Being involved in a truck accident can be a traumatic and life-altering experience. Truck crashes often result in catastrophic injuries and tremendous financial strain due to extensive medical bills and lost income. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other damages. Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney is key to getting the maximum compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
While no two truck accidents are exactly alike, most are caused by one or more of the following:
Truck driver fatigue – Truckers are often under tremendous pressure to meet tight delivery schedules, causing many to forego adequate rest breaks and defy hours-of-service regulations. Drowsy driving dramatically increases crash risk.
Speeding or aggressive driving – Speeding in a fully loaded 80,000-pound truck disregards the extra distance required for safe stopping. It takes the average tractor-trailer traveling at 65 mph the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.
Distracted driving – Truckers engaging in distracted driving by texting, eating, talking on the phone or messing with navigation systems and fleet management devices.
Impaired driving – Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication side effects.
Poor maintenance – Brake failure, balding tires, broken lights and other mechanical defects due to lack of inspection and routine maintenance.
Jackknifing – Making too sharp of a turn can cause a tractor-trailer to fold up and spin out of control. This devastating phenomenon is called jackknifing.
Rollovers – Top-heavy loads and high centers of gravity make trucks prone to rollovers, especially along curves and during evasive maneuvers.
Wide turns – Truck drivers often misjudge the amount of space required to make turns, resulting in encroachment into adjacent lanes and road shoulders.
A skilled truck accident lawyer will investigate all contributing factors and determine exactly who or what caused the crash. Truck drivers, trucking companies, truck manufacturers, shippers, maintenance crews and other parties can be held liable when their negligence results in a catastrophic truck wreck.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Due to their massive size and weight, collisions with 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks often lead to traumatic injuries, including:
Head and brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures and facial disfigurement.
Spinal cord injuries – Paralysis, nerve damage and spinal fractures leading to permanent disability.
Internal organ damage – Lung punctures, internal bleeding, ruptured spleens, lacerated livers and kidney failure.
Broken bones – Shattered hips, dislocated joints, crushed limbs and fractures requiring multiple surgeries to repair.
Amputations – Extremities that cannot be surgically reattached after being crushed or severed in the wreckage.
Burn injuries – Disfiguring burns from explosions and fires that erupt after fuel tank ruptures.
Wrongful death – Instant death or traumatic injuries that eventually prove fatal for truck accident victims.
Survivors of serious truck collisions often face a lifetime of medical treatment, physical therapy, counseling, in-home care and prosthetic devices. It’s critical for a truck accident lawyer to fully understand the devastating long-term effects these injuries inflict.
economic Damages in Truck Accident Claims
In addition to receiving compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering, truck accident victims are also entitled to recover damages for how the crash has economically impacted their lives. An experienced lawyer will fight to recover compensation for:
Lost income from missing work during recovery.
Diminished future earnings due to permanent disability.
Loss of benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and retirement accounts.
Property loss including damage to the victim’s vehicle.
Costs of household services the injured can no longer perform like cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc.
Maximizing compensation requires presenting vocational economic reports, life care plans, and testimony from medical experts and economists regarding the true costs of the injured victim’s current and future medical needs, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
Who Can Be Sued After a Truck Accident?
Multiple parties can be held legally and financially responsible when their negligence causes a truck crash. Potential defendants include:
The truck driver – Drivers are obligated to operate safely and adhere to all traffic laws and regulations. Lawyers thoroughly investigate drivers’ training, experience, driving history, sobriety, and actions leading up to the crash.
Trucking company – Trucking carriers must ensure drivers are properly trained and supervised, establish safety policies, adequately inspect and maintain trucks, and not pressure drivers to exceed service hour limits. Negligent hiring, retention, entrustment, maintenance and lack of safety oversight make carriers liable.
Truck manufacturer – Companies can be sued if defective design or manufacturing flaws in the truck or parts such as faulty brakes, tires, lighting or electronic components contributed to the crash.
Shippers & brokers – Overloading trucks beyond weight restrictions or improperly securing loads makes shippers and brokers partially responsible.
Maintenance company – Mechanics and businesses servicing trucks can be sued if failed repairs or overlooked maintenance issues led to brake failure, tire blowouts or other defects linked to the crash.
Experienced truck accident lawyers have the resources and expertise to perform a comprehensive investigation and identify all parties who shared in the liability.
Types of Claims in Truck Accident Lawsuits
Successful truck accident claims can include:
Negligence claims – Suing any negligent parties like the truck driver, trucking carrier, manufacturer, etc. This covers acts like speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, improper maintenance and inspection, etc.
Vehicle defect claims – Suing the manufacturer if defective or faulty vehicle parts caused or contributed to the crash. Common truck defects include tire blowouts, vapor lock, brake problems, steering issues and more.
- Insufficient crash protection
- Blind spots and inadequate mirrors
- High centers of gravity that make trucks unstable
Road defect claims – Suing government agencies if hazardous road conditions like potholes, lack of adequate lighting, missing signage, etc. contributed to the accident.
Reaching maximum compensation requires an attorney experienced with each type of potential truck accident claim.
Comparative Negligence in Truck Wreck Claims
Truck crash cases involve the legal principle of “comparative negligence.” This means the injured victim’s compensation amount is reduced if they shared in causing the accident through their own negligent actions. For example, texting while driving or crossing into the truck’s lane.
However, being less than 51% at fault does not prevent recovering damages. For instance, if you were 30% negligent, your total award is reduced by 30%. Proving the truck driver or other parties were predominantly responsible is critical.
An adept truck accident lawyer knows how to limit reductions in compensation due to comparative negligence. Securing evidence, eyewitness testimony and crash reconstruction expert analysis are key.
Statute of Limitations on Truck Accident Claims
Truck accident victims have a limited window of time to take legal action and recover damages. This time limit is established by your state’s statute of limitations. It varies by state but is typically 2 to 3 years from the date of the truck crash.
Missing this deadline forever bars you from seeking compensation, so it’s essential to retain an attorney promptly. An experienced lawyer also knows how to employ strategies such as:
Naming “John Doe” defendants until identities are uncovered through litigation
Invoking exceptions like being medically incapacitated
This extends or “tolls” the statute of limitations so your right to sue is preserved while fully investigating the accident.
Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Attempting to handle your truck injury claim without legal representation puts you at a severe disadvantage. Truck accident cases involve complex litigation, massive financial stakes, multiple liable parties, technical crash analysis, competing testimony from expert witnesses, and more.
Benefits of hiring an experienced truck accident attorney include:
Determining all liable parties – Beyond just the truck driver
Pinpointing the true cause(s) through extensive investigation
Uncovering all available insurance coverage to maximize compensation
Having the legal knowledge and resources for successful litigation
Handling negotiations with insurance companies to get fair offers
Litigating aggressively in court if a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached
Ensuring powerful testimony and evidence is presented at trial
Applying knowledge of common trucking company defenses to defeat them
Avoiding costly mistakes that compromise your rights and compensation
Sparing you from having to deal directly with insurers looking to minimize payouts
With so much at stake, protect your rights and pursuit of maximum damages by hiring a skilled truck accident attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accident Lawyers
Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked by truck accident victims and their families:
How much does a truck accident lawyer cost?
Most truck accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning legal fees are a percentage of the settlement or court award. Rates typically range from 33% to 40%. There is no fee unless your case succeeds. Initial consultations are also usually free.
When should I hire a truck accident attorney?
You should retain an attorney immediately after a truck crash to launch an investigation, preserve evidence, identify all parties who may be liable, and take other prompt action. Early legal intervention greatly strengthens your claim.
Can I handle a truck accident claim without a lawyer?
It is extremely unwise to try pursuing a truck crash injury claim on your own. These cases can involve multiple defendants, complex litigation, competing expert testimony, and trucking company legal teams committed to minimizing compensation. An experienced attorney is mandatory.
How are truck accident attorney fees structured?
Most lawyers represent truck accident clients on a contingency fee basis, charging around 33% to 40% of the total settlement or court award. They also typically advance all case costs and get reimbursed only if successful. There are no upfront fees.
What questions should I ask when hiring a truck accident attorney?
You should ask about their specific experience handling truck crash cases, record of results, resources they bring to an investigation, how they determine liability and maximize compensation, fee structure, and if they are willing to take the case to trial if needed.
How can a lawyer prove the truck driver was negligent?
Skilled truck accident lawyers use extensive investigation, crash reconstruction analysis, reviews of driver logs and cell phone records, subpoenaing maintenance records, hiring experts, and compelling testimony to uncover all driver negligence.
Can I recover compensation if I was partially at fault?
Yes, through comparative negligence laws you can recover reduced compensation if less than 51% responsible. An adept lawyer will fight to limit any reduction and maximize your damages.
How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit?
The statute of limitations deadline ranges between 2 – 3 years depending on the state. Missing this window bars any claim, so retaining legal counsel promptly is vital. Experienced lawyers use strategies to extend deadlines if needed.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a preventable truck collision caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, contact a reputable truck accident attorney today to discuss your legal options and rights to compensation. With compassionate counsel and a tireless advocate on your side, you can take the first steps toward seeking the justice you deserve.