DO I REQUIRE A LAWYER IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
Yes. Although hiring a lawyer is not essential before filing a lawsuit against a trucking firm, the odds are stacked against you if you do not have skilled representation.
Truck accident claims are not the same as vehicle accident claims. Although both types of lawsuits involve incidents involving one or more automobiles, truck accident litigation is significantly more difficult.
There are several reasons why trucking accidents are complicated, and why contacting an expert attorney is critical to a successful resolution in your case:
- Your lawsuit may involve more than one defendant, such as the driver, his or her company, the manufacturer of a rig component, and maybe others.
- If there are several defendants, there will be multiple insurance companies involved, all of which will want to pass the buck and pay you as little as possible.
- Truck drivers are subject to federal, state, and municipal laws; numerous authorities are likely to be engaged in the accident investigation, each with its own set of rules, legislation, and processes.
- Because truck accident injuries are far more severe than in "typical" vehicle accidents, the damages sought in truck accident cases are much higher.
All of these elements work together to make trucking accident lawsuits difficult and frequently contentious. If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident, it is unquestionably in your best interests to engage a lawyer who knows both the complexity of the lawsuit and the stakes for you personally. Read also: Great Benefits For Hiring A Truck Accident Lawyer.
WHEN SHOULD I SEEK THE ADVICE OF A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER?
It's a good likelihood that the insurance adjuster will contact you before you have a chance to contact an attorney. The adjuster hopes to catch you off guard and get you to sign off on a settlement before the dust settles.
That alone should tell you something. So, if you get an early call or an overly nice in-person visit from the trucking company's insurance adjuster, "that's your sign”.
Only it’s not funny. Clearly, this is the time to act, if you have any notion of contacting a truck accident lawyer.
While calling an attorney early in the process is ultimately best, you do have some time to reflect on your situation. These conditions merit a closer look if you’re wondering whether you should call an attorney:
- A fatal truck accident.
- An accident in which you were severely injured. This includes, but is not limited to, broken bones, paralysis, amputation, burns, blindness, or long-term or permanent physical impairment.
- There's a risk you'll be judged to be at blame, and the collision included other cars.
- The accident occurred in a construction or school zone.
- The official accident report is either incomplete or inaccurate in its description of what occurred.
An 18-wheeler accident lawyer can also assist you in determining what caused the truck collision in the first place. There are several reasons for truck accidents, and determining the actual cause or causes typically necessitates the assistance of an expert. The greater the specialist, the more likely it is that they will be able to identify all of the reasons. Many individuals might guess at the causes, but only an expert truck accident attorney can present actual proof.
WHAT TYPES OF TRUCK DRIVER MISTAKES CAUSE ACCIDENTS?
Big trucks' intimidating size does not inherently make them hazardous, but when they are operated carelessly, badly maintained, or thrown into a chaotic scenario on a crowded highway, they represent a risk to us all. Vigilance is essential whether driving, maintaining, or troubleshooting.
An 18-wheeler has a considerably lower margin of error than your Toyota Camry. A split second of inattention on the part of the driver, and the truck has strayed into another lane and sideswiped a car. A large rig travelling 65 miles per hour must come to a complete stop in 525 feet (approximately a tenth of a mile) from the moment of driver awareness to the time of full stop. A automobile moving at the same pace would require 316 feet.
This explains why the majority of 18-wheeler incidents are rear-end crashes. However, these are not ordinary fender benders with little property damage and perhaps some spilt coffee. These have the potential to be catastrophic and lethal.
The responsibilities of driving and owning an 18-wheeler are enormous and should not be underestimated. When they are, disaster can occur.
A semi truck collision can be caused by a multitude of circumstances, just like any other vehicle accident. Trucker negligence can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including:
1-DROWSINESS IN A TRUCK DRIVER
Drowsiness has an impact on reaction speed, danger perception, and cognitive thinking. For these reasons, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the amount of hours a truck driver can travel each day (11) and per week (7 days) (60).
Employers frequently put pressure on drivers to achieve delivery timetables that are nearly hard to accomplish without exceeding the specified hourly constraints. This results in unlawful overtime driving, fraudulent driver logs, and, all too frequently, accidents. Drowsiness may also be caused by the driver's age, general health, drugs (both prescription and non-prescribed), and the amount and/or quality of sleep he or she gets during downtime.
This is a major issue in many litigation. It is beneficial to win a lawsuit if a driver ran a tractor-trailer rig knowing he has not documented the legally needed downtime. A second aspect to consider is whether the driver felt obligated to violate the laws of the road due to pressure from his employer to deliver the items on time.
2-TRUCK DRIVING IMPAIRMENT
It's terrifying to think that the drivers of 80,000-pound monster trucks on our roadways may be drunk on anything from booze to narcotics, yet it occurs. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) most current Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts Report, 4,600 truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content of 0.01 or above — 2.5 percent of truck drivers in these incidents were legally inebriated.
Truck drivers, like everyone else, have aches and pains, and many have chronic diseases for which they have been prescribed heavy medicines. These pain relievers frequently have negative effects and can impair driving. In court, disregard for these side effects constitutes a unique liability. A number of large rig incidents have also been linked to the use of over-the-counter drugs.
3- TRUCKS DRIVING AND SPEEDING TOO FAST FOR THE CONDITIONS
Almost every driver has seen a huge truck speed past slower moving traffic in conditions that should have called for a gentler press on the throttle. Technically, until the truck exceeds the official speed limit, it is not speeding, yet it is unsafe and illegal. Driving too fast for the conditions is a ticketable violation.
According to the FMCSA, the following situations necessitate driving much slower than the stated speed limit:
• Slippery or icy roads
• Uneven road surfaces
• Zones of construction
• Pavement cracks
• Gravel roadways
• Significant traffic flow
According to the FMCSA study, "Any Kind of Speeding" is the biggest cause of truck accidents, accounting for 6.5 percent of fatal incidents.
4- RISK-FREE, VINDICTIVE TRUCK DRIVER
Steven Spielberg's debut feature-length picture, Duel, was about a crazy truck driver attempting to push a helpless car off a perilous mountain road. It played on people's frequent worry that big rig drivers are out to "get them."
Fortunately, this is not always the case. However, there have been some situations in which a truck driver was perhaps motivated by another motorist and behaved badly. Aggressive driving / road rage was a role in fewer than 1% of fatal truck accidents, according to the FMCSA.
Proving that the trucker drove aggressively or was under the influence of road rage is a difficult assignment in court — one that frequently requires third-party witnesses to corroborate. Read also: Tips For Finding And Hiring A Good Truck Accident Attorney.
5- DISTRACTED TRUCK DRIVER
Truck drivers text, speak on the phone, and surf the internet while driving. According to the FMCSA, driver distraction was implicated in approximately 6% of fatal truck incidents:
• Distraction from a person, object, or event outside the vehicle
• Dialing a phone number
• Reaching for items within the cab
• Employing a mobile device (texting, using apps, etc.)
• Making a phone call
• Changing the audio and temperature settings
• Consuming food or beverages
Big rig accidents caused by a distracted truck driver may be the worst of the worst in terms of mortality, injuries, and property destruction. Drivers have been found guilty of murder as a result of their actions behind the wheel. Commercial drivers who text while driving a moving vehicle face harsher penalties, although penalties vary by state.
TYPES OF 18-WHEELER TRUCK DRIVER ERRORS
Accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common ones that haven't already been stated are:
• Distracted driving, which includes texting, eating, listening to the radio, and other activities while driving
• Failure to produce
• Departure from lane
• Irregular vision
• Failure to follow traffic signs and signals; • Tailgating; and • Improper passing
• Failure to correctly perform turns and lane changes
Truck accidents are frequently caused by a mix of poor judgement and risky actions. When a motorist is tired or under the influence, he or she is more likely to drive too fast or make irresponsible mistakes that result in an accident.
These choices, however, are not made in a vacuum. The truck driver may be acting on orders from his or her company, which broadens your case to include more defendants.
WHAT ROLE DOES NEGLIGENT TRUCK MAINTENANCE PLAY IN ACCIDENTS?
The "runaway truck ramp" sign on steep-grade roadways serves as a sobering reminder that things don't always operate well on big rigs. This is a regular sight in mountainous areas, where brake failure on steep climbs is a routine occurrence.
A runaway 80,000-pound truck is a terrifying concept and a hazardous thing, yet brake failure is an unhappy problem that truck drivers and their companies must deal with. Overheating, hydraulic failure, and a variety of other mechanical issues can all cause brake failure. However, brake failure due to insufficient maintenance should never occur. If a truck's or trailer's brakes are not properly maintained, the repercussions – generally to other vehicles on the road – can be disastrous.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) supervises the safety and maintenance standards for 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles' equipment and components. Individual states may also have their own set of rules.
1- BRAKES ON SEMI-TRAILERS
A indicator that notifies drivers of braking failure must be installed on a vehicle. For automobiles manufactured after 1973, the signal must be visible - typically, a dashboard warning light. Air brakes, whether on the truck or the trailer, must have a functional pressure gauge that the driver can immediately perceive.
According to federal guidelines, the braking system must feature automated adjustment to compensate for brake linings, drums, or discs wear. Manual examination of the braking system is necessary, as is documentation of brake repairs, replacements, or new installations.
2- SEMI-TRUCK SAFETY DEVICES
Coupling devices, which guarantee that trailers do not separate from the vehicle pulling them, and stabilisers, which decrease lateral movement of the trailers, are examples of safety equipment.
3- SECURITY OF LARGE RIG LOAD
A number of 18-wheeler accidents have occurred as a result of shifting load. Accidents in which the cargo moves or falls out of the trailer complicate the insurance payout.
Most states hold the firm responsible for loading the trailer accountable if the cause of an accident can be readily identified as a shifting load. However, proving that the accident was caused by a shifting load is sometimes a difficult undertaking.
There are regulations to point to, such as the FMCSA's criteria for weight distribution, weight support, space management, tie downs, centre of gravity, dunnage (material that fills crevices between cargo objects), and weight limitations. The load must stay steady during all trailer movements, whether planned or unexpected. This includes panic stops, abrupt lane changes, fast curves, slope pavement, uneven pavement, severe winds, and anything else that acts on a trailer while it is on the road.
Different sorts of goods need different kinds of security. Different forms of tie downs are required for a load of logs than for a load of potato chips. The FMCSA document that lays out all of these standards is vast, and any inconsistency may be a significant factor in deciding blame in an 18-wheeler accident. Read also: Ways To Find A Trucking Accident Lawyer.
WHO ARE THE PARTIES LIABLE IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE?
Identifying the people responsible for any semi truck accident is an important component of the investigation. Typically, responsibility extends far beyond the driver on the scene and includes the corporation that hired the driver as well as other organisations participating in the rig's activities.
At Patrick Daniel Law, we investigate and prosecute any parties whose carelessness led to your truck accident injuries, including:
THE TRAVEL COMPANY
Cargo delivery is a time-sensitive enterprise. From supervisors to executives, everyone in the corporation may prioritise the bottom line at the expense of their drivers' – and the public's – safety.
Negligence on the part of the transportation firm may include the following:
- Forcing drivers to work above the mandated hours of service restrictions.
- Pressuring drivers to retain false service and maintenance logs.
- Hiring unskilled or inexperienced drivers who do not have the necessary licences.
- Failing to test drivers for alcohol and drug use, as well as medical issues that may jeopardise their ability to operate heavy machinery safely.
- Failure to provide sufficient driver instruction.
- Failure to maintain the appropriate types and levels of insurance coverage.
These acts may not be visible at the site of the accident, and trucking corporations will do all possible to disguise their traces. Patrick Daniel Law will conduct a thorough examination to determine the role that corporate negligence may have had in the truck accident.
CREWS FOR TRUCKING MAINTENANCE
The matter of who services the semi-truck may also play a part in your truck accident claim. If the trucking firm owns the tractor and/or trailer, in-house maintenance employees or a hired third party may be in charge of upkeep. However, if the trucker is an independent contractor who owns the rig, he or she is obligated to keep the vehicle in good operating order by bringing it in for tuneups and maintenance.
Because 18-wheelers travel thousands of miles each year, frequent maintenance and replacement of worn out parts is critical to the safe operation of any truck. If the truck accident was caused by a tyre blowout or other failure due to negligent maintenance and repairs, you may be entitled to compensation from the individual or firm that serves the rig.
COMPANIES THAT SHIP
During the course of a haul, trucks may visit several companies and distribution sites. As the employees labour to load and unload freight, it is critical that they show prudence in distributing weight and securing objects so that they do not move in transportation.
Trailers with an unequal weight distribution risk toppling over, perhaps onto a car on either side of the rig. Shifting loads might cause the vehicle to jackknife or goods to tumble onto the road.
The involvement of unsecured or improperly balanced cargo in the truck accident is one of the primary aspects that investigators will look at. Our attorneys will study these reports and gather further evidence to guarantee that the entity responsible for loading the truck is held accountable.
MANUFACTURERS OF PARTS
Vehicle components that are defective can play a significant influence in truck accidents. Failure of a component on the tractor or trailer (or both) might cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in a collision.
In general, product liability cases necessitate a detailed examination into the design and manufacturing of the failed part, as well as the activities taken by the corporation that manufactures the part to warn the public. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, companies will go to great lengths to safeguard their profits at the expense of public safety.
Patrick Daniel Law aggressively litigates against irresponsible corporations who produce and sell defective transportation components, just as it does with trucking companies and other parties, many of which have billions of dollars and teams of attorneys on their side. We work with skilled teams to investigate what happened and then take action on your behalf.
TRUCK ACCIDENTS CAUSE WHAT KINDS OF INJURIES?
A truck collision has a significant risk of causing catastrophic injuries. After all, commercial vehicles may weigh up to 80,000 pounds, generating forces in a collision that a heavy-duty pickup or SUV cannot match.
As a result, severe injuries have become the norm rather than the exception. Some of the serious injuries we find in truck accident lawsuits at Patrick Daniel Law include:
• Spinal cord injury
• Ruptured discs and other neck and back issues
• Amputation of a limb
• Scarring and disfigurement
• Internal injuries, such as organ damage and internal bleeding
• Numerous bone fractures
• Muscle, ligament, tendon, and other soft tissue damage
The death of one or more individuals is the most terrible result of a transportation accident. Unfortunately, deaths in incidents involving large trucks are all too common, with the driver and occupants of passenger vehicles being the most likely to be killed. Read also: Importance Of Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I GET IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Serious injuries need intensive medical attention. After a truck accident, you may need to be hospitalised, have several operations, and go through months of physical rehabilitation. Even with prompt intervention and the greatest medical treatment available, you may suffer from lifetime physical and cognitive disadvantages, not to mention the emotional toll of adjusting to your new circumstances. Meanwhile, when the medical expenses from a truck accident mount, many victims are unable to pay since their disabilities prevent them from returning to work.
If you are in this predicament as a result of a truck accident that was not your fault, Patrick Daniel Law can seek full compensation on your behalf. You may be entitled to compensation for things like:
• Medical expenditures
• Wage loss
• Reduced future earnings if your capacity to work is compromised as a result of your injuries.
• Suffering and pain
• Special damages for house changes, hired aid, and other expenditures specific to your circumstance
• The effect on your relationships with your family (often referred to as "loss of consortium").
The jury may potentially award you punitive damages based on the facts of the truck accident. This type of compensation is only available in cases of extreme carelessness, purposeful disregard for safety, malice, or deception. Punitive damages are seldom given, but when they are, it sends a clear message to the defendant that their actions are unacceptable.
If you or a loved one was killed in a truck accident, Patrick Daniel Law can file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. Spouses, children, and parents of the deceased may bring a wrongful death case in Texas to recover economic losses, such as lost earnings and the costs of burial, cremation, and funeral services, as well as non-economic damages related to the emotional toll of the loss.
HOW DO I EVIDENCE MY TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE?
If at all feasible, performing the following procedures at the scene of the semi truck accident might help your claim right away:
- Photographing the location of the collision, the damage to the vehicles involved, and your injuries.
- Conducting witness interviews.
- Gathering information on the truck driver (and the information for any other drivers involved).
- Making a statement to the cops.
Unfortunately, many truck accident victims require emergency medical attention owing to the terrible injuries they sustain. If this is the situation for you or a loved one, you should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
On your behalf, our attorneys will photograph the scene, find potential witnesses, and gather information on the truck driver, the trucking firm, and other parties. Our inquiry will also contain the following elements:
- Vehicles are subjected to an expert evaluation.
- Thorough examination of the trucker's log books and other evidence.
- Obtaining and evaluating all accident records from local, state, and federal agencies.
- Collecting electronic evidence such as mobile phone records, GPS locations, and data from the semi truck's "black box" (see below).
- Bringing in expert witnesses to assess the facts and render professional judgments.
SEMI TRUCKS' "LITTLE BLACK BOX"
The "little black box," also known as the digital event recorder or electronic logging device (ELD), can be found in commercial aeroplanes, railways, cruise ships, passenger vehicles, and semi trucks. Each ELD is tailored to the type of vehicle in which it is placed and is capable of recording data from a variety of sensors.
The ELD may be a valuable tool in determining the cause of a truck accident, and its data is frequently used as evidence in court. It keeps track of things like:
- Driving speed • GPS data • Steering wheel position.
- The timing and ferocity with which the brakes were applied.
- Use of seat belts.
If you are wounded in an 18-wheeler collision, don't expect the trucking business or its insurance representative to freely release the data from the truck's black box; in fact, don't expect them to even keep it.
This is one of the reasons why it is best to get an attorney as soon as possible following an accident. Your attorney can secure a court order to preserve the black box data and arrange for a joint review with the counsel representing the other party.
TRUCK DASH CAMS: FRIEND OR ENEMY OF THE TRUCK DRIVER?
A brief search on YouTube or any other video-sharing website will reveal the prevalence of dash cams on roadways throughout the world. Dash cams are used by many trucking businesses and independent drivers to defend themselves against fraudulent claims, and some firms utilise dash cams that face the driver to record his/her reaction to traffic circumstances.
They occasionally demonstrate that the truck driver was at fault. They occasionally demonstrate that the automobile driver was at fault. It might be difficult to tell at times.
Trucking firms adore dash cams — when they work in their advantage, that is. However, if the tape indicates the truck driver's recklessness, the corporation will almost definitely try to hide it.
Hiring an attorney early in the process, as with black box data, enhances the likelihood that the dash cam film will be made accessible for viewing.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RESOLVE A TRUCK ACCIDENT SUIT?
The answer to the frequently asked question, "How long does it take to resolve a vehicle collision involving a truck?" is difficult. It can take anything from a few weeks to well over a year to settle, depending on a variety of variables, the majority of which are outside the plaintiff's control. Impatience is not appropriate in a truck accident scenario.
It's in the best interests of the insurance company, whether it's yours or the trucking company's, to settle as soon as possible, before long-term health difficulties emerge. Conditions that arise after a truck accident case is settled are usually the plaintiff's financial responsibility. While there are some circumstances that warrant restarting the case, most of the time the signature on the settlement is the final word.
An aggressive insurance adjuster's usual approach is to include an expiration date on the settlement offer, implying that if you don't agree to the conditions by that date, you won't obtain a payment at all. They can't do it, and they know it, but if it scares the wounded party into accepting a settlement offer, the insurance company wins.
Every state in the United States has a deadline for filing a lawsuit related to a trucking accident, but they're usually very generous and give the plaintiffs plenty of time to recover from their injuries, collect medical bills, gather data about the accident, determine their options for returning to work, and review the case with their attorney.
Medical issues, government-based accident investigations (frequently the source of significant delays), witness depositions, and research into the trucking company's adherence to safety rules, vehicle maintenance, and driver policy can all create delays in the case.