Head-On Truck Collisions
Front-end crashes with large trucks can cause catastrophic injuries, particularly to those in smaller vehicles. Causes range from driver negligence to environmental factors. Since these crashes often involve high costs, victims can file insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits to recover damages.
If you suffered injuries in a head-on collision, a truck accident attorney can help determine liability and seek financial recovery.
What Causes Front-End Truck Collisions?
Head-on crashes can happen in several ways and are usually due to several factors. In some cases, a driver deliberately disobeys a traffic sign or law. In others, drivers cause a front-impact collision by trying to avoid another accident.
Some common reasons a driver may deviate from their lane and into oncoming traffic include:
- Road obstructions
- Wrong-way driving
- Mechanical failures
- Tire blowouts
- Poor maintenance
- Lack of driving experience
For example, a truck driver may swerve to avoid hitting a deer, only to hit another car. A tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control. A defective auto part can have the same effect. These situations may not leave someone obviously at fault, but carelessness could still leave a truck driver liable.
More insidious are instances when drivers knowingly acts in a way that causes truck accidents in Arizona, like driving while impaired or texting. Truck drivers are responsible for massive vehicles traveling at high speeds and weighing thousands of pounds. When they fail to get enough sleep, adhere to regulations, maintain their vehicle, or keep their eyes on the road, they are responsible for the damages they cause.
Human Error Isn’t the Only Cause of Head-On Collisions
The risk of a head-on truck accident increases when someone drives:
- On rural roadways
- At night
- Through work zones
- During adverse weather events
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that over half of fatal truck crashes occur in rural areas, while 37 percent of fatal crashes and 24 percent of injury crashes happen at night. Work zone crashes have similar rates. Drivers involved in these scenarios aren’t absolved of responsibility just because the road was dark or remote. In fact, anyone driving under these conditions should stay more vigilant.
Often overlooked are weather conditions. Vehicles of any size require additional stopping time in wet conditions but particularly large trucks. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that trucks already need more stopping distance, up to 40 percent more than other vehicles, especially when loaded. On wet ground, trucks need even more distance.
All these factors could cause a front-end collision. Not paying attention on a rural road could cause a driver to drift. Dark conditions make it harder to see roadway markings or signs. Work zones can make it difficult to discern the flow of traffic. Wet conditions can cause trucks to slide into another lane. If any of these factors played a role in your accident, don’t let the trucker blame you for what happened. You have options for seeking financial justice.
Injuries and Costs of Head-On Truck Collisions
Given the size disparity between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles (not to mention pedestrians or cyclists), head-on accidents can cause significant damage. In particular, passenger vehicle occupants can suffer devastating injuries in underride accidents. These can result in crushing injuries and fatalities.
Other injuries that occur in front-impact truck accidents include:
- Soft-tissue injuries, like bruises, whiplash, sprains, and strains
- Damage to the skin, like lacerations, burns, and road rash
- Broken bones, including fractures and crushed limbs
- Facial injuries, including disfigurement and dental damage
- Head injuries, like traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries, like herniated discs and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries, including organ damage and bleeding
The physical toll is just one facet of a head-on collision. Additional consequences involve missing work during recovery. On top of that, some disabling injuries cause temporary and even permanent changes to your earning ability.
Furthermore, these types of crashes can affect your mental health. Accidents are traumatic events that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Certain injuries could put you at risk for depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders.
Head-On Collisions Can Have Fatal Outcomes
Family members who lose loved ones to truck accidents face more than an unexpected loss; they also face unexpected financial pressure. Funerals alone require paying for embalming, cremation, caskets, memorial services, transportation, and grave markers, costing thousands of dollars.
In addition to these costs, families can lose:
- Vital income
- Parental advice
- Spousal support
- Relationship benefits
Because of these substantial losses, surviving family members can file wrongful death claims or lawsuits to recover damages. Each state’s laws differ concerning who can file and how long they have. Some states only allow personal representatives to file, while others allow parents, children, or spouses to file. You can check with an attorney to learn more about pursuing damages after a fatal accident.
What to Do if You Are in a Head-On Collision With a Truck
You may feel vulnerable following a crash, having been caught by surprise. Although you couldn’t protect yourself from an accident due to other people’s actions, you can still protect yourself after a crash by taking certain steps.
One of the first steps is to keep in mind that the other party, their insurance coverage, and even your own insurer are more interested in protecting themselves than in assisting you. Even if you are the obvious victim in the accident, don’t take for granted that you will receive what you deserve.
Instead, approach your case by preparing for any scenario. Could an insurance company act in bad faith by not honoring the terms of a policy? Could a trucking company blame a third party instead of taking responsibility? What if a claims adjuster questions the amount of compensation you need for future losses? By understanding your situation from the very beginning, you and your legal team can prepare for these possible hiccups.
Who to Contact
It’s often in your best interest to report an accident and, in some states, is required by law. Since front-impact commercial truck accidents usually cause injury and property damage, you likely need to report the crash to the police.
Contacting the necessary authorities after an accident serves several purposes. One is getting access to the resources and support you need following a crash. Another is immediately establishing records and preserving evidence of the accident.
As soon as you can, contact:
- Local authorities
- Insurance companies
- Medical professionals
- A truck accident lawyer
Keep in mind, you don’t have to provide a lot of information to the police or insurers. In fact, the less you say, the better, as adjusters often try to use your own words against you. That said, don’t let fear keep you from reporting a crash at all. You don’t have to give an official, recorded statement to the insurance company. Just tell it something happened, so there is a record that something occurred.
What to Keep for Your Records
“Just in case” is an important phrase in accident and injury cases. Your insurance claim may go smoothly, with a fair settlement offered to cover your losses. Alternatively, an adjuster may belittle your injuries, or a trucking company may blame another party for the accident. Just in case, keep everything in writing.
When possible, try to keep:
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
- Records of doctor visits
- Diagnostic testing and imaging scan results
- Photos and video footage
- Witness contact information
- Insurance agent information
- Promises or timelines made by insurance providers
- Policies and settlement offers
- Police accident reports
If you aren’t sure how to obtain some of this information, a truck accident lawyer can do the digging for you. In addition, a lawyer for a truck accident can help you stay organized.
How to Pursue a Legal Case After a Truck Collision
Depending on the state, you can pursue some benefits through your own insurance coverage (personal injury protection), or you can file with the other party’s insurance provider. From there, an adjuster will investigate your claim, offer a settlement, and negotiate terms. If all parties agree, the claim ends.
However, not all cases follow those steps.
You may need to file a lawsuit to recover damages if you encounter:
- Disputes over who caused the accident
- Problems regarding liability
- Difficulty settling on a compensation amount
- Insurance companies operating in bad faith
- Drivers lacking insurance or having insufficient coverage
- Multiple parties responsible for the collision
A personal injury lawsuit filing can help galvanize negotiations that have stalled. Other filings proceed to pretrial, with both sides exchanging evidence and information. These cases can still settle out of court. If not, the case proceeds to trial to let a jury decide.
You Must Prove Negligence and Heed the Statutory Deadline
To pursue a legal case after a truck accident, you have to demonstrate that the other party owed you a duty of care, failed at it, and caused your injuries, entitling you to compensation. You must prove through evidence that it’s more likely than not that your version of events happened.
You must file a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. This can vary by state and even by case. For instance, if a defective tire caused your accident and injuries, you could file a product liability lawsuit, which can have a different deadline than a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can identify the appropriate deadline and help you file in time.
A Trucking Company May Hold Liability for Your Losses
Your truck case may involve a larger company, not just the driver. Some trucking companies are responsible for their employees’ actions.
This means you can file a claim or lawsuit against the company if it:
- Failed to properly check a driver’s background
- Lacked proper training for the unqualified truck drivers
- Failed to enforce certain trucking regulations
- Overworked employees and didn’t implement adequate breaks
- Improperly loaded cargo or did not uphold safe storage practices
- Failed to maintain its trucks
- Failed to address issues with equipment
If these forms of negligence were at play in your case, a truck accident attorney can explore the possibility of pursuing the company itself for its role. Trucking companies generally carry more insurance coverage than individual drivers. So, this could offer a promising route for seeking damages.
You Need Evidence to Bolster Your Head-On Truck Accident Claim
Both insurance claims and lawsuits rest on the evidence of negligence.
To demonstrate the facts of your case, your legal team can use:
- Photos showing the scene of the accident and roadway debris
- Eyewitness testimony, photos, and video footage
- Traffic camera, dashcam, and security camera footage
- Medical records, prescriptions, and treatment plans
- Trucking transportation logs, dash cams, and driver history
- The truck driver’s blood alcohol level or drug testing results
- Phone, text, email, and social media records
- Reconstruction data and analysis of the accident
- Doctor, psychologist, economist, and other expert testimony
A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Build a Case After a Front-Impact Crash
If you suffered a head-on truck collision, you can consult with a local attorney to learn more about your financial recovery options. On top of exploring all possible avenues for damages, your lawyer can represent you in conversations with insurance adjusters and trucking companies.
In preparing for any eventualities, don’t forget to consider legal representation from a Phoenix personal injury law firm’s lawyer! As an injured claimant, you don’t have to navigate the claims process alone.