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Untangling a three-truck collision

by | Jan 17, 2023 | Blog, Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are complicated enough when only two vehicles are in the crash. The legal issues increase exponentially when there are multiple trucks involved. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you get to the bottom of what happened to figure out who was responsible when you suffered an injury in a multi-truck accident.

Dangerous States for Truck Accidents

While you can see commercial trucks anywhere across the United States, some states have higher risk factors than others for complex truck crashes.

For example, the states with the most truck crash fatalities in a recent year were:

  • Texas = 643 deaths
  • California = 398 deaths
  • Florida = 344 deaths

Texas is the most dangerous state for truck accidents for several reasons. Oil country has some of the most heavily traveled roads, especially by large trucks. Often, there are far more trucks on the road than passenger vehicles. Trucks bring supplies and equipment to and from the Permian Basin and may transport fuels and chemicals. The presence of so many trucks makes the Permian Basin one of the most dangerous places in the country to drive.

US-285, which runs through the heart of the Permian Basin, is known as the Death Highway. In a recent year, there were nearly 50 accidents alone on just a 20-mile stretch of the highway. There are makeshift memorials to accident victims in frequent places on the side of the road. No matter how much the government spends to make the road safer (and significant renovations planned), they still cannot make a dent in the number of truck accidents in the region.

The same goes for much of the state of Texas. For many reasons, the region sits at the center of much of the country’s truck traffic. Besides the truck traffic coming to and from the Southern border, there is also a large amount of cross-country traffic. Texas has deepwater ports and is located right between the West Coast and Southeast. All Texas highways feature heavy truck traffic.

Truck accidents can happen anywhere, and they can sometimes involve three or more vehicles, which can complicate matters. Seek help from a truck accident lawyer in your area to learn about your legal rights.

Multiple Truck Crashes Are Even More Complex

LaBelle, TX – Driver Injured in Truck Crash on FM 365 at Labelle RdIn some cases, multiple trucks may be involved in the same crash. A particularly difficult legal issue is involved when three trucks are involved in one crash. Apportioning liability will have significant financial consequences for each driver and trucking company involved. One trucking company may be responsible for a large amount of damages, while the other two injured drivers can recover significant financial compensation.

If you are a truck driver injured in a crash, you have the same legal entitlement to financial compensation as anyone else, provided that you can show that someone else was responsible for the accident. Although workers’ compensation is always an option, you can and should file a lawsuit if a third party is to blame for your accident. If another truck was in the crash and was legally responsible, their insurance company will need to pay. The trucking company will have a significant policy to protect itself against large financial liabilities.

Investigation Is Perhaps the Most Important Part of a Truck Accident Case

After a truck accident, the investigation is crucial. The police or federal government may conduct their investigation, but it can take time for them to complete their inquiry and reach their own conclusions.

If there is a police report, law enforcement may not conclude who was to blame for the crash. Instead, the police officer may note their observations and anything they heard from the witness. If you file a lawsuit in court, the police report alone will not be enough for the jury to reach a conclusion. In fact, you cannot even admit a police report as evidence since it will violate hearsay rules.

Each driver may hire their own lawyer, whose job it is to get to the bottom of the accident. You should understand who each potentially responsible party is and be prepared to act against each of them to recover financial compensation. First, your lawyer needs to learn exactly what happened and gather the proof necessary to show who may have been responsible for the crash.

Truck Accident Lawyers Investigate Your Accident Without You Paying Upfront

The good news is that you will not need to finance an extensive post-accident investigation out of your own pocket. When you hire a lawyer to investigate the accident, they will initially bear the expenses of the investigation. When there is a settlement or jury award, then the expenses are paid back to the law firm. Generally, you do not need to pay a lawyer up front if the attorney is working for you on a contingency basis.

How Three Truck Accidents Happen

In many three-truck accidents, one driver’s actions create a chain reaction. Trucks are enormous vehicles, and each driver has no room for error. One slight miscalculation can cause a significant accident, especially when other trucks are nearby.

Three-truck accident causes include:

  • A front truck stopped short to either avoid another car or because they applied the brake late.
  • One trucker making a misjudgment and over or understeering – the result is that they can roll over or lose control of their truck, collecting other trucks in the accident.
  • Cargo on one truck spilled onto the roadway, causing trucks behind them to lose control.
  • A distracted truck driver making a mistake

Police officers show up at the crash scene and see the trucks damaged and in whatever position they were when they came to a rest. It is up to investigators to piece together what happened. They may have help from witnesses who saw what happened. In other cases, they may need to piece together and recreate what happened. The conclusions that they reach can have millions of dollars of financial impact.

How Insurance Companies Determine Liability in a Truck Accident

In determining liability for the truck accident, the insurance companies will look at the actions of each of the individual drivers. There may be a complicated determination, and the insurance companies may take their time, considering all the money at stake. There may be black boxes available from each truck to see how the drivers and trucks performed before the accident.

The black box can reveal:

  • The speed of each truck before the accident
  • The direction that each truck traveled in and its path
  • How the driver steered the truck before the accident
  • When the driver applied the brake and how forcefully they tried to brake
  • Whether one of the drivers was violating hours of service regulations

In addition, the insurance companies may review the results of drug and alcohol testing performed on each driver right after the accident.

If three trucks were involved, you should not assume that the insurance companies (or a jury) will assign 100 percent of the blame to one truck. Each of the three drivers may bear some of the responsibility for the crash. For example, if there was a chain reaction crash, the driver who stopped short at the front may have some legal responsibility for the accident. Then, the driver who rear-ended that front car can also be partially at fault if they had the opportunity to brake in time.

You Do Not Have to Accept the Insurance Company’s Conclusion

Insurance Companies Low-BallYou should always push back if you are being wrongfully blamed in whole or in part for the crash. Blaming you is a tactic that an insurance company tries to use to save itself some money at your expense. Thankfully, the facts are the facts, no matter how much the insurance company tries to twist them for its own purposes. If you get wrongfully blamed for part of the crash, you can always take your case to a jury, who will ultimately decide who was responsible for the crash after hearing all the evidence.

In addition, each driver’s insurance company may try to duck legal responsibility for the crash. They know they may need to pay out a large sum of money to two claimants, and they will try to do everything possible to avoid that obligation. Each insurance company may try to pin the blame on another driver and deny a claim. Again, remember that the insurance company does not get the last word. If you are unhappy with the result, you can always take your case to court.

Coverage Limit Issues in a Three-Truck Crash

In a three-truck accident, you may begin to run up against coverage limit issues. When a trucking company purchases insurance, it is generally on a per-accident basis. If one truck is responsible for the damages suffered by the other two trucks, the trucking company can face significant liability. There is extensive property damage at issue (to the truck and its cargo), and each of the other drivers may have their own personal injury claims.

If there are two claimants, you are going after the same insurance coverage. There is a greater chance that the responsible party’s insurance coverage may not be enough to pay for your damages. Therefore, you may need to file a lawsuit against the trucking company to recover your total damages. The trucking company will pay you the shortfall that the insurance company did not pay. You can go after the trucking company’s assets to collect any judgment.

Always Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

paula a wyatt attorney wyatt law firm san antonio

Attorney, Paula A. Wyatt, Truck Accident Lawyer

You should hire a truck accident attorney because of the stakes. However, your need for an experienced lawyer is even more significant when there are complex factors, such as multiple drivers involved in the crash. You need to protect your legal interests at all times.

Besides investigating the claim and defending your own actions surrounding the crash, your truck accident attorney will also fight for you to receive enough financial compensation. Even if a trucking company has a large insurance policy, it will only matter if the insurance company is willing to write the necessary check. You can count on foot-dragging and delay tactics to try and wear you down. The insurance company will likely make you many low settlement offers, even if they are willing to pay you money in the first place.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case

Your truck accident attorney can:

  • Gather all available evidence to help you learn about the cause of the accident and prove it when filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit on your behalf
  • Preserve potential evidence by directing the other companies not to destroy it because of potential legal action
  • Counsel you on the best legal strategy to use as you pursue financial compensation for your injuries
  • Review your medical records and the details of your specific situation to learn the actual value of your claim
  • Prepare and file the insurance claim should you choose to pursue this route (or draft the complaint for the court should you choose to file the lawsuit)
  • Negotiate with the insurance company should they make you a settlement offer, reviewing the proposals that you receive to see if they fairly compensate you.
  • Handle the back-and-forth with the insurance company, sparing you from having to deal with any details while you are getting treatment for and recovering from your injuries

You cannot and should not try to perform the tasks that a truck accident attorney can do for you. Whether you are involved in an accident with one vehicle or several, you face a tough road ahead of you to get the financial compensation that you may deserve, but a successful recovery is possible when the facts and law are on your side. Your attorney can handle the intricate details so that you can focus on your physical recovery from the accident.

You are likely already on the path to physical recovery through your medical treatment. Begin your path to financial recovery today by contacting a truck accident attorney.