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.
There are four elements of negligence, and victims must prove each to win their cases.
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.
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.
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.
The plaintiff must suffer damages. Damages are losses the law recognizes that the plaintiff can recover after a truck accident.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
If an accident takes the victim’s life, their family can often sue for wrongful death. Wrongful death laws vary depending on the state.
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:
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.
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.
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 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 may share responsibility for causing the accident. Potential parties can include cargo loaders, maintenance workers, and other drivers of passenger vehicles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is essential. The attorney you pick should be confident in a courtroom and not afraid of taking your case to trial.
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 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.
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