If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. Big rig crashes can cause catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death. The trucking company and their insurance agency will try to pay as little compensation as possible. An aggressive truck accident attorney levels the playing field and fights for your full financial recovery.
This article will explain exactly what a truck accident lawyer does to help you after a crash. Keep reading to learn how a qualified attorney gathers evidence, calculates damages, negotiates your settlement, and gets you maximum compensation.
Investigating the Truck Accident Scene
Immediately after a truck collision, time is of the essence. A diligent truck accident lawyer will act fast to start gathering evidence and piecing together how and why the crash occurred. Investigation activities include:
- Obtaining the police report – This contains officer assessments of how the collision happened, any traffic violations issued, and statements from witnesses.
- Taking photographs – Your attorney will visit the scene to photograph damage, skid marks, debris, road conditions, and more. Photos substantiate your version of events.
- Interviewing witnesses – Eyewitnesses often provide crucial details to prove truck driver negligence. Their memories fade quickly, so your lawyer must get recorded statements fast.
- Inspecting the vehicles – Your attorney can request to examine the truck and your vehicle. Photos and analysis may reveal mechanical failures or maintenance issues that caused the crash.
- Reviewing the truck driver’s history – Your lawyer can check logs, training certificates, and driving history for past violations or problems. This creates a timeline of the driver’s actions leading up to the crash.
- Consulting truck accident reconstruction experts – These specialists can analyze physical evidence and the accident dynamics to theorize what transpired. Their expert testimony strengthens your case.
Assembling all this evidence takes knowledge, resources and determination. A proficient truck accident attorney has the skills and experience to build the strongest evidence case possible.
Determining Liable Parties
Unlike regular car collisions that involve just two drivers, multiple parties can share liability in a truck accident. Your attorney will leave no stone unturned in identifying all those responsible, such as:
- The truck driver – Did they drive recklessly or make an error? Were they impaired or fatigued?
- The trucking company – Could improper maintenance or overloaded cargo have caused the crash? Did they fail to check the driver’s background?
- The parts manufacturer – Could faulty brakes, tires or other components have led to the accident?
- State and federal agencies – Did they neglect truck safety inspections?
- Cargo loaders – Did improperly secured freight contribute to the crash?
The compensation available increases with each liable party identified. Seasoned truck accident lawyers use their legal skills and resources to pinpoint all those who contributed to the accident through negligence or wrongdoing.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a higher standard under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Your attorney can prove negligence that violates these regulations, such as:
- Driving while fatigued – Truckers must follow strict rest rules. Violations like falsifying logbooks are common yet extremely dangerous.
- Driving under the influence – Just like regular motorists, truck drivers can be cited for DUI if impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Distracted driving – Eating, texting, talking on a cell phone and other distractions often cause truck accidents.
- Speeding and reckless driving – Trucks require much longer stopping distances than cars. Excessive speed is an easily proven cause in many truck crashes.
- Improper training – Truckers must maintain proper licensing and participate in ongoing training. Lack of skill is the top cause of truck collisions.
- Poor truck maintenance – Brake and tire failure are preventable with proper upkeep. Negligent maintenance makes the trucking company liable.
- Overloaded cargo – Overweight or shifting loads raise the risk of rollovers and jackknife incidents.
There are many other examples of trucker and trucking company negligence. An experienced attorney knows how to uncover and substantiate the appropriate ones that applied to your crash.
Calculating Your Damages
The financial costs from a truck accident can be immense. Your attorney will calculate and document all your damages to demand maximum compensation, including:
- Medical bills – Ongoing doctor, hospital, therapy, and prescription expenses. Serious injuries like burns, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injury require lifetime care.
- Lost income – Being unable to work during recovery results in lost wages. Permanent disabilities may impact long-term earning potential.
- Property damage – Repairs or replacement costs for your vehicle.
- Pain and suffering – Physical and emotional trauma from disabling injuries merit substantial non-economic damages.
- Loss of consortium – Compensation for impact to family relationships due to injuries.
- Wrongful death – Funeral costs plus present/future lost income and companionship.
Experienced truck accident lawyers utilize experts like accountants and vocational analysts to produce convincing damage estimates. The highest proven losses place you in the strongest negotiating position.
Filing Insurance Claims
One role of your lawyer is dealing with insurance companies after the crash. Steps include:
- Notifying your own insurer – Under your policy’s med pay, PIP or UM/UIM coverage, request reimbursement for treatment, lost wages and other costs.
- Filing a claim with the truck driver’s insurer – As the at-fault party, their liability coverage should compensate your damages. Be wary of quick, lowball settlement offers.
- Contacting the trucking company’s insurer – The trucking outfit has higher policy limits than the driver. Their insurance must cover negligence like inadequate truck maintenance.
- Suing additional insurers – If defects by a parts maker also caused the accident, your lawyer can file a product liability claim against them.
Insurers often deny or delay claims, offer partial settlements that exclude major damages, or try pressuring victims into accepting low payouts. Having a tenacious truck accident attorney ensures you receive your full entitled compensation from all applicable insurance policies.
Lawsuits and Settlement Negotiations
Insurance claims alone may not net full recovery, making lawsuits necessary. Your attorney can file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against any liable drivers, trucking companies, parts makers, or other entities. Lawsuits initiate lengthy legal processes, so most cases settle out of court.
Settlement negotiation is an area where truck accident lawyers excel. Their skills include:
- Sending demand letters detailing your damages and right to compensation.
- Negotiating firmly and skillfully with insurers to get fair settlement offers.
- Refusing to settle for inadequate payouts that don’t cover all current and future costs.
- Taking the case to trial if serious offers aren’t made. Insurers will often increase offers to avoid court.
- Mediating settlements if insurers won’t negotiate reasonably. A neutral mediator proposes equitable settlement terms.
Recovering full compensation often entails months of back-and-forth. Truck accident lawyers are persistent negotiators who won’t quit until you receive maximum settlement or verdict amounts.
Getting You Paid
Settlements typically pay lump sums covering all current and future accident-related costs. However, obtaining payment requires additional effort from your lawyer through steps like:
- Ensuring the settlement agreement or court judgment itemizes all damages and awarded amounts.
- Formalizing attorney lien rights to guarantee payment out of settlement funds.
- Carefully reviewing settlement checks and amounts prior to you signing releases.
- Placing settlement or verdict funds in structured accounts or trusts to optimize benefits and protect eligibility for government programs.
- Taking legal action if necessary to compel an insurer refusing to issue agreed-upon settlement checks in a timely manner.
Even after settlement or trial, less scrupulous insurers might avoid paying what they owe you. Your lawyer must persist until you have the complete compensation in hand.
Why Truck Accident Lawyers Are Critical
As outlined above, qualified truck accident lawyers offer invaluable assistance after a crash, such as:
- Gathering evidence to prove what caused the collision and who is liable.
- Maximizing compensation through painstaking damages calculations.
- Taking legal action to make all responsible parties pay what they owe.
- Negotiating assertively with insurers to get you fair compensation, not minimal payouts.
- Making sure you actually receive your full settlement or court award.
Without an attorney, accident victims face endless obstacles securing fair compensation from insurers and corporations eager to protect their own financial interests first and foremost. Only experienced truck accident lawyers have the tenacity and legal expertise to battle back and gain the funds critical to your recovery and family’s financial wellbeing. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of the insurance companies. Contact a reputable truck accident attorney immediately after any truck collision to protect your rights and future. With powerful legal representation by your side, you can rest assured your interests come first, and justice will be served.