​What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

A crash can happen in an instant. After colliding with a truck that weighs several tons, knowing what to do next can be overwhelming. From seeing a doctor to suing for damages, a truck accident attorney can help you gain the financial recovery you may be entitled to. Here are some basics every victim should know after a truck accident.

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What Are the Elements of Negligence?

There are four elements of negligence, and victims must prove each to win their cases.

Duty

Defendants in a truck accident claim owe a duty of care to other drivers. Every driver must exercise reasonable care to avoid crashes and injuries.

Breach

A defendant in a truck accident case breaches their duty of reasonable care when they fail to drive safely. Many actions can amount to a breach, such as speeding, distracted driving, failing to follow traffic laws, or drunk driving.

Causation

The defendants’ breach of reasonable care must cause the accident. Causation is typically the most challenging element to prove in a personal injury case. An experienced accident attorney can help you evaluate the facts of the accident and determine if the defendants have legal liability.

Damages

The plaintiff must suffer damages. Damages are losses the law recognizes that the plaintiff can recover after a truck accident.

How Common Are Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents happen too often across the country. According to the National Safety Council, in a recent year, 4,842 commercial trucks were involved in fatal accidents. This number represents a 33 percent increase in deadly accidents across the country involving commercial trucks in the past decade.

Common Injuries in Truck Accidents

Truck accident victims can suffer a variety of injuries. Injuries sustained in a truck accident may leave the victim with temporary injuries or even permanently disabled. Examples of injuries sustained because of commercial truck accidents include:

Head Injuries

Crashes can lead to traumatic brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures, and other head trauma. Head injuries can often leave victims with memory issues, vision changes, and many other long-lasting effects.

Back and Neck Injuries

Your back and neck are vulnerable areas of your body. These injuries can cause minor soft tissue damage or permanent disability. In some cases, they can even lead to permanent paralysis.

Internal Injuries

After a crash, you may suffer internal injuries, including organ damage and internal bleeding. It is imperative that you receive a medical examination after a collision with a big truck to check for these injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis

The size difference between a passenger vehicle and a commercial truck can lead to extremely serious accidents. In turn, these accidents cause victims to suffer spinal cord injuries that can lead to paralysis. These injuries are not always apparent, however, and victims should be sure to undergo a thorough medical evaluation.

Wrongful Death

If an accident takes the victim’s life, their family can often sue for wrongful death. Wrongful death laws vary depending on the state.

Causes of Truck Accidents

Million Dollar Advocates ForumThere are many reasons that truck accidents happen. The cause of many truck accidents is negligent conduct on the part of the truck driver or parties involved in the trucking industry, like truck manufacturers. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:

Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common causes of truck accidents across the country. Operating a vehicle, especially a large truck, faster than the posted speed limit can lead to mistakes that cause serious accidents. Unfortunately, many truck drivers speed to meet tight deadlines or simply out of a desire to get to their destination faster.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes thousands of drivers and passengers to lose their lives across the country each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32 people die in the United States in drunk driving accidents every 45 minutes. In a recent year, 11,654 people died in accidents caused by impaired drivers.

Fatigued Driving

Driving without enough sleep makes roads as unsafe as impaired drivers. Truck drivers may be at higher risk of being fatigued because of their work schedules. Some truck drivers feel the pressure to make a lot of deliveries within a short time, leading to higher rates of fatigue and more traffic crashes.

Inadequate Training

Truck drivers must undergo adequate training before hitting the road. The trucking company is primarily responsible for ensuring its drivers are adequately trained and can safely operate their trucks.

Negligent Hiring, Negligent Retention, and Failure to Supervise

Your lawyer can hold a truck driver’s employer liable for your injuries in an accident if they failed to uphold their responsibilities. A trucking company must avoid negligent hiring and negligent retention and must properly supervise its drivers.

Negligent hiring and retention are potential causes of action against a company for hiring an unqualified employee and keeping the employee after learning they were not qualified for the position. An example of negligent hiring is failure to review a driving record. Negligent retention is a company learning of a driver’s lack of correct licensure and keeping the employee anyway.

Failure to supervise may involve an employer failing to learn about the driver’s activities on the road. For example, if the employee drives more hours than federal law allows and the company knew or should have known, they may be liable. A trucking company must ensure its employees are not on the road longer than the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows.

Potentially Responsible Defendants

There are many people and entities that may be potentially responsible defendants in a truck accident claim. Truck accidents may involve some of the following parties:

Truck Drivers

The truck driver is probably the most prominent defendant in a truck accident case. Commercial truck drivers must avoid negligently operating their vehicles. They must avoid getting behind the wheel while impaired, without adequate rest, or doing any other activity that will place others at risk.

Trucking Company

Under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, trucking companies may have legal liability if their drivers act negligently. An accident attorney can help you identify whether this doctrine applies to your case and if the trucking company owes you damages.

Vehicle Manufacturers

Manufacturers have a duty to place safe products in the marketplace. Failure to do so can leave them open to legal responsibility if one of their products causes user harm.

Mechanics

Mechanics may have legal liability for making mistakes that cause injuries. Mechanics that fail to find and fix a mistake they should have found during an inspection of the vehicle may be responsible for causing an injury.

Other Parties

Other parties may share responsibility for causing the accident. Potential parties can include cargo loaders, maintenance workers, and other drivers of passenger vehicles.

Evidence to Prove a Case

In many cases, victims will need to provide evidence to establish that the other party was liable. After an accident, you should collect the following evidence and share it with your attorney to prove the facts of your claim. In most cases, your lawyer can collect this evidence for you, but if you have easy access to things like bills or accident reports, it is a good idea to put them somewhere safe.

Medical Records and Bills

You should keep your medical records and bills safe and share them with your attorney. Expert witnesses can use these records to explain your losses and the effects of your injuries to a jury. Your lawyer can use this testimony to connect the accident to your claim. Medical bills can help make the financial losses you suffered more concrete in a jury or insurance adjuster’s mind.

Witness Testimony

Hearing the details of the accident, a description of your injuries, and how your life has changed since the accident are all valuable to your claim. These facts can solidify your story and urge a settlement or favorable outcome in court.

Photos and Videos

Having photos and videos of the accident is always a good idea. This evidence helps prove the cause of the accident and makes visualizing the crash easier. Pictures of your injuries can be jarring, but showing them to adjusters or a jury can help prove your case.

Property Damage

After a truck accident, the law may entitle you to receive compensation for property damage. Evidence that helps prove your case for property damage can include pictures, videos, and repair estimates.

Damages You May Recover After a Truck Accident

Accident victims may recover from different types of accidents after a truck accident. There are typically three categories of damages a victim may recover, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include physical losses after an accident. They are usually easy to identify and prove with tangible evidence. Examples include current and future medical bills, current and future lost income, the cost of hiring domestic help, and loss of consortium or companionship.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages include intangible losses. The intangible losses an accident victim may recover can include pain and suffering, mental trauma, and emotional damage. These losses are usually hard to prove without the assistance of an attorney.

Punitive Damage

Courts do not award punitive damages to compensate victims. Instead, they award them to punish at-fault parties. The purpose of punitive damages is to deter the defendant and others from acting similarly in the future. The availability of punitive damages varies depending on the state. State law typically caps the amount of punitive damages available.

Should I Hire an Attorney After a Truck Accident?

You need a lawyer if you have suffered an injury in a truck accident. As a victim of an accident, you have the right to financial recovery, but actually receiving what you deserve can be challenging. An attorney can help you negotiate with insurance companies, effectively respond to discovery requests, find expert witnesses, etc.

What to Look for in a Truck Accident Attorney

Your chosen lawyer is vital because your legal team can make or break your case. Finding the best attorney that fits your needs can be challenging, especially if this is your first lawsuit. Consider some of the following when looking for an attorney.

Experience

Pick an attorney with a successful track record handling cases like yours. Civil cases are complicated, and there may be money left on the table if your advocate does not know what victims typically receive as compensation for their losses.

You can learn about the attorney’s record for success as well. Search online for their client reviews and read what past clients had to say about their experience with the attorney. Also, during your initial consultation, you can ask about the attorney’s experience and their wins.

Comfort Level

You should feel comfortable with your legal team. A civil case can take weeks or months to resolve, and you will share many private medical and income information. The team you choose should be trustworthy and have your best interest in mind.

Communication Skills

The attorney you choose to represent you should be a good communicator. While your case is pending, you will have many questions, and your attorney should be available to answer them. Ask about the office’s communication style and how often you can expect to hear updates.

Courtroom Experience

Courtroom experience is essential. The attorney you pick should be confident in a courtroom and not afraid of taking your case to trial.

What if I Cannot Afford a Truck Accident Attorney?

The idea of paying for legal counsel can be a barrier to pursuing financial compensation for many accident victims. After a truck accident, you may think filing a lawsuit is not worth the trouble because you cannot afford to hire an attorney. Fortunately, many civil litigators work on a contingency fee basis.

A contingency fee arrangement is a fee structure that allows clients to defer payment to attorneys until after the case ends. Often, clients do not pay attorneys unless there is a financial settlement. An attorney will receive a percentage of the final settlement as payment for their fees.

Contingency fee payment arrangements help bridge the gap between clients without the resources to pay for legal counsel and getting the money they deserve after a truck accident.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident cases near Tampa area.
Tatiana Boohoff, Truck Accident Attorney

Contact an attorney today if you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a truck accident. Take advantage of the skills and experience of an experienced truck accident attorney. There is no need to pursue compensation without the support of a legal team. Contact a personal injury lawyer near you and start your journey to financial recovery today.

June 19, 2023
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