A truck accident can have devastating consequences for its victims. The damage from a truck accident to those traveling in a passenger vehicle can be costly and possibly result in death or severe injuries to the victims.
Determining responsibility for your injuries and, in turn, your losses following an accident involving a large truck or tractor-trailer is a difficult process. Getting the responsible parties to pay for your losses is an even greater challenge.
When you face the choice of whether to hire a truck accident attorney after a collision with a truck, it should not take you long to realize the risks you face if you decide to move forward without one. When you are a truck accident victim, you have one opportunity to fight for the compensation you deserve. Once you accept a settlement from an insurer, you can no longer pursue further damages or losses from the responsible parties.
Making the right moves in the aftermath of your accident, which includes hiring an experienced truck accident attorney, will give you the best opportunity to recover as much of your losses as possible.
A Lawyer’s Role in a Truck Accident Case Is Critical
Overlooking the importance of a truck accident attorney following a crash can leave those managing a claim without one to quickly regret their decision. The mere act of having an attorney to represent you in the claim increases your chances of recovery. Beyond the knowledge, experience, and resources that a lawyer will bring to the table is the peace of mind that the attorney will handle all aspects of your case.
It is overwhelming to go through the experience of a truck accident. The fears, anxiety, and pain that follow for the victims of such a severe and life-threatening accident cannot be fully understood unless you are the one going through it. The last thing you want to worry about after an accident with a large truck or semi is dealing with insurance companies, bill collectors, and other interested parties to the case trying to talk to you or question you about the accident and your injuries.
Fighting for fair and reasonable compensation from an insurance company or at-fault party following a truck accident is a demanding process. Stressing about your losses, the constant messages, phone calls, and the processing of your claim will interfere with your recovery and make it difficult for you to focus on getting back on your feet following the accident.
A truck accident lawyer representing your interests allows you to shift your focus to your healing, recovery, and rehabilitation rather than causing you additional trauma and stress. Your lawyer will handle the ins and outs of your case. While you will be up to date on all necessary and vital aspects of processing your claim or any potential legal action in court, you will not need to worry about the day-to-day communications and management of your case.
Truck Accidents Are Serious
Car accidents happen frequently and are a common part of the commute of many Americans. While many serious car accidents and fatalities can occur, many of the reported accidents in the U.S. between passenger vehicles are minor collisions such as fender benders.
Truck accidents with passenger vehicles are not nearly as common, but the consequences of these types of motor vehicle accidents are often catastrophic. In any given year, approximately half a million reported accidents involve large trucks. These accidents will result in nearly 5,000 fatalities and over 100,000 victims with injuries.
Significant damages and injuries often occur in a collision between large trucks and passenger vehicles. Those who survive an accident with a truck while traveling in an automobile can face many injuries and the total loss of their vehicle.
Depending on the injuries a victim sustains, they may require intensive medical care, surgery, or hospitalization. The unfortunate victims who do not survive a crash can leave their families wondering how they will cope with the sudden loss and pay for the unexpected costs of a funeral or burial expenses.
Truck Driver Negligence May Have Caused Your Accident
Nearly all truck accidents with passenger vehicles that occur in communities are preventable. Truck and passenger vehicles can share the road safely and avoid unnecessary injuries and deaths of truck accident victims.
Unfortunately, trucking is a commercial business, and there are often financial motivations for truckers to move faster, take shortcuts and work longer hours. These situations can create dangerous circumstances for unsuspecting drivers and passengers of vehicles traveling in the vicinity of a truck on highways, interstates, neighborhood streets, and rural roads.
While not all accidents that involve a large truck or semi are the driver’s fault, many of them are. Truckers face many demands, long hours, and distractions on the road. Truckers may make risky moves behind the wheel that endanger the lives of those traveling in their vehicles near them. When a truck driver causes an accident with other vehicles and injuries to the occupants in those vehicles, they are responsible for the damages they cause.
Common examples of negligent truck accident causes include:
- Trucker fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Truck driver under the influence
- Trucker engaging in reckless driving
- Improper loading of cargo onto the truck
- Lack of training or experience trucking
- Failure to adapt driving to weather conditions
- Defective truck or parts
Liability for Your Losses Can Fall on Multiple Parties
Truckers rarely work for themselves, and nearly all trucking activities are commercial. Large trucks engage in services, transportation of goods, and shipment of materials within communities, states, and across the country.
When a truck accident occurs, there are potentially many parties to the accident beyond just the trucker and the car driver. In a commercial shipping transaction, there are many moving parts, and when any of those parts fail to meet their duties and responsibilities as required by the law to keep the public safe, an accident can happen.
Who is ultimately liable to you for your losses will depend on what contributed to the crash, how the crash occurred, the relationship of the parties to you, and the available insurance coverage.
Parties that may be liable to the victims in a truck accident include:
- The truck driver – When the driver’s direct actions cause an accident, they can automatically be liable for their negligence to the victims. However, because a driver is working at the time of the crash, you may pursue compensation from the commercial vehicle’s insurance or the party in charge of the driver.
- The truck driver’s employer – Truck companies can fail to meet their responsibilities to ensure the public’s safety by violating hours of service rules, failing to hire responsible drivers, or not providing the maintenance of the trucks to maintain safety.
- The truck owner – In some situations, a trucker may work for themselves but lease a truck for jobs from another individual or company. In these scenarios, the truck owner may also be liable to you, depending on the facts of your case.
- The company responsible for loading the shipment – Mishandling and loading cargo commonly causes truck accidents. Sudden shifts of the cargo load in the container or bed of a truck can cause a driver to lose control of the truck, crashing into anyone nearby.
- The shipping company – When hazardous materials ship across the roads in communities, the contents of a truck can endanger the public if an accident happens. When a victim suffers an injury because of the contents of a truck, the shipping company may be liable.
- A truck or parts manufacturer – Trucks consist of many parts and equipment. There are times that a part of a truck or the truck itself has a manufacturing defect that can make it unsafe and cause an accident. When this happens, it is not necessarily the driver’s actions that cause the accident, but the state of the truck. In this scenario, a victim can seek compensation from the manufacturer for the defective or dangerous component that leads to the accident.
Insurance Companies Will Not Play Fair
If insurance companies prioritize the needs of the victim of a truck accident and make offers of compensation that account for all of their losses, there would be little need for negotiations or lawsuits. Unfortunately, that is not how insurance companies work. Although the purpose of a truck insurance company is to provide compensation to individuals in circumstances when an accident due to negligence happens, the process which insurers force on claimants is quite tedious and challenging.
An insurer will use many tactics in their dealings with a truck accident victim to try to limit the amount of money they will pay you for damages. Insurers will first try to see if there is a way to place blame and liability on the victim for the accident. If that approach fails or their insured is still primarily liable for the cause of the collision, the insurer will then work to limit what losses they payout to the victim. Any insufficient evidence or mistakes during the filing of a claim will allow the insurance company to offer you less for the damages you sustain, even if your losses are much higher.
When you hire a lawyer, you know the attorney will build your claim and take the appropriate steps to prove your claim. By gathering evidence and information pertinent to the fault of the accident or the severity of your injuries, your attorney will provide insurers with the support your claim needs to have a higher chance of a successful recovery of your losses.
Accurate Calculation of Your Damages
Many accident victims do not realize the significance of their losses until some time has passed after an accident. Once you begin to see the medical bills building up, the cost of repairs for your vehicle, and feel the financial pressure of missed work hours and lost income, you will see that the damages in your case are much more than you first anticipated.
Truck accident attorneys often work on these types of cases and know where your losses are likely to accrue. A lawyer representing you in a truck accident case will go over your injuries and your impacts of the accident thoroughly to make sure that when the time comes to negotiate with insurers, you know the true extent of your losses and what a reasonable settlement offer will contain.
To Negotiate and Fight For Your Interests
Your attorney will ultimately take all of the information they have learned about your case, the calculation of your damages, and all other evidence to help them fight for your rights against insurers and other parties to the case. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf and come to you with any offers presented to them by the insurer. You can then decide whether an offer is acceptable or whether you will need to take further action in your case.
Most truck accident cases will settle during negotiations with the insurance company. Only in some cases can it become necessary to go through a lawsuit in court to resolve a truck accident case.
If you are a truck accident victim, you need to hire a truck accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible following the crash. Schedule a free consultation with a truck accident attorney near you to discuss your case and options for recovery.