Did you suffer injuries in a recent truck accident in Appleton, Wisconsin? You could be unable to work, drowning in unexpected medical bills, and struggling to keep the lights on. These are the realities many victims face following truck accidents.
When you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by someone else, you deserve compensation for your losses, and pursuing a personal injury claim can help. But it’s not easy, and a fair settlement is far from guaranteed. The legal system is complex, and trucking companies and their insurers aren’t on your side.
Schwaba Law Firm understands what you’re going through. Andrew Schwaba has spent years helping clients like you recover millions in much-needed compensation. A seasoned truck accident lawyer in Appleton, he is ready to guide you, fight for you, and demand the recovery you deserve.
Get in touch with an Appleton truck accident attorney at Schwaba Law Firm today for a free consultation. Let Andrew put his extensive experience to work for you.
What Is Considered a Truck in Wisconsin?
In talking about the trucks involved in truck accident injury cases, the law refers to what are usually called “commercial motor vehicles” or CMVs. These vehicles have certain characteristics that classify them as such under Wisconsin law.
Specifically, a truck could qualify as a CMV in Wisconsin if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
- It has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more on its own.
- Its registered weight or actual gross weight exceeds 26,000 pounds.
- Its gross combination weight rating, registered weight, or actual gross weight amounts to 26,001 or more pounds when paired with a towed unit like a trailer.
- Its towed unit has a GVWR, registered weight, or actual gross weight exceeding 10,000 pounds.
- It is capable of transporting the driver plus 15 or more passengers.
- It is a vehicle of any size that transports hazardous materials that legally require placarding.
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Crashes
Several underlying factors contribute to the complexity of a truck accident injury case, including the following:
- Multiple Parties – Unlike accidents involving personal vehicles, truck accidents often have multiple parties that could be liable, such as the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loaders, and even vehicle or parts manufacturers.
- Regulatory Compliance Issues – Trucks are subject to numerous federal and state regulations, including hours of service (HOS) rules, maintenance standards, and load limits. Understanding and establishing violations of these regulations is critical to many cases.
- Severe Injuries and Losses – The sheer size differential between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles means catastrophic injuries and extensive property damage often occur when they collide. This makes determining the scope and valuation of losses more difficult.
- Complex Insurance Policies – Commercial trucks typically have extensive insurance policies with high limits. Dealing with an insurance company with a vested interest in minimizing how much it pays out can be daunting, especially when the potential payout is high.
- Evidence-Gathering Logistics – Trucks often have electronic logging devices and other records with data that are instrumental to proving accident cases. Collecting, preserving, and interpreting these data requires a thorough understanding of trucking rules and operations.
What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?
A blend of state and federal laws govern commercial trucking in Wisconsin. Here are a few of the key regulations that apply to the trucking industry in The Badger State:
- Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations – State and federal HOS rules determine how long commercial drivers can operate before they must take minimum periods of rest or off-duty time.
- Alcohol and Drug Restrictions – Wisconsin has more stringent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for commercial drivers compared to most other drivers. Commercial drivers must also comply with federal drug and alcohol testing
- Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL) Rules – In line with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, Wisconsin mandates that all commercial drivers hold valid CDLs. Drivers carrying certain types of cargo must also have appropriate endorsements on their licenses.
- Vehicle Weight and Size Limits – Wisconsin regulations restrict the size and weight of commercial vehicles based on the number of axles a vehicle has and the distance between them. The state also imposes restrictions on vehicle length, width, and height.
- Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance Requirements – Under federal law, commercial vehicles must undergo regular inspections to ensure they are safe to operate. Additionally, truckers must inspect their vehicles and report potential issues before each shift.
Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Common types of truck accidents in Wisconsin include the following:
- Jackknife accidents
- Underride accidents
- Rollover accidents
- T-bone crashes
- Head-on collisions
The following are common examples of contributing factors that lead to these types of truck accidents:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Inadequate driver training
- Improper loading
- Poor maintenance
- Reckless driving
- Traffic law violations
- Poor road conditions
- Mechanical failures
What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?
The impact force in a truck accident is massive, and occupants of smaller vehicles bear the brunt of it.
These are some common types of truck accident injuries that occur as a result:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Burn injuries
- Entanglement injuries
- Rib and torso injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In addition, if a truck accident becomes fatal, the victim’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
Numerous parties are involved in commercial truck operations. Any of these parties, including the following, could share liability in a truck accident injury case:
- Truck Drivers – A truck driver could be liable if their negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior precipitated the accident.
- Other Road Users – Another road user could be liable if their actions contributed to the crash.
- Trucking Companies – A trucking company could be held responsible for the negligent actions of an employee. Trucking companies can also be held directly liable for things like negligent hiring practices, insufficient training, or pressuring drivers to disregard safety regulations.
- Cargo Loading Companies – A company responsible for loading a truck’s cargo could be held liable if improperly secured, unbalanced, or overloaded cargo contributed to the accident.
- Manufacturers – If the accident happened due to a defect in the truck or one of its components, the manufacturer of the truck or the faulty part could be liable under product liability law.
What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in an Appleton, WI, Truck Accident Claim?
Survivors of an 18-wheeler, semi-truck, big rig, or other type of commercial truck accident often face a range of losses and expenses due to their injuries. But through insurance claims and lawsuits, they can seek compensation for the following types of losses:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Lost quality of life
- Property damage costs
What If I Am Partly at Fault in an Appleton, WI, Trucking Accident?
In Wisconsin, “comparative negligence” comes into play when injured parties are partly to blame in a personal injury lawsuit, including truck accident cases. This principle could influence how much money you can recover if you are partially at fault for a truck accident.
If you get hurt in a truck accident in Wisconsin and bear some responsibility for the wreck, you aren’t automatically disqualified from seeking compensation. However, your degree of fault could proportionally reduce your potential truck accident compensation.
For example, let’s say you were 20 percent at fault for a truck accident that caused you $100,000 in losses. In that case, the total amount of compensation available to you would decrease by 20 percent, meaning the most you could get from a successful case would be $80,000.
However, there’s an important caveat: If you’re found 51 percent or more at fault, you are not entitled to recover any money for your losses in the Wisconsin civil court system. It’s also worth noting that the distribution of fault can be complex and subject to interpretation after a truck accident. This is why legal representation is so important, as an attorney from a reputable truck accident law firm can work to minimize the degree of fault assigned to you.
Benefits of Hiring an Appleton, WI, Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Claim
When you hire a truck accident lawyer in Appleton, they can help you by:
- Gathering Evidence – Collecting useful evidence such as police reports and witness statements
- Identifying All Avenues for Compensation – Identifying and pursuing claims against all potentially liable parties, not just the truck driver or trucking company
- Consulting Experts – Working with industry experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists
- Communicating on Your Behalf – Communicating with other parties to protect your interests
- Calculating Your Losses – Determining the full extent of your losses so you don’t settle for less than you should
- Handling Legal Documents – Preparing and filing all necessary case documents on your behalf
- Advising You on Settlement Offers – Providing seasoned advice on settlement offers
- Representing You in Court – Advocating on your behalf in court should your case go to trial
Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Appleton, WI, Today
Don’t let a truck accident injury define your future. Take back control and secure the compensation you deserve. The Appleton truck accident attorneys of Schwaba Law Firm are ready to stand beside you every step of the way.
Contact us now for a no-obligation, free consultation today with an Appleton, WI, truck accident lawyer.