Becoming a truck driver comes with a lot of risks. Aside from engine failure or other type of problem with the truck, one of the most common causes for truck driver injuries has become accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, around one in 10 highway deaths occur in a crash involving a large truck. This can be connected to a variety of reasons, for example, a truck’s braking capability.
Trucks aren’t as fast as a small vehicle, therefore, a sudden stop can be more detrimental for a large truck than for everyone else. Beyond the size itself, driver fatigue can also be attributed to the high accident risk, and is an issue that affects a majority of drivers. Often, they can be on the road for up to 11 hours a day, and research shows a large amount of drivers admit to violating regulations and working longer than permitted. With that said, it’s crucial that you protect yourself and stay vigilant after a truck accident.
What to do if you are involved in an accident?
If you are involved in an accident while on the job, it’s important to remember key factors of the crash. No matter how severe your injuries are or who was at fault, you always want to make sure you follow these steps:
- Call the police
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Take pictures
- Contact your insurance company and file a report
- Call an attorney
Regardless of the results of the crash, as a driver, you need to make sure you are protected from being accused of causing the accident. In many instances, small vehicle drivers can be at fault. They may hide in a truck’s blind spot, come to a sudden stop in front of you or merge into your lane unsuspectingly. When this is the case, personal injury attorneys, who often deal with truck accidents, say your injuries could take years to heal, which could leave you without work long-term. It’s important you are compensated for those bills and lost wages, either from your insurance company or from the party at fault. If you detailed all information about the crash, and it was caused by defective parts or other engine malfunction, you may be able to claim negligence. But again, making sure you detail every aspect of the crash is crucial for you to prove this. The quicker you do this, the more accurate your reporting will be.
How to deal with insurance companies?
If you are working for a trucking company, they should supply you with insurance and they are responsible for the aftermath of your accident. You will need to contact them and report the incident as soon as possible so that the report can be processed. Now this is where it can get tricky, the accident must happen “within the scope of employment” which means the employee must have been doing something related to the job when the accident happened. If the truck driver left work early and crashed while on the way to the store, then the accident would not be within the scope of employment, and the insurance company would not be liable.
Know your rights
As a truck driver, you are protected by federal law from retaliation from your company. This means you can’t be fired for reporting any unsafe or unhealthy working conditions. If you believe the company you are working for is using unsafe equipment or posing unhealthy driving expectations, you are able to report this to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Being mindful about these laws can protect you in case of future accidents. If the company is not making sure you are safe on the road, you have the right to report them making it illegal for them to demote or fire you.