Why Truck Accidents Are Different From Other Vehicle Accidents

The impact of a truck against a car is far more devastating than that of a car versus a car. The size and weight of a semi mean that the damage your car will suffer and the injuries you sustain could be devastating. A fully loaded semi can weigh 80,000 pounds. Most passenger cars weigh in at about 3,500 pounds.

Another huge difference between a truck accident and a car accident is the number of potentially liable people or parties with whom you’ll file insurance claims. Thanks to the complex ownership issues of commercial trucks, making an insurance claim when you’ve been hit by a big rig is different than when you are hit by a car.

No-Fault Insurance and Truck Accidents

Minnesota has a comprehensive no-fault insurance law that requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) to the value of $20,000 for medical bills and $20,000 for other costs (which can be used for medical expenses). Your PIP payments will not cover “non-economic losses” like pain and suffering. The no-fault insurance law does not cover property damage.

You may be able to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy if you meet two criteria:

  • Your medical expenses are over $4,000, and/or,
  • You suffered more than 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement because of the accident.

A visit to the emergency room for even a minor injury can set you back thousands of dollars, so a car accident involving a semi will probably clear the $4,000 threshold without difficulty. You may still only receive compensation for losses above those covered by your PIP, but in a serious accident, you can anticipate extensive medical costs.

You are also allowed to sue for lost income and future wages, pain and suffering, and property damage not covered by your vehicle insurance. The benefits of filing a claim against the truck driver and company can be significant.

Determining Who Is Liable

When you file a third-party insurance claim in a commercial vehicle case, there are multiple parties you need to keep in mind. You should consult a truck accident attorney when making your claim so that your claim is sent to the correct companies.

In a commercial truck accident, there are a variety of entities that might be held liable for your injuries and losses:

  • The driver is responsible for how the truck was being driven at the time of the accident. You will need to see the electronic logging device (ELD) and any written logs and inspection reports to determine if the driver was getting enough rest and keeping the truck maintained.
  • The trucking company is responsible for maintaining their truck on a regular basis, hiring their drivers, and ensuring they are properly trained and obey company policy and federal regulations. The company is also required to keep insurance on its drivers and trucks.
  • The shipping or loading company may be different from the trucking company. If so, they are the ones responsible for keeping the trailer in good condition and maintaining the tires, chassis, and hookups. They are also the ones who must ensure the load was secured when it was sent out and that all placards and warning signs were visible.
  • If either the trucking company or the shipping company uses an outside maintenance company to service their equipment, this agency could be responsible for any mechanical failure that may have caused the accident, if the failures were not detected during the last maintenance check or if the company failed to report the issue to the owners of the equipment.
  • Finally, any equipment failure that can be traced to a faulty product, such as bad brakes or tires, might be a product liability issue, in which case the manufacturer could be held liable.

As you can see, making a claim against a trucking company is not as simple as filing a single insurance claim and waiting to see what happens.

Contact Us

If you have been involved in an accident involving a semi or other commercial vehicle, you need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you file your claim in the right place and be prepared to take the case to trial if necessary.

Call the Minnesota personal injury lawyers of Robert Wilson & Associates at (612) 334-3444 for a confidential consultation and review of your case today. We can help you sort out the companies and individuals involved and work to get you the compensation you deserve from those who are responsible for your injuries.

Why Posting on Social Media After an Accident Can Hurt Your Case

When you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, you face a whirlwind of emotions, pain, and stress. You’ve probably never had the kinds of injuries you sustained in the accident before and are struggling to deal with the pain. The trauma of the accident and what you’re experiencing from day to day while trying to recover from your injuries is overwhelming. You deserve all of the support from friends and loved ones that you can get.

So you want to share your traumatic experience on your social media accounts. You may be looking for a village of support during such a difficult time. After all, you’re used to posting about what’s going on in your life, so why would this be any different?

Unfortunately, posting about the accident you were involved in or about the injuries you sustained in the accident could impact your personal injury claim or case. If you have pressing questions about your case, contact Robert Wilson & Associates today. We’re here to help.

social media

Why You Shouldn’t Post on Social Media After an Accident

After you’ve been injured in an accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. You have to prove that someone else’s actions caused your injuries. If you post something on your social media accounts about how the accident occurred or about your injuries, you could compromise your case.

When you pursue compensation for your injuries, you’ll either file a personal injury claim, a personal injury lawsuit, or both. When you do, you’ll need to provide evidence that your injuries occurred because of the accident, the extent of your injuries, and that someone else was at fault for the accident. The responsible party, however, will also try to show evidence that they weren’t at fault for your injuries or that you were partially at fault for your own injuries.

This strategy could help reduce the at-fault party’s liability because of Minnesota’s contributory negligence law. Contributory negligence is a doctrine that requires each party’s measure of fault, including the injured party, to be taken into account when deciding matters of compensation in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. If you were partly at fault for your injuries, you’re not barred from being compensated. Your compensation will, however, be reduced by the same percentage as your share of fault.

For example, if you incurred $100,000 in compensable losses for your injuries and you were 40 percent at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by 40 percent. So, you would only be allowed to receive $60,000. Alternatively, if you were responsible for more than 50 percent of the accident, under Minnesota law, you aren’t entitled to be compensated at all. If you have specific questions about your case, contact us today.

Because of the Minnesota contributory negligence law, you have to be careful what you post on social media. If you post details about the accident that could be construed by the at-fault party as proof that you were mostly at fault for the accident, you could seriously compromise your ability to be compensated for your injuries. You may think that you could avoid posting something that would hurt your claim or case, but there are numerous strategies that defense attorneys and insurance companies will employ to use your words against you.

For instance, you could write a social media post letting your friends and loved ones know that you were seriously injured in an accident and may say something to the effect of, “I don’t know how it happened,” A clever insurance company representative or the at-fault party’s attorney could use that statement to claim that your injuries were partly or fully caused by your inattention. If successful, this strategy could significantly reduce your compensation or eliminate your ability to get money for your losses altogether.

The same could happen if you posted a picture of yourself riding a bicycle even though you’ve claimed that you sustained a severe leg injury in the accident. Your post could be brought up to contradict your assertions and question the validity of your claim or case.

It’s best to refrain from posting anything about the accident, your injuries, or the at-fault party on any of your social media accounts.

social media posts

Let Us Take Care of Your Case

To maximize your ability to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, you need a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer on your team who cares about your best interests. The Minnesota personal injury lawyers of Robert Wilson & Associates can fight for you to receive justice. Call us today at (612) 334-3444, or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.

What Is a Truck Driver’s Travel Log?

truck on highway

A travel log is also known as a record of duty status or a logbook. It contains relevant information regarding a truck driver’s activity. Truckers must write down all necessary details during every 24 hours, even if they’re off duty. If you suffer injuries in an accident, the travel log could contain valuable information to help you prove the truck driver is at fault.

Truck accidents often require a range of evidence to show what happened and who should be held liable. You shouldn’t become financially responsible for your medical treatment and other expenses if the truck driver’s actions were entirely to blame. Obtaining a copy of the travel log after an accident involving a commercial truck could serve as useful evidence to prove you are entitled to compensation.

Information You Could Find in a Travel Log

Federal regulations require truck drivers to write down information about their activities for each 24-hour period, regardless of whether they’re driving the truck or off the clock. A graph grid should display all necessary details, including:

  • City, village, or town and state abbreviation of the driver’s location whenever their duty status changes
  • Name and office address of the motor carrier
  • Total number of driving hours within 24 hours
  • Name of the co-driver
  • Shipper or shipping document name and the type of contents in the truck
  • Month, day, and year every 24 hour period starts
  • An explanation of unusual entries or circumstances the trucker enters into the travel log, such as a truck accident or adverse weather
  • Time zone of the truck driver’s home terminal even if they cross time zones during their driving shift
  • Truck number or license number and the licensing state
  • Number of hours off duty, on breaks, and in the sleeper berth during every 24 hours
  • Trucker’s signature

Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers

The hours of service regulations aim to prevent driver fatigue, so truck drivers don’t cause accidents with other motorists. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created these regulations to keep everyone safe on the road.

Unfortunately, many truckers and motor carriers choose to ignore these strict rules. The truck driver could be liable if they drive beyond the maximum driving limit or violate another regulation and cause someone’s injuries in a crash.

The regulations truck drivers must follow regarding hours of service include:

  • May not drive beyond the fourteenth consecutive on-duty hour after ten off duty hours
  • Cannot drive more than eleven hours after spending ten hours off duty
  • Must take a thirty-minute break after spending eight cumulative hours driving without at least one thirty-minute interruption
  • May split time during the required ten off duty hours as long as at least seven consecutive hours are in the sleeper berth and at least two hours are off duty regardless of whether it’s in the sleeper berth

Why the Electronic Logging Device Is Important

Aside from the travel log, a truck’s electronic logging device (ELD) can also show information related to the truck driver’s activities. You might be able to use the data recorded on the device to prove they were at fault for the accident.

The ELD synchronizes with the engine on the commercial truck to record and store information, such as:

  • Engine hours
  • Truck driver’s duty status
  • Engine power status
  • Number of miles the trucker drives
  • Driver, commercial truck, and motor carrier identification
  • Motion status of the truck

ELDs don’t store all information required by the FMCSA. That means all truck drivers must manually enter additional data into a logbook during the 24-hour period for complete records.

Storing electronic information allows truck drivers to transfer everything in a file when requested by law enforcement or another official. An officer might request the data to investigate an accident involving the commercial truck. They could review the information to determine if there was a federal regulation violation that shows the trucker caused the collision.

How to Prove Fault for a Truck Accident

Proving fault after a truck accident can be a complicated and time-consuming process. It requires obtaining substantial evidence of the truck driver’s negligent actions prior to the crash. For example, if the travel log shows they exceeded the maximum driving limit, you could argue they were too tired to operate a commercial truck safely.

It’s critical to hire a lawyer immediately after the accident. Your lawyer can investigate and gather all available evidence on your behalf. The travel log and ELD could provide the information necessary to prove fault so you can pursue compensation from the truck driver.

Contact Robert Wilson & Associates

Robert Wilson & Associates has a team of dedicated and experienced truck accident lawyers in Minneapolis. Since 1991, we have successfully represented clients for the injuries they suffered in truck accidents. You can depend on us to fight for you.

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, call the Minneapolis personal injury lawyers of Robert Wilson & Associates at (612) 334-3444 today for your confidential case review.

Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?

truck accident

A truck accident is often significantly more complicated than a standard car accident. Severe damage, costly claims, and multiple potentially liable parties make it difficult for truck accident victims to recover the full compensation they deserve, so conclusive evidence is vital.

One of the most potentially critical pieces of evidence in many Minnesota truck accident claims is data from the truck’s black box. So, what is a black box and why is it so important for your truck accident case?

What Is a Black Box?

The “black box” in a commercial truck, also sometimes referred to as an electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR), is similar to the black boxes you hear about in airplane cockpits. These devices record certain types of data from various truck systems just before, during, and after crashes and near-crash events. This type of data can provide valuable evidence about how the truck was being operated after an accident occurs.

Black box data recorders were initially designed to help truck manufacturers challenge truck warranty claims, but they have since been used for a wider range of applications. Today, most semi-trucks and tractor-trailers manufactured since the 1990s are equipped with black boxes.

What Types of Data Does a Black Box Capture?

Black boxes capture many different types of information that can help police officers, attorneys, and other investigators learn about the circumstances surrounding a truck accident. If you have grounds for a truck accident claim, the truck’s black box may provide useful evidence for your case, such as:

  • How fast the truck was going just before the accident
  • Whether the driver was accelerating or decelerating just before the accident
  • Whether the truck driver applied the truck’s brakes just before the accident
  • Whether the truck driver was using cruise control prior to the collision
  • Whether the truck driver had been speeding or traveling below the speed limit
  • Whether the truck driver was wearing their seat belt when the crash occurred
  • Whether the airbags in the truck’s cab deployed when the crash occurred
  • Whether and how frequently the truck was involved in any prior accidents
  • Details about the truck’s tire pressure and GPS locations
  • Details about when and for how long the truck was driven before the crash
  • Details about communications between truck drivers and trucking companies

How Could Black Box Data Help My Truck Accident Case?

The information from a black box event recorder can be a key element in a truck accident case. Black box data provides investigators with reliable, unbiased evidence of any factors that contribute to or cause a crash.

For example, data about the truck’s speed and direction can show whether the driver was speeding, driving too fast for conditions, or losing control of the truck when the crash occurred. If black box data indicates that the driver failed to apply the brakes just before the crash, it could be a sign that they were distracted, drowsy, or even asleep at the wheel.

Black box data may also help investigators determine whether other parties could be at fault. If communications records show that the trucking company was encouraging the driver to go faster or disregard federal hours of service limits, for instance, the company may be financially liable for the crash.

Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me Access Black Box Data?

Just because black box data is available after a truck accident doesn’t mean it will be easy to get. Many newer black boxes store their data for a month or more, but older models sometimes only store data for a matter of days before recording over it. Additionally, trucking companies know how pivotal black box data can be in a truck accident claim, so they may attempt to destroy it to protect themselves.

Since it’s rare for trucking companies to hand over black box data willingly, it’s best to work with an experienced attorney after a truck accident. A good lawyer can take immediate legal action to prevent trucking companies from destroying evidence and compel them to hand over the data.

Contact a Minnesota Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you were involved in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, the dedicated Minnesota personal injury attorneys of Robert Wilson & Associates can protect your rights and gather valuable evidence to support your claim, including by preserving and utilizing truck black box data. To learn more about how we can help after a truck crash, call us at (612) 334-3444 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.