When Do You Need an Attorney After a Truck AccidentBy Stewart J. Guss on April 3rd, 2020
A colossal number of truck accidents take place every year as 18-wheelers and semi trucks cross our state lines to deliver their cargo.
These big rigs can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, while many cars weigh in at only 4,000 pounds. Truck accidents can be extremely serious. Because trucks are so much bigger than passenger cars, a truck can totally demolish a car. Truck accidents frequently cause freeway pile-ups, harming multiple victims.
A truck accident can leave you or a loved one severely injured and traumatized. Even though you may be feeling overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The cause of truck accidents can become very complicated to determine. Worse, every person or entity potentially at-fault for causing a truck accident will try to minimize or deny their responsibility.
A lawyer can help, but it’s important to reach out.
We realize folks are sometimes hesitant to contact an attorney because they are worried about the cost. There’s good news: many experienced truck accident attorneys represent victims on a contingency basis. This means the clients pay nothing up-front, and the lawyers get paid only when the clients get paid.
All things considered, partnering with a truck accident lawyer is in your best interest.
Why Do I Need an Attorney in Truck Accidents Specifically?
Let’s talk more about why it’s so important to get an attorney if you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident. There are several reasons:
To Determine Who Caused the Accident
First things first: to receive fair compensation after you get injured in an accident, you must first determine who was at fault for causing the accident. A person or entity that causes an accident has legal liability for the injuries and fatalities resulting from that accident.
For example, if a driver exceeding the speed limit could not stop in time to avoid hitting you, that driver caused the accident and should pay you for your injuries and losses. Makes sense, right?
Similarly, a company, such as a truck company or manufacturer, could also cause a truck accident. For example, if a tire blows out because a trucking company failed to replace its old tires, a serious accident can occur. Trucks can become almost impossible to control when a tire blows—and the flying treads of a blown out truck tire can tear another vehicle apart or prompt a driver to take evasive action that leads to a crash.
There’s a wide range of individuals and entities whose careless, reckless, intentional, or just plain stupid actions can contribute to accidents. If someone gets hurt, an accident lawyer can make sure they face legal liability for damages to that victim.
Here’s the issue with truck accidents specifically, though: in comparison to a simple two-car accident, truck accidents can implicate many individuals and entities in legal liability for a victim’s injuries.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It is. The difficulties in figuring out who and what really caused a truck accident can be daunting… That’s why you need an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Lawyers often work with teams of seasoned investigators. They can access police reports, perform forensic analysis, review surveillance footage (if available), and contact and interview eyewitnesses. You cannot determine the cause of an accident by yourself, but a lawyer and investigators can. They can even get in touch with experts to reconstruct how your injuries may have occurred, which can be used to determine who or what caused the accident.
Potential Responsibility for Accidents
Who might have legal liability for a truck accident? An experienced truck accident injury attorney’s job is to dig in and find out. They will determine which of those parties has the ability – and the responsibility – to pay you.
Some of the usual suspects the attorney might consider include:
The truck driver. Driving a truck requires the utmost caution and awareness, but a trucker could violate traffic laws or make other poor decisions while driving. Drivers can also be negligent if they are distracted, fatigued, or under the influence. Drivers are also usually responsible for checking the truck’s condition and load periodically and making notes of any problems. (They are not, however, responsible for fixing any conditions they record.)
The truck owner or trucking company. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all trucks be inspected, maintained, and repaired periodically, to keep them in good operating condition. Since it is the truck owner’s responsibility to maintain the truck, the owner faces legal liability for an accident caused by a truck’s poor maintenance.
Owners and trucking companies must also ensure that truck drivers they hire have received appropriate training, and have the required class of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and other certifications to operate the owner’s truck. (Many states require special “endorsements” for truckers to haul certain types of cargo, like flammable or toxic materials.) Driving a truck is not the same as driving a car, and an improperly-trained or unqualified driver poses a severe hazard to everyone on the road.
FMCSA also requires that truck drivers be routinely tested for alcohol and drugs. Failing a test can result in a suspended or revoked driver’s license. With an ongoing nationwide shortage of qualified truck drivers, however, some trucking companies cut corners by failing to screen their labor pool. This carelessness puts everyone on the road at risk.
Finally, federal laws mandate how long a truck driver can work without a break. Trucking companies are sometimes understaffed, and drivers often feel pressured to drive more than they should to meet tight delivery deadlines. Fatigued drivers represent a major danger on U.S. roads. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that truck drivers are far more likely than other drivers to operate a vehicle while severely fatigued. Fatigue can cause serious impairment, comparable to driving drunk.
Subcontractors or other companies. Owners and operators of large trucks often use subcontractors or other companies to perform specific duties. A company may get hired specifically to perform inspections, maintenance, and repair, for example, or specifically to vet the fleet’s drivers. If these companies fail to perform their jobs properly, then they can face liability for a related truck accident.
Loading and packing companies. The loading and packing of a truck’s cargo affect not just the condition of the cargo itself, but also the driver’s ability to control the vehicle hauling it. A load that shifts or falls from a truck can cause a sudden change in the truck’s balance, making it impossible to steer or stop. Shifting loads can also lead to rollovers and jackknife accidents, which are especially dangerous because they can crush smaller vehicles or cause road obstacles.
Because third-party companies often load and pack cargo onto trucks, these companies could face legal liability if a truck gets into an accident because its cargo shifts.
Truck and component manufacturers. Some accidents occur because of manufacturing defects in a truck or its parts. Brakes may fail, for example, or tires may shred because of a flaw in the design or faulty construction of these truck components. If defective equipment causes a truck accident, the manufacturer of that equipment can face liability.
To Calculate the Compensation You Deserve for Your Injuries
After figuring out who owes you money, experienced truck accident attorneys also set their minds to calculating how much money those parties should pay. In a typical truck accident injury matter, an accident victim might hope to recover:
- Medical costs, both present and estimated
- Wages lost from work
- Loss of earning capacity, if your injuries mean you can no longer work or must change professions
- Pain and suffering
How much money can a truck accident victim expect to receive? It depends on the circumstances of the accident, the nature of the victim’s injuries, and the financial resources and insurance coverage of the at-fault parties. It’s a lot to consider – but a truck accident attorney can help iron out the details for you.
To Negotiate With Insurance Companies
Truck accidents almost always trigger coverage under insurance policies carried by one or more parties at-fault. This means experienced truck accident attorneys spend a lot of time negotiating with insurance carriers to get them to pay what they owe to injured accident victims. Because of the complexity of truck accident cases, an attorney may even face the challenge of negotiating with multiple insurance companies at once!
This is not a battle you want to face alone.
In negotiations, insurance companies will try their hardest to minimize or deny their liability. Do not expect sympathy from them. They exist to make a profit, and if they can find a way to minimize their financial responsibility for your truck accident injury claim, you can be sure they’ll exploit it for all it’s worth.
- Claim you are at fault or trick you into apologizing
- Claim you have exaggerated your injuries
- Try to pay you minimal pain and suffering, when you deserve more
- Try to trick you into settling quickly for much less than your injuries are worth
- Claim you don’t need the treatments your doctor recommends
- Imply you can return to work
- Delay paying your claim check in hopes of getting you to give up
The tricks go on and on. This bring us to another crucial reason why to contact a lawyer after a truck accident: A lawyer has years of experience in negotiating with insurance companies and can help you receive the maximum claim.
To Fight for Your Rights in Court
Most truck accident injury cases reach satisfactory out-of-court settlements. But “most” does not mean “all.” If the parties with legal liability refuse to pay you what you deserve for your injuries, an attorney can take your case to court and present it to a judge and jury. With a strong truck accident attorney on your side, you can obtain the maximum damages allowed by law.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Do not wait to seek experienced legal help after a truck accident rattles your life.
You have a limited amount of time to exercise your rights to compensation, and you have even less time to preserve important evidence needed to prove fault.
Contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer right away to get started. Their next victory could be yours, too.
Stewart J. Guss
12777 Jones Rd Suite 297