If you get injured in a truck accident, you should definitely retain a lawyer with experience representing truck accident victims to help you recover compensation for your injuries. You can bet the companies responsible for the truck already have attorneys, and they are already working hard as you read this. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to represent you, both during negotiations with insurance companies and in court. Below, we discuss why.
1. Truck Accidents Are Massively Destructive
If you’ve been in a truck accident, then you already know how violent and devastating they can be. For anyone else, just search “truck accident compilations” on YouTube. A fully loaded tractor-trailer weighs up to 20 times more than a passenger car. At highway speeds, that extra weight makes the impact of a truck with just about anything—a car, another truck, a highway overpass, you name it—far more destructive than any other type of vehicle impact on the road.
And that’s just the physical force involved. A loaded truck carries cargo. In an accident, the cargo often spills. Some cargo becomes a deadly projectile or obstacle on the road. Other cargo releases toxic fumes or explodes.
In other words, truck accidents cause massive destruction. Their scale is just BIGGER than any other kind of accident on the road. For victims and their lawyers, the catastrophic scope of a heavy truck accident causes all sorts of complications.
2. The Evidence Is Really Complicated
To hold someone accountable for leaving you seriously injured or mourning a loved one after a truck accident, your lawyer will need evidence about how the accident happened:
- What led up to it
- Who was involved in it
- What the road conditions were
- How many people witnessed it.
In a truck accident, the scene is very large and complex.
- (2010). Munfordville Highway Factors.
Truck accident scenes tend to cover more physical ground than car accidents because of the size and mass of the truck, and how long it can take for trucks to stop moving. A larger accident scene means more ground to cover, literally and figuratively. It also means there are more first responders to interview, more accident reports to read, and more auto and truck parts to be analyzed by forensic experts who must analyze every detail to find any defects that may have caused a truck to crash.
There are also more people affected by the average truck accident than other motor vehicle accidents. In the actual accident itself, a truck that crashes may collide with multiple vehicles and structures. Every occupant in every vehicle and structure is affected. Beyond the physical damage caused by the accident, there are lots of other people affected, too, like the family members of injured individuals. The damages a single truck accident can cause reach far and wide.
Truck accidents can also disrupt vital traffic corridors. Following an accident, first responders and clean up crews work overtime to get them cleared away as soon as possible. That makes tracking down physical pieces of evidence and witnesses who know something about how the accident occurred much more difficult.
Only an experienced truck accident lawyer has the know-how and proper perspective to tackle the complicated task of collecting and analyzing evidence from a truck accident to figure out what happened and who is to blame. Don’t gamble on an inexperienced attorney to handle the highly complex factual investigation that a truck accident case requires.
3. Figuring out Who Is Liable and Who Can Pay Is Like Untangling A Bowl of Spaghetti
The fact that more people are harmed by a truck accident than other kinds of accidents means that more people or corporations may have legal liability for truck accidents than other types of accidents, as well.
It’s natural for you to assume that the driver is entirely liable. But think about all of the other parties who have an interest in a fully loaded commercial tractor-trailer. Often someone other than the driver owns the truck, and someone else may own the trailer. The manufacturer, distributor, and owner of the cargo may also share in liability. Any of those parties may have legal liability for the damages caused by the truck accident, depending on how and why it happened. For example:
- If a driver nodded off behind the wheel, they might share liability with an employer who made them drive over the maximum amount of time allowed by law.
- If a trailer tipped over, the driver might be to blame, but so might the operator of the distribution center that failed to tie the cargo down correctly or loaded it in a way that made the trailer dangerously top-heavy.
- If the truck rear-ended a line of cars stopped at an intersection, the driver might face legal consequences, but so might the mechanic who regularly services the truck or its owner, if they failed to keep the truck’s brakes in tip-top condition.
Get the idea? Multiple parties might have legal liability just relating to the truck. That doesn’t even include the other parties who might have liability for causing a truck accident, such as other drivers, automotive manufacturers, road designers, and even prescription drug makers and medical professionals who fail to warn people about the risks of driving while taking certain medications.
Even when a lawyer has figured out who, out of all of those potential parties, has legal liability for a truck accident, the lawyer then has to figure out who has the ability to pay damages and the legal strategy for making them do so. Furthermore, the lawyer has to be ready to figure out how to get his clients paid if someone with liability—a commercial entity, especially—runs to the bankruptcy court seeking protection from an avalanche of potential legal claims.
A truck accident lawyer has experience sorting through the labyrinth of parties typically involved in truck accidents and knows how to identify those who have liability and who can pay.
4. Figuring out What Law Applies Can Be Really Difficult
Truck accidents also involve multiple layers of law. We can hear you thinking “Wait, what? Isn’t the law just that if you cause an accident, you’re liable to anybody you hurt”? Yes, but in a truck accident case, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Did you know, for example, about the two different sets of laws for how long a trucker can stay on the road without taking a break? Federal regulations set hours of service rules for truckers who drive in interstate commerce (that is, across state lines), and state laws cover intrastate trucking (driving just within one state). Truck accident lawyers need to know both sets of laws and regulations to figure out which rules the trucker, truck owner, trucking company, and so forth, were required to follow.
Because trucks cross state lines, that means the parties who have legal liability are often scattered around the country. Consider the fact that a truck that crashed because a cargo distribution center loaded it improperly may have been loaded in a different state. A truck accident lawyer needs to be ready to figure out which parts of that state’s law might affect whether the distribution center acted negligently when its actions caused harm on a road across state lines.The list of legal complications like this goes on and on.
Bottom line: You need a truck accident lawyer who knows the endless potential legal complications involved in such cases to represent you when you are ready to seek damages for your injuries.
5. Complicated Negotiations Between Multiple Parties
Most personal injury matters, including truck accident cases, settle out of court. That’s just the reality of our system of civil justice. Part of every accident lawyer’s job is to negotiate with insurance companies and lawyers for opposing parties to achieve the best possible outcome for his or her clients.
In a truck accident matter, negotiations quickly get complicated, for two main reasons. First, there are lots of parties who may share legal liability, many of whom carry insurance. Second, there are often multiple victims in a truck accident case, all of whom will likely need to fight to secure their piece of the available compensation.
Sometimes, negotiating a truck accident settlement can feel like three-dimensional chess. The path to the maximum compensation for an injured client might not be as straightforward as seeking a payout from a single insurance company. A skilled truck accident attorney might instead seek partial payments from multiple sources, relying on different legal theories to convince each of those parties to pay. Or the lawyer might have to participate in a fund for victims administered by a bankruptcy trustee and walk his client through the process of preserving a claim in bankruptcy court.
6. Complicated Litigation if it Goes to Court
You’re probably getting the idea by now. The combination of destruction, evidence, multiple involved parties, and lots of legal issues, means that it’s time to call an experienced truck accident attorney.
The final piece of that equation has to do with making a case to a judge and jury. If your lawyer is not able to settle your case to your satisfaction, then you want him or her to take your case to court and win. In a truck accident matter, winning at trial means having the staying power, resources, and communications skills to tell a compelling personal story about why you deserve compensation without overwhelming a judge and jury with the complex legal issues that may be involved in your case.
Who, among the attorneys that you find in a Google search, has the ability to take the highly complicated circumstances of the typical truck accident and simplify them into a case that judges and juries can understand? An experienced truck accident lawyer with a team of paralegals and other professionals on call who can organize and present your case in a straightforward manner.
Truck Accident Law Made Simple
For all that we’ve written above about how complicated truck accidents are, you need the process simplified as much as possible. You have both your physical and emotional recovery to worry about. You don’t need the extra burden of wondering if your lawyer is up to the job of taking control of the legal issues and giving you the best shot at the money that you need and deserve.
So, I’ll leave you with this simple piece of advice: If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, make an appointment to meet with an attorney who has experience representing truck accident victims like you. Take the lawyer up on the offer of a free, confidential meeting. Go prepared with some questions, using the categories above as a guide. The attorney you pick should be the one who shows a true appreciation for and familiarity with the complicated issues that I’ve outlined above. You deserve nothing less.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.