Tow Truck Driver Injuries Are Too Common in Alabama

Tow Truck Driver Injuries Are Too Common in AlabamaWorking as a tow truck driver in Alabama or anywhere else in the United States can unfortunately result in serious injuries. Drivers do not always see tow truck drivers or move over for them, resulting in severe, if not fatal, physical harm. If you routinely work as a tow truck driver and sustained injuries on the job, you might be entitled to compensation in light of Alabama’s emergency vehicle move-over laws.

On September 1, 2019, the state of Alabama made the Move Over Act, or Act 2019-520, public. The act states that any emergency or authorized law enforcement vehicle using visual signals when parked, such as flashing or rotating emergency lights, must be accounted for by other drivers. The same is true of any utility service vehicle, garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle, or wrecker.

Drivers on highways where two or more lanes are available must move over as far from the stopped service vehicle as possible. If moving over is not feasible due to traffic congestion or lacking lanes, the drivers must slow down to 15 miles per hour less than the designated speed limit. For example, if the speed limit is 55 miles an hour, drivers must slow to at least 40 miles an hour. However, a law enforcement officer might require them to slow down further.

Drivers who fail to move over or slow down face misdemeanor-related fines. The initial violation fee is $25. Those who violate the move over law second and third times pay $50 and $100, respectively.

Over 800 roadside crashes have occurred in Alabama over the past five years, with such crashes the number-one cause of law enforcement deaths in the state. Moreover, a traffic accident occurs in Alabama every three minutes. State officials hope to reduce this fatality number to zero over the next 25 years.

Types of tow truck accident injuries

Sadly, tow truck drivers and other first responders can sustain a variety of injuries if they get hit by other drivers. They might experience head trauma or traumatic brain injuries. Some workers have found themselves pinned between their truck and another driver’s vehicle, resulting in limb losses and amputations. Other roadside injuries include, but are not limited to:

The severity of the injuries depends on factors such as whether the worker was directly hit by another driver. Even if the worker was not struck by another driver, they can sustain crushing injuries from the towed vehicle. For example, if a wayward driver hits the tow truck and the damaged vehicle has not been secured, it can fall off the truck and cause crushing injuries. Fatalities from these and other roadside injuries can occur as well.

If a tow truck driver survives their injuries, they can potentially claim economic and non-economic damages with the assistance of a Huntsville personal injury attorney. Economic damages refer to the monetary losses the worker has experienced because of their injuries, such as medical costs and lost wages. Non-economic damages concern the psychological impacts of the accident and can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

Steps to take after a tow truck accident in Huntsville

In the event of a roadside accident, it is never a good idea for a worker to state they are uninjured to responding officers. Adrenaline runs high following such accidents to numb injury-related pain, which can make the worker think they are okay. If they say as much to a responding officer, the offending driver’s insurance company will use this to sidestep personal injury payments at a later date. Some injuries, such as neck and back injuries, do not exhibit symptoms until hours or days after the accident. Instead of commenting about their physical state, the worker should seek medical attention immediately.

If it is possible, the worker should take photos and videos of the accident scene, including damage to their vehicle and any physical injuries they notice. Any applicable road conditions should be captured as well, such as various foreign object obstructions. Noting the speed limit on the applicable road is also recommended, as is getting witness statements or obtaining their contact information. Speaking about the incident in as much detail as possible to the responding officer is important as well, since the resulting police report provides the offending driver’s insurance company with evidence. The same is true of the medical report following the emergency hospital visit.

Speaking with an attorney after the accident is strongly recommended, especially if the offending driver’s insurance company is being difficult or refusing to provide coverage, or if your injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation for whatever reason.

If you are a tow truck worker or other first responder who sustained injuries in a crash, contact the attorneys at Martin & Helms in Huntsville, AL as soon as you are able. We also have an office in Decatur and provide residents throughout Madison, Athens, and the rest of North Alabama with unparalleled counsel and representation. We have worked with clients who have sustained injuries in a wide variety of vehicular accidents and are well-versed in Alabama’s traffic laws. Call our office or submit our contact form today to discuss your accident with a compassionate attorney and schedule a free case evaluation.