What Should You Do After a Trucking Accident?
Trucking accidents are terrifying situations. Because of their size, truck wrecks can cause catastrophic damage. In the United States, large semi-trucks are permitted to carry loads up to 80,000 pounds, which is more than 15x the weight of a standard passenger car. So when you’re on the receiving end of a forceful truck collision, the damages can be life altering. That’s why it’s important to do the right things immediately after your accident, which includes calling an experienced trucking accident attorney.
How do I prove the truck driver was at fault in my wreck?
By filing suit in your case, attorneys can do several things that you may be unable to produce on your own. A few of these examples include compelling the trucking company to provide logs of drive time, subpoenaing phone records to ensure the driver was not using his phone at the time of the accident, and deposing company officials to make sure their training and supervision was adequate and up to safety standards.
Unfortunately, trucks don't have “black boxes” like those found on planes. Most also don't have dash cameras, so it's important to contract with an experienced attorney who can help you preserve these and other types of important records.
Is my suit against the driver, the company or their insurance provider?
The short answer to this question is that lawsuits for trucking accidents can be filed against any combination of these three parties. However, it's rare to personally name drivers in injury cases. The responsible parties are usually the business and its insurance company.
Why? First, businesses are responsible for hiring skilled drivers to operate their large trucks. They’re also responsible for adequate training, such as ensuring their drivers know how long it takes to stop a big rig in various road conditions. They’re also responsible for proper supervision, which includes making sure their drivers get enough rest between drives. If they fail to perform these types of duties, they should be held accountable for your accident.
Additionally, the business’s insurance company is supposed to protect claims against the company and its drivers. Therefore, it will also be a party in a trucking accident lawsuit.
Do clients get paid more for trucking accidents than regular car wrecks?
Case values are determined by damages, pain and suffering. While every case is different, collective damages from truck wrecks tend to be higher than car wrecks simply because the damage inflicted from a large truck is usually more significant than a standard passenger car.
How is a trucking accident case different than a car wreck?
Truck wrecks are more complex than standard car crashes because trucks are driven by employees, instead of an individual driving his/her own personal car in an auto accident. As we’ve discussed, that means your case may involve not only the truck driver but also the employer and their insurance company. In addition to proving that the truck driver is at fault in your accident, an experienced truck wreck attorney in Athens can help you with proving other legal considerations, such as:
1. Negligent Entrustment: The reckless driver who hit you may not be the only person at fault in your trucking accident. If the driver was unfit to drive the vehicle and his/her company encouraged them to drive anyway, then the company may also be at fault. This is called negligent entrustment, and it's often a factor in trucking accidents. Drivers who are unfit or incompetent may include drivers who are underage or unlicensed, intoxicated drivers, elderly drivers, drivers with certain physical or mental impairments or illnesses, or drivers with a known history of recklessness.
2. Vicarious Liability: In many cases, employers can be held liable for the recklessness or unlawful actions of their truck driver, even though the employer itself didn’t cause your accident. That's because employers are generally considered responsible for their employees’ actions. If the employer could have prevented your injury by better oversight, supervision or training, the business may also be responsible for your injury through vicarious liability.
Why shouldn’t I work directly with the trucking company or their insurer?
The fact of the matter is that most big rigs are owned by businesses. Those businesses protect themselves from accident claims with insurance policies, and the insurers on the other end of those policies want to pay you as little as possible to preserve their bottom line. They use several strategies to protect themselves.
1. They may deny your claim. Wrecks involving tractor-trailers, semi-trucks and 18 wheelers are notorious for denying any claims against them. Insurers use this scare tactic to dissuade drivers from pursuing their claim. They hope this initial turn-down will be enough to make the claim go away.
2. They may encourage you to take a check immediately after your wreck. Sometimes insurers realize their driver was at fault. In many of these cases, the insurance company will offer you a financial package soon after your injury. If you’ve been offered any sum of money within the first 60 days after a wreck, you should contact our experienced attorneys immediately. Here’s why:
a. The insurance company knows you have a good case and they don’t want you to take it in front of a jury.
b. The insurance company knows you have a lengthy medical recovery ahead of you, and they don’t want to pay for it (even though their driver caused your bills).
c. The insurance company doesn’t want you to seek the help of an experienced attorney. They know lawyers help clients recover more money from insurance companies.
3. They may delay legal proceedings. This is another popular insurance company strategy. By delaying proceedings as long as possible, their hope is that you’ll give up and settle for an amount beneath “real value”.
So, what is “real value” for a trucking accident?
Real value is the amount that a reasonable jury would award you for the damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by your trucking accident. The only way to know what this value may be is to have an experienced trial attorney on your side. A litigator is someone who has been to court and understands how jurors evaluate cases. At Massey Law Group, we pride ourselves on this experience and knowledge, and we look forward to putting it to use on your case as well.