Truck accidents are a common occurrence on U.S. roadways and highways, and far too many passenger vehicle occupants have the unfortunate experience of getting into a crash involving a semi-truck.In 2019, 37.9 million trucks used for business were registered.. Police reports indicate that 538,000 of those trucks were involved in accidents with other vehicles. Collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks resulted in approximately 159,000 injuries.
Truck accidents are frightening and they often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. A semi carrying an empty trailer can weigh as much as 35,000 pounds. Weighed down with freight, it may tip the scales at a maximum of 80,000 pounds. Any crash can be challenging, but truck accidents are even more so. If you sustained injuries, a truck accident lawyer helps you navigate your case and pursue the at-fault parties for compensation for your losses.
Obtaining the Evidence
If you get injured in a truck accident, you need to act fast. The outcome of your case depends on the supporting evidence presented. Even if you don’t do anything more than file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company, you need as much proof as you can get. While true with any car accident case, when you deal with semi-trucks, it is even more critical.
An attorney who has experience helping the victims who sustain injuries in a tractor-trailer crash knows what evidence to gather and how to get ahold of it. The lawyer may obtain:
- Police reports
- Dash camera recordings
- Photos and videos of the crash scene
- Onboard electronic information
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Reports from accident reconstructionists
An attorney may also seek evidence from other sources, particularly if the truck driver is not the only one at fault for your injuries.
Determining Fault in Your Case
Determining fault in a truck accident case isn’t always as clear-cut as you might think. Even if it seems evident that the driver was responsible, other parties may also hold some of the liability for your injuries. Tracking down the evidence that reveals all the contributing factors to the accident requires experience. You can’t count on the insurance providers to figure it out. They do what they can to avoid making any payouts, so they attempt to shift as much of the blame as possible onto the victim.
The Trucking Company
There are many regulations for the trucking industry and many of these apply to truck companies. Some of these rules require trucking companies to maintain their fleet. If, for example, a driver works for a company and drives their equipment, the company may be liable for your injuries if the company did not properly maintain the truck.
Additionally, the federal government regulates the number of hours a driver can drive. When truckers haul freight, they can drive no more than 11 hours in a day and they must have 10 consecutive hours off work between 11-hour shifts. If the driver surpassed this timeline because his employer established a deadline that could not be met otherwise, then the truck company may hold some responsibility for your injuries. However, when drivers are independent contractors, the trucking company is generally not liable for their actions.
The Cargo Loaders
You may wonder what the individuals who loaded the truck could have to do with the accident you were in, but in some instances, they may be at least partially at fault. If the loaders did not secure the cargo correctly or balance it right, they might have created an unstable load, leading to hazardous driving conditions. Additionally, when the truck has an open container, such as those used for hauling automobiles, improperly secured cargo may fall off the trailer and strike the car behind the semi.
The Truck Manufacturer
The truck manufacturer may also have some fault in the accident. If the truck that hit you was defective and that defective component caused the crash, the manufacturer may hold some liability for your injuries. Even when the case isn’t in the judicial system, the burden of proof is on you. It’s imperative you seek the evidence immediately, or it might just disappear. If you have a truck accident attorney working on your case, the lawyer acts quickly to secure the proof proving liability for all parties responsible for your injuries.
Constructing a Case
Once the attorney gathers all the evidence of responsibility, the truck accident lawyer gets to work constructing your case. Building a solid case for you doesn’t just involve evidence of fault. Your lawyer also needs to determine the full impacts the accident has on your life, both now and into the future. Personal injury lawyers who have experience with truck accident cases look at every potential repercussion to come up with a settlement amount for your claim. They gather information about the physical, emotional and career impacts, collecting support from:
- Your current medical bills
- Doctor’s reports
- Current and estimated physical therapy and rehabilitation needs
- The amount of time you were unable to work and the income you lost as a result
- The long-term career impacts
- Professional testimony from physicians and therapists about the long-term physical and mental health impacts and the effects they have on your ability to work
With this information in hand, truck accident attorneys come up with a claim amount that covers a victim’s current and future medical expenses, lost wages and earning potential, mental health therapies and pain and suffering.
Negotiating With the Insurers
When you get into an accident with a truck, the driver’s and perhaps the trucking company’s insurance representatives will likely contact you. They often demand that you make a statement about the accident, recording your side of the story. You do not have to speak to them no matter what they say. They are hoping you will say something that gives them an opening to blame you — at least in part — and reduce how much they have to pay you. They are not in it for your best interests.
It’s a truck accident attorney’s job to look after your interests. Personal injury lawyers who don’t get paid unless you do want to do everything in their power to get the best outcome possible. They also have experience dealing with the trucking industry’s insurance providers. They are not afraid to fight for you, and they understand the insurers’ tactics to escape paying victims what they deserve. When you have a lawyer working for you, the attorney handles all the communications and negotiations with the insurance companies.
Going to the Courts
If the negotiations don’t reach a satisfactory conclusion, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. The attorney pursues the legal avenues available to fight for fair compensation for you. Fortunately, most personal injury cases do not land inside the courtroom. Though filing a lawsuit may be necessary, the insurance companies are usually happy to settle out of court.
Hiring an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
When you sustain injuries from an accident with a semi-truck, you need to focus more on healing and recovery than fighting the insurance companies for fair compensation. Let the team at Hensley Legal Group go to work for you. Our attorneys have substantial experience with truck accident cases, and we fight for the settlement you deserve. Don’t delay. Contact us today for a free case review.