Why You Should Retain an Experienced Austin Truck Accident LawyerHiring a regular vehicle accident lawyer to represent you in a truck accident case could be a mistake. A commercial vehicle accident differs from an accident with another passenger vehicle. Hiring an inexperienced truck accident attorney could reduce your compensation. Differences in passenger vehicle accidents and truck accidents include:
#1. SizeA fully loaded truck could weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Even an empty truck and trailer could weigh in at 35,000 to 45,000 pounds, depending on the type of trailer. And, if the trucker is hauling an oversized load, it could weigh up to 100,000 pounds or better. Vehicles this size cause catastrophic injuries and could even kill you, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
#2. LiabilityWhen you tangle with a commercial vehicle, you could have a case against more than one defendant. Sometimes, the driver is not the only person at fault in an accident. Occasionally, the accident is not the driver’s fault. An experienced Austin truck accident lawyer and his team thoroughly investigate your case and find all of those who share in the liability for your medical expenses and other damages.
#3. Additional Rules and RegulationsTruckers have additional rules and regulations they must follow, including federal laws. Our Austin truck accident lawyers are familiar with the rules and regulations, whereas a car accident lawyer that does not work with these laws could miss truck driver negligence connected with the trucking laws.
#4. Legal IssuesLarge truck companies have access to all the lawyers they need. You can’t fight high-profile lawyers by yourself. Even if you knew the ins and outs of the laws, it would be difficult to go up against high-profile attorneys without help. Our Austin truck accident lawyers have protected truck accident victims’ rights for years. Additionally, the legal system is already complicated. It gets more complicated when you add additional defendants and their attorneys to the mix. It is easy to miss a deadline or forget to send documents to one or more defendants. Both mistakes could jeopardize your case. Finally, negotiating a settlement with two or more defendants becomes difficult, especially when one defendant believes the other is more at fault. Sometimes, defendants sue each other, which adds further complications to negotiations and litigation.
#5. Multiple Defendants: Who Are They?Often a truck driver is partially at fault or, sometimes, not at fault, for an accident. Others that could share in liability include:
- The trucking company.
- A third-party truck mechanic.
- A third-party dispatcher.
- A third-party inspector.
- A third-party cargo loader.
- Another vehicle.
- A truck owner, when the driver leases the truck.
- Truck and trailer manufacturers.
- Part manufacturers.
Causes of Truck AccidentsTruck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Most are preventable. Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs.
- Distracted driving.
- Poor vehicle maintenance.
- Vehicle defects.
- Defective replacement parts.
- Reckless and/or aggressive driving.
- Poorly maintained roads.
- Inclement weather, including the sun shining in the driver’s face.
- Tiredness and/or fatigue.
- Speeding, including excessive speeding, such as when fleeing.
Truck Rules and RegulationsIn addition to the traffic rules and regulations that everyone must follow, truckers also have federal laws and other safety regulations they must abide by. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes safety regulations that truckers must follow to keep themselves and others safe on the roads. The rules include:
- Requiring driver background checks.
- Hours-of-service regulations.
- Truck inspections.
- Drug and alcohol testing.
- Procedural rules, including rules about document retention and logbooks.
Truck Accident InjuriesInjuries caused by a truck accident could vary from very minor to catastrophic injuries that change your life. After a truck accident, you should only move if you know it will not cause additional injuries. Additionally, some truck accident injuries might not manifest until hours or even days after the accident. Keeping a journal about the accident, including how you feel both mentally and physically can help an attorney fight for the compensation you deserve. You might not notice symptoms that develop slowly, but a family member or even your Austin truck accident lawyer might. Truck accident injuries include:
- Bumps, scratches, cuts, and bruises.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and/or torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries.
- Thermal and chemical burns, especially if fuel tanks rupture or the driver carries a load of hazardous material.
- Road rash if the impact throws you out of your vehicle.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries, including mild and severe concussions and penetrating brain injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries, including partial or complete paralysis.
- Crushed bones.
- Simple and compound fractures.
After a Truck AccidentIf you can move without causing additional damage to yourself, you should take the steps to start documenting your case. The police will also investigate, but you might capture something they missed. If possible:
- Call first responders and check on others involved in the accident.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to take photos from all angles. You should also take photos of any damage to the road and nearby property, including yards, fences, mailboxes, and utility poles.
- Ask the driver for his or her contact information, insurance information, and registration information. If possible, snap a photo of the driver’s regular license and CDL license, along with the insurance card.
- Obtain contact information from witnesses. You should also ask each witness what he or she saw.
- Allow emergency medical technicians to check you over.
- Give your statement to the police. If you need to sign the accident report, review it carefully to ensure that the officer didn’t miss anything you said.
- Contact an Austin truck accident lawyer.
What an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer Can Do For MeOnce you retain an Austin truck accident lawyer to help protect your rights after a truck accident, the attorney and his team start gathering evidence to prove negligence. Without showing negligence, you will not be able to recover damages. The legal team, including investigators, look for evidence including:
- Police reports.
- Medical records.
- The trucker’s logbooks.
- Pictures of the accident scene (however, your pictures will show more, since the police will have cleared the accident scene by the time the investigators get there).
- Truck maintenance records.
- Recalls and other information about the truck from the manufacturer.
- Driving records of anyone involved in the accident.
- Cell phone records.
- Testimony of witnesses, the driver, and others who might share liability via depositions and/or subpoenas.
- Any other evidence that proves the negligence of the at-fault driver or others who share liability.
Insurance Company NegotiationsAfter an accident, you might start receiving calls from various insurance companies, including yours. They will try to get you to talk about the accident and may offer a settlement. Always refer the insurance company to your Austin truck accident lawyer. Never discuss the accident with an insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Every claim they pay out decreases their profits. Just because you paid your premiums on time and might have been with your insurance company for years does not mean that they are beyond pulling tactics to save money. When an insurance company calls or if you call to report the accident only give it your name, contact information, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.
Tactics Used By Insurance CompaniesTo keep from losing money, insurance companies use many tactics to keep from paying claims. They might call you and tell you that they know their client was at fault and make an offer. However, just because they seem to be agreeable does not mean they are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. They hope you trust them enough to take the settlement offer and run. However, what they offer you might not cover your medical expenses, never mind other damages you deserve. When an insurance company calls you with an offer, refer it to your Austin truck accident lawyer. Another tactic insurance companies use is to get you to talk about the accident. They then twist what you say to deny your claim or offer you an embarrassingly low amount that probably will not cover your medical expenses. Insurance companies have many more tactics they use, but an Austin truck accident lawyer is familiar with all of them. Insurance companies know that we command a fair and reasonable settlement, or we will see them in court. Always refer insurance companies to your attorney. If you have not chosen an attorney yet, tell the insurance company you will get the firm’s contact information to them as soon as possible.
Recovering Damages After a Texas Truck AccidentThe amount of compensation you deserve depends on the severity of your injuries and whether the defendant’s behavior was negligent or grossly negligent. Texas allows you to recover two types of compensatory damages and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages in the form of economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic DamagesSometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a specific monetary value and include:
- Medical expenses: If your injuries are not catastrophic, you will most likely recover in a few months. You usually see these expenses in your settlement or trial award. However, if you suffer from catastrophic injuries that could affect you for the rest of your life, you could have ongoing medical expenses, even after a settlement or trial award. Your Austin truck accident lawyer will work with medical professionals to determine an approximate cost of medical care for your injuries and include that amount in the settlement or ask for it in the trial award.
- Wages: You could recover lost wages for the time you were out of work before a settlement or trial award. If you suffered injuries that lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, you could also recover lost earning capacity.
- Personal property: The at-fault driver is also responsible for replacing or repairing any personal property destroyed or damaged in the accident, including your vehicle and items of value inside the vehicle, such as cell phones, computers, and clothing.
- After-death expenses: If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you could recover funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses. Additionally, you could also recover probate attorneys’ fees and probate court filing fees.
Non-Economic DamagesSometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify financially, and often include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including house cleaning, grocery shopping, home repair and maintenance, and lawn maintenance.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to take prescriptions or use ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or attend family activities and events.
- Loss of use of a body part such as a hand or a toe.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as bladder control, bowel control, or your eyesight.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
Punitive DamagesThe court only orders a defendant to pay punitive damages if the plaintiff you can prove that the defendant’s behavior was grossly negligent or intentional. Instead of making you whole again, the money the defendant pays is a punishment for his or her actions or inactions. Courts order grossly negligent defendants to pay you so that the defendant and others will think twice before taking the same actions. For example, a truck driver climbed behind the wheel after drinking for four hours at a bar, then swerved into you, shoving your car into oncoming traffic. The court might find the truck driver grossly negligent and order punitive damages. The court hopes that the driver thinks about the amount of money paid to you the next time he gets drunk and chooses to take a rideshare or cab instead.
Taking Legal Action for a Truck Accident in TexasTexas requires you to take legal action against a defendant within two years. While that seems like a long time to file, that time gets eaten up quickly. Once you retain us, we will thoroughly investigate your case so that we can represent your rights more aggressively. That takes time, as do settlement negotiations. Also, some insurance companies might require you to file a claim in as little as 14 to 30 days. Additionally, evidence disappears if nobody preserves it. Weather and traffic disintegrate evidence left at the accident scene. Vehicles sit in impound yards, usually uncovered. The weather and employees moving the vehicles disintegrate evidence. And, sometimes, the defendant destroys the evidence. Finally, you are more likely to remember more about the accident right after the accident than if you were to wait a few months to discuss it with an attorney.
Avoiding Truck AccidentsIt’s not always possible to avoid a truck accident, but you can help reduce the chances of an accident when a truck or truck driver is operating in an unsafe manner:
- Make sure you know where the truck’s blind spots are. While a truck driver must check the blind spots, it is also wise not to hang out in a blind spot.
- Never pull into the right lane if a tractor-trailer is in the middle or left lane with its right turn signal on. Trucks need to make wide right turns to avoid running over sidewalks and hitting signs or people. If you happen to pull into the right lane after the trucker checks the blind spot, he will not see you.
- If you see a truck driver weaving in her lane, stay far enough back so that if she does wreck, she won’t take you with her. She could be tired, distracted, or driving under the influence. If the truck has a “How’s my driving?” number on the trailer, call it and report it to the dispatcher.
- Always make sure that you can see the entire front of the truck in your rearview mirror before merging in front of the truck. If you use the passenger door mirror, you will end up too close to the truck possibly in its blind spot.
- Contrary to belief, truckers cannot see everything in front of them because they sit up so high. Big rigs have 20 to 30 feet of blind spots directly in front of the truck.
- Never stop suddenly in front of a truck. It takes the truck driver much longer to stop 80,000 pounds than it takes to stop a passenger vehicle.
#1. What do I risk by waiting to contact a truck accident lawyer?Evidence could disappear if you wait too long to contact an Austin truck accident lawyer. Evidence that is outside could become eradicated by weather, or it could go missing. Additionally, the defendant could argue that you are not hurt since you did not contact an attorney to start settlement negotiations right away.
#2. How do I determine who’s at fault for my truck accident?Your Austin truck accident legal team will investigate your case, including visiting the accident scene, obtaining the police report, medical records, the truck driver’s logbooks, and other information. Depending on what the evidence shows, several entities could share liability for your damages.
#3. My loved one died in a truck accident. How do I recover compensation?Contact an Austin truck accident lawyer to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible. The attorney and his legal team will investigate your loved one’s accident and start settlement negotiations to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Even if your loved one died months later, if his or her death was due to accident injuries, you could still have a wrongful death claim against the truck driver or trucking company.
#4. What if the truck driver was drunk at the time of the accident?If a driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 at the time of the accident, he or she could face criminal charges and other repercussions, including being disqualified from driving. Depending on the circumstances, the court could find the driver negligent or grossly negligent. Your attorney will review the case and evidence to determine whether you can recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
#5. Can I settle with the insurance company?While you could settle, we do not recommend that you settle without the help of an Austin truck accident lawyer. Insurance companies will do anything to deny a claim or, barring that, to pay as little as possible. They do not care about your rights not even your own insurance company. When you retain a truck accident attorney, the insurance companies know that you will not settle for just any amount; thus, you are more apt to receive a fair and reasonable settlement. They also know that if they do not offer a reasonable settlement, with an attorney helping you, you will not hesitate to litigate. Litigation is expensive, and the insurance company pays for the litigation. If they know that their customer was negligent, insurance companies will do just about anything to avoid litigation unless they believe that their customer was not negligent or they do not believe that your injuries are as bad as you say.
#6. What can I do if multiple cars were involved in the truck accident?When a big truck hits multiple vehicles, determining who was negligent becomes more difficult. An Austin truck accident lawyer can hire accident investigators to recreate the accident to determine who is at fault for your injuries and other damages.
#7. Do I have to come to the office?No. Some law firms may require that, but we don’t. We can conduct the free case evaluation by phone or by video chat, whichever you prefer. We use email and other digital means to send documents. In many cases, we do not see a client in person until it is time to pick up his or her check.
Contact an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer for a Free Case EvaluationThe attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers are nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in an Auston truck accident, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we take all of our truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a dime unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by clicking here.
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"As a relatively new resident of Houston, I did not know of an attorney to contact for a personal injury suit. I randomly went through the yellow pages contacting two attorneys that had rejected my case prior to me contacting Stewart Guss. Stewart took my case on and settled for far more than I had anticipated. The silver lining of this is that I will now have enough money to go back to school for retraining, so I will be able to reenter the workforce in a new capacity. The paralegal, Angela, was kind and supportive throughout the process. If I did not understand the legal jargon, I did not hesitate to ask, and was never once made to feel that I was incompetent. Thank you Stewart and Angela for giving me a new lease on live."