If a commercial truck accident injured you due to someone else’s negligence, you may face a very long and challenging road to recovery, both physically and financially. The size and weight difference between these massive vehicles and everyone else out on the road makes collisions involving a truck particularly devastating.
These accidents often result in serious injuries or even death, leaving victims and their loved ones with extraordinary hardships. That’s where a truck accident attorney can make all the difference. With the resources and knowledge of experienced legal counsel, you can get help pursuing compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses from the accident.
While the complicated legal process can overwhelm you, a lawyer who understands the nuances of truck accident cases can provide invaluable support at every step.
Why Truck Accident Claims Are Harder to Pursue
Truck accident cases are much more complex than ordinary personal injury matters for reasons ranging from the severity of the injuries involved to the potential for multiple liable parties. Resolving these cases will require an attorney with specialized knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively represent injured victims and their families. Here’s a closer look at the unique factors that make truck accident cases more complicated.
Commercial Truck Accidents Cause Very Serious Injuries
The magnitude of the forces involved when a smaller vehicle collides with a commercial truck can cause severe injuries with long-term consequences that need to be considered when seeking compensation.
Truck accidents often result in more significant economic and non-economic damages than a typical car accident. With the high financial stakes involved, it’s very common for trucking companies and other liable parties to use aggressive legal strategies, such as denying or minimizing the victim’s injuries and generally refusing to accept responsibility for their negligence.
The Trucking Industry Has Many Unique Laws
Much of the complexity of commercial truck accident cases relates to the strict laws and standards that the trucking industry must follow to ensure public safety. When investigating a lawsuit that involves a commercial truck accident, attorneys review all applicable regulations to determine if any of them were violated before or during the collision.
Establishing negligence and liability in a truck accident case, and holding the at-fault parties responsible for damages, will often depend on these regulations. That’s why it’s crucial to work with an experienced truck accident attorney familiar with these intricate legal issues and who can help you with a solid case.
Some of the laws and standards used to determine fault in a trucking accident include:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations (FMCSARs): These regulations set specific requirements for commercial trucking companies and drivers, such as mandated rest periods to prevent dangerous fatigued driving. Noncompliance with these regulations could be evidence of negligence if it contributed to an accident.
- State-specific traffic laws: Like regular passenger vehicles, commercial trucks are subject to speed limits, right-of-way rules, and laws against reckless or negligent driving.
- Industry standards: In addition to regulations that apply to all commercial trucks, specific standards within the trucking industry are relevant to determining fault. For example, trucking companies can be liable for not properly training their drivers or not maintaining vehicles adequately.
Truck Accident Cases Can Have Multiple Liable Parties
Another source of complexity for commercial truck accident cases is that, compared to a standard car accident, it’s more common for liability to be shared among multiple parties. To make things even more complicated, you could hold each party liable for different aspects of the accident.
Some examples of who you can potentially hold legally responsible include:
- The truck driver: If the truck driver contributed to the accident by operating the vehicle negligently, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or running a red light, they could be liable.
- The trucking company: Many violations would make a trucking company liable for the actions of an employee if there’s evidence that the company was negligent in hiring, training, or supervising employees, violated federal regulations, or otherwise created the conditions for the accident to happen. It’s also worth noting that the concept of “vicarious liability” can also apply in truck accident cases, which means that an employer can be held responsible for the actions of its employee even if the employer did not directly participate.
- The company responsible for loading the cargo: Commercial cargo that’s not loaded according to the proper safety guidelines can be the root cause of horrific accidents, either because the truck loses control or the cargo falls out on a busy road. Violations that can contribute to an accident include failing to properly balance the load or not securing it to the truck correctly.
- The manufacturer of the truck: If the accident happened due to a defect, such as a faulty brake system, the truck’s manufacturer could be considered at fault. Additionally, if the manufacturer knew about the defect but didn’t take appropriate action to fix or recall the vehicle, they can potentially be liable for punitive damages.
Follow All Medical Advice to the Letter
After getting injured in a commercial truck accident, following your doctor’s recommendations is essential. Take your medications, attend every physical therapy appointment, and don’t rush back to normal activities.
Not only will these practices provide your body with the best possible chance to heal, but they will also strengthen your personal injury case. Remember that your medical records will come under scrutiny during the legal process because they’re at the heart of demonstrating the economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered.
Any inconsistencies or failures to follow through with recommended treatments can be used to minimize your injuries and undermine the validity of your claim.
Don’t Talk to the At-Fault Party’s Insurers
Be very cautious about talking to representatives from the liable party’s insurance company. They will likely contact you to “ask for our side of the story,” which is a known strategy for attempting to record a statement about the events of the accident, the injuries you’ve suffered, and other aspects of your claim. You’re not legally obligated to cooperate with these conversations or talk to the liable party’s insurers. In fact, doing so could harm your case.
The main goal of these insurance agents is to minimize their financial responsibility for covering your losses from the accident, even if it means unfairly twisting your words around to make it seem like the accident was d somehow your fault. The best advice is to always have a truck accident lawyer handle all communications with the insurers on your behalf.
Document Your Economic and Non-economic Damages
Proper documentation of your damages is the key to securing fair compensation after a serious commercial truck accident. Maintain detailed records about everything you’ve suffered because of the at-fault party’s damage, including hospital bills, medication expenses, vehicle repairs, and lost income. Even if you hire someone to do your house cleaning or yard work, saving those receipts can help you make a better case for how your accident has affected your life.
Pursuing compensation for the intangible impacts of the accident, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life, is equally as crucial for most victims. To document these damages, consider keeping a journal of your recovery journey.
Write about your physical and emotional challenges, track your pain levels, and describe how the accident has impacted your family life. This journal will not only help you process your experience, but it can also provide valuable evidence for your legal claim.
Consult With a Lawyer Before Accepting a Settlement
Truck accident victims that face a lot of financial pressure after getting hurt will sometimes think that they can resolve the case more quickly by dealing directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurers will take advantage of claimants who do not have a lawyer, often by offering a lowball settlement offer that’s not enough to cover all their expenses.
Once you’ve settled the case, there’s no going back. That’s why you should never sign anything without consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can evaluate the offer’s merits, help you make an informed decision, and generally look out for your best interests.
Not having the strategic support of a skilled attorney puts you at a distinct disadvantage in a situation that’s already very difficult and stressful. Generally, having the right legal representation can help victims avoid costly mistakes.
The Benefits of Having Legal Representation in a Truck Accident Case
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, hiring a skilled lawyer to help you pursue compensation is one of the best decisions you can make in a high-stakes situation. Losing a valid claim is a heartbreaking outcome that can be avoided by having legal assistance by your side.
One of the key benefits of hiring a truck accident attorney is their experience with the claims process. They have a wealth of knowledge, skills, and resources to ensure that your case is presented in the most effective way possible.
Some of the ways a lawyer can help strengthen your compensation claim include:
- Identifying and gathering all the necessary evidence: Your attorney can use evidence to build a comprehensive picture of what happened in the accident and establish all liable parties. For example, they might prove the truck driver committed reckless traffic violations or that their employer was not in compliance with industry standards.
- Working with experts to build compelling arguments: An experienced attorney will have the professional network to hire specialists that can substantiate your case. Experts might include an accident reconstructionist to testify about the underlying causes of the crash or medical specialists that can provide context for the current and future challenges associated with your injuries.
- Calculate Your Damages: With the right legal representation, you can increase your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve. Having a skilled truck accident attorney by your side will help you understand and document the full extent of your damages, including non-economic damages that are a very significant aspect of being in a serious accident.
- Handle all paperwork: An attorney can also handle administrative tasks like filing a lawsuit, drafting legal briefs, and filling out the many other forms involved with taking legal action, allowing clients to focus on their physical and emotional recovery.
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf: The reality of negotiating with the insurers for trucking companies is that they’re notorious for trying to minimize payouts, regardless of the merits of the victim’s case. A truck accident lawyer with experience handling these tactics is your best asset for pushing back and negotiating a settlement that offers fair restitution.
A skilled truck accident attorney can give you the peace of mind that your legal rights are protected throughout the process and that you have an ally who will fight for you to get the best possible outcome.