What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident
If you were hurt in a truck accident, knowing what to do could protect your rights, get the care you need, and build a strong case for compensation. These cases are more complex than most traffic accident claims, so you must understand your next steps to hold the liable parties accountable.
Working with a truck accident lawyer lets you focus on your injuries and heal while they pursue fair compensation. Most truck accident firms provide free consultations, so you have nothing to lose. You can discuss your case with a team member for free to learn about your rights and options.
The At-Fault Party in a Truck Accident Case Depends on Who Acted Negligently
Truck accidents work similarly to other crashes when it comes to identifying the cause and determining who is at fault. Most collisions occur because of one driver’s careless or reckless actions. They make a mistake behind the wheel that involves other nearby vehicles, causing a crash, injuries, and financial harm. An investigation is often necessary to gather evidence to understand what happened and who is legally responsible.
You will likely hear attorneys, insurance adjusters, and others refer to negligence in your truck accident case. Negligence is the legal term for the carelessness and recklessness that leads to injuries in these incidents. The truck driver—or another party—acts negligently, and this is the reason the crash occurred.
To recover damages, your lawyer must illustrate negligence. That requires them to show:
Duty of Care
Drivers have a duty of care to prevent crashes and injuries to others. This generally requires them to follow all applicable traffic laws and take action to avoid collisions. Every motorist accepts a duty of care when they get licensed.
Breach of Duty
When a driver fails to uphold their duty of care, they breach this obligation. This usually involves violating a traffic law. Running a red light is a breach of duty under most circumstances. Most collisions occur because of a breach of duty, rather than poor weather conditions or vehicular malfunction.
When a driver breaks a traffic law, they could cause a collision. Many of these laws are in place to prevent crashes. For example, the rules surrounding how traffic navigates an intersection are meant to ensure everyone travels through that intersection safely. One driver violating these laws could cause an accident and injuries, affecting many others.
If a collision does not cause injuries or property damage, there is no case. The victim must suffer harm to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another liable party. There are three types of harm that commonly occur in crashes: physical, emotional, and financial. Victims must document their harm as a part of building a case against the liable party.
When Does the Trucking Company’s Negligence Cause a Crash?
A trucking company’s negligence causes or contributes to a collision in numerous ways.
Your truck accident lawyer may hold the company liable if it:
- Failed to properly train a driver
- Hired an unqualified driver
- Continued to employ a driver despite serious concerns
- Pushed drivers to violate Hours of Service
- Failed to properly maintain or repair trucks or trailers
When Is the Shipping Company Liable?
Under some circumstances, the shipping company might be liable for a crash. This most commonly occurs when there is an issue with the cargo. Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can cause fishtailing, trailer rollovers, and other issues. Losing a load occurs for many of the same reasons and often leads to serious accidents involving multiple vehicles behind the trailer.
How Does Vicarious Liability Work?
The trucking or shipping company might also be vicariously liable in these cases.
While many states have codes that outline how this works, the general rules require:
- The driver is an employee of the company
- The driver was engaged in work for the company when the crash occurred
A truck driver behind the wheel of a big rig is likely handling work-related tasks, so vicarious liability almost always applies in these cases. For this reason, most truck accident cases are against a corporation.
This is generally the trucking company that employs the driver. Sometimes, large companies that handle their own distribution could have a truck fleet and drivers. When this occurs, the shipping company might be the liable party.
You Need Evidence to Support Your Case
When building a truck accident case, victims must gather evidence to show:
- How negligence caused the crash
- What happened
- What role each party played
- Who employs the truck driver
- The damages the victim suffered
The evidence available to develop a strong case against the liable parties varies depending on the case’s circumstances.
However, you generally need to gather and analyze:
- The accident report filed by the police officers who responded to the crash
- Eyewitness statements, sometimes requiring additional interviews
- Accident scene surveys
- Accident reconstruction reports
- Any available videos of the crash from nearby businesses, dash cams, or traffic cameras
- Photos from the accident scene
- Data from the truck’s onboard computer
- The driver’s Hours of Service logs
- Mandatory post-accident drug and alcohol test results
- The truck driver’s employment, driving, and health records
- Your relevant medical records
- Expert testimony about your prognosis and future care needs
- Documentation of your damages
A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Gather Compelling Evidence
Since so many of the above items are in the trucking company’s possession or require experience to recover, working with an attorney and letting them handle the investigation is a good idea.
An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to manage this process, including:
- Preserving evidence held by the trucking company
- Working with experts to gain insight
- Hiring survey and reconstruction teams as needed
- Identifying any video available of the crash
- Analyzing the evidence to tell a compelling story
- Organizing the evidence to show the insurer and others what occurred
You Can Recover Both Economic and Non-Economic Damages After a Crash
The recoverable damages in a truck accident stem from the expenses and losses you incurred. These losses include both economic and non-economic costs. These economic damages may include lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, and other quantifiable financial losses.
While no two cases are the same, many compensable losses in these situations include:
- Medical bills and related expenses, current and future
- Ongoing care and support costs for serious injuries
- Income losses from time missed at work
- Diminished earning capacity for lasting impairments
- Property damages
- Miscellaneous-related expenses
- Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering
To recover these damages, you must have documentation to show their values. You can use receipts and bills to demonstrate the cost of your medical care, lost income, and car repairs. Yet, knowing the value of your future care costs and non-economic damages can get complicated.
If you work with an attorney, they can call in experts to offer insight and help them make a fair estimate. Handling this part of the case on your own is difficult. It is almost impossible to accurately estimate these values without working with a professional.
You Have Options for Seeking Compensation After a Truck Accident
Most successful truck accident cases end with a negotiated settlement agreement. The victim recovers a fair payout from the trucking company’s insurer, usually reached through a series of settlement negotiations.
However, sometimes a lawsuit is necessary. The victim sues the at-fault parties and begins the process of taking the case to trial. This takes time includes a step called discovery.
During discovery, both sides gather evidence and learn more about what happened. Sometimes, during this process, the trucking company’s lawyers recognize that they are unlikely to win their case at trial. This may prompt them to offer an out-of-court settlement rather than proceed with a judge’s verdict.
A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Uphold Your Rights at Trial
Most truck accident cases don’t go to trial they generally end with negotiated settlements. Yet, your lawyer may decide to file a lawsuit if an insurance settlement isn’t possible.
In that instance, they can:
- Represent your best interests in court
- Present evidence of negligence and liability to the jury
- Offer evidence of the case’s value and your recoverable damages
- Ask the jury to issue a verdict and award fair compensation
They can also manage all communications with the involved parties, including lawyers, insurance adjusters, consultants, and courtroom officials. Truck accident lawyer help you with jury selection, ensuring that no biased parties decide on your case’s outcome.
Why Would I Want a Truck Accident Attorney to Help With My Case?
When a truck accident attorney handles your case, you can focus fully on healing and getting your life back to normal. You do not need to worry about how to navigate the process or what to do next. For many crash victims, this greatly reduces their stress and frustration.
Trucking accident cases force unrepresented victims to go toe-to-toe with large companies, corporate lawyers, and insurance companies. This is often intimidating and can leave you questioning whether you are doing the right thing.
Additionally, too many victims settle for less than they deserve after negotiations. Your attorney will prevent this from happening.
They can pursue a fair settlement by:
- Discussing your injuries and damages with the insurer
- Demanding fair compensation and presenting evidence
- Negotiating for a fair settlement
- Preparing and filing the complaint to begin a lawsuit
- Steps of the legal process after filing a lawsuit
- Representing you at trial if necessary
From the first day you sign a contract to work with a law firm, your attorney focuses on your best interests. Having someone with experience and knowledge of these cases on your side is a huge benefit. You do not have to try to handle this process on your own.
You Want to Lay the Groundwork for a Successful Case
Even if you haven’t filed your claim, your case is already in motion. This means you should carefully consider your next steps.
Some considerations include:
- Limiting what you share with the insurer. Even if you’re not giving a recorded statement, you should be careful of what you share with the claims adjuster. Some look for any reason to discredit victims’ losses.
- Getting medical attention. Medical documents serve as the basis of your claim. Additionally, visiting a healthcare provider ensures you reach maximum medical improvement.
- Weighing your options. You don’t have to accept the insurance company’s first offer. You have the right to negotiate or file a lawsuit, depending on your circumstances.
You Can Discuss Your Options With a Law Firm in Your Area for Free
Having a knowledgeable and experienced truck crash attorney on your side after an accident could make a difference in your case and well-being. Your personal injury attorney in Phoenix and their team can investigate what happened, identify the liable party (or parties), and hold them accountable. They will pursue the money you need to pay your bills and prevent financial hardship.