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Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?

February 22, 2024

By Thomas McCutcheon

A truck accident is a highly complex type of personal injury litigation, often involving multiple liable parties and high-powered insurance company lawyers and adjusters. If an injury victim doesn’t have a truck accident lawyer fighting for their rights, they have almost no chance of obtaining the compensation they deserve.

The following is a look at why you need legal help if you’ve suffered an injury due to the negligence of a truck driver, trucking company, or others. You’ll also learn why you must hire a Huntsville truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to have the best opportunity for a positive outcome to your case.

Why Truck Accidents Are Unique

Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer

Wrecks involving passenger cars can be devastating. However, plenty of minor fender-benders result in nothing more than a bit of property damage. On the other hand, when an 80,000-pound commercial truck hits a car, the consequences are typically horrible.

Over a recent five-year period, crashes involving large trucks and buses rose from 112,000 to 119,000. Fatal large truck accidents increased from 4,821 to 5,700. Truck accidents resulting in severe injuries rose from 105,000 to 117,000 during that time.

The increase in crashes and injuries is concerning and increases the importance of knowing what to do after a crash and why you should seek legal representation.

More Power = Catastrophic Injuries

A commercial truck’s immense size and weight creates much more impact than a passenger vehicle, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of those involved. The force of a large truck hitting a car is much more powerful, leading to catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities. Even a seemingly minor collision can turn into a life-altering event.

Occupants of smaller vehicles are incredibly vulnerable, facing a higher likelihood of severe injuries such as spinal cord damage, multiple fractures, and traumatic brain injuries. They face longer recoveries, which leads to higher medical bills. Truck accidents often force victims to miss work for weeks or months – if they can return to work at all.

Truck accidents lead to much higher financial losses, known as damages, than the typical car wreck. Since the stakes are much higher, you’ll need a truck accident lawyer. These higher stakes are just part of why cases stemming from a truck/car collision are so complicated. The following sections address some other complexities your truck accident lawyer will encounter.

Trucking Rules and Regulations

Trucking companies and drivers must comply with an intricate web of federal regulations. Drivers, for instance, must follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rules. The FMCSA designs these rules to prohibit drivers from staying behind the wheel for too many consecutive hours.

Other FMCSA regulations govern maintenance standards, safety inspections, and much more. State regulations further contribute to the maze of rules, varying in their specifics. A skilled truck accident lawyer will understand all regulations and laws relevant to your case. They’ll use that knowledge to seek the money you have coming.

Multiple Liable Parties

Another complicating factor your truck accident lawyer must contend with is the possibility more than one party contributed to the wreck. The truck driver may share responsibility with the trucking company, which can be further linked to the manufacturer of a faulty piece of equipment that failed.

Determining liability requires a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between these policies. The experience of a truck accident lawyer is indispensable in building the most robust possible case.

Conducting the Investigation

After a truck accident, the clock starts ticking. Time becomes a precious commodity. Critical evidence, including skid marks on the road, can vanish with the next heavy rain. Crews can quickly replace damaged guardrails and street signs. Surveillance camera footage can disappear after the system deletes it.

These are just some reasons you need to hire a truck accident lawyer immediately. Your attorney must investigate while the evidence is fresh. The earlier you hire legal help, the earlier the investigation can begin.

These are just some steps your truck accident lawyer will take to gather the evidence needed to help make your case its strongest.

Documenting the Scene

Documenting the Scene I Truck Accident

The accident scene can be a treasure trove of evidence. Your truck accident lawyer will likely call upon an accident reconstruction specialist to recreate the events leading to the collision.

This process typically involves mapping the scene, analyzing vehicle positions, and considering road conditions and weather factors. The goal is to reconstruct the accident as accurately as possible, providing a solid foundation for a convincing case.

Gathering Witness Statements

Eyewitness accounts are invaluable in understanding the sequence of events leading to a truck accident. However, memories can fade, and witnesses may become more challenging to locate. A truck accident lawyer recognizes the importance of gathering witness statements promptly. Legal teams work diligently to interview witnesses, record their observations, and document their perspectives while the events are still fresh in their minds.

Engaging Other Experts

Your truck accident lawyer will likely involve other experts in your case. For example, a medical expert can show the extent of your injury and how much your treatment will cost. An employment expert can calculate your current and future lost income, considering factors such as raises and bonuses you would have likely earned.

Data Preservation

Many trucks carry electronic logging devices (ELDs) and event data recorders (EDRs). An ELD keeps track of how many hours the truck driver was behind the wheel when the accident occurred. It can prove the driver violated federal hours of service rules and can be held liable.

An EDR is an even more crucial piece of technology. Often referred to as a “black box,” the data inside an EDR paints a comprehensive picture of how the truck operated when the wreck happened. This is just some of the information an EDR can provide:

  • The speed of the truck, engine RPMs, use of the steering wheel, and the status of the braking system.
  • Driver inputs, such as whether they made a sudden turn before the crash, accelerated rapidly, or downshifted. 
  • The velocity and force of the crash.

This data can be critical in helping determine how a crash occurred. However, not just anyone can access that data. Your truck accident lawyer can request EDR data from the vehicle involved in your accident. If the trucking company doesn’t release it, your attorney can obtain a subpoena to force them to do so.

Working With Law Enforcement

Another critical part of your case is obtaining the police report. A skilled truck accident lawyer knows how to coordinate with authorities, ensuring the police report documents all relevant details. The report will make your case more credible and stronger.

Determining Liability

Once the investigation concludes, your truck accident lawyer will piece together the facts to determine who’s to blame for your injury. A truck accident rarely occurs due to one factor. There are typically several at play. These are some of the many potential reasons the wreck occurred.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck Driver Fatigue

As mentioned earlier, truck drivers must comply with federal hours of service rules. Often, however, they don’t – for many different reasons. Their employer may have placed an unreasonable deadline upon them. They might receive a bonus if they deliver cargo before that deadline. They might want to get home quickly after a long trip.

Whatever the reason, a fatigued driver is a dangerous driver. When someone is exhausted behind the wheel, they can’t focus as clearly on the road. They can’t react as quickly to changing conditions. Fatigued driving is a recipe for disaster.

Equipment Failure

Like all vehicles, thousands of components go into making a commercial truck. A horrifying accident can result if a critical part fails due to negligent design or manufacturing. You may take action against the part manufacturer if an investigation shows it was negligent.

The Trucking Company’s Failure to Maintain the Vehicle

Brakes, tires, and other critical components must undergo regular inspections and maintenance to ensure safe operation. Failure to address these issues can lead to catastrophic consequences. A truck accident lawyer will analyze maintenance records, inspect the truck’s condition, and collaborate with experts to identify any equipment failures that contributed to the accident.

Maintenance negligence can take various forms, from postponed repairs to inadequate inspections. Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are roadworthy, and failure to meet this standard constitutes negligence. A thorough investigation by a truck accident lawyer aims to uncover any lapses in maintenance that may have played a role in causing the wreck.

Assessing Damages in a Truck Accident Case

Assessing Damages in a Truck Accident Case

As you learned earlier, truck accidents typically result in significant damages to victims. There are tangible economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. There are also subjective non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Here’s a brief look at a few examples in each category.

Economic Damages

  • Medical bills – When someone suffers an injury that requires a trip to the emergency room, their average medical expenses during the first year are thousands of dollars. However, that number can skyrocket much higher for severe injuries.
  • Lost income and future earnings – The more severe your injury, the more likely you won’t work for a long time. Unfortunately, there’s a chance you might not ever return to your job. You might have to accept a lower-paying position. A truck accident lawyer will include your current and future economic losses when demanding compensation from those responsible.
  • Property damage – If a truck hits your car, your vehicle will likely be damaged so extensively you’ll need a new one. Your truck accident lawyer will evaluate the value of your car and any other possessions lost in the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and suffering – You deserve compensation for the pain you’ve been forced to experience due to others’ negligence. This includes the immediate pain from your injury and the discomfort associated with rehabilitation. A truck accident lawyer will work closely with medical experts to assess and quantify your suffering.
  • Emotional distress – The emotional trauma following a truck accident can be overwhelming. Victims may experience anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your truck accident lawyer will fight for fair compensation to address the emotional toll the accident has inflicted on your mental health.
  • Lost quality of life – A severe injury can rob you of participating in the activities you love. You might, for instance, no longer play your favorite sport or even take a walk on the beach or around the neighborhood. Lost quality of life damages account for the profound impact of the accident on your well-being.

Negotiating With Insurance Companies

Again, a truck accident is a high-stakes type of personal injury case. Insurers often issue commercial vehicle policies worth at least $1 million. With that much money on the line, the insurer will fight tenaciously to deny you fair compensation. You need a truck accident lawyer who will be just as tenacious.

Your attorney will negotiate with the insurer for an equitable settlement. Truck accident lawyers have the experience and knowledge to navigate this intricate process. Seasoned lawyers know the tactics insurers use to undervalue claims. They also know how to counteract those tactics.

More than 90 percent of personal injury cases settle out of court. But there’s always the chance your case will go to trial because the insurer refuses to act in good faith.

If that happens, your truck accident lawyer will be ready to present a compelling case so you can achieve a favorable outcome. They’ll show the court all the evidence they’ve gathered and work to show you deserve every dollar your attorney demands.

Don’t Hesitate to Speak With an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck Accident Lawyers
Thomas W. McCutcheon Jr. | Joel R. Hamner, Truck Accident Lawyer

Please don’t attempt to represent yourself. Unrepresented injury victims either obtain far less money than they deserve or get nothing. A truck accident lawyer will put their knowledge of the law and the judicial system to work for you. This will significantly increase the likelihood you’ll receive maximum compensation. Hiring a seasoned personal injury attorney will be one of the best decisions you ever make.

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