ST. PAUL SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
There are approximately two million tractor trailers on the road and 1.2 million trucking companies in the United States. Most semi-truck drivers understand the importance of driving the biggest vehicles on the road. Unfortunately, sometimes truck drivers do not follow important safety rules and the results are often catastrophic. Over 4,000 people are killed in crashes with semis per year.
Minnesota semi-truck crashes are similar to Minnesota car crashes, but there are a number of differences. If you are involved in crash with a semi-truck, it is important that you speak with an experienced Minnesota semi-truck accident and car accident attorney.
DO I HAVE NO-FAULT BENEFITS IF I AM IN A MINNESOTA CAR CRASH WITH A SEMI-TRUCK?
Minnesota no-fault benefits are addressed in detail here. In short, you are entitled to $20,000 of benefits for medical bills and another $20,000 for wage loss and replacement services. No-fault benefits are not different if you are hit by a semi-truck. The difference comes when it is time for a settlement from the truck company’s insurance. In a typical Minnesota car accident, the insurance company that pays no-fault benefits does not get that money back. However, when the driver of a commercial vehicle is at fault for a Minnesota car accident, Minnesota law requires that the insurer for the commercial vehicle pay the no-fault insurer back.
Typically, the truck’s insurer would pay the no-fault insurer back directly, but it is important for you or your attorney to understand this process. If the truck’s insurer makes a settlement offer and it is not discussed who is paying back the no-fault insurer, and you could end up costing yourself thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
HOW DO I MAKE SURE THE TRUCK COMPANY KEEPS VIDEO?
Many trucking companies have dashcams. Often, insurance companies will offer discounts to trucking fleets if they have them. Companies have an obligation to preserve any evidence that they know may be evidence in a future claim. Unfortunately, any experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney has run into companies or employees who are willing to destroy or “misplace” evidence, including video. This can be extremely beneficial for a trucking company when there are no witnesses and the victim is either critically injured and does not remember the crash or unfortunately passed away from the crash.
The best way to make sure video is preserved is if the police or state patrol pull the dashcam memory card at the scene. If they do not, then you must make sure the trucking company is saving the video. Getting a semi-truck accident attorney right away can help. An attorney can send a detailed letter outlining everything that the truck company must preserve. These are called “preservation letters” because they demand the insurer preserve evidence. Once a preservation letter is sent to the trucking company and its insurer, they will be required to keep the video safe. If they do not, the fact that the video was destroyed or lost may be able to be used against them later.
WILL THE SEMI-TRUCK HAVE INSURANCE TO COVER BOTH MY INJURIES AND VEHICLE DAMAGE?
This coverage will apply to both property damage and injury claims resulting from a Minnesota semi-truck accident involving an interstate trucking company.
If the commercial vehicle only operates in Minnesota, there are various minimum insurance requirements that can be found here.
DO TRUCK DRIVERS HAVE LIMITS ON HOW MUCH THEY CAN DRIVE?
Yes, the FMCSA has various limits on how many hours a truck driver can drive. Those limits can be found here. It is always a good idea to demand the driver’s log after a crash. This will tell you if there are other claims against the trucking company and, depending on how bad the violation is, whether punitive damages may be appropriate.
HOW ARE MINNESOTA SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIMS DIFFERENT FROM MINNESOTA CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS?
In some ways, the claims are similar against the driver of the truck. But you also may have additional claims that can help you get full compensation from the insurance company.
Trucking companies will always be responsible for the negligence of their drivers. This is a legal principle call respondeat superior. In addition, semi-truck companies have requirements to properly hire, train, and retain their employees. Depending on the facts of the case, a direct claim against the truck company can be made for negligent hiring, training, supervising, or retaining their employees.
For hiring, the truck company has an obligation to run background checks and make sure its drivers will be safe. We have seen trucking companies hire drivers with recent DUIs and careless driving convictions. When these drivers then cause a serious injuries in a Minnesota semi-truck crash, the employer is liable for failing to properly hire safe drivers.
For training, truck drivers should be taught how to safely drive semi-trucks. For example, taking a semi should never take U-turns in the middle of a city intersection. If drivers do not receive the proper trying or receive improper training, a direct negligence claim exists against the trucking company if that bad training leads to a Minnesota semi-truck crash.
To determine if additional claims exist against the trucking company, you should seek advice from an experienced Minnesota trucking attorney and Minnesota car accident attorney.
HOW DO I FIND A SEMI-TRUCK THAT HIT ME AND LEFT WITHOUT STOPPING?
Surprisingly, despite their size, we have seen numerous instances in which a semi-truck has committed a hit-and-run. Sometimes the driver admits it was because they were scared and did not want to lose their job and sometimes they claim they did not even know they were in a car crash. Whatever the reason, finding the truck is important to make sure there is enough coverage for both property damage and injuries.
Obviously the best things you can do to find the truck are to take pictures of identifying marks on the truck, specifically the license plate an DOT number. If that is not possible, then make sure you are at least identify the trucking company. This is not hard as the logo is usually written largely on the side or back. Once you are in a safe place, contact the police immediately so that you can make a report. Trucking companies are sophisticated entities with GPS on their trucks. Even if they will not admit it was their truck, they will have GPS tracking showing that they had a truck in that location at that time.
DO I NEED A MINNESOTA SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
Because of the seriousness of the injuries often sustained in semi-truck accidents, many semi-truck companies hire attorneys and crash reconstructions right away. The trucking company attorneys often push immediately to inspect the vehicles and interview the witnesses, including the injured victim. From the first second they are notified of the claim, the trucking company will be attempting to limit its liability through its investigation.
The trucking company’s investigation is typically one-sided. While they expect you to give a statement and let them inspect your vehicle for their crash reconstruction, the trucking company will never allow you ask to ask questions of its driver or get its dashcam video. You should never speak to a trucking company attorney or investigator without at least getting advice from a Minnesota truck accident attorney, especially if you are badly injured. An experienced attorney can make sure that all reconstruction information is shared and can hire an expert to make sure your rights are protected.
INJURED? CONTACT A ST. PAUL PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
If you have questions about a St. Paul car accident or St. Paul semi-truck accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 651-259-1113. You deserve to have compassionate, experienced representation. Please see here why we are the right choice for you.