A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help Your Case
Commercial truck accidents are devastating events– while less common than other types of motor vehicle accidents, they are more likely to lead to serious injuries or fatalities. In the event of a collision, the people in a passenger car are more vulnerable than the truck driver, due to the size of the truck.
After a semi-truck accident, you will likely be left with injuries, vehicle damage, and bills piling up around you. You may be wondering how you will take care of your medical expenses or make up for wages you’ve lost. If you’ve decided to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim, you may not be sure what to do next.
The Advocates personal injury attorneys can help with all of these questions and more. Our legal team has decades of experience in negotiating with insurance companies and obtaining fair compensation for our clients.
What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Trucking Accident in Iowa (The Next Steps in Your Case)
Following any type of car accident, it’s important to document the scene, your injuries, and the treatment you receive in order to build the best case possible. Your Advocate can help you understand what the next best step is throughout the entirety of your case.
When you hire an attorney, they will advise you to seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. This is because your treatment must be finished before you know the sum total of your medical expenses. Any medical treatment you receive for your accident-related injuries can be added to your claim. Additionally, if you wait too long to receive treatment, you may not be able to recover as fully as you otherwise would have.
Meanwhile, your attorney will begin investigating your accident and compiling evidence. They will use police reports, witness statements, photo and video footage, and more to help build your case.
Once you’ve finished treatment and all evidence is gathered, your attorney will send a demand letter to the other party. The demand letter outlines all damages you are seeking. At this point, negotiations will begin. Most cases are settled during negotiations, but some go to trial. If yours goes to court, your attorney will litigate for you.
A Team of Truck Accident Professionals Assigned to Your Case
For nearly 30 years, The Advocates have been helping victims navigate their truck accident cases, and we are ready to do the same for you. We are a capable, compassionate legal team who make it our mission to help our clients with all aspects of their recovery, not just negotiation and litigation. In addition to providing legal representation, The Advocates are prepared to help you:
- Access necessary medical treatment
- Find body shops in your area for vehicle repairs
- Communicate with your employer regarding your injuries
- Keep track of expenses and paperwork related to your accident
Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
It is possible to try and negotiate your injury claim on your own. However, the trucking company’s insurance will not make it easy for you. Insurance companies are notorious for doing whatever they can to avoid paying plaintiffs the settlement they deserve. They may try to get you to settle quickly so that you end up leaving money on the table. They may deny liability for the accident altogether.
The attorneys with The Advocates know all the tricks insurance companies may try to pull, and can help you avoid common mistakes. We have been representing truck accident victims for decades and are able to provide you with the legal help you need throughout your case. We will do the negotiating for you, so you can focus on feeling better.
Studies by the Insurance Research Council have shown that accident victims who hire a personal injury attorney can receive settlements up to 3.5 times larger than those who do not hire a lawyer. The Advocates are ready to take on your case.
What Damages Can You Seek After a Truck Accident?
After an accident, there are a variety of economic and non-economic damages that you can recover in a settlement. The damages you can seek will depend on the nature of your accident and the losses you incurred as a result. Below are some common expenses and losses victims seek compensation for after a truck crash.
Any medical treatment you require after your accident will be billed to you and your health insurance. From ambulance rides and hospital stays to physical therapy and chiropractor visits, your physical recovery after a truck accident will likely be expensive. Your settlement can help reimburse you and your insurance provider for the medical bills you paid during your treatment.
Common truck accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Lacerations and bruising
A collision with a commercial truck is likely to leave your vehicle with significant damage. You may seek compensation for the repairs your car needs after the accident. If your car is totaled, you may receive reimbursement for the current market value of the vehicle.
Lost wages and loss of future earnings
If your injuries have left you unable to work, either permanently or temporarily, you may be entitled to compensation for the wages you have lost, as well as the loss of potential earnings in the future.
Pain and suffering
Not all accident-related losses are economic. Physical pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and other trauma can be included in settlements.
Every personal injury case is different. Your attorney will evaluate your circumstances and help you determine what damages you can seek after your accident.
Trucking Laws in Iowa
In order to keep everyone on the road safe, large trucks operate under different laws than regular motor vehicles. Below are some common questions regarding laws that truckers in Iowa must abide by while driving.
What is required to obtain a CDL?
Truck drivers must be at least 18 years old to hold a Commercial Driver’s License and operate a commercial vehicle in Iowa.
To obtain an Iowa CDL, a potential truck driver must prove residency within the state, speak and read English, and hold a commercial learner’s permit for at least 14 days before applying for a CDL. They must also complete Entry-Level Driver Training and take a knowledge and/or skills test.
What condition must a truck be in to drive?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the driver of a tractor-trailer must make sure that his or her truck is in good working order at all times.
“Good working order” means the truck must have properly functioning brakes, steering devices, lights, tires, mirrors, wipers, and horn. If any of these components of the truck are not working correctly or are in poor condition, the truck may not be driven until the issue has been fixed. A failure of any one of these pieces of equipment can cause a major safety hazard for the trucker and others on the road.
How large can a commercial truck be?
Legal trucking loads in Iowa are as follows:
- Length: 53 feet
- Width: 8 feet, 6 inches
- Height: 13 feet 6 inches
The maximum weight for a truck load depends on the roads the truck will be traveling on. On interstate highways, maximum gross weight is 80,000 pounds.
Transporting anything over these sizes requires the trucker to obtain certain endorsements and permits, and may require one or more escorts.
Can truckers in Iowa use the left lane?
Any Iowa driver moving slower than the normal speed of traffic must use the right lane, unless passing or turning left.
In most cases, semi-trucks are moving at slower speeds than other motorists on a highway, and therefore will not have as great a need for the left lane. In some places, the highway is three lanes or more, and it is unlikely the trucker will need to use the leftmost lane to pass.
If a truck (or any other vehicle) is traveling in the left lane without passing, they may be cited and required to pay a $100 fine.
What is the speed limit for semi-trucks in Iowa?
Most highways in Iowa have speed limits of either 65 or 70 miles per hour. While there is no truck-specific limit, a commercial truck may not travel faster than the posted speed limit.
Truck Accident Claims and Time Limits
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, it is best to call an attorney sooner rather than later. All states have a statute of limitations on both criminal and civil matters. The statute of limitations refers to the length of time a plaintiff has to file a claim before they lose their right of action. In Iowa, the statute of limitations for auto accidents is typically two years.
The longer you wait to begin your case, the harder it may be to receive damages. As time goes on, evidence may be lost or forgotten. An eyewitness may forget what they saw, or video footage from a nearby business may be erased. The more quickly you are able to compile evidence, get treated for your injuries, and speak with an attorney, the easier it will be to file a claim.
How Many Hours Are Truckers Allowed to Work?
Truckers are subject to a federal law known as the hours of service rule. This rule states that a truck driver may only operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after 10 hours off-duty. The longest amount of time a trucker may be on-duty (driving or not) is 14 hours.
The only exception to this rule is in the case of adverse driving conditions, when traffic may be going slower than usual. Additionally, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every 8 hours.
These laws are in place to prevent driver fatigue, which can be a major safety hazard. It is common in the trucking industry for drivers to be paid by the mile, which means they are motivated to keep driving, even if they may be feeling tired. If the driver of a big rig falls asleep behind the wheel, it could mean disaster for everyone around them on the road.
Truck Accident Facts
What are common causes of truck accidents?
According to the FMCSA, around 33% of fatal truck accidents are caused by truck drivers. When truckers cause an accident, the most common factors are speeding and distracted driving. Crashes where speeding is a factor are more likely to result in serious injury or death. Other common driver-related factors include driver fatigue, impaired driving, and road rage.
When it comes to fatal accidents that are not caused by truckers, around 70% are caused by another vehicle, person, animal, or object entering the semi-truck’s lane. Tractor-trailers have a much harder time maneuvering around unexpected changes to the roadway, and therefore are more likely to crash when they appear.
Faulty or worn-out tires are the most common vehicle-related factor in truck accidents.
When do truck accidents often occur?
Iowa State University’s Heavy Truck Crash Assessment found that severe crashes tend to occur on weekends and at the beginning of the week (Saturday-Tuesday).
Most truck accidents occur in the mornings between 5:00 am and 8:00 am and during midday between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.
The large majority of accidents occur on clear days. However, there are a significant number of accidents that happen in snowy or slushy conditions.
How many truck accidents occur in Iowa each year?
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, more than 3,000 truck accidents happen in Iowa every year. This is a small percentage of the more than 50,000 auto accidents that happen each year. However, heavy truck accidents are more likely to lead to serious injury or death. Over the last decade, 5.8% of people involved in truck accidents were seriously injured or killed.
Passenger car drivers are far more likely to be injured or killed in a truck accident than the driver of the truck. It is critical that motorists are aware of their surroundings at all times when driving, but especially when around a commercial vehicle. Paying attention and practicing defensive driving are the best ways to remain safe on the road.