Large commercial truck accidents caused 46 deaths in Nebraska during 2018—almost four fatalities per month, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT). Truck accidents also caused 771 injuries last year. Truck accidents are far more dangerous than those involving other types of vehicles. Overall, trucks are responsible for more than 60 percent of fatal vehicle crashes in Nebraska, according to NDOT.
It’s not hard to see why truck accidents can cause such harm. Trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, while cars can weigh just 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. Trucks are also longer, wider, and higher than other vehicles. As a result, they can obliterate smaller vehicles.
The length and width of the standard truck also pose specific dangers. In a type of accident called an underride, for example, a car following a truck can go completely underneath the truck if the truck stops suddenly, crushing the car and its occupants.
If you were injured in a Nebraska truck accident, a personal injury attorney at The Robert Pahlke Law Group can help. We’ve handled truck accidents in our state for more than three decades. We’ve recovered significant compensation for our clients, including a recent damage award of $3,250,000 to a severely injured man whose vehicle was rear-ended by a speeding tractor-trailer. While each case is unique and this award does not guarantee results in any future case, it is an example of how hard the legal team at The Robert Pahlke Law Group will work to obtain justice.
What Injuries Can Truck Accidents Cause?
Truck accidents can cause nearly every type of injury, ranging from sprained ankles and wrists to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and amputations.
Truck accident injuries can include:
- Fractured and crushed bones
- Sprains and torn ligaments
- Contusions and bruises
- Road rash and scrapes
- Burns that may cause scarring or disfigurement
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Back injuries, such as slipped or herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries, such paralysis
- Soft tissue injuries
Some of these injuries, while painful, are relatively simple and resolve in time. A fractured leg, for example, will eventually heal with the proper medical treatment.
Others, however, can be catastrophic. Catastrophic is used in legal cases to refer to accidents that render the person unable to conduct normal activities of daily living or to return to work. Spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis, for example, can leave injured persons needing constant care for the rest of their lives. They may need significant medical equipment, such as hospital beds and assistive devices. Homes may need to be retrofitted with these devices and provisions for movement of them.
What if My Loved One Died in an Accident?
If your loved one died in a Nebraska truck accident, you may be eligible to file a Nebraska wrongful death suit against the at-fault parties. Wrongful death can provide compensation to loved ones for economic damages resulting from the accident, and for pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Contact a lawyer to discuss whether you qualify to file a wrongful death claim.
Who Is Liable for My Injuries in a Truck Accident?
In all accidents, the person or entity who is at fault in causing the accident can be liable. Causes can range from failure to stop at a traffic light to falling asleep at the wheel and veering into an oncoming lane.
Truck accidents are often very complicated in terms of fault, however. Multiple parties can be at fault. Driver error, for example, can cause accidents, but so can inadequate maintenance of a truck that leaves brakes too worn to stop effectively. If inadequate maintenance or defective components are at fault, the maintenance companies, the truck’s owner, or the manufacturer could all be at fault.
Because of the complexity, it’s often necessary to investigate the causes of truck accidents to determine the causes. Potential at-fault parties include:
The truck driver might be at fault if driver error caused the accident, or if the driver was fatigued from driving too long without a break or adequate sleep. Truckers must not drive for more than 11 hours straight without rest, per Federal regulation.
Truck drivers can be fully or partially liable if they were driving distracted or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances that impair driving.
Trucking companies can face legal liability for hiring a driver without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or background checks, because both might indicate the driver was unqualified. Driving a commercial truck is complicated, and drivers without CDL certification may not fully understand how to operate the vehicle or obligations for checking the vehicle throughout the run.
Trucking companies can also be liable if they have pressured a driver to work longer than the mandated limit. Fatigued and sleepy drivers are a huge danger on Nebraska’s roads, because fatigue and sleep-deprivation impair reaction times, motor skills, and judgment.
Companies can also be at-fault if their trucks are in poor condition or they did not maintain and inspect them as required. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck companies to perform inspections, maintenance, and repair periodically, and to keep records of their compliance. company forces a driver to log more hours than legally allowed or doesn’t perform required maintenance on the truck, the court may hold the trucking company liable.
If a truck’s owner subcontracts out these responsibilities, the subcontracting companies can also be liable.
Truck or Part Manufacturers
If the truck itself or component parts malfunctions and causes an accident, the manufacturer can face liability for the harm caused by its defective product.
At times, poor road conditions can cause an accident. Deep potholes, uneven pavement, and even inadequately marked detour routes are among the road conditions capable of causing or contributing to accidents.
In those cases, the government entity responsible for maintaining and repairing roads may face legal liability.
How Can I Be Compensated for My Injuries?
In Nebraska, people injured in a truck accident can take legal action for compensation for the damages the accident caused. Victims can recover costs related to the damages, including:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance services, doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, and prescription medication
- Future medical expenses if you’ll require care going forward
- Current and future lost wages if your injury caused you/will cause you to miss work
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Assistive device costs for items such as wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs
- Long-term healthcare in the case of long-term injuries requiring 24/7 care
- Modifications required for your home, such as ramps, handrails, etc.
- Replacement services for domestic chores you can no longer perform, such as cooking, cleaning, lawn care, snow removal, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Contact a Nebraska Truck Accident Attorney at the Robert Pahlke Law Group
If you have suffered injuries or a tragic loss in a trucking accident, contact the experienced Nebraska lawyers at The Robert Pahlke Law Group online, or call our office at (308) 633-4444 for a free consultation. Our initial consultation is always free.
The Robert Pahlke Law Group
2425 Circle Drive #200
Scottsbluff, NE 69361