How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?
A truck accident lawyer can help you after a crash by representing your best interests, protecting your rights, and fighting for the compensation you deserve. Your truck accident lawyer will be there to make the entire insurance claim process smoother, so you can get the money you need and focus more of your time on recovering from your injuries.
What Can a Truck Accident Attorney Do for Crash Victims?
The specific responsibilities that a truck accident attorney will take on depend on the law firm you hire. But most firms can handle the entire claims process for you, assuming you come to them at the inception of your claim. The general duties that truck accident lawyers perform for their clients include:
Ensuring You Get the Medical Care You Need
One of the most important ways a truck accident lawyer can help is by making sure victims get the care they need. Receiving medical attention is paramount to obtaining compensation in a truck accident claim. Your injuries need to be properly diagnosed and treated by a medical professional, documented in medical records, and accounted for in your compensation demand.
Without medical treatment, you may struggle to prove the severity of your injuries to the insurance company. A good portion of your settlement will likely come from the value of your financial losses, which often include medical expenses. Injury lawyers usually have an extensive network of medical providers they work with to secure proper treatment for clients.
Investigating the Truck Accident
Most personal injury attorneys will conduct a detailed investigation into your truck accident to find any important evidence that could affect the outcome of your case. The ultimate goal of the investigation is to determine the cause of the crash and identify the liable parties.
Truck accidents can be complicated, as there are usually multiple parties involved on the back end. A truck driver rarely only represents themselves. They may be an employee or contractor of a separate trucking company.
Additionally, there may be other entities partnered with the trucking company that have a role to play in your case. Your truck accident lawyer will be tasked with determining if and how these parties contributed to the crash.
A truck accident investigation may include:
- Examining the crash scene
- Reconstructing the collision
- Reviewing the police report
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Interviewing parties directly involved in the accident
- Speaking with trucking companies and third parties involved in the trucking operation
- Searching the history and practices of the truck driver, trucking company, and third-party service providers
- Gathering evidence of injuries, property damage, and fault
Gathering Evidence to Support Your Truck Accident Claim
As mentioned above, collecting evidence is essential to any truck accident investigation.
The types of evidence a truck accident lawyer may locate and review during an investigation include:
- Traffic camera footage
- Security camera footage from nearby locations
- Dashcam video recordings
- Cell phone videos
- Photos of injuries
- Photos of property damage at the scene
- Truck driver logbook
- Records of any previous disciplinary action against the truck driver
- Complaints against the truck driver, trucking company, or related service providers and partners
- Truck event data recorder (also known as the black box)
- Truck driver’s criminal record and driving record
- Trucking handbook, company policies, or contracts
Identifying Liable Parties
Truck crashes are often complex, especially when they involve multiple potentially liable parties. The truck driver may be driving under their own motor carrier company, but that’s not always the case. If the truck driver is an employee or independent contractor, the truck accident lawyer handling your claim would need to determine if the company they drive for is responsible for the accident.
Furthermore, partners who work with the trucking company to handle different logistical operations, such as loading the freight, may have a hand in the crash. It’s your truck accident lawyer’s job to determine who is responsible for paying damages for your losses.
Liability in a truck accident is determined by direct acts of negligence and contractual obligations. It’s crucial to most truck accident cases that negligence is established on the part of the truck driver, trucking company, or third parties. Why? The at-fault party (or the party they work for) is responsible for paying the truck accident victim’s damages.
Without negligence or a direct violation of the law, it’s difficult to establish fault—and without fault, you can’t determine liability. A truck accident attorney can help by investigating your case and finding evidence to establish the legal elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
Every driver has a duty to act carefully, operate their vehicle safely, and follow traffic laws. For third parties who are not drivers, they have a responsibility specific to their job that includes doing whatever is reasonably possible to prevent harm to others. In either case, your attorney must show they owed a duty of care.
Breach of Duty
If an accident occurred, the driver probably breached their duty to act carefully. Perhaps they were distracted, tending to their radio instead of keeping a close eye on the road. Or perhaps they accelerated through a yellow light instead of slowing down. In any case, if the truck driver failed to drive with care, your truck accident lawyer will need to prove the driver’s breach of duty precipitated the accident.
The driver’s failure to act with care must be the most immediate and direct cause of the truck collision. Your lawyer must demonstrate that the accident would not have occurred if the driver had not breached their duty to operate safely.
Finally, your accident injury attorney must prove that you suffered damages due to the collision. Damages refer to the money owed to victims for the injuries and losses they endured. These damages could be for physical, psychological, or financial losses.
Handling All Communication With the Insurance Company
A truck accident lawyer can manage all the communication in your case. That means interacting with medical providers, expert witnesses, service providers, and insurance companies to keep your case moving forward.
Communicating with insurers is particularly important as it can be stressful and intimidating for clients. A lawyer can speak to the insurance adjuster on your behalf, answer their questions, provide and request documents, and negotiate your settlement. Most clients never have to deal with the insurer if they do not want to.
Fighting for Fair Compensation
A truck accident lawyer can help you after a crash by fighting for fair compensation on your behalf. If the insurance company is unwilling to make an adequate settlement offer, an attorney can add pressure by filing a truck accident lawsuit. While most truck accident cases still end up settling out of court, the lawsuit shows you are serious about the compensation you demand.
Furthermore, it can incentivize the insurer to make a better offer if the company hopes to avoid spending money on a trial and potentially losing. A personal injury lawyer can prepare your case for trial, drafting documents, composing arguments, and hiring experts to testify on your behalf.
Why You Should Consider Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
Aside from the many tasks that truck accident attorneys can perform for their clients, there are other good reasons why you may want to hire an attorney for your claim.
Years of Truck Accident Experience
A truck accident lawyer has legal knowledge and experience that you may lack. Without a sufficient understanding of traffic laws, trucking regulations, insurance laws, and insurance company practices, it may be hard for you to build a case that can withstand the insurer’s scrutiny and result in fair compensation.
Many attorneys have years of experience dealing with claims against insurance companies. In fact, most times, the other party in a case is not an individual but an insurance company set to defend them. Truck accident attorneys are intimately familiar with the local, state, and federal laws that affect your case, as well as the tactics that insurance companies may use to defeat your claim.
Access to Resources
The right lawyer for you will have access to a considerable budget that allows them to allocate money where needed to bolster your truck accident claim. An attorney can afford to coordinate a full investigation and hire crash reconstructionists, medical professionals, expert witnesses, and more.
They have access to analytics and software companies that can extract and analyze black box data from the truck that caused the accident. They also have contacts and procedures that allow them to cut through the red tape involved in obtaining evidence and information from law enforcement agencies and trucking companies.
No Upfront Legal Costs
Like most other personal injury lawyers, truck accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, they do not charge clients any money up front for taking a case.
Instead, as an alternative to traditional billable hours or a retainer fee, they offer an arrangement stipulating that clients are only charged if the law firm wins them financial compensation. If the truck accident lawyer is unable to recover a settlement or court award, the client owes nothing. You have instant access to help from a truck accident lawyer with no financial barrier and no upfront financial risk.
Protect Your Right to Compensation
The risks of hurting your truck accident claim are greater when you choose to handle it on your own. Not knowing what to say to an insurance adjuster (or what not to say) can give the insurer an unfair advantage over you. They may use your own words against you to undervalue your claim—or deny it altogether.
If you are unaware of their lowball settlement tactics, you may also end up accepting far less than you deserve and losing your right to recover the full amount the insurance company owes you.
How Soon Should You Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer?
It’s a good idea to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as you are reasonably able. If you are seriously injured, you may not be physically able to speak with an attorney or mentally prepared to initiate a claim for damages. Consider having a loved one initiate contact with an attorney instead. Many lawyers will come to you at the hospital or your home to meet.
Generally, the earlier you contact an attorney in your recovery journey, the better. Your injury lawyer can guide you through the key steps you need to take, who to speak to, what information to provide, and how to track your accident-related expenses.
Be sure to contact an attorney before you initiate a claim with the trucking insurance company. Your attorney will be better equipped to handle your case if they are looped in from the beginning.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Truck Accident Claim?
Yes. Another reason you should contact a truck accident lawyer right away is because of a legal deadline called the statute of limitations. Every state limits the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Some states, like Arizona, provide only two years from the date of the accident or injury to get your case filed.
In general, the time each state provides usually falls between one and four years, although there are some exceptions. It’s in your best interest to contact a truck accident lawyer who can tell you how long you have to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, the judge will likely throw out your case, and you could end up losing your right to seek compensation in court for good.
Speak to a Truck Accident Attorney During a Free Consultation
There are numerous ways a truck accident lawyer can help if you’ve been injured and want to seek compensation for your losses. Most law firms offer free consultations, where you can learn more about their services and discuss your legal options. Get started by contacting an attorney today.