It should come as no surprise that getting in a truck accident poses a higher risk of experiencing injury. This is true when compared to accidents with smaller vehicles. So if you experience an injury in an accident with a commercial truck, your best bet to ensure a healthy settlement is to hire a lawyer that specializes in handling truck accidents.
Remember, you’re not only going up against the truck driver, in this case, you’re also going up against the owner of the truck, which is going to be somebody different nine times out of 10. So you have to be prepared and you must have a legal team that knows how to handle this type of lawsuit. Otherwise, you may end up with nothing if you do not understand the specific laws, rules, and regulations that revolve around truck accidents of this type.
With that said, we’ll take a look at some more reasons why everyone should hire a truck accident lawyer if they’ve been in an accident with a commercial vehicle. It makes perfect sense as you’re about to see.
Below are a few reasons that can explain why you need a legal representative to get full justice.
1. Find All Liable Parties
In any truck crash, it becomes difficult to know all the parties who are liable to the person who is injured. The liable parties for your injuries can be the driver, the trucking company, truck manufacturer, or government entities. Your lawyer will help you in determining all liable parties and also ensure that you will get the compensation within the provided time.
2. Handle Complex Negotiations
In your crash, if you find more than one party responsible for it, you’ll need to fight each of them at the same time to get your rightful compensation. And, for this, you will have to hire a skilled lawyer with the experience needed to handle multi-defendant cases. Make sure your lawyer puts all efforts for maximizing the value of your case.
3. Provide Appropriate Legal Strategy
Being a crash victim, you might not know how to determine the best legal strategy to prepare your case for trial. Your lawyer can professionally analyze your case, locate the needed evidence and expert witnesses, and come up with the best course of legal action to you get all the compensation you deserve.
4. Ensure Comparative Fault Laws Are Applied Correctly
Like other states, Texas has a comparative fault law, which affects the amount of compensation you can recover in your personal injury. If your percentage of fault not over 50 percent, you receive compensation. With your legal representative, you can build a strong case that helps to ensure the law is applied fairly.
5. Guide You Through the Legal Process
No doubt, the legal process can be complicated and overwhelming. In this situation, your personal injury attorney can deal with the trucking company and its insurance company to reduce your stress. They can guide you in a better way regarding the case and its settlement.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in the Farmer’s Branch, Carrolton, or Dallas-Fort Worth area, our highly skilled and dedicated truck accident attorneys are ready to help right away. Contact us online today, or call (469) 466-2600 (Dallas) / (817) 605-1505 (Fort Worth) to schedule your free consultation right away. Remember — you don’t pay unless we win!
1. It’s Harder to Prove Liability When Compared to Normal Automobile Accidents
It’s pretty straightforward to determine liability when you’re talking about a regular car accident. But when a truck is involved in an accident, there are usually multiple parties involved like insurance companies, trucking companies, contractors, the truck manufacturer, and maybe even the driver, so determining who’s at fault can get tricky at times.
Instead of throwing caution to the wind and assuming you know what you’re doing, it’s best to get the help from an experienced truck accident attorney sooner rather than later. By hiring a skilled expert at handling truck accidents, they will be able to determine the parties liable, hold them accountable, and work diligently to get you the maximum amount of money available to you because of your pain and suffering.
So it’s in your best interest to hire an expert attorney who has handled numerous truck accident cases. In fact, you should always look for a law firm like this to help you during your times of trouble.
2. Expert Truck Attorneys Know Legal Rules and Regulations
Going up against some of the biggest enterprises in the world is never going to be easy. You have to walk into the courtroom with all of the knowledge, experience, and a figurative loaded gun if you’re going to come out on top and get the compensation you deserve for your accident. The best and brightest way to accomplish this is to hire a truck accident lawyer that understands the legal rules and regulations involved in cases such as this.
As you can imagine, there are laws that relate to the truck industry specifically that have nothing to do with passenger vehicle accidents. That’s why hiring a typical car accident lawyer isn’t necessarily going to help you. In fact, it could actually hurt your chances of getting a great settlement. So hire experts who regularly handle truck accidents in a legal setting.
3. Pros Will Pick the Right Legal Strategy
Trucking accident professional lawyers will know the right legal strategy to get you the maximum settlement possible for your pain and suffering. If you try to represent yourself you’ll have a fool for a client. If you hire a lawyer that only handles passenger vehicle accidents, you will not have the best legal team in your corner since they will not specialize in trucking accidents.
You need an attorney who knows the right legal strategy to pick. The experts in this field are the only ones who can truly help you.
Truck Accident Cases vs. Car Accident Cases
Commercial truck cases are different from regular car accidents in a number of important ways. Here is a brief overview of the major differences between the two types of accidents:
Differences in size and weight: The most obvious difference between a truck accident and a passenger car accident is the massive size difference. A fully loaded commercial truck can easily weigh more than 80,000 pounds, compared to the average motor vehicle that weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Because of this size difference, accidents that involve commercial trucks produce more serious injuries and vehicle damage than other types of car accidents. Truck accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries like:
- Catastrophic injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Brain injuries
- Multiple fractures
- Permanent disability
Differences in rules and regulations: Another significant difference between truck and car accidents is the set of rules involved. Attorneys and insurance adjusters will try to piece together the moments leading up to an accident and determine the exact cause of the accident, whether it’s driver negligence, a defective car part, unsafe roadways, or something else entirely. In a typical car accident, they will compare the evidence and the driver’s conduct to the New Jersey Rules of the Road to determine if the driver was negligent.
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However, when investigating a truck accident, the rules and regulations go beyond the Rules of the Road. Because of the increased difficulty that comes with operating a vehicle with that size, weight, and cargo load, commercial truck drivers are held to higher legal standards and must follow more strict rules. For example, truck drivers must follow hours of service regulations (i.e. not drive more than x number of hours in a row without rest), as well as specific rules for driving in inclement weather.
Differences in evidence: Since truck drivers are subject to different set of rules and regulations, there are also different types of evidence that must be collected. The normal evidence collected in car accident cases (i.e. witness statements, police reports, security camera footage, photographs of the scene, etc.) is still useful in truck accident cases, but there are also other types of important evidence to collect. This may include:
- Driver evidence, such as the driver’s qualifications file, the driver’s training file, the hours of service documentation, the driver inspection records, and post-collision drug and alcohol screening results
- Vehicle evidence, such as downloads of the onboard systems, maintenance history documentation, inspection history, and data GPS tracking systems
- Cargo evidence, such as weight tickets, trip envelopes, dispatch instructions, delivery documents, and bills of lading
Differences in liability: Ownership and liability are significantly more complicated in a trucking accident case. A typical car accident involves the other driver, who is most often the owner of the vehicle itself. (In certain cases, a vehicle owner can be held liable for damage caused by someone borrowing their car, but this is more rare than filing a lawsuit against the other driver him or herself.) Unless the accident was caused by an unsafe roadway or defective car parts, it is pretty clear right away who the other party in the claim will be.
However, when it comes to trucking accidents, the driver is not typically the owner of the truck. The trucking company and the driver may have an employment contract that states the company is legally responsible for any accidents caused, but the driver could also be an independent contractor who is simply supervised by the trucking company in some way. Depending on the relationship between the trucker and the company he or she works for, different levels of liability are assigned to different parties.
A number of different parties could be open to liability for a trucking accident, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. These parties include:
- The driver, who could be company drivers or owners/operators, which are contracted by a trucking company for a certain amount of time
- The employer, who could own the tractor-trailer or be leasing it through a third party
- The truck owner, who could own just the trailer, just the tractor, or both
- The cargo crew, which includes shippers, loaders, brokers, and more, who could be liable if the cargo was loaded improperly or weighed incorrectly
- Safety companies, such as third-party maintenance crews, repairmen, safety compliance officers, or insurance companies
What the Personal Injury Lawyer Will Do To Get You a Higher Settlement or Jury Verdict
To counter this, a personal injury lawyer will do many legal jobs to maximize your financial recovery. He will
- Obtain the police report to learn information about the owner of the truck and trailer, driver, weight, cargo, and insurance companies.
- Go to the scene, get photographs, and attempt to find the other vehicles.
- Obtain a restraining order to make sure the 18-wheeler is not hidden or altered.
- Get its black box downloaded to learn what speeds and brakes were used.
- Work with his accident reconstruction expert, get statements from witnesses, talk to the police officers, and do everything he can obtain critical evidence and nail down liability.
- Notify the insurance company that he is representing you. Until this point, the insurance company adjuster has marked your file as “not represented by counsel” and you can be sure, he is prepared to low-ball you with any offer, if any is ever made. When the adjuster receives a letter telling him you were smart enough to hire an experienced injury lawyer who has also sent him a spoilation letter so that evidence must be preserved, you can be sure that the value of your case just increased substantially.
- Find out whether claims have or will be presented by other injured drivers and passengers and who their lawyers are so he can work with them to maximize your recovery.
- Work with you to make sure you are getting the proper medical care and that your bills are being protected or paid.
- File suit and develop your case up for trial.
- Do whatever he can to win your case.
Determining Fault in an 18-Wheeler Accident Settlement
Fault is crucial in determining what your settlement might be worth. In Texas, you can generally receive compensation for your damages if the other party was at fault in causing the collision.
However, it is important to note that Texas also follows what is called a “modified comparative fault” rule. This means that you will not be able to recover any damages if you were more than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident.
Additionally, even if you were not more than 50 percent at fault, the amount of your damages will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of responsibility in the accident. Thus, fault and the proportion of fault of each party involved in the accident will be critical in determining what your ultimate settlement could be.
Of course, in some scenarios, there may be nothing you could have done to prevent the collision. Examples of instances where it is more likely that the semi truck driver was solely at fault include:
- The 18-wheeler rear-ended you;
- The truck driver was intoxicated or distracted while driving; or
- You were at a stop sign or stop light when the 18-wheeler struck you.
In these types of cases, your damages are less likely to be reduced. However, this will often come down to whether you have evidence to prove that you were not at fault.
This is where having an experienced truck accident attorney in your corner will be a great benefit for your settlement. A lawyer can help you gather necessary evidence to help you prove that you were not at fault—or at least that you were less at fault than the other party. Ultimately, this will help you to maximize your potential recovery.
Calculating Damages in My 18-Wheeler Lawsuit Settlement
In addition to fault, damages are another important factor in determining the amount of your 18-wheeler accident settlement. “Damages” is a legal term that refers to the monetary compensation an injured party receives to remedy harm resulting from another’s actions.
Your settlement will generally be comprised of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages will help compensate you for any expenses related to your accident and resulting injuries. In an 18-wheeler accident settlement, your economic damages might include costs for:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning potential, and
- Property damages.
Economic damages are theoretically simpler than non-economic damages to identify and calculate. However, make sure that you work with an attorney to better ensure that you do not miss any recoverable economic expenses.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are less quantifiable than economic damages. However, they are also important in that they help compensate accident victims for their emotional injuries. Non-economic damages in an 18-wheeler lawsuit settlement might include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental or emotional pain and anguish,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Disfigurement, and
- Loss of consortium.
Although non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages, they will frequently make up a large portion of your total recoverable compensation. Thus, you should always seek assistance in assessing your non-economic damages before accepting any settlement offer.
It is important to understand the extent of your damages so that you can adequately recover. A truck accident lawyer can help you identify what damages may exist in your case. This will enable you to receive the full compensation you are entitled to.
What Else Should I Know About My 18-Wheeler Accident Settlement?
18-wheeler accident lawsuit settlements can be complex and difficult to navigate. While we can’t take you through every detail of the settlement process in this one article, there are a few more things that you should know as you start the settlement process.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
A common mistake made by many victims of an 18-wheeler accident is a failure to seek appropriate medical attention. To ultimately receive the compensation you need to recover, you will need to prove the existence and extent of your actual injuries. Without any verification of your injuries from a medical professional, this can be difficult to accomplish.
Thus, one of the first steps you should take after being involved in an 18-wheeler accident will be to seek immediate medical attention. Then, once you’ve sought the opinion and received any necessary testing from a physician, continue to monitor your injuries and how you feel in the coming days and weeks.
Common injuries in the aftermath of a collision with an 18-wheeler semi-truck include:
- Neck and back injuries,
- Head and brain injuries,
- Nerve damage,
- Internal organ damage,
- Broken bones, and
If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above injuries after an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Seek an assessment as soon as practicable to increase your likelihood of receiving compensation for all your damages.
Act Now—The Statute of Limitations Is Two Years
Under Texas law, the statute of limitations is two years in a personal injury case, which includes 18-wheeler accident cases. This means that any lawsuit to recover damages arising out of the collision must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, regardless of how long the settlement process takes.
Thus, if you are unable to reach a settlement, it is absolutely crucial that you still bring your lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident. Otherwise, you risk losing any right to bring your legal claim at all.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are committed to pursuing justice. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, using our resources to interview witnesses, collect police reports, and obtain medical evidence. Our years of experience have given us the tools and resources to stand up to large corporations, manufacturers, and opposing attorneys alike. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of a commercial truck accident, contact us today for a free consultation. Call (201) 425-1135 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers.