in 21% of crashes.
This data is significant for truck injury victims, because it touches on an important legal concept known as negligence. As an injury victim, or plaintiff, you must prove that the other driver was negligent in order to obtain compensation for serious injuries.
Whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, you assume a responsibility to obey traffic laws, respond appropriately to traffic signals, and take normal safety precautions based on the weather and road conditions. These responsibilities, which are shared by all drivers, are collectively known as a duty of care. When a trucker negligently fails to meet that duty of care by driving in an unsafe manner, and a person is injured or killed in a preventable accident as a result, the victim or victim’s representatives may be entitled to compensation.
How Much Compensation is Available to Accident Injury Victims in UT?
Most injury victims initially seek compensation by filing an insurance claim, which may allow the matter to be resolved through out-of-court settlement negotiations. If negotiating fails to bring about a resolution acceptable to all parties involved, it may be necessary to bring the matter to court by filing a lawsuit against the individual driver who caused the accident, the carrier company which hired the driver, or other parties depending on the nature of the crash.
Compensation is sometimes described as damages — for instance, you may have heard of a plaintiff “seeking damages” in a certain amount. With some exceptions related to malpractice, Utah does not limit or cap damages for the victims of personal injury or wrongful death.
Damages are divided into a few different categories depending on the underlying loss for which the plaintiff is being compensated. For instance, there are:
- Compensatory Damages — Refers to compensation strictly for the plaintiff’s existing and projected costs and losses.
- Economic Damages — Refers to damages which can be simply and objectively calculated, such as medical bills and lost wages.
- Non-Economic Damages — Refers to damages which are not financial or calculable in nature, such as the pain and suffering experienced by the victim, or, in cases where the injuries are severely disabling, loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive Damages — Sometimes awarded to punish a defendant whose negligence is of an extreme and egregious nature. Punitive damages are meant not only to punish the defendant, but also, to act as a deterrent for others.
If you or one of your loved ones was hurt in a truck accident in the Salt Lake City area, call attorney Jay Sheen at (801) 618-3580 to learn more about your case in a free and private legal consultation. Jay has decades of experience handling cases related to head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, intersection accidents, and other types of crashes involving semi-trailers and commercial trucks.