While getting into an accident with another car can cause enough headaches, getting into an accident with a big rig truck may take your frustration to another level. After an accident, you may wonder if it makes sense to hire a truck accident lawyer. After all, it may seem obvious that the truck driver caused the collision and your injuries. Rather than handle your personal injury claim alone, turn your case over to an experienced legal representative.
Handling the Insurance Company
Even if the company the driver works for has insurance, its provider may not honor your claim. Or, if the insurance company agrees to compensate you, the amount may not be fair. Insurance companies want to make money, not lose it. Some providers do everything possible to offer low settlements they know don’t cover all an accident victim’s damages. An adjuster may try to use your words against you to show you bear fault for the truck accident.
Rather than risk your compensation or rights, have a truck accident lawyer handle your case and the insurance company for you. Legal representatives know the tactics insurance providers use and know how to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. You deserve to focus on recovering, not argue with insurance representatives or watch everything you say.
Gathering Evidence of Liability
Truck accident lawyers know what evidence to gather to build a strong case that proves which party bears responsibility for your injuries. Even if you take pictures at the accident site and get a copy of a police report, you may need additional proof that shows the extent of the harm you suffered. Your lawyer may want to return to the scene to gather additional proof you did not know you needed.
One thing that complicates truck accidents is several parties could bear fault for the harm you suffered. These parties include the truck driver, the cargo loader or shipper, the trailer or truck owner, the parts or truck manufacturer, and the local government.
The truck driver could bear liability if they drove distracted, sped or drove while tired. Truck drivers should also check their cargo and rigs for maintenance issues before hitting the road. Neglecting to do so could cause cargo to shift or a maintenance issue to trigger an accident.
The Cargo Loader or Shipper
Some carriers operate as contractors to deliver cargo for other companies. If someone failed to load or secure a shipment properly, they could bear liability for your accident.
The Trailer or Truck Owner
Some trucking companies require drivers to work as independent contractors who own their own trucks. The intention is to shield the trucking company against liability if something happens. Depending on federal regulations, a company with a trucking permit may bear fault for all accidents involving vehicles bearing its name or company placard. It makes no difference whether the driver operates as an independent contractor or a traditional employee.
The Parts or Truck Manufacturer
Steering issues, failing brakes or a tire blowout could cause a truck accident. If so, the truck or parts manufacturer could become liable for the resulting damage and injuries. Sometimes, defective systems and parts cause accidents, which could also make a manufacturer liable.
The Local Government
Flawed roadway designs, defects, broken pavement and pooled water may cause truck accidents. The local government in charge of a roadway in need of repair could become responsible for accidents that happen in its jurisdiction.
Governments set up work zones or hire construction contractors to set up work zones. Defective guardrails, insufficient warning signs or other oversights could cause mishaps. If so, the local government could become liable.
Showing Evidence of Damages
No matter how minor your truck accident injuries are, you need strong evidence of the harm you suffered. Medical bills may help, but you could need your medical records. You may request them from your doctor, but you may jump through hoops to get your hands on them. Some doctors’ offices lack the resources to handle patient requests promptly. While you wait to receive your medical records, the clock keeps ticking on your case.
Even if you received medical attention in a large office, you may need to follow specific actions to secure your records. You could have trouble finding which steps to take, and not following could mean never hearing from the office.
Your headaches may not end even after you get your records. Sometimes, health care facilities send incomplete records. You may submit multiple requests for the same records and follow up on those requests multiple times.
Navigating Legal Technicalities
With personal or catastrophic injury cases, victims have a lot of ground to cover. Not only must you seek medical attention, but you must also think about legal technicalities. Two legal technicalities are the statute of limitations and state and federal laws and regulations.
Statute of Limitations
With a statute of limitations, you have a specific amount of time to take legal action. The legal clock usually starts ticking the day your truck accident happened. If you received an injury during the accident, the statute of limitations may not start until the day you learn about your injury. How long you have to take legal action against the at-fault party depends on your jurisdiction. If even a day passes after the deadline, you could lose the chance to file a lawsuit forever.
State and Federal Laws and Regulations
Truck drivers must follow industry regulations. For instance, interstate truck drivers cannot operate a rig for over 11 hours during a 14-hour shift. Drivers must go off duty for at least 10 hours before getting back on the road. Drivers cannot operate a rig after being on duty for 60 hours for seven continuous days. States have their own laws about speed limits and sleep requirements for trucks. The reason for your truck accident could be the driver broke this rule and drove fatigued.
Truck drivers must also conduct themselves properly. Examples of misconduct that could lead to an accident include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and succumbing to road rage. Truck drivers must also not display gross negligence and knowingly put others at risk.
Do you know all the damages you stand to receive after a truck accident?
Examples of economic damages include rehabilitation and medical care costs, loss of earning capacity and time off work. You could also qualify for economic damages for car repair bills or items you lost during the accident, such as a laptop.
Truck accident injuries may cause mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement or permanent injuries. If so, accident victims could receive non-economic damages for loss of enjoyment of life or mental distress endured because of the accident.
If a truck accident lawyer proves a truck driver’s reckless actions caused your accident, you could receive punitive damages. These damages punish those who act in bad faith.
Speak With a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
When a truck driver hits you or causes an accident that harms you, do not delay to protect your rights. Hensley Legal Group has the experience, dedication and resources necessary to build your case and help you secure the compensation you need and deserve.