You’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck or 18-wheeler. Now what?
Each year, there are nearly 450,000 crashes involving big trucks and buses in the United States. They can happen anywhere – highway, interstate, rural road, residential street, etc. Accidents involving big trucks are rarely straight-forward, even if it may seem that way. Special considerations will apply in a commercial truck accident case, which is why it is recommended to seek legal advice as soon after the accident as possible so you can know your rights. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process and take steps at the beginning of your case to ensure things go smoothly later on.
How can the right truck wreck lawyer help you? Consider these examples:
Obtain the Police Report
- The first step in a case is getting the accident report from the responding law enforcement agency, which could be police, county sheriff, or highway patrol. In more significant accidents or in wrecks involving a fatality, there could be multiple reports, especially if police conduct a more extensive investigation. Your attorney should be able to obtain all relevant accident reports. In Tennessee, for example, there may be a crash report and a separate CIRT (Critical Incident Response Team) report with scene measurements, accident data, and the like.
Examine Theories of Liability
- The typical automobile accident case centers on proving negligence, which is the failure to act reasonably under the circumstances. While all truck drivers are required to drive responsibly, they must also follow specific federal regulations concerning the operation of the commercial vehicle. Truckers must follow hours of service rules, designed to ensure adequate rest and prevent fatigued driving. Big rig trucks must go through proper inspections, and there are weight limitations designed to prevent jackknifing and brake issues. Federal law also mandates special procedures for transmitting hazardous materials. To prove liability, it is important to examine all theories of recovery.
Collect Critical Evidence
- No accident case can be won without evidence. When handling a truck wreck case, your attorney should seek to conduct a thorough investigation into the accident. This will include taking steps to obtain evidence and prevent the spoliation of evidence. If the proper steps are not taken in a timely manner, evidence could get lost or destroyed. In a trucking accident case, relevant evidence could include:
- The defendant truck driver’s personnel file and application
- Maintenance records
- “Black Box” or ECM data from the truck
- Your medical records
- Scene photographs
- Witness statements
- Video footage, if available
Hiring Necessary Experts
- In many cases, the parties dispute what actually happened. Word versus word accidents can make it hard for you to meet the applicable burden of proving liability. In these situations, it may be necessary to hire experts, including trucking experts and accident reconstructionists. An accident reconstruction expert can physically visit the accident scene, take measurements, look for physical evidence like skid marks and depressions in the road, and download black box data. All of this information can then be complied into a report about how the accident likely took place and can be instrumental in helping you recover fair compensation. Victims of accidents should seek a law firm with the resources to hire all necessary experts or consultants.
- In addition to establishing liability, experts can be valuable in terms of proving damages. In an auto accident case with serious injuries, your attorney may need to retain a doctor to testify to your injuries and any permanent impairment. Vocational economists can testify regarding loss of future earnings or earning capacity.
We certainly hope that a loved one was not involved in a fatal wreck but if so, here is more information that will help you:
Our Lawyers Are Available Now for a Free Case Review
Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz handles large truck accident cases and cases involving traumatic injuries. Our team gets started right away on a client’s behalf, and we put our resources to work immediately. As a result of helping injured clients over the past 25+ years, we recognize the toll, financial, physical, and emotional, that an accident can take on victims and their loved ones, and our goal is to take that pressure off of you as much as possible so you can focus solely on your recovery. To speak with our firm now, call 800-529-4004 or fill out our confidential contact form. Let us show you why NST is the way to go.