Trucking accidents are some of the most devastating, catastrophic kinds of roadway crashes. They can result in life-altering injuries, from broken bones and whiplash to paralysis, traumatic brain injury, and even death. But what makes a commercial truck accident case more difficult than a regular passenger vehicle claim is proving who’s responsible. With an experienced Wisconsin attorney by your side, you can demand compensation from those who are liable for a serious injury you’ve suffered in a truck accident.

Andrew Schwaba and Schwaba Law Firm have the skill, experience, resources, and tenacity that truck collision lawsuits demand. Andrew is known throughout Green Bay, Appleton, Marinette, and the general Northeast Wisconsin region for standing up to insurance companies, trucking firms, truck manufacturers, and other third parties in extensive accident cases. He will fight to recover what you’ve lost in a truck collision and make your life whole again.

Contact Andrew today for a free consultation to get started on your case. He’ll help you file a truck accident claim, gather the necessary evidence to support your case, document your losses, and vigorously pursue the compensation you’re owed.

What Is Considered a Truck in Wisconsin?

The definition of a “truck,” per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in 49 CFR §390.5. Under this statute, a truck is “any self-propelled commercial motor vehicle except a truck tractor, designed and/or used for the transportation of property.” A truck tractor, per the FMCSA, is “a self-propelled commercial motor vehicle designed and/or used primarily for drawing other vehicles.”

Among the vehicles that meet the FMCSA’s “truck” or “truck tractor” definition include the following:

  • Semi-trailer
  • 18 wheeler
  • Tractor-trailer
  • Semi truck
  • Big rig
  • Box truck
  • Flatbed truck
  • Dump truck
  • Tanker truck
  • Snowplow
  • Crane truck or mobile crane
  • Logging truck
  • Furniture truck
  • Livestock truck
  • Cement mixer truck
  • Garbage truck
  • Tow truck
  • Auto transporter

Who Regulates the Trucking Industry?

The FMCSA sets national regulations for the interstate trucking industry, including:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations, which include how many hours a driver is allowed to be on duty and how many hours they must rest
  • Driver Qualifications, such as age (they must be at least 21), ability to competently read and speak English, holding a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and passing a physical exam every two years
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection, to ensure trucks are safe to operate, as well as requiring drivers to report any issues or defects that would compromise vehicle safety or operability
  • Cargo Securement Rules, which can vary depending on the type and size of a truck’s cargo
  • Drug and Alcohol Regulations, to prevent impaired drivers from being out on the road, which includes pre-employment, post-accident, and random testing

While these rules apply only to truck drivers operating across state lines, Wisconsin holds similar regulations for truck drivers working strictly within the state.

How Many Fatal Large Commercial Truck Accidents Occur Annually Across the U.S.?

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5,788 people died in large truck crashes in the U.S.

In a recent year, a reported 5,788 people died in large truck crashes in the U.S., according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Among these fatalities, 72 percent were either occupants of another vehicle involved in the crash or non-occupants such as bicyclists or pedestrians.

What Are The Main Differences Between Car Accidents and Truck accidents?

The following are some of the key differences between a truck collision case and an auto accident case:

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A Truck Accident Tends to Produce More Severe Injuries

The average passenger car can weigh between 2,000-4,000 pounds, and an SUV or pickup truck is approximately 5,000-6,000 pounds. By comparison, a semi-truck with a trailer can be around 30,000 pounds when the trailer is empty — and nearly three times that if the trailer is loaded. Such a difference in weight and size means that a collision could result in extensive, even fatal injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

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A Truck Accident Claim Tends to Be More Expensive

With more severe injuries come more costly medical expenses, as well as the accident victim having to take extra time away from work to heal. However, many truck accident injuries are so severe that they can cause someone to become disabled and permanently unable to ever work again. In addition, because of a truck’s size, a commercial truck accident tends to cause more property damage in an accident than a passenger vehicle crash would. Put these factors together and the value of a personal injury claim is increased dramatically.

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More Parties Could Be Held Liable in a Truck Accident

A crash between two or more cars usually happens because of an error by one of the drivers involved. But because there are so many parties involved in a tractor-trailer, semi-trailer, or big rig operation, liability could be shared among them. While truck drivers are often partly responsible for a crash, the trucking company they work for also could be held liable for their actions. The shipper may be held responsible for hiring an unsafe trucking company. A broker may be liable for hiring an unqualified tractor-trailer driver. In other cases, a maintenance company could be at fault for failing to properly maintain the truck, or the truck manufacturer may be to blame if a mechanical defect contributed to the wreck.

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Different Types of Evidence Available

Truck accident claims can produce the kinds of evidence that simply aren’t accessible or relevant in car accident cases. For example, truck drivers keep road logs and toll receipts, while the trucking company could have maintenance logs and other records. Tracking down, uncovering, and sorting through this paperwork takes longer compared to an average car accident claim.

Common Types and Causes for Commercial Truck Accidents

A commercial truck can weigh upward of 80,000 pounds when it’s fully loaded. But besides being heavy and bulky, a truck is a complicated vehicle. Its maneuverability and limited rear visuals are limited compared to a car, making it particularly dangerous in a crash. The following are some of the more common types and causes of truck accidents:

Head-On Collisions

These crashes occur when two vehicles that are approaching from opposite directions crash straight-on into one another. When a large truck hits a car head-on, even at a low speed, the result can be catastrophic.

Rollover Accidents

Because trucks have a much higher center of gravity than normal passenger vehicles, they’re more likely to overturn. As a result, other cars could crash into the trailer, or the trailer could roll on top of a car and crush it.

Rear-End Collisions

In this case, the front of one vehicle hits the back of another vehicle. Between two cars these crashes can be minor, but the consequences are more severe when a big rig truck is involved. These crashes could also cause a chain reaction, leading to multi-vehicle accidents and pileups.

T-Bone Collisions

These crashes occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another, leading to a T-shaped wreck. They frequently happen at intersections when a truck driver runs a red light, ignores a stop sign, or fails to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic as they attempt to make a turn.

Sideswipe Collisions

By design, a large commercial truck has more blind spots than passenger vehicles such as cars. When a truck driver doesn’t check their blind spots, they could change lanes without realizing that another vehicle is already occupying the other lane.

Underride Accidents

These accidents often happen when a truck driver suddenly slows down or stops. The motorist behind the truck could then rear-end the trailer and the car would slide underneath. When this happens, the top part of the car could be torn off or crushed as the vehicle passes under the trailer.

Jackknife Accidents

Most tractor-trailers have separate braking systems. Should a truck driver slam the brakes in the cab, the trailer could continue traveling forward, causing it to swing around the side of the cab at a 90-degree angle and collide with another vehicle. Jackknife accidents get their name because of the pocketknife effect of the trailer swinging.

Tire Blowouts

These can occur on any vehicle, including cars and motorcycles. But because of the amount of wear and tear that trucking puts on tires, large trucks frequently experience blowouts. In addition, because truck tires are so large, a blowout can produce large debris such as tire pieces and steel belt sections, which can lead to collisions.

What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?

Because of a commercial truck’s speed and weight, a collision can impart devastating forces, especially considering its size compared to a car or motorcycle. Anyone who is a victim of a Wisconsin truck accident can suffer serious, potentially life-threatening injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Dislocated joints
  • Facial injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Traumatic amputation/limb loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Burns and smoke inhalation injuries due to post-accident fires
  • Toxic exposure and resultant disease because of hazardous cargo spills
  • Lacerations, abrasions, and degloving injuries
  • Ligament, tendon, and muscle injuries or tears
  • Herniated spinal disc injuries
  • Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
  • Perforation injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental/psychological injuries

Should a truck accident be fatal, the victim’s family may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. A truck accident lawyer in Wisconsin can review your claim and determine what compensation to pursue for your injuries.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

One of the biggest differences between a car accident and a trucking accident is the number of parties who could be involved and held responsible. A crash between two or more cars usually happens because of an error by one of the drivers involved. But because there are so many parties involved in a tractor-trailer, semi-trailer, or big rig operation, liability could be shared among them.

Parties that could hold financial responsibility for an 18-wheeler accident in Wisconsin include the following:

  • The driver of the truck, who could have behaved recklessly or negligently by texting, driving drunk, or speeding
  • The company that commissions the trucking job, as it could have been negligent with its policies for hiring, screening, training, dispatching, or scheduling
  • The truck’s owner, who could be at fault for not properly inspecting, maintaining, or repairing the truck as needed
  • The trailer owner, who could bear liability for a trucking crash caused by inadequate or neglected trailer maintenance
  • The cargo broker, if they overloaded the trailer with too much and too heavy a cargo, did not properly balance the load, or failed to properly secure the cargo
  • The freight broker, who makes arrangements between shippers and trucking companies, and could be liable if they hired unqualified or unsafe carriers or truck drivers
  • The manufacturer of the truck, if the truck has a manufacturing defect or faulty systems
  • Third-party truck parts manufacturers, if they manufactured or designed a defective part — including wipers, tires, lights, and brake components — that led to a truck accident
  • Third-party mechanics, who could have been negligent when performing truck repairs and maintenance
  • A maintenance or repair facility, if, during an inspection, they failed to properly evaluate or address deficiencies or faulty truck components
  • Government entities responsible for roadways, as they could be responsible for dangerous road conditions such as cracked pavement, missing guardrails, potholes, or faulty road design

How Can an Attorney Prove Liability After a Wisconsin Truck Wreck?

When a Wisconsin truck accident lawyer investigates a serious truck accident, they will typically go to the following types of evidence to determine accountability:

  • Police Accident Reports – These often contain helpful information and details, including citations issued for traffic violations, toxicology test results, and the investigating officer’s official determination of who was at fault.
  • Photos and Video Footage – Accident scene photos and video footage taken by traffic cameras or dashboard cameras can establish how and when the collision happened, as well as show the resulting damage.
  • Truck Driver Driving Records – By turning to the trucker’s daily driving logs, an attorney can see how long the driver spent on the road, how fast they were traveling, and if they complied with routine, legally required truck inspections.
  • The Trucking Company’s Hiring and Training Records – These records could indicate whether the trucking company was negligent with its screening, hiring, or training practices, giving the lawyer proof of liability.
  • Truck Driver Cell Phone and GPS Records – Cell phone tracking can indicate whether the trucker was texting or calling at the time of the crash, while GPS records can demonstrate the truck’s relative speed and position when the accident happened.
  • Cargo Loading Manifests – The cargo loading manifests and bills are helpful in discerning whether the truck was carrying potentially hazardous cargo, if the load was within appropriate weight limits, or if the cargo was secured correctly.
  • Truck Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance Records – Through these documents, a truck accident lawyer is able to see if any ignored defects or recalls contributed to the crash.

What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in a Truck Accident Claim?

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a commercial truck or semi-trailer accident that wasn’t your fault, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation for your expenses and losses. This compensation falls into one of two categories: economic losses and non-economic losses.

Economic Losses

These damages reflect the financial harm you’ve suffered due to the accident, and they include the following:

  • Medical bills, for hospital services immediately following the crash and subsequent treatment
  • Future treatment expenses, such as home health services, rehabilitation/physical therapy, mental health therapy, or long-term care
  • Lost income, due to missing work because of your accident and injuries
  • Lost future earning potential, if your injuries result in being permanently disabled and unable to return to your previous job or to work at a similar job
  • Lost employment benefits, including health insurance, pensions, stock options, or 401(k) investment
  • Property damage, such as motor vehicle repairs or personal property damaged or lost in the crash

Non-Economic Losses

These damages are more subjective than economic damages. They account for the personal, intangible harm that you suffered due to the truck collision. These may include:

  • Pain and suffering, which encompasses the physical discomfort and mental anguish you feel because of your truck accident injuries
  • Emotional distress, such as flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, phobias, and disrupted sleep
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life, including the inability to complete daily living tasks and participate in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Reduced life expectancy, if your injuries are so severe that they will take years off your life
  • Loss of consortium, which means a disturbance to your marital relationship due to the injuries suffered in the accident
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Contact a Wisconsin Truck Accident Law Firm Today

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If you’ve been hurt in a Wisconsin truck accident due to no fault of your own, you should not be left to pay for the life-altering consequences of it. The truck accident law firm of Schwaba Law can work with you to demand accountability, compensation, and justice from all responsible parties.

Andrew Schwaba is a seasoned truck accident lawyer. He knows how to track down and identify trucking regulation violations or negligent actions on the part of a truck driver, trucking company, or others who could hold liability for a serious accident. More importantly, Andrew will keep your best interests at the forefront as he works tirelessly to recover what you’ve lost.

There is no fee unless Andrew recovers compensation for you, whether it’s through a negotiated settlement or by winning your lawsuit at a jury trial. Your consultation and case review are free, meaning there’s no risk to you in pursuing your claim.

Contact Andrew today to get started on your truck accident injury case.