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Hamilton Trucking Accident Lawyers

Serving Trucking Accident Victims all over Ontario since 2003

Commercial Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers based in Hamilton, Serving Trucking Accident Victims all over Ontario

Injured in a truck accident? Contact a trucking accident lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers now for a free consultation

Hamilton truck accident lawyer, Matt Lalande, is recognized province-wide as a leader in truck accident law. Our law firm is experienced in handling truck accident cases and has recovered millions in Ontario trucking accident settlements and verdicts since 2003.

In a trucking case, drivers and safety directors have to do only one—critical—thing. They have to be safe. They have to be safe because trucks, 80,000-pound trucks, are dangerous if misused, unsafe, or simply carelessly driven. Tractor-trailers share the roads with smaller folks such as pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, cars, pickup trucks, and minivans – and when accidents do happen, they are always devastating for the victims.

If you’ve been hit by a large truck, you need to know your case is in the hands of an experienced truck accident litigator.  Large commercial trucks account for a disproportionate percentage of the injuries and deaths occurring on Canadian roadways. A single average highway in Canada has about 1100 trucks a day traveling on it. In Ontario, the number goes up significantly.  The average km of highway has about 2300 trucks a day, 10000 a day in Southern Ontario and up to 40000 trucks a day near Toronto. When trucking accidents happen, there is no doubt that truck accidents (including big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailer, commercial vehicles) often cause very serious injuries to those involved, and in some instances, results in fatalities. A trucking accident can be very complex and difficult to handle, which is why you need to retain an experienced trucking accident lawyer to prosecute your case. Last year in Ontario, large truck collisions represented approximately 19% of road fatalities, while large trucks were involved in approximately 2011 reported cases of personal injury.

Our Hamilton truck accident lawyers have been helping trucking accident victims who have suffered serious injuries since 2003. We have the experience to assist victims who have been involved in truck accidents with large trucks, cargo trucks, courier trucks, courier vans, cargo trucks, large buses, commercial buses, 18 wheelers, big rigs, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, delivery vans and fuel trucks.

Our trucking lawyers cannot undo the fact that you have been involved in a truck accident, but we can fight to put you in the place that you were the day before you are hurt.  More often than not, victims involved in commercial truck accidents are so badly hurt that they suffer permanent disability and pain for the rest of their life. It’s not uncommon for trucking accident victims to suffer from paralysis and other very serious personal injuries.

Asides from compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, your loss of income, loss of economic opportunity, the loss of the ability to care for your home, compensation for your family members  – it’s also not uncommon for victims to require funding for your lifetime care for such things as long-term rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational retraining, psychological therapy, etc. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, it’s important that you hire the right lawyer with specialized knowledge of trucking accident compensation, the long-term effects of catastrophic injuries and the associated economic damages that will need to be paid to you and your family.

80,000 LBS of Traveling Death – In Trucking Accidents, the Motorist Never Wins.

Canada’s road network spans over a million KM – and at any given time of day – we share the road with over million trucks, commercial trucks, tractor-trailers, transport trucks and trailers. Our highways are filled with 18-wheelers that pose a threat to innocent motorists on the road. These dangerous vehicles are often poorly maintained and driven by tired truckers. Their victims are usually oblivious to the danger of the 80,000 pounds that could careen into their vehicle at any given moment.

Commercial trucks vary in size and proportion. A semi-truck, or tractor-trailer (semi = made up of 2+ parts) for example, extends up to approximately 70 feet long – giving it the ability to block any size Canadian highway if it ends up jackknifed. The semi-truck is normally made up of a cab (standard or sleeper) which can be about 20 feet long. A standard trailer is 50 to 53 feet long, Double trailers or pup trailers are normally about 28 feet in length, while shipping containers (intermodal containers) can be 20 or 40 feet. There are other types of trailers, such as tanker trailers or flatbeds trailers which vary in lengths. Semi-trucks traveling highway speed limits in Ontario can take between 350 and 400 feet to stop, depending on the load and size of the truck (keep in mind that some trucks in Ontario are mandated to have speed limiters).

When a commercial truck collides with even the largest truck on the road, for example – the Ford F-250 Super Duty, which weighs in at a whopping 8587 lbs. the outcome come be devastating. No vehicle on the road stands a chance in a collision with a loaded tractor-trailer.

In the cases we have seen, many, if not all motorists involved in truck accidents do not survive. Truck accidents are more likely to result in death or serious injury than any other accident. In Ontario alone, there were just under 8500 trucking crashes and 96 deaths in 2020 involving commercial trucks, which was the highest number of commercial vehicle collisions and fatalities in more than 20 years. In 2019, those numbers were 7719 and 62, respectively.

Investigation following a Trucking Accident

The amount of evidence available in a trucking case – both the paper trail and the electronic footprints left behind – dwarfs that in a typical car wreck.

In serious trucking cases, our Hamilton truck accident lawyers will move immediately to send preservation letters to every potential defendant or nonparty that may have important evidence in their possession regarding your accident. We will ensure the truck is secured and that no one is manipulating it in any way without notice. We will obtain the black box (ECMs and EDRs) from the truck – and from your or your loved one’s car.

We retain the appropriate accident reconstructionist to investigate the accident scene, photograph and document the physical evidence and discover as much information as possible from investigating officers. It’s important to do this sooner rather than later, because skid marks and other physical evidence begin to disappear and fade within days after the accident, particularly in Canada with harsh weather conditions.  It’s important that we start our trucking accident investigation as soon as possible in order to collect and organize any evidence required in determining liability.  Typically our Hamilton truck accident lawyers in a trucking accident case will not only want to see the truck in person but also will want:

Access to the Trucking Black Box – Most trucks are equipped with a “black box” (ECMs and EDRs) which can provide valuable information in case of a truck accident. Electronic date instruction is important in every trucking case.

Access to Daily Travel Logs – legislation and the HTA provided mandated hours of service for commercial vehicles, including trucks and truck drivers. Driver’s are mandated to keep daily logs that account for on-duty and off-duty time.

Access to any Information About the Truck, Cargo and Weight – The HTA mandates restrictions on the size and weight of tractor-trailers

Access to Information about Trip Inspections – Trip inspections are mandatory by the HTA – every 24 hours that a tractor-trailer is in use in order to ensure that it is in good operating condition. The inspection must be done according to specific regulations.

Access to Annual Inspection Certificates – The Highway Traffic Act has requirements and component performance standards that the tractor-trailer must satisfy. If they are satisfied, a mechanic will fill out an annual inspection certificate.

Our Ontario trucking accident lawyers will also ensure to obtain other appropriate evidence such as:

  • Telephone records
  • Photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved
  • Records from on-board computers
  • The trucking accident report
  • Communication systems documents
  • Satellite tracking information
  • Driver disciplinary records
  • Driver Logs
  • Dispatch records
  • Disciplinary records
  • Trip Summaries
  • Daily Manifests and much more.

Semi-Truck, 18-Wheeler, Tractor Trailer and Commercial Vehicle Collisions

Our Hamilton Truck Accident Lawyers and personal injury lawyers represent victims who have suffered serious injuries and families of those who have lost loved ones in truck accidents. We represented victims who have suffered brain injuries, orthopedic injuries, spinal cord injuries.

The goal of our Hamilton truck accident lawyers is to seek justice for our clients and help put them in the place they were before they were hurt or in the case of fatalities – make sure that families and loved ones, whether spouses or children are well protected financially.

  • Product liability and equipment failure
  • Fatigue
  • Driver Error – i.e. misjudging speed and distance
  • Over driving headlights in the dark or rain
  • Bad weather
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Faulty equipment
  • Poor road conditions
  • Following too close
  • Insecure or tire blowouts
  • Improper or overloaded cargo
  • Accidents resulting from skipped maintenance checks
  • Overloaded trucks
  • Brake problems
  • Defective roadways

Truck Driver Fatigue & Sleep Deprivation

In a recent publication of “Road Today” the IHSA reported that Road Safety Authorities agree that in Ontario, fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents, right up there with distractions, speed and impairment.

Ontario, along with other Canadian jurisdictions has used the National Safety Code standards as guides in drafting their own transportation safety legislation – including legislation which deals with “hours of service” or the maximum driving times and minimum off-duty times of Ontario truck drivers. The hours of service apply to trucks, tractors or trailers, or a combination of these vehicles, which have a registered gross weight or actual weight greater than 4,500 kilograms.

Ontario’s driving limitations are such that for the 24-hour period “day,” a driver cannot drive more than 13 hours. A day is defined as a 24-hour period that typically begins at midnight. During the 24-hour period “day,” a driver cannot drive after having been on duty more than 14 hours. The 14 hours of on-duty time can consist of driving time, plus an on-duty time when not driving a truck. On-duty, not-driving time can mean, for example, working in the operator’s office or facility, or loading or unloading the vehicle, inspecting the vehicle, waiting at the border etc.

Lastly, a trucking company shall ensure that their driver takes at least 10 hours of off-duty time in a day. Off-duty time means time when a driver is not working or driving (for example, taking a meal break).

A tired truck driver is a safety hazard on our roads. Driver fatigue and sleep deprivation is a major issue has been the cause of countless highway trucking accidents in Ontario, and all across Canada. In the cases we have seen, truck drivers may have taken the required time off over the period of a day, however many truck drivers are also overworked and sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation reduces adequate alertness, performance and can impair a number of important cognitive functions including attention span, processing speed, reaction times, muscular coordination and overall judgment.

In fact, studies have shown that sleep deprivation and overall driver fatigue, can impair a truck or similar to the extent of alcohol impairment. Long-haul truck drivers seem to be more affected by fatigue and sleep deprivation. Although there has been increasing public and regulatory interest in the health consequences of truck driving and sleep deprivation, driver fatigue and drowsiness continue to be an issue among on-duty truck drivers and is still a cause of trucking accidents in Ontario, and across Canada. When our Hamilton trucking accident lawyers represent families impacted by catastrophic trucking crashes, our investigation is very strategic – and to the roots of truck driver fatigue with a focus on the trucking company’s management, supervision, policies and culture that aids and encourages driver fatigue.

How much does it Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

At our firm, we never ask our clients for legal fees upfront. We work Ontario truck accidents on a contingency fee basis, meaning our law firm only gets paid when you get paid. This is advantageous for truck accident victims and their families as it gives everyone equal access to justice – meaning that they can hire the trucking accident lawyer of their choosing and not worry about having to pay him or her by the hour.

What is my Trucking Accident Claim worth?

After determining fault or liability of your trucking accident our Hamilton truck accident lawyers will need to evaluate your damages or compensation that might be owed to you if the accident was the fault of the truck driver or trucking company.

Your claim will typically consist of seeking compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of amenities, loss of an interdependent relationship, loss of housekeeping capacity and future health care costs.  Future care, in the case of spinal cord injury, will usually consist of valuating annual costs. The average annual expenses and lifetime costs that are directly attributable to spinal cord injury vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment – i.e. whether the spinal cord injury is incomplete tetraplegia, incomplete paraplegia, complete paraplegia or complete tetraplegia.

In the context of a wrongful death or fatality, you would want to seek legal advice from a Hamilton truck accident lawyer if you have suffered a loss of care, guidance and companionship, an economic loss or, if you are a surviving dependent left without financial support or the financial contribution that your deceased love one made to the family unit. Fatality claims in Ontario are complicated and should only be prosecuted by an experienced wrongful death or personal injury lawyer that will work with economists who will assist in calculating the loss of financial support suffered by the family of the deceased, either by sole dependency, cross dependency approach or a modified sole dependency approach.

Experienced Trucking Lawyers to Assess Any Trucking Accident Injury

Matt Lalande is an experienced Hamilton truck accident lawyer that has represented many victims in trucking accident cases. Over the past 15 years, he has handled many trucking accident victims recover full compensation for:

Common Injuries to Motorists in Truck Accidents 

Motorists in the Hamilton area are extremely vulnerable to serious injury or death when involved in an accident with a truck. A truck’s sheer size makes the impact on a motorist’s vehicle immensely greater than an accident with another car. It’s far more dangerous to those in the car than in the truck, as nearly three-quarters of all truck crash injuries and deaths happen to people in the vehicle hit by the truck.

Truck accident injuries to motorists can be catastrophic, and the severity of the injuries can leave them unable to work because of permanent damage.

Common truck injuries include:

  • Back and Neck Injuries: This can include minor neck pain or more serious injuries, like dislocated discs in the spine. Because your back and neck are so critical to everything you do, these injuries often prevent victims from returning to work or daily activities.
  • Broken Bones: Truck crashes involve massively powerful impacts on victims, meaning the likelihood of a serious injury like broken bones is high. Victims can fracture bones in the limbs, as well as ribs, collarbones, pelvis, and more.
  • Internal Injuries: Powerful blunt trauma from crashes can cause internal bleeding or damage to organs like the bladder, liver, kidney, pancreas, and spleen. These injuries are very difficult to treat and often need surgery.
  • Head Injuries: Head trauma from an accident can injure the brain and have long-lasting effects. In addition, head injuries may not immediately be apparent, and sustaining a brain injury does not always mean experiencing unconsciousness. Symptoms that may develop include confusion, nausea, vision problems, and various cognitive difficulties. Head injuries are some of the most heartbreaking injuries sustained in truck accidents, as they often cause loss of cognitive and motor functions. Some people will never be the same again after suffering a brain injury.
  • Lacerations: Cuts and lacerations from truck accidents might damage nerves or even sever soft tissue.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Truck accidents can often lead to victims suffering spinal cord injuries, which can potentially cause lifelong paralysis and related disabilities and complications.
  • Seat Belt Injuries: Although they work to protect us, seat belts can be another cause of injury in a truck accident, including chest injuries. This is especially true for children who do not have the proper car or booster seats.

Medical Treatment Needed For Truck Accident Injuries

Depending on the injuries you suffer in a truck accident, doctors may utilize a wide variety of treatments to help you recover. For example, spinal cord injuries will entail a specific set of treatments.

Treatment for spinal cord injuries often includes:

  • Medication
  • Chiropractic care
  • Orthopedic evaluation by a spine specialist
  • Neurological and/or neurosurgical evaluation
  • Physical therapy, including traction
  • Electrical muscle stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • TENS unit
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain management, including epidural steroid injections
  • Nerve and facet blocks
  • Surgeries, including spinal fusion, laminectomy, discectomy, and microdiscectomy.

Treatments for other injuries will require a different care plan. Often, for severe injuries such as compound fractures and internal injuries, doctors will need to perform surgery. This also means a whole slew of medical treatment services might be necessary to recover from that surgery. Some crush injuries may require amputation or a permanent implant like a steel rod for a broken bone to address the injury and treat it.

Medical treatment of brain injuries is particularly complex. Every patient’s needs are different.

However, some brain injuries require:

  • Initial intensive care including a ventilator
  • Brain surgery
  • Acute rehabilitation
  • Post-acute and subacute rehabilitation
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Home health services
  • Community re-entry services and independent living programs
  • Physical, occupational, and speech/language therapy

Treatment of serious burn injuries may include time in a burn center for wound care, frequent bandaging, debridement, skin grafting, and plastic and reconstructive surgery.

You may also require treatment for medical issues that are not immediate but arise from the long-term effects of your injuries. The most expensive type of treatment is often the ongoing care for those with injuries that have life-long devastating effects. The services needed both medically and to assist the person in daily life can cost staggering sums of money. Rehabilitative therapy and ongoing medical treatment for long-lasting injuries can financially strain the victim and their family.

The staggering amount of medical treatment needed for truck accident injuries shows just how important it is to hire a lawyer who will help you receive full compensation for your injuries in handling your case. Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers is a firm that has years of dedicated experience that enables us to competently and professionally handle your personal injury case.

How Truck Accident Injuries Can Keep You from Working

The severity and long-lasting impact of serious injuries from truck accidents can leave a victim unable to return to work. Immediately following the injury, there are the lost wages you suffer from not being able to work while recovering. The injury may be too painful or debilitating for you to return to your normal job. This puts your job security at risk because your employer may not be patient enough to hold your job open for you.

Injuries that require long-lasting treatment may also limit your ability to work or leave you permanently unable to perform a job. This can have effects on your financial life and on your personal life at home. A failure to continue working can cause marital problems, as well, possibly leading to divorce and more financial strain on a victim.

Further, brain injuries may leave you cognitively incapable of comprehending and performing the work you used to do. Psychological trauma may play a role as well. You may have trauma from your accident and be in a mental state that limits your ability to function at work. It may limit your ability to handle ordinary daily responsibilities on top of that.

Whether you cannot work for a few weeks or ever again, you deserve to recover financially for all of your lost earnings. Our Hamilton truck accident lawyers know how to calculate this type of loss and seek the compensation you need.

Pain & Suffering Compensation from Truck Accidents

Victims of collisions involving semi-trucks often have the right to take legal action seeking compensation from the party at fault for the crash.

In that action, a victim typically seeks two types of damages:

  • Economic damages seek to compensate a victim for out-of-pocket costs incurred because of the accident, such as medical treatment, car repair, lost wages, and future earnings.
  • Non-economic damages are the costs a victim’s injuries inflict on the victim’s quality of life. One of the most common categories of non-economics is pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering describe both mental and physical distress caused by suffering injuries in an accident and dealing with the aftermath of those injuries.

Pain and suffering might stem from:

  • Injuries that are particularly painful to treat. The treatment for severe burn injuries, for example, often involves the removal of dead or dying skin from the wounded area so that the wound can begin healing. However, the removal of this skin can be excruciating. This can constitute pain and suffering.
  • Injuries that result in chronic pain, such as brain injuries that result in chronic headaches or spinal injuries that leave a victim with relentless back pain.
  • The emotional pain and suffering experienced when one suffers a permanent and debilitating injury that prevents the victim from participating in hobbies and leisure activities or enjoying life.
  • Emotional pain due to changes in the injured person’s relationships after suffering an injury. An example would be a spinal cord injury that causes the sufferer’s spouse to become his or her caretaker or prevents the victim from picking up or playing with his or her child.

No person experiences pain in the same way as another, making pain and suffering damages, at times, difficult to calculate and prove.

Several factors that commonly figure into assessing the magnitude of pain and suffering include:

  • The severity of the injury: Generally, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation for pain and suffering the victim deserves. After all, suffering a broken arm typically does not produce the lasting physical and emotional devastation that accompanies, say, a paralyzing spinal cord injury.
  • How old the victim is: Young people often receive larger pain and suffering awards than older people, likely because of the perception that a life-changing injury affects the victim for a longer period. This isn’t to say that a young person’s pain is worse than an older person’s, of course.
  • The degree of suffering: Most injuries are painful, and pain is a natural part of suffering harm. However, the temporary pain of a broken bone will generally (though not always) subside as the bone heals. A traumatic brain injury, however, can result in a cascade of additional physical and mental health issues, change the person’s life entirely, and continue on for many years or even for life.

Pain and suffering is non-economic damage, so unlike medical bills and other definitive expenses resulting from your injury, it is a uniquely difficult damage to calculate. Pain and suffering awards can often be a significant part of personal injury recovery.

If you are experiencing pain and suffering from your injuries, you need a Hamilton truck accident lawyer that can help ensure your pain and suffering claim is fully realized, and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Permanent Injuries From Truck Accidents

Truck accidents cause many potentially permanent injuries. From spinal cord injuries to severe burns, injuries from a truck accident can leave someone with permanent damage or disability. After a truck accident, survivors often have injuries that take months, years, or even a lifetime to heal.

Some injuries are so severe that medical and legal professionals categorize them as “catastrophic,” which means injuries that permanently affect a person’s ability to function. Injuries that limit a person’s mobility, cognitive abilities, or other physical function without the possibility of a full recovery are catastrophic.

There is a wide variety of injuries that could potentially be catastrophic and have permanent effects, and there’s no hard-and-fast medical definition that covers all catastrophic injuries. One way to think of them is any injury that would limit your ability to live independently as you once did. If your injury requires daily care or you need assistance to do basic tasks, then it’s a catastrophic injury.

Catastrophic injuries include:

Each injury above can have permanent effects. These types of injuries frequently require a lifetime of costly medical assistance and can place intense pressure on survivors and their families, who have already gone through so much.

The Right Hamilton Truck Accident Law Firm for Catastrophic Injuries

When you have permanent effects of an injury, it is not enough to collect compensation for your past medical bills and lost wages. This will leave you responsible for all of your future financial losses and does not address the magnitude of your injury’s effects on your life. The best way to know how much a claim is worth for a catastrophic injury is to have an experienced Hamilton truck accident lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers evaluate your case.

When you have our law firm on your side, you can trust we will seek the most favourable resolution possible for you and your family. We regularly handle cases involving life-altering injuries, and we will determine the best course of action to take in your situation.

Trucking companies can be difficult opponents, and you should be focusing on your medical treatment and adjustment to life with any new impairments. Leave the legal case to our firm. Contact us today for more information about the many ways we help truck accident victims in the Hamilton area. We have 15 years of experience standing up for the interests of clients injured in serious accidents, including commercial truck crashes.

The following is a short explanation of a truck accident litigation timeline and what you could expect when you retain our Hamilton truck accident lawyers. It is important to understand that, based on the severity and seriousness of the accident and injuries, settlement can occur at any time during the noted process below.  For example, many insurance companies will understand the requirements of a paraplegic victim that was hurt by a driver and pay the policy limits on that claim sooner rather than later, assuming the accident is the truckers’ fault.

  • The Truck Accident – if the accident is not your fault, or partially your fault and you suffered injuries, you will want to speak to an experienced trucking accident lawyer.
  • Gathering or Records and Preserved Evidence – the next phase of litigation is the gathering of relevant records from the truck driver, truck, trucking company and the Ministry of Ontario.
  • Examination for Discovery – the next phase of the examination for discovery, or questioning under oath in a boardroom. 
  • Mediation – Mediation is a voluntary process where both sides meet with an experienced mediator who specializes in facilitating a resolution of the case.
  • Pre-Trial – pre-trial is when the parties meet privately with a Judge in chambers to discuss the case, where it is headed and the prospect of resolution.
  • Trial  – if you case does not resolve, you have the option of proceeding to trial and let a Judge or Jury decide the amount of compensation you are entitled to.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Ontario

Some of the Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Ontario, and throughout Canada are:

Rear End Trucking Accident
Rear End Accidents are probably the most common types of trucking accidents. Trucks in Ontario could weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and because of the weight (and depending upon the weight of the carry load) these large commercial vehicles, rear end trucking crashes can cause major damage and life-changing catastrophic injury or fatality. Rear end trucking accidents often occur because drivers are sleep deprived or fatigued. Also, in these types of cases the trucks may be overweight, the truck driver may have been speeding or the brakes were defective.

Jackknife Trucking Accident
Jackknife Trucking accident is when the semi-truck is folded so that the cab and the trailer form a 90° angle. Jackknife situations often occur when a driver is breaking fast and hard, causing the trailer to swing out and turn towards the truck. Jackknife trucking accident can also happen in bad weather and if the truck is traveling too fast while trying to negotiate a curve – even if the curve is quite slight. Jackknife trucks are also a major cause of under-riding accidents if the truck was no equipped with under-ride guards.

Tire Blowouts
Tire Blowouts can happen when the trucks are seriously overloaded, the driver improperly inflated or deflated the tires, the driver was not properly trained in tire inflation, the tires might’ve been improperly installed, the tires might have been of incorrect size, the tires might have been old and ignored through inspection, the tire might’ve been recalled in the trucking company didn’t replace it.

Underride Accident
Underride Accidents are known in Canada as some of the most lethal types of truck accidents. Under ride trucking accidents happen when a truck that is not equipped with under ride guards makes a hard turn and blocks the roadway. If approaching cars do not see the truck in time to stop – they can ride under the trailer. These accidents are almost always fatal. The biggest concern in under ride cases is the vehicle’s ability to see the trailer – hence is why visibility surrounding the accident is important to know, as well as weather conditions and whether or not the truck has any reflective taping or reflectors on the side of the trailer – and whether or not any reflection can be seen. The following is an example of an under ride trucking accident:

Stopped Trucks
Stopped Trucks that are stopped on the side of the road always pose a potential hazard. Unfortunately in some cases, motorists approaching the truck, particularly in bad weather or in darker areas, can fail to see the parked truck and are unable to avoid a collision. If the truck drivers did not turn on his or her hazard lights, place warning markers, lights or warning triangles behind their stopped trucks run the risk of causing a terrible rear-end trucking accident. In these cases, call phone records are important so that we may determined how long the trucking was stopped on the side of the road before the trucking accident.

Shifting, Unsecured or Fallen Cargo
If a truck or trailer is improperly loaded, the goods may shift when the tractor trailer is turning or following a curve on the road, causing the trailer to jackknife or overturn. Shifting cargo can also be caused by drivers driving too fast into a curve. Freight load securement is the cause of many trucking accidents in North America – particularly with trucks carrying lumber or other raw materials or automobile parts. Improper loading claims are the basis of common trucking accident claims in Ontario, and across Canada.

Trucking Roll-Overs
Trucking Rollovers are types of trucking accidents in which the trucker loses control of the truck, causing it to rollover. These types of trucking accidents are extremely devastating when they happen as many surrounding vehicles could be involved. Roll-over trucking accidents can occur when the truck driver exceeds the speed limit, driving too fast for conditions or when entering or exiting an on/off ramp too fast.

Fatigue and Sleep Deprived Drivers
In Ontario – and Canada – have maximum hours of service which governs driving times and off-duty times required of truck drivers. These hours of service apply to drivers who hold CVOR certificates, and drivers who operate trucks, tractors or trailers, or a combination of these vehicles, which have a registered gross weight or actual weight greater than 4,500KG. The problem is that even if truck drivers are mandated to rest after a certain time driving or driving and working, many truck drivers suffer from sleep deprivation – which is still to blame for many trucking accidents in Ontario and across the country.

Jacknife Trucking Accidents in Hamilton

Our Canadian highways are filled with 18-wheelers that pose a threat to innocent persons on the road. These dangerous vehicles are often poorly maintained and driven by tired truckers. Their victims are usually oblivious to the danger of the 80,000 pounds that could careen into their vehicle at any given moment. Of course, there are many safe drivers and some companies that concentrate on safety. However, the urgency to cover the miles in as short of a time as possible, is the norm, with profitability being the driving force. Needless to say, given the number of trucks on our roads, there is a lot that can go wrong. One of the most horrific types of trucking accidents is called the “jackknife” trucking accident – which is explored below.

What is a Jackknife Trucking Accident?

Large trucks are generally made up of a cab and a trailer. A jackknife trucking accident is when the trailer of a large semi truck swings out from the cab, forming a 90° angle similar to the “V” shape of a pocket jackknife. Jackknife accidents are typically caused by the uncontrolled braking of a tractor-trailer, Or when the tractor trailers accelerate too harshly or too early on a corner. When this happens, it can cause the drive wheels to spend, especially when the truck is lately loaded. This can cause serious problems for semi’s or truck trailer combinations. When the drive wheel spins, the semi trailer or trailer can continue forward under its own momentum, pushing the drive wheels sideways and jackknifing the truck. This would typically occur when quartering on a road surface which is wet, slippery or has a negative camber.

The following video depicts a jackknife trucking accident:

Jackknife trucking accidents are extremely dangerous – particularly on busy roadways or highways. The jackknifing of a trailer can cause brutal accidents when the trailer, which rotates about the tractor, extends to adjacent lanes blocking the incoming or following traffic.  Vehicles can easily get swept up by the swinging trailer and even more so, can get wedged under the trailer. Motorists sometimes can’t see a jackknifed truck until it’s right in front of them, especially if it’s been spread across other lanes in the opposite direction. On a highway with a speed limit of 100 km/hr, stopping in time to avoid an unexpected collision is difficult. 

How Common Are Jackknife Accidents?

In Canada, it is estimated that more than 90% of our consumer goods are shipped via semi truck, and as of 2020, there are more than 1 million transport trucks regularly traveling across the country. Further, approximately 10,000 Canadians are seriously injured in trucking accidents every year, while around 2,000 Canadians are killed in trucking accidents.

Jackknife accidents are among the most common type of trucking accidents that occur in Ontario due to the variety of factors that could influence these collisions – and in fact – jackknife accidents are one of the most common accidents that result in death. The harsh weather conditions of Canada’s winters, the high volume of traffic on our 400-series highways, and the number of road users who travel each day all influence the chances of trucking accidents that can take lives and put survivors at risk.

What Causes a Trucking Jackknife Accident?

There are a variety of factors that can cause a jackknife trucking accident. However, sudden braking is the most common cause of most trucking jackknife accidents. A semi truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded, while the average car weighs up to 4,000 pounds. As a result, a truck requires more room to brake than a motor vehicle does and can’t stop on a dime if sudden circumstances require it. When the truck does stop too quickly, the trailer cannot move forward due to the cab, and since it is being pulled behind the cab, it swings out to the side instead.

Other common causes of jackknife trucking accidents we have seen include:

  • Accelerating too harshly or too early on a corner, especially if the road surface is too wet or slippery
  • Speeding or taking a sharp turn too fast 
  • Improper lane changing or merging 
  • Not adjusting for bad weather conditions such as ice and snow 
  • Driver inexperience, such as losing control when navigating a curve
  • Equipment malfunction or maintenance issues, such as locked brakes 
  • Oversized loads causing imbalance weight distribution
  • Shifting cargo
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Driving while fatigued 
  • Badly worn or bald tyres are more likely to puncture or blow out. Lack of tread depth also reduces grip on slippery surfaces and this can lead to braking skids, poor steering response and jack knifing

Jackknife Accidents and Under-Ride Accidents

One of the many reasons why jackknife trucking accidents can be so severe and potentially deadly is because they can lead to under-ride accidents, which are arguably the worst type of trucking accident. 

Under-ride accidents occur when a vehicle cannot stop in time to avoid striking a truck and end up sliding underneath the side or rear of the trailer. This can lead to devastating injuries and often horrific death for the driver and occupants of the car, as they can be crushed, decapitated, or suffer severed limbs. Those who survive are at serious risk for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other devastating catastrophic consequences.

Underride trucking accidents often happen at night or during sun-setting/rising conditions. Underrides normally happens when a truck jackknifes, or when a truck driver is attempting to cross a street or make a left-turn into a street and the car runs underneath the side of the trailer. Rear underride trucking accidents happen when the car rear ends a trailer, particularly when the truck is stopped or parked and there are no warning markers, or they have been improperly placed in relation to the truck’s position.

Some trucks are equipped with under-ride guards, which are u-shaped metal bars that hang from the back of larger commercial trucks to prevent cars from sliding underneath in the event of an accident. While these safeguards add extra protection and can prevent fatal consequences, not every truck that drives on Ontario’s roads has them installed.

The following is an example of an underride trucking accident:

Underride Trucking Accidents in Hamilton

There’s one thing that truck drivers need to do one critical thing – and that is to be safe. They have to be safe because trucks – 80,000 semi trucks, are dangerous if misused, unsafe or carelessly driven. Trucks share the road with smaller folks, such as pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, cars, pickup trucks or minivans and when accidents happen – they are more often than not, horrific and devastating.

The legal issues surrounding Ontario truck accidents are complicated, and proving liability can be difficult at times. Although Ontario’s no-fault laws provide generous medical and rehabilitation benefits for those seriously injured – it is never nearly enough for a person who suffers catastrophic brain trauma, paralysis or for a family who lost an income earner and someone who contributed to household bills and the raising of kids.

Over the years, we have dealt with many different types of trucking accidents, such as rear-end trucking accidents, jackknife trucking accidents, head on collision trucking accidents, accidents involving stopped trucks, trucking accidents involving shifting, unsecured or fallen cargo and fatigued drivers.

Underride accidents are one of the most devastating trucking accidents: a vehicle – such as a car – slams into the rear or side of a tractor-trailer and gets sucked underneath, where many of its safety features are rendered worthless. More often than not, the top of the car may be sheared off; in most cases, the occupants are decapitated.

Common Underride Trucking Accident Questions

  1. What is an Underride Trucking Accident?

    A semi-truck is made up of a cab and trailer. An underride trucking accident is when a smaller vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle crashes into the rear or side of the trailer and slides underneath, often sheering the roof off. Underride accidents more often than not, result in wrongful death.

  2. Are there different types of underride trucking accidents?

    Yes, there are side underride collisions and rear under ride collisions. Side underride collisions normally happen when a semi-truck is attempting to turn or make a u-turn, and a smaller vehicle crashes underneath the trailer. Rear end underride accidents are when a smaller vehicle runs into the rear of a semi-trailer.

  3. Why do underride trucking accidents happen?

    There are lots of reasons why underride accidents happen, such as a slow moving truck, trucks making illegal turns, u-turns, is backing across traffic, the trailer is not properly lit, the colors of the trailer are inconspicuous, the trailer did not have proper reflector tape or marker lights, the trailer's reflective tape or marker lights were dirty, the truck was stopped without proper surrounding markers or cones.

  4. Who is liable in a trucking accident?

    In Ontario, if the driver was an employee, then both the driver and employer will be liable for causing a trucking accident. If the driver was an independent contractor, then the driver alone will be liable, unless someone else owns the truck he/she was driving. In that case, both the driver and owner will be responsible.

  5. Can a truck driver be sued for causing a trucking accident?

    If you're injured or you have lost a loved one you can can sue the driver, the employer and the owner of the truck to help compensate for your losses. It's best to speak with a trucking accident specialist as soon as possible, before insurance companies get involved.

  6. Can I sue a dump truck driver for causing a trucking accident?

    If you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries, or if your loved one has died, you can sue the driver or the dump truck, the owner of the dump truck and the employer for compensation.

  7. Can I sue for wrongful death in a trucking accident?

    If your loved one has been killed in a trucking accident, you can absolutely file suit for wrongful death in Ontario. You would be entitled to different heads of compensation, i.e. both economic and non-economic. For example, you can sue for the loss of your loved one, particularly the loss of companionship – as well as his or her loss of income.

  8. Is speaking to a trucking accident lawyer free?

    At our firm, our trucking accident lawyers never charge upfront fee, nor do we charge consultation fees. If you chose to retain us, we never ask our clients for money, under any circumstance.

  9. How much can I claim for pain and suffering in a trucking accident?

    If you've been seriously hurt in an Ontario trucking accident, you will be entitled up to approximately $399,000 in pain and suffering.

The Terror of Underride Trucking Accidents

What happens when a motorcycle or car crashes into the back or side of a semi-truck is horrific and very real. When this happens, the entire front half of the car (sometimes the entire car – and most definitely a motorcycle) is swallowed underneath the trailer, as well as the passengers…and most never survive. For the motorist, the first point of impact is with the rear/side of the truck is their windshield and then the person’s body.

The substantial height difference between a car and a truck (often up to 4 feet) presents the increased risk of an underride accident, and in some cases the height of a car may only reach the height of the trailer’s wheels. This offers plenty of space for a car to become crushed underneath, and does not provide any of the protection a car’s safety features are designed to promote because there is nothing for the bumper to collide with on impact. For example, the front and rear of a car are designed to absorb as much of the impact as possible in a typical motor vehicle collision, but in the case of an underride, there is nothing to absorb or prevent the car from traveling further under the trailer.

Types of Trucking Underride Accidents

There are three main types of underride trucking accidents. These include rear-end accidents, side impact collisions, and offset collisions.

Rear-end Underride Trucking accidents: Rear end underride trucking accidents happen when a passenger vehicle or motorcycle runs into the rear or a semi-truck’s trailer. Rear end trucking accident happen for a multitude of potential issues. If a truck driver must stop suddenly and a car is following too close, the car may not have time to stop before it slides under the trailer.

This often occurs when trucks are merging too slow or are parked on the side of the road. It may also occur if a truck is stopping at a traffic light and the car behind it does not see the light coming up, and therefore does not anticipate the stop. Rear underride trucking accidents also happen when parked trucks are poorly marked (i.e. the failure to use marker triangles – or they are placed to close to the truck) the truck has dim or dirty taillights, or a truck fails to use it’s emergency flashers.

Another reason why rear-underride accident happens is if the truck is driving too slow – or is slow to accelerate into busy traffic. This can also happen if the truck is overweight. Motorists on roadways with 90 km/hr speed limits do not expect to meet a truck traveling at 15 km/hr.

Side Underride Trucking Accidents: Side underride trucking accidents happen when a truck makes a turn or manoeuvre which blocks the roadway – and the passenger car or motorcycle strikes the truck from the side and slides under the left or right side of the trailer. These collisions are usually fatal. Many underride accidents happen when a trailer is backing up, or backing in to an area off of the roadway. Oftentimes, weather conditions or poor lighting may be a factor. Other factors can be the lack of or dirty reflective taping on the side of the trailer.

A REAR UNDERRIDE TRUCKING ACCIDENT

In low light or bad weather there can be conspicuity issues – such as the ability of the trailer to blend into the surroundings so that the approaching driver does not recognize the trailer across the roadway and instead believes he is seeing the bridge or overpass that is normally in that area.

According to Transport Canada, 22% of fatal collisions between cars and trucks occur at the side of the truck. This may happen when a truck is merging, as a car may be in the truck’s blind spot or the truck driver may overestimate how much space they have to switch lanes. On local roads, it could occur when the truck driver is making a turn or when the truck jackknifes. Side underride crashes often happen during low-light or low-sun angle conditions.

Offset collisions: An offset underride collision occurs when a car collides with the truck from an angle, such as at the back corner. The metal corner of the truck can quickly penetrate the compartments of the car, puncturing the driver or passenger.

Underride Trucking Accident Prevention

The key to preventing quite a number of underride accidents on our roadways are to place shields and bars on the back and sides of semi-truck trailers – which can reduce the chances of cars getting swallowed underneath the trucks and getting crushed.

Many large commercial trucks have underride guards installed that prevent cars from sliding underneath the trailer in the event of an accident. However, not every truck has them installed, and even when these guards are in place, they are usually only located on the back of the truck and do not account for the possibility of side underrides.

In Canada, rear underride guard testing started in 1997 after research showed that underride rear crashes resulted in many cross-country fatalities over the previous years – particularly with smaller cars like Chevrolet Cavaliers and Honda Civics traveling with speed as slow as 45 km/hr. Transport Canada reported that incidence of serious injury or death could be reduced significantly if rear underride guards were stiffer and lower than they traditionally where over the previous decades. In Canada, Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) for underride guards (CMVSS No. 223, “Rear impact guards,”) became effective in 2007. The CMVSS No. 223 requirements are intended to provide rear impact guards with sufficient strength and energy absorption capability to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars impacting the rear of trailers at 56 km/hr. The Canadian Transportation Equipment Association responded by creating rear underride bars at minimal cost – which was found to have reduced the number or rear impact fatalities by 25% to 40%.

The problem, however, is that rear underride guards get abused over the years, often with them ending up coming loose, bent or crumpled on they get damaged on loading docks or they are not repaired after previous accidents. As strong as they are, they often end up with bent ends or crumpled center pieces.

Side underride guards, however, are not mandatory by law in either Canada or the US. There have of course been arguments for and against side underride guards. On the one hand most motorists would probably not die by hitting the back or side of another car going under 50 km/hr when properly seat-belted – but 80-90% of underride crashes are fatal, even when the impacting motorist is traveling 50 km/hr. Conversely, it’s been argued that in some situations, motorists may strike the side guards and be deflected or bounce off into another lane of traffic and end up crashing with another vehicle or with the road/sidewalk surface. It’s also been said that side underguards could impede or inhibit firefighter rescue efforts or can make the maintenance and mechanical inspections more difficult.

What can I claim in a wrongful death trucking accident? How will my family be protected?

There is nothing more devastating loss than the unexpected death of a loved one in a trucking accident. Sudden death is a contradiction to everything that is known to be true in life. Losing a loved one to sudden and unexpected death is a disruption in natural law and order of life. It is a heartbreak like no other.

In the US, wrongful death claims are framed as “survivor claims.” In Ontario, the law unfortunately does not permit damages for grief, sorrow or mental anguish suffered by reason of the injuries or death a loved one. Rather, wrongful death claims made by hamilton trucking accident lawyers are framed under the Family Law Act. Damages that are claimable in wrongful death cases take the form of both economic and non-economic damages.

In terms of non-economic damages,  the mere fact that a relative has passed away does not, of itself, establish a right to compensation—it merely provides the right to make the claim. To succeed in that claim, there must be an actual loss of care, companionship and guidance which flows from the deceased to the claimant.

When families unexpectedly lose a loved one, there is no question of the enormous grief and mental anguish suffered. But losses of this kind are non-compensable. Sadly, details of the quality of family life and the relationship of the family members do not in themselves form a basis of recovery under the Family Law Act. They are significant only in so far as they furnish an evidentiary foundation for assessing compensation for the loss of care, guidance or companionship that will likely be suffered by reasons of the death. As wrongful death trucking lawyers, we must ensure this assessment is made in an objective and unemotional manner as possible.

While there is not a specific formula to determine the quantum of damages to be awarded for the loss of care, guidance and companionship, a number of factors have been taken into consideration by the courts including:

  • The age, mental and physical condition of the claimant – for example, in one seminal case (Fulcher v. Near) the Judge held that the younger the child, the greater the loss.
  • Whether the deceased lived with the claimants and if not, the frequency of visits
  • The intimacy and quality of the claimant’s relationship with the deceased.
  • Whether or not the claimant is emotionally self-sufficient, whether or not claimants who are children have married, and whether or not spouses who are claimants have remarried.
  • The joint life expectancy of the claimant and the deceased, or the probable length of time the relationship might be expected to continue.

In wrongful death trucking cases, the surviving family members are also entitled to bring a claim for economic losses, such as the wage losses of the the deceased when the surviving spouse can no longer benefit from shared family income. If it can be shown that a dependent earned income or would have earned income, then surviving family members are entitled to advance a claim for the loss of that income.

Also, there will no doubt be expenses in relation to future housekeeping and home maintenance or “handyman” services that your spouse or loved one performed, which are now lost and can be claimed in a lawsuit for damages.

Lastly, if a surviving family member is no longer able to work – which is related to the loss of a loved one – be it for medical or psychological reasons – then loss of wages for that surviving family member can be claimed as a direct loss (as opposed to a dependency loss), as can future health care expenses.

Determining Fault in a Trucking Accident

In trucking accident cases – fault or liability, and who responds to claims for compensation can be shared either amongst owner-operators (independent contractor driver) and/or the trucking employer. If the driver is an independent contractor then the driver’s insurance policy will respond to the claim. If the driver is an employee, then the truck trucker’s employer will also be found vicariously liable pursuant to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.

If you or a loved one has been Hurt in a Trucking Accident, we can help.

If you or a family member has been involved in a trucking accident or 18 wheeler accident and has suffered serious life changing injuries, then you need to speak to an experienced truck accident specialist in order to determine your options and best recourse. The truck accident lawyers of Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers represent tractor trailer accident victims throughout Ontario, and Nationwide. Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers will meet you at your convenience and are more than happy to discuss your case with you. We never charge for consultation and if we agree to work together, we will never ask for fees upfront. Call us from anywhere in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the GTA/ Hamilton area at 905-333-8888

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