The trucking industry continues to be on the rise in the US, as it remains one of the preferred ways for transportation of goods. More trucks out on the road also mean a higher risk for accidents involving these vehicles.
There can be a variety of reasons for a semi-truck driver to cause an accident. The nature of their job exposes them to long and soliciting work hours, so fatigue can easily set in. As for fleeing the scene, they might see this as a means to protect their livelihood.
Hit and runs are especially tough on the victim and unfortunately, it is not always possible to catch the driver. If you are involved in such an incident, make sure to write down any information that can help identify the driver.
When an accident occurs, the drivers involved should stop and remain at the scene. There are plenty of ways to help mend the situation. If the other driver is injured, they can help provide some assistance and contact an ambulance. Furthermore, they should provide personal information, like name, the company they work for, proof of insurance, and contact details.
However, this does not always happen. A truck driver involved in an accident may find themselves under a lot of additional pressure, which might provide extra motivation for them to flee the scene. For them, driving is more than just a way to get somewhere in a timely fashion, it is their livelihood. So, they might see staying and taking responsibility for the crash as a means to threaten their occupation. After all, a clear record is essential for the employer.
There might be several additional reasons why a semi-truck driver can cause a hit and run. In the following, we will cover the main ones.
Unaware of the Accident
The size of the vehicle makes it possible for a driver to not even be aware that an accident took place. Chances for this occurring are higher, if the incident took place in the driver’s blind spot and if the victim is a pedestrian or a person riding a bike. These blindspots are found at the front and rear of the truck and also on its side, to the left and right.
Doesn’t Have the Necessary Insurance
The driver might have been aware that an accident occurred but he did not have a license or insurance. Commercial truck insurance can be up to $14,000 with all the necessary coverages for someone with their own authority. Companies could get different deals for insurance packages from providers.
Semi Truck Drivers spend long hours on the road, often being exposed to extreme temperatures. It is certainly not easy to maintain a high level of focus under these conditions. To help ease this problem, there are specific regulations in place regarding hours of service. You can read more about driving hour limits here.
Driving Under the Influence
The driver could have been under the influence of alcohol or other substances when the crash occurred. By avoiding police, they might hope to lower the chances of going through a chemical test and avoid the negative consequences.
It is also possible for the driver to have been distracted while driving. They might have been engaged in texting, talking on the phone, or accessing other devices. Depending on the state, there are serious repercussions for this.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene
Both state and federal penalties are in place for leaving the scene of the accident. The federal penalties apply under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The severity of the punishment depends on the offense.
For the first offense, the convicted driver can be prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle for up to a year. However, the ban can extend to three years, if they were transporting hazardous materials at the time of the crash. Upon a second offense of this kind, the commercial driving license is revoked permanently.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
If you were involved in, or have witnessed, a hit and run accident, there are several things you can do. However, before you proceed with contacting specialists from different fields, make sure that everyone in the car with you is safe. Also, consider making your phone calls from the safety of your car.
Call for Medical Assistance
Health and safety should be your number one concern, so start by calling for an ambulance. Even if you all seem fine, there might be some internal injuries that are not visible but which might lead to serious complications. Also, some injuries that are specific to car accidents can show up days after the incident, like whiplash.
Call the Police
A car crash should also be reported to the police. They will come to the scene and conduct their official proceedings. Help them out to the best of your ability. Provide all the information you can. However, try to stay objective and calm. Stay away from interpreting events yourself and provide only cold facts.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Finally, you should also reach out to your insurance provider to report the incident. A hit-and-run accident might cause some complications in receiving some compensation but sometimes things run smoothly. If you run into any trouble in this regard, or if you want to ensure that you get a payment from your provider, contact a lawyer.
Record the Accident
If you feel stable enough after the accident, try to record all the details of the events. Start by writing down any information that can help identify the driver. A license plate would be very helpful, but if you missed this, look for a company logo on the truck, or any other identifying marks.
Furthermore, take photographs of the damage caused to your car and the surroundings. Keep any kind of bills that are related to the crash. This implies medical documents, bills from mechanics, and so on. Gather all of them in a file, this will come in helpful when arguing in favor of your compensation.
Contact a Lawyer
Being involved in a car accident with a truck can lead to a complicated case, especially if you are dealing with a company. Their insurance provider might try to combat the negligence claim. If it comes to this, you definitely want a lawyer by your side. Having a legal expert on your team to help fight your legal battles will increase your chances at victory.
Unfortunately, semi-trucks are quite at risk of being involved in an accident. Drivers spend long hours on the road, sometimes with precious or toxic cargo, adding an extra element of risk. Fatigue might set in, or the drivers might get distracted while driving. There are many reasons why they might cause an accident.
When the driver flees the scene, though, things might become more complicated. In cases like that make sure to remember any distinctive signs that might help identify the driver and help authorities to catch him. Also, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer to help sort out the proceedings with your insurance company.