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Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a semi-truck in the state of Alabama, contact the attorneys at Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey to learn how we can help you obtain compensation.

Semi-trucks are one of the most common ways goods are transferred from one area of the country to another. Without them, we would not have much of the food on our grocery store shelves or any of those day-to-day items we all use. However, sharing the road with these enormous vehicles can be harrowing for anyone else on the road, and accidents involving these large trucks are unfortunately very common, usually leading to catastrophic damages and injuries to those involved.

How do Truck Accidents Diff from Other Vehicle Accidents?

Any motor vehicle accident has the potential to be devastating, but an accident involving a truck can be absolutely catastrophic. This is mainly due to the massive size of semi-trucks, which can outweigh a passenger vehicle by as much as 76,000 pounds. Their large size means that truck drivers have limited abilities to brake or move out of the way of presenting dangers, making it sometimes impossible to avoid a crash. A car cannot withstand the force of a collision with a large truck without suffering serious damage, and the people inside the car face serious and sometimes deadly injuries.

Even if you manage to leave the scene of the accident without any major physical injuries, dealing with the aftermath can be much more complicated than if you get in an accident with another car. You can't simply take down the insurance information of the driver and call it a day. The trucking industry is heavily regulated, and most truckers work for a larger company, meaning several parties could be held liable for the accident. You may be dealing with the truck driver, the trucking company, and other parties such as a shipping company or a manufacturer, and all of their insurance companies. It can quickly become overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with the laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, or if you are unclear about your own rights as the injured party.

If you've been harmed in an Alabama truck accident, you may already know how complicated the aftermath can be. At Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey, we can help you navigate the Alabama personal injury process to help you pursue the compensation you need to recover from your injuries and move on from this traumatic event in your life.

Alabama Truck Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), semi-trucks (also called tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and big rigs) are involved in more than 400,000 accidents every year just in the United States. In 2020, there were nearly 5,000 people killed and 147,000 injured in crashes involving these large trucks. Of the reported fatalities, 71% of deaths were occupants of other vehicles, and 17% were occupants of commercial trucks.

Based on data recorded in 2018, more than 10,000 large trucks were involved in an accident in the state of Alabama. 27% of these crashes reported an injury or a fatality. Almost a third of these accidents occurred on interstates, where high speeds and fatigued driving are common.

Sharing the road with semi-trucks can be dangerous. Despite the strict regulations placed on truck drivers and the companies that utilize them, serious and sometimes fatal accidents continue to happen on a regular basis. If you are one of those affected, it's time to call an Alabama truck accident lawyer.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Every truck accident is different. Despite the unique circumstances that leads to each accident, here are the common causes we see:

  • Improper lane changes: Most vehicles, regardless of size, have blind spots, which are those areas that aren't picked up through the mirror. Commercial trucks naturally have large blind spots, and may not notice another vehicle before they make a lane change. Regardless of whether or not your car was visible in a rear view or side mirror, it is still the responsibility of the truck driver to thoroughly check their surrounding before changing lanes.

  • Distracted truck drivers: Distractions come in all forms, including texting and driving, adjusting GPS, changing the radio station, and eating while behind the wheel.

  • Fatigued truck drivers: Truck drivers are only allowed to drive a certain number of hours per day, but sometimes a truck company will push a driver to continue even after they've exceeded their daily limit. This tactic to increase profit margins means that drivers can often be overly tired. Fatigued driving can lead to decreased response time, distraction, or nodding off behind the wheel.

  • Impaired truck drivers: While we would like to think that no trucker is operating a big rig while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it unfortunately happens. Driving while impaired can lead to catastrophic collisions, especially when the one impaired is operating such a massive vehicle.

  • Defective truck equipment: Sometimes accidents happen because equipment or truck parts are defective. A defective lock can lead to a cargo spill, and defective engine parts can lead to a myriad of problems, sometimes resulting in crashes and injuries.

  • Improper cargo loading: If cargo is not properly loaded, it can throw off the balance of the entire truck, making them difficult to control and sometimes leading to turn-overs, cargo spills, or collisions.

  • Brake failure: This happens most frequently when trucks are heading down a steep grade, forcing them to "ride the brakes" to maintain a safe speed. This also puts a lot of wear on brakes, and sometimes they fail. A runaway truck is a terrifying situation that often leads to massive destruction.

  • Road construction: Road construction can create all kinds of hazards for drivers. Roads may be narrowed, making it more difficult to see or maneuver safely. There may be debris on the road, or uneven roadways, and there may be construction workers on the roads, making it hard to focus on driving safely.

  • Poor weather conditions: It's difficult to avoid bad weather on the road. Fog can reduce visibility, precipitation can create slippery surfaces, and high winds can throw off a truck's balance. Some accidents caused by bad weather can't be avoided, but others happen simply because a driver did not take proper precautions.

An experienced Alabama truck accident lawyer can look at the cause of your accident to better determine what compensation you are entitled. Contact Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey for more information and a free case review.

Types of Trucks Accidents

Just as the causes of truck accidents vary greatly, so do the types of accidents. Most truck accidents generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions happen when one vehicle is unable to stop in time and collides with the vehicle in front of them. These accidents can cause extensive damage and injuries, and are sometimes due to negligent truck drivers or negligence on the part of the trucking company.

  • Rollover accidents: These tend to happen when a truck's cargo is not properly loaded, or if a truck attempts a maneuver that causes them to lose control.

  • Jackknife accidents: A jackknife accident happens when a truck and the attached trailer portion no longer move in unison. Essentially, the trailer begins to move in a different direction than the truck is moving.

  • Cargo spills: This is pretty self explanatory. If cargo is improperly loaded, if there is a problem with the door or locks, or if there is a collision, a trailer can spill its cargo all over the road ways, creating obstacles for other motorists and potentially creating exposure to hazardous materials.

  • Underride accidents: This happens when a smaller vehicle collides with a tractor trailer and crashes into the undercarriage of the trailer.

  • Runaway truck accidents: As mentioned above, this typically happens on a decline if a truck's brakes fail. The truck is unable to stop until something stops it. This can sometimes cause collisions with other vehicles on the road.

  • Wide turn accidents: Obviously semi trucks need more space to turn than a smaller passenger vehicle. A car will stay close to the curb when turning at a right angle, but a truck is unable to do that. They must swing wide, often entering the lane next to them where other cars might be traveling in the same or opposite direction. Wide turns are especially dangerous on two lane roads with poor visibility.

  • Blind spot accidents: Truck drivers may claim that the accident was not their fault if the vehicle they hit was in their "blind spot." Yes, a truck's mirrors do not pick up on as much as car mirrors do, but it is still the responsibility of the driver to check their surrounding thoroughly before changing lanes or making turns.

Most Common Truck Accident Injuries

A collision with a large truck can easily result in catastrophic injuries, which are defined as injuries that permanently affect a victim's quality of living. The most common serious trucking injuries we see are:

  • Amputations: An amputation is one of the most serious injuries caused by a truck accident. Sometimes the victim loses their limb in the wreck, and sometimes an amputation becomes medically necessary due to a crushed limb or infection after the accident. These injuries obviously require a lengthy recovery, both physically and emotionally, and the affected person will never be the same as they were before the wreck.

  • Burn Injuries: Burn injuries are common in many vehicle accidents, but the risk becomes magnified when you consider a truck may be carrying flammable material or chemicals in their cargo. If a truck carrying hazardous materials is involved in a collision, these chemicals can ignite, harming everyone nearby. Even something as small as a punctured gas tank can cause a fire that leads to severe burns.

  • Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries involve damage to the bones and disks in the back. Spinal cord injuries can lead to incontinence, bone degeneration, loss of muscle function, and paralysis. These are very serious injuries and require months or years of treatment, almost always leading to major changes in a victim's everyday life. Spinal cord injuries rarely fully heal.

  • Head and Brain Injuries: Head injuries can range from relatively minor to life altering and at times, fatal. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can leaved a person permanently disabled. Brain injuries include concussions, hematomas, hemorrhages, and brain contusions. Many of those that have suffered brain injuries deal with mood changes, confusion, bursts of anger, intellectual deficiencies, depression, memory loss, or the inability to concentrate.

  • Broken Bones: It's no surprise that a crash involving a 40 ton vehicle might cause a few broken bones. Some breaks are minor and can heal within a few weeks or months, but many are very serious and require surgery and physical therapy. Some breaks never heal completely.

  • Wrongful Death: Unfortunately, sometimes a victim's injuries are too severe for recovery. Truck accidents can be deadly. If you lost a loved one in a commercial trucking accident, your family has rights. Though no amount of compensation will ever make up for the loss of life, we can help ease the financial strain caused by someone else's negligence, so that you can focus on moving forward with your family in the wake of such a terrible loss.

What To Do After a Truck Accident

If you are ever involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you may not know what all needs to happen. We've comprised a list of the things you should do following a truck accident.

If you are able, go immediately to a safe location off the roadway and call 911 to request police and medical personnel. Do this even if you believe the accident is minor.  You may have injuries you aren’t aware of yet due to the masking effects of adrenaline. It is also important to have a police report created to document the incident. The report could serve as valuable evidence in a subsequent truck accident claim. Here are some additional steps to take:

  1. Take pictures and videos of the scene, including damage to vehicles and other property, and any injuries.

  2. Gather contact information from any eyewitnesses and anyone involved in the crash.

  3. Photograph or write down any identifying numbers or marks on both the truck and trailer involved in the accident, if applicable.

  4. Never make a statement to anyone regarding fault, even if you believe you may have caused the accident. Any admission of fault can completely remove your ability to seek compensation.

  5. When giving a report to the police, stick to the facts as you know them. Avoid opinions or unnecessary information.

  6. Seek medical attention at the scene of the accident if possible. If not, be sure to get checked out by a doctor or hospital task as soon as you can, even if you don't believe you have any injuries.

  7. Contact an Alabama truck accident lawyer. The sooner you do this, the better. We can help preserve evidence and protect you from greedy insurance companies before your statute of limitations runs out.

Liability for Truck Accidents

Anyone who uses Alabama roadways owes a duty of care to other drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else who shares the road. This duty of care means that motorists should always be doing everything in their power to avoid causing harm to other drivers on the road.

When a driver breaks the law or drives carelessly or recklessly, their negligence places others at risk. Accidents involving semi-trucks can be complicated, because the fault may belong to more than one party, and it makes determining who was liable even more difficult.

  • A truck driver may be held liable if, for example, he was texting while driving or driving while intoxicated. If his own negligence caused the accident, he may be the at-fault party.

  • If the truck driver was working as an employee for a trucking company or other employer, the trucking company may also share fault for the accident, especially in cases where the driver was driving outside of the legal regulations, or if the accident was due to poor vehicle maintenance.

  • If the accident was due to faulty parts or equipment on the truck, then a manufacturer may be liable for the accident.

To recover compensation for you injuries, you must first establish who was at fault to ensure they are held liable. Sometimes, multiple parties may share liability and you can make a claim for compensation with all of them.

Proving Negligence

After determining who is liable for an accident, you must then prove that the at-fault party was negligent if you wish to recovery financial compensation for your injuries. To do this you must prove four things:

  1. The at-fault party (defendant) owed you (the plaintiff) a duty of care. This is likely already established, as every driver owes a duty of care to others that share the road.

  2. There was a breach in the duty of care. You must be able to prove that the defendant acted in such a way that risked the safety of others.

  3. You were injured. A personal injury claim will not get far if you don't have proof of your injuries.

  4. Your incurred damages as a result of your injuries. This can generally be proven by showing proof of your expenses, such as medical bills and proof of lost wages through paystubs.

It can be difficult to prove negligence if you are unfamiliar with the legal system or have a poor understanding of your rights. Also, due to Alabama's pure contributory negligence laws, you won't be able to collect a settlement if you are found to be even 1% responsible for the accident. Insurance companies will do anything in their power to prove that one percent, so it is imperative you consult an Alabama truck accident attorney for your best chance at receiving a fair settlement.

Alabama Statute of Limitations

If you intend to file a personal injury claim following a truck accident in Alabama, it is important that you do so within the legal time frame of two years from the date of the accident. If you fail to file in time, you will not be eligible for any compensation.

Two years seems like a long time, but it can takes months to gather the needed evidence and build you case. Contact an Alabama truck accident lawyer  as soon as possible after your accident so we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Investigating Your Truck Accident

Investigating a truck crash is vastly different than investigating a typical car crash. In order to determine fault, you may need to gain access to both the truck driver’s and their trucking company's reports and logs, including the "black box" all big rigs are equipped with. This black box contains data that may disclose what was going on in the time leading up to the accident. Insurance companies aren't overly eager to release this information, so it will sometimes take a lawsuit in order to compel a defendant to hand over evidence.

The lawyers at Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey know how to handle this back and forth between you and the liable parties to retrieve all necessary evidence. A thorough investigation could provide the documentation you need to establish the reason for the crash. This investigation can make or break a truck accident claim, and having an experienced attorney on your side is often the difference between receiving a sizable settlement or nothing at all.

Evidence For a Strong Trucking Accident Claim

During your truck accident investigation, your attorney will work to gather the following evidence to strengthen your case:

  • Driver Logs: US law restricts the number of hours a trucker is allowed to drive to a maximum of 11 hours a day. Truck drivers must record their hours in a log to ensure compliance.

  • Maintenance and Inspection Records: These records will show whether or not the semi truck was well maintained and regularly inspected, and whether or not there are any known problems with the truck that may have contributed to your truck accident.

  • Trucking Company Records: Trucking companies keep safety and training records on their drivers to ensure their drivers are qualified to be behind the wheel. A history of safety infractions may demonstrate the negligence that caused your accident.

  • Witness Statements: Statements from those that witnessed the accident can help support your claim of what happened. The sooner eyewitnesses are interviewed, the better their memory of the incident will be.

  • Photographs and Videos: You attorney will likely use any existing photos or video of the scene or of your injuries to strengthen your claim.

  • Truck Data Recorder (Black Box): Gaining access to the black box can be difficult and often requires a legal notice. Getting that information is imperative, because it may show that the driver was speeding or committing other driver errors that may have led to your accident.

Having an attorney to build your case for you will mean you will have more time to focus on your recovery. Let us handle the courts and the insurance companies. We have the knowledge needed to help you achieve the justice you deserve.

Laws Governing Truck Accidents

The commercial trucking industry is highly regulated, and there are some laws that apply to trucking accidents that don't apply elsewhere, such as:

  • Commercial truck drivers must have lower blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) than other motorists. A trucker is legally prohibited from driving with a BAC over 0.04, as opposed to the standard 0.08.

  • Truck drivers are held to hours of service regulations, which prohibit commercial drivers from driving more than 11 hours consecutively, working more than 14 hours a day, or driving without at least 10 consecutive hours of rest-time.

  • Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to keep detailed driving logs of the driver's drug and alcohol screenings, truck maintenance records, and hours of service compliance.

Compensation for Your Injuries

If you've been injured in a truck accident caused by someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation through an Alabama truck accident claim to cover your losses, also known as damages. These generally come in two forms: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include:

  • Your current and future medical expenses related to the accident

  • Any lost wages from time you took off work to recover from your injuries

  • Lost future earning capacity if your injuries are so severe that you can no longer work, or if you are no longer able to do the kind of work you did before the accident

  • Property damage for the loss of your vehicle

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering for any physical pain or emotional trauma caused by the accident

  • Scarring and disfigurement that leaves a visible mark on part of your body

In rare cases, if the negligent party was found to be acting out of extreme negligence or malice, you may also be awarded punitive damages which are designed to punish the negligent party and reduce the chances of such accidents happening in the future.

To ensure you get the maximum possible compensation, including both economic and non-economic damages, you will want to discuss your options with an Alabama motorcycle accident attorney from Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey.

Contact an Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident in Alabama, don’t wait to speak with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys. The lawyers at Cockrell, Cockrell, Ritchey & Ritchey have many years of combined experience handling personal injury claims, including those involving semi trucks and big rigs. We will fight aggressively to get you the fair settlement you deserve so that you can get your life back on track.

Reach out to our Alabama truck accident lawyers today by calling 205-349-2009 for a free case evaluation.


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