If you have been injured in a truck accident with Swift Transportation, your priority should be taking care of your injuries and getting better. Once you are better, you may find yourself stuck with a lot of medical bills. You may have chronic pain as well. Missing time away from work and losing income is likely after an accident. Your quality of life may decrease and you may require a prolonged recovery due to the severity of injuries resulting from truck accidents.
A personal injury lawyer at the law firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP can represent you if you have been injured in an accident with Swift Transportation or any other trucking company. We are experienced commercial truck accident attorneys. There are some things you should know about Swift Transportation and trucking accidents in general before you call us for your free consultation.
Swift Transportation Truck Accident Statistics
Swift Transportation is the largest trucking company in the U.S. The Phoenix-based company has 23,000 trucks. In 2017, they merged with Knight Transportation. A trucking company this large is going to end up having a certain amount of accidents.
According to the FMCSA, Swift had 1,038 accidents in the last two years. The FMCSA found violations in 6,807 of the company’s 14,081 inspections. There are several websites and YouTube pages dedicated to Swift Transportation truck accidents featuring pictures of crashed Swift trucks.
In addition to the fact that Swift simply has more trucks on the road than other trucking companies, they are also one of the most well-known names in trucking. When people graduate from trucking school, their first job will often be as a Swift Transportation truck driver. It looks great on a resume and has full benefits. Unfortunately, this means the trucking company does not employ the most experienced drivers.
Different Kinds of Accidents
There are a few types of truck-involved accidents that insurance companies see over and over again.
One of the most dangerous situations for trucks are areas with long descents or down grades. Even if brakes are properly maintained, if the truck is not in the right gear to descend, or has failed to engage “Jake Brake” then brakes can heat up to the point where there is brake fade and ultimately brake failure. In many situations, brakes are not properly inspected or maintained. This exponentially increases the load assumed by the brakes that are working and can lead to faster brake fade and failure than might otherwise be anticipated. One sure sign that a truck’s brakes aren’t working well is the smell that is caused by burning brakes and sometimes even visible smoke coming from the superheated brakes.
A “jackknife” accident is a type of accident that is specific to the trucking industry. In this type of accident, a tractor-trailer truck folds inward at the point of separation. It swivels at the connection point and it forms a V shape.
Underride accidents occur when a small vehicle slides underneath a truck from the back or the side. These types of accidents are often fatal. They kill more than 300 people every year. In cases involving trucks pulling out in front of the driver, the top of the car is often sheered off by the bottom portion of the truck’s trailer.
When a trucker gets ready to go to work in the morning their trailer is often not attached to their truck. Some truckers disconnect the cab from the trailer so they can drive home at night. When they reattach the trailer, they might make a mistake and attach it incorrectly or there may be something wrong with the bolts that attach the components.
A runaway trailer accident happens when the cab separates from the trailer. It can roll into traffic and cause a major accident. Cargo is likely to spill out onto the road and the cargo itself can interfere with traffic.
Why Trucks Have Accidents
A trucker might have an accident for any number of reasons. However, there are a few reasons that law enforcement officers and insurance agencies see most often.
- Distracted driving
- Maintenance issues
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence
The CDC has also conducted studies as to the cause of truck accidents as you can see in this infographic.
Typical Injuries After an Accident
A person is almost certain to be injured after an accident with a truck.Sprain/strain injuries, known as whiplash, are very common after any traffic accident. It is caused when the neck is jolted backward and forward very quickly tearing muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It can result in neck pain, stiffness, and headache.
Broken bones are common after an accident. In serious collisions, there can be changes in velocity equal to driving 50 MPH into a brick wall. If it is a side impact collision (T-bone impact), there can be a significant intrusion into the driver or passenger compartments resulting in broken bones. Fractures to wrists, ribs, and clavicle are also common injuries in serious frontal collisions.
Brain injuries, burn injuries, and spinal injuries are also common. The greater the forces involved in the collision, the greater risk for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even burns.
Psychological trauma is not uncommon after catastrophic injuries. Many people who have been in trucking accidents experience post-traumatic stress disorder where they feel the intense fear associated with an accident over and over again. Treatment for PTSD often involves seeing a mental health professions for exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, or other appropriate professional treatment.
What Should I Do After a Swift Transportation Trucking Accident?
When you have an accident, the police will arrive at the scene, check to see if anyone is injured, and interview witnesses about what they saw. They will also take pictures of the vehicles. It is always advisable for people who were involved in the accident to take pictures and get the names of the witnesses themselves. Do not rely on the police to figure things out, they are often wrong about which party was at fault in a significant amount of investigations and they often fail to take down the names of all witnesses.
After you go to your doctor for an exam, you will contact your insurance company and report the accident to them. In the state of California, the person who is responsible for an accident is also ultimately responsible for the associated bills. However, this can take some time and you should contact, your insurance company to see what coverages you have and in what amounts.
How Fault Is Determined
The insurance company will ask you to send any supporting documentation to them such as the names of witnesses, pictures, and your medical bills. They are not your friend and it is their sole responsibility to pay you as little as possible. It is not recommended that you try and resolve a trucking case involving serious injuries by yourself. You should contact the experienced trucking lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde for a no-obligation free consultation where we can advise you and answer questions about liability and damages issues.
Your case will be assigned to an insurance adjuster who will look at certain facts such as the positions of the vehicles, and the results of any drug test that may have been taken. They also have access to GPS data for the driver and likely know how fast the driver was going if they have rested and other information that they will not provide until a lawsuit is filed. There are also black boxes that contain the last several seconds of driver input for the truck including speed, steering, braking, and collision sensors. In fact, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act) requires truckers to have an Electronic Logging Device in their trucks that automatically records certain data at specific intervals including date; time; location information; engine hours; vehicle miles; and identification information for the driver, authenticated user, vehicle, and motor carrier
Determining fault in a trucking accident is a bit different than determining fault in any other accident. Although all drivers have a duty of care and must adhere to the rules of the road, professional truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers. They have Commercial Drivers Licenses and they undergo special training.
The Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration oversees the trucking industry and has standards to which they must adhere. A trucker must:
- Pass a pre-employment drug test
- Have a Commercial Driver’s License
- Fully inspect their vehicle before driving it
- Inspect the vehicle after driving it
- Drive no longer than 11 consecutive hours in a shift
- Work no longer than 14 hours
If something is found to be wrong with the truck during an inspection, The trucking company must make sure that it is repaired before that truck goes on the road.
A trucking company must make sure a driver has not had a suspended license for the last seven years in any state in which they have lived.
If a trucker violated any of those rules, an insurance adjuster will consider them when determining fault. It is easier to prove a trucker is at fault in an accident because of the amount of electronic information that is usually available and the very specialized investigations and documentation that follow every serious trucking collision.
If you have lost a loved one to a Swift Transportation accident, any FMCSA rules violations can be used as evidence in court.
How an Attorney Can Help
When an insurance adjuster finishes investigating your case, they will approve or deny your claim. This is the latest that you should hire an attorney so that all your damages, including the cost of future medical care and wage loss can be properly calculated and submitted for consideration with your demand for settlement of the case. If you try to resolve the case on your own, it is imperative that you consult with a Truck Accident Lawyer before accepting the settlement offer. They can tell you if the insurance company’s offer is fair.
In most cases, the insurance company‘s initial settlement offer will be too low. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. The lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP are trained negotiators who are well-versed in California insurance law. If a settlement cannot be reached, we can represent you in court. Our lawyers are experienced litigators who have a successful track record of winning in court.
What are your fees?
We work on a contingency basis. That means you will not be charged anything unless we win. We are paid a percentage of your settlement amount. We are happy to answer any questions about fees and costs with you at your free consultation.
Am I guaranteed that you will take my case?
No, we will take a look at the facts in your case and see if we believe that we can help you. This may simply be getting you more money than what the insurance company is offering you and can go as far as a Jury Trial and everything in between.
Are truckers responsible for many accidents?
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, truckers are responsible for about 15% of accidents on the highways. Although only 15% of all collisions, the injuries in these incidents are usually much more severe than many other types of personal injuries.
How much time will you devote to my case?
You will be assigned a primary attorney, an associate attorney, primary paralegal, backup paralegal, intake coordinator, and a case manager. Cases are reviewed by the full team approximately every 2-3 weeks, pending assignments are discussed in detail and strategy sessions are common. Our office is staffed with a team of trained professionals who will seamlessly handle your case and do everything in their power to get you the money you deserve.
Getting into an accident with a truck is one of life’s worst experiences. We can help you get the money you need to get better. Give us a call today.