Any accident is frightening, but a collision involving a tractor-trailer can be especially traumatic.
Filing for damages after an accident with an 18-wheeler is not the same as a regular car insurance claim. There are more layers involved and it can get complicated quickly. Ensure you are treated fairly and all of your damages and concerns are addressed properly. Learn why you should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your tractor-trailer accident case.
In a typical two-car collision, it can be simple to determine who is at fault for the accident. It becomes more complicated when a big rig truck is involved. There are several parties who may carry some of the responsibility for the accident. The driver of the truck is the most obvious person to look at first. Were they negligent? Were they fatigued from being on the road too long? Were they inexperienced, or driving in unsafe conditions?
Next, is the trucking company itself. Are they indirectly responsible for the damages that occurred in the accident? In some instances, the truck manufacturer, or the party responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck can be held liable if there were malfunctions or repairs that were noted but never fixed. An example could be the brakes. Did the driver fail to report any problems? Did the trucking company not act quickly enough to fix an issue? Did the truck manufacturer not fix the brakes correctly? Any or all of these could have played a part in the accident.
If the correct parties are not brought into the claim in a timely manner, the statute of limitations could run out. This could greatly affect the outcome of your case. Identifying the parties responsible for your injuries is vital to ensure you get the compensation to which you are entitled. An experienced trucking attorney will be familiar with each possibility. Please be sure to read all lawyer reviews to be comfortable that you are making the right choice.
After an accident, there are several things you need to do to protect your rights. Here are steps to take after you have been in a collision.
Gather Important Evidence
The insurance representatives for the trucking company and driver will waste no time in gathering as much information and evidence against you as possible. They have multiple resources to get this job done quickly. You need someone on your side to collect evidence on your behalf. There will be vital information at the scene of the accident that can fade, be moved, or even disappear. Specific damages to the truck need to be documented before any repairs are made.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, they need to be interviewed. Interviews should be conducted as soon after the incident as possible, so details are still fresh in their minds. In addition, all your medical expenses will need to be gathered. Testimony from the doctors involved may also be relevant to your case. Other valuable information will be the driver’s qualifications, any recent alcohol or drug testing, the last inspection of the vehicle, and even the truck’s electronic control module.
Know Specific Laws and Regulations
There are strict regulations imposed in the trucking industry on both the federal and state level. These standards are imposed to keep both the truck driver and the driving public safe. There are restrictions on how long a driver can be on the road at one time, the speed at which the truck can travel, the weight of the cargo, as well as many others.
There are maintenance records and trip logs that must be maintained. Inspections and repairs must be itemized and recorded. Any deviation from just one of these important elements can create an unsafe situation that results in an accident. You are not expected to know all these rules and standards. However, the trucking company or their insurance carriers are not going to admit any failings on their part.
It takes a dedicated lawyer with a deep understanding of trucking laws and regulations to filter through all the information. They will be able to determine if there were any violations and the best course of action. Before hiring your personal injury lawyer, here are 10 questions to ask.
Prepare for Possible Trial with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Most trucking companies have a team of lawyers and insurance agents working to protect their financial interests. Negotiations will start and work towards making a deal. Sometimes mediation is an option, or possibly arbitration. If it appears that a fair settlement cannot be reached by any of these means, then the case may end up going to court.
When the case goes to court, your personal injury lawyer will represent you and fight for your case. Your lawyer will come prepared to seek compensation for your property damage as well as physical injuries and lost wages. They will analyze all the facts of the case and determine the best legal strategy to maximize the value of your case.
The other side will also try to find a way to show you contributed to the accident. This could reduce the amount of settlement they are required to pay, but your attorney will fight these allegations.
An accident involving a tractor-trailer truck is often devastating. It can result in heavy damage to your vehicle and traumatic bodily injuries. It is critical that you have an experienced professional to help you make important decisions.
The trucking companies and their lawyers will make handling these claims complicated and lengthy. You need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help fight on your behalf and get you the money you deserve.
If you have additional questions or need to speak with someone about your claim, reach out.