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Table of contents

1. The true losses suffered in a Car Accident are often under-estimated.2. Who can claim motor vehicle injury compensation?3. What can you claim for as part of motor vehicle injury compensation?4. What are the most common road and car accident injuries?

You may have seen stickers bearing the phrase “without trucks Australia stops” on the backs of semi trailers, smaller vehicles, or trucks. The truth is that Australia uses trucks for transport of goods, food, products, and services every day. We as a nation are heavily reliant on trucks and truck drivers to meet so many of our daily needs. Truck drivers are in charge of very powerful vehicles, and as a result there are often significant consequences when trucks are involved in accidents.

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The figures show that in Australia in 2018, 159 people were killed in crashes where heavy trucks were involved. These figures were down 16.8% from fatalities in 2017, when 192 people were killed in accidents involving heavy trucks. In the period between 2016-2017, 190 people were killed, while 531 heavy truck occupants were hospitalised following a road accident. While these figures are sobering, we are seeing a decrease in fatalities of around 5.0% in the past ten years. Despite this, around 500 heavy truck occupants are hospitalised from accidents each year, with approximately 30 per cent categorised with high-threat-to-life injuries. It goes to show that truck driving is a high-risk industry with serious consequences. 

If you have been injured while driving a truck, or as the passenger of a truck, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for any loss suffered. Our expert truck accident lawyers can also assist you in making a claim if you were injured while working with a truck, such as while loading or unloading a vehicle. 

Speak to our team of expert truck accident personal injury lawyers today and find out how we can help with your claim for compensation. We operate on a no win no fee basis which means that you do not pay legal costs unless we successfully win your claim for compensation. 

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Common truck accident injuries

Truck crashing into a car

Truck drivers and passengers are at risk of suffering serious injury when involved in road accidents. Common truck accident injuries include: 

Truck drivers are under immense pressure from Australian businesses and suppliers to keep moving. As a result, truck drivers sometimes take risks for their trucking company and drive in unsafe conditions to meet deadlines and keep their jobs.

Other trucking injuries

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A study by Monash University was performed over a 12-year period, examining over 120,000 insurance claims.

  • It was found that truck drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, not just due to road accidents but also due to working conditions. 
  • The study showed that truck drivers suffered injury relating to slips, trips, falls, traffic accidents, and musculoskeletal injuries - among other injuries. 
  • Truck driver injuries were related to sedentary work, poor work hours, shift work, and fatigue. 

Truck drivers are also at risk of injury when loading or unloading a truck, or when performing maintenance on their truck such as when changing a tyre or topping up engine fluids on the side of the road. The claims process for people injured in a trucking accident while working is to claim through WorkCover via your employer. You can speak to a personal injury lawyer about how to claim through your employer.

Common causes of truck accidents

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Truck accidents have a number of causes, but driver fatigue plays a huge role in many truck accidents. There are very strict rules around driver rest breaks and about how far and for how long a driver is permitted to travel before a rest break is mandatory. Despite this, drivers sometimes turn to stimulant drugs or speeding as a means to meet these targets. 

Common causes of truck accidents include:

  • High speed
  • Poor weather/road conditions
  • Poor vehicle maintenance
  • Accident involving other inexperienced drivers
  • Other driver fault
  • Unsecured load
  • Livestock on the road

There are myriad other causes of accidents, with many truck drivers suffering serious and permanent injury. An injury lawyer who specialises in truck driver crash compensation can assist you in navigating through this difficult time.

Can I claim if I was deemed at fault? 

Personal injury questions

As we have mentioned, truck drivers sometimes work against difficult conditions and engage in behaviour such as speeding or skipping rest breaks to meet deadlines. If an accident happens, such negligent behaviour may result in you being deemed responsible for the accident which means you cannot claim for compensation.

You may be able to argue against this presumption so long as you can demonstrate that there were other factors at play which forced you to take the action that contributed to your accident. 

Example: Jess is a truck driver working the Melbourne to Perth route. She is under a lot of pressure to get a load to Perth in a short time frame. Her boss has said that he will ignore any logbook entries (or lack thereof) so long as Jess gets the load there on time. Jess decides to drive straight through - stopping only for a one hour nap here and there when she is exhausted. On the last leg of her journey she falls asleep at the wheel and crashes. While Jess is responsible for the crash, her employer would likely be liable as it was their actions that resulted in Jess choosing unsafe behaviour. 

Example: Ricky wants to get home early for his son’s birthday and decides to take some speed to help him stay awake. He does not notice a car in the next lane over and clips it, forcing the driver off the road and running off the road himself. He would likely not be able to claim any compensation for any injuries and would be liable for any injuries or damage. 

Our accident lawyers can help with your truck accidents compensation claim - even where you believe you may have contributed to the accident. Speak to our law firm today about claiming for compensation.

I was injured while loading/unloading a truck, can I claim?

Yes, you can - provided you were operating safely and in line with any work health and safety guidelines. Injuries while unloading a truck, whether it is a tractor trailer full of hay or an independent contractor unloading pallets, are all too common. You can make a claim for compensation through your employer - but it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer first for guidance on how to proceed.

Fatal truck accident claims 

When someone is killed in a truck accident it is traumatic for the relatives of the deceased. You may also have lost a primary source of income for your family. As a result, following a fatal road accident, you are eligible to make a claim for wrongful death which covers you for medical and funeral expenses, as well as  for loss of income. Our truck accident attorneys can help you make a claim for wrongful death, as well as for nervous shock (which is a claim for psychiatric injury suffered after the death of a relative or loved one).

Example: Grace is killed in a two-vehicle truck accident where the other driver was at fault. Grace was the sole income earner for her family, as well as part time carer for her husband Brad and their son Dylan. Brad would be able to claim for funeral and medical expenses as well as for the loss of Grace’s income and care. 

Example: Mick was killed in a truck accident which took place in front of his wife Denise as she was waiting to pick him up from the depot. As a result of witnessing the accident, Denise developed a psychiatric injury and had to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital. She has flashbacks and can no longer work. Denise would be able to make a claim for nervous shock from Mick’s employer or the party responsible.  

What are the time limits to make a truck injury claim?

Personal injury time limits

All claims for truck accident compensation must be commenced within three years of the date of the accident. This time limit is dictated by statute and is strictly enforced. It is important that you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident has taken place so that you can commence the process of making a claim for compensation. 

What can I claim for?

When you are entitled to compensation following a truck accident you will be able to claim for:

  • Medical expenses and medical treatment
  • In home care and necessary rehabilitation
  • Loss of income and loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering endured as a result of your injuries

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on your age, your earning capacity, the severity of your injuries and whether any injuries are permanent.  

How long will it take to get compensation?

A claim for compensation usually takes between 12-18 months, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of your matter and how your injuries are progressing. Claiming for compensation is a complex process and requires assessment of your injuries as well as an examination of how much loss you have suffered due to the accident. 

Can a truck driver be fired for an accident?

A truck driver who has been involved in an accident cannot be dismissed unless the truck driver was willfully negligent or if their conduct breached conditions of their employment. It it best to speak to a lawyer who specialises in employee relations if your matter relates to potential unfair dismissal. 

Why do trucks contribute to a relatively high percentage of accidents?

Trucks are commonly involved in motor vehicle accidents because trucks are common on Australian roads. Trucks drive thousands of kilometres every year and drivers are often under stressful and unsafe working conditions. As a result, a truck accident compensation claim is all too common. A recent study has shown that truck driver fatalities are on the rise, with driver distraction and insufficient fatigue management a huge contributor to truck driver accidents and fatalities. 

Posted by Kirk Watterston Senior Associate

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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