Do I Need a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?

Why You Need a Houston Trucking Accident Attorney
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The drivers of semi trucks are often employed by large trucking companies. These companies have armies of insurance adjusters, attorneys, and other employees who have one goal: pay as little as possible in claims arising after an accident.

This fact alone is reason enough to hire a lawyer if you were injured in a crash with a big rig. However, there are many additional reasons to work with a truck accident lawyer who can handle your claim.

Patrick Daniel Law is Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless in representing the victims of truck accidents. Please call (713) 999-6666 today for a free case evaluation. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients in Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.

Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

It is important to realize upfront that it will be tremendously difficult, if not impossible, to recoup the full damages in your case if you try to go it alone. Truck accident claims and other cases involving commercial vehicle accidents are extremely complicated, and the at-fault parties will take full advantage of your inexperience in legal matters and straitened circumstances after the accident to underpay and even deny your claim.

With an experienced truck accident lawyer, however, your rights are protected. Your lawyer will know how to handle the unique aspects of your trucking case, including:

1. Multiple Liable Parties

Although the driver may have directly caused the accident, most truck accident claims involve pursuing compensation from more than one party. The parties in your case may include:

  • The truck driver: Common errors committed by truckers that result in accidents include distracted driving, fatigue, impairment with drugs and alcohol, excess speed, and more. All of these factors constitute negligence, and they often result in semi truck crashes.
  • The trucking company: Trucking companies are liable for the actions of their employees. Negligence may involve issues such as inadequate pre-employment screening, insufficient training, and violations of state and federal trucking rules.
  • The manufacturer of the truck and its parts: Semi trucks are complex vehicles. The companies that make big rigs and their parts may be liable if a defect caused your truck accident.
  • The shipping company: When tractor-trailers take on cargo, a third-party company is typically responsible for loading it. Errors in loading, including failure to distribute the weight of the cargo and failure to secure the load properly, can cause the truck to crash.
  • The mechanic or maintenance company: The individual or business responsible for upkeep of the rig and its parts may be liable if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure stemming from negligent maintenance or repair.

Brokers, shippers, and other parties may also be at fault for a truck accident. It is important to work with an attorney who can handle issues of complex liability on your behalf.

2. Multiple Insurance Companies

Each of the parties discussed in the section above will likely be represented by a different insurance company. After a car accident, dealing with one insurance company is bad enough – now imagine having to negotiate with representatives from more than one insurer.

When you are seriously injured in a truck accident, your foremost priority should be recovering from your injuries and adjusting to the “new normal” that you and your family are facing. Your lawyer can handle the back-and-forth with the insurance companies in your claim.

3. Complex Trucking Laws

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the regulatory authority for trucks and other commercial carriers in the United States. The complex trucking regulations issued by the FMCSA will almost certainly be a factor in your case, as violations may be presented as evidence of negligence.

Some of the most common federal regulations at issue in trucking accident cases involve the following:

  • Hours of service (i.e., how long drivers can be “in-service” before they are required to take a rest)
  • Driver qualifications, including standards for commercial driver’s licenses and medical fitness
  • Inspection, repair, and maintenance
  • Required parts and accessories
  • Insurance requirements
  • Preservation of records
  • Transporting hazardous materials

An experienced lawyer will have an in-depth knowledge of FMCSA trucking regulations and know how to apply the federal regulations in your case. Your truck accident lawyer will also know how state and local laws may apply.

4. Serious Truck Accident Injuries

The size difference between your car and an 18-wheeler is immense. This difference in size, combined with the high speeds at which many truck accidents occur, results in serious injuries more often than not.

The more serious your injuries are, the more complicated the litigation becomes. Given the frequency of catastrophic injury in truck accident claims, it should not come as a surprise that these cases are so complex.

You should contact a truck accident lawyer if you suffer any of the following injuries:

  • Brain injury
  • Vision loss or blindness
  • Spinal cord injury (up to and including paralysis)
  • Burn injuries
  • Amputation of limbs
  • Fractures of one or more bones

In order to recover compensation in your truck accident claim, your lawyer must collect evidence of the nature and severity of your injuries, as well as the long-term outlook. Serious injuries that may affect your life well into the future typically require more evidence and the testimony of experts who can speak to the financial and other losses you may face.

Your truck accident lawyer needs to know where to look and which experts to hire in order to build the most effective case on your behalf.

5. Fatal Truck Accidents

Up to now we have focused on truck accidents resulting in serious or catastrophic injury. Another complicated aspect of many truck accident claims – and another reason to work with an experienced lawyer – is the high incidence of fatalities in accidents involving commercial trucks.

Damages in wrongful death cases are often significant due to the losses surviving family members face. The insurance companies in your case are concerned about the bottom line; the death of your relative will not move them to compensate you fairly.

With this in mind, it is important to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible if you lose a loved one in a crash with a semi truck.

6. Damages in Truck Accident Claims

Truck accidents where serious injuries and wrongful death occur involve serious money. For victims and their families, this money represents fair compensation for the damages they have suffered due to the negligence of a truck driver and other parties. For the trucking company, insurers, and other at-fault parties, however, this compensation represents an intolerable financial loss.

If the insurance company or companies offer a settlement, it will likely be for less than what your claim is really worth. Without knowledgeable legal counsel, you may be unaware how much your claim is worth, too.

Your truck accident lawyer will take into account all of the compensation you may be entitled to, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of society, consortium, and parental guidance
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages

In order to recover the full value of your claim, it is crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who gets results in truck accident cases.

7. Comparative Fault

Most states have laws that reduce the proportion of damages in a personal injury or wrongful death claim according to the amount of responsibility the victim has for the accident. This is known as comparative fault.

For example, here in Texas, the law on proportionate responsibility says that “the court shall reduce the amount of damages to be recovered by the claimant with respect to a cause of action by a percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” Texas law also bars your recovery if it is determined that you are more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.

The truck driver, the trucking company, and other parties in your case may try to argue that you are partially or even wholly at fault for the accident. If they succeed in these claims, you may be awarded less in compensation than you deserve, or – worst of all – nothing.

If there is even a remote chance that your actions contributed to the accident, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Even if the truck driver is 100 percent at fault, you should still contact a truck accident lawyer to ensure your right to full compensation is protected.

8. Other Vehicles Are Involved

Another complicated type of truck accident claim is one involving multiple victims. One example of this situation is the “multi-car pileup” that can occur when a semi truck strikes more than one vehicle on a crowded highway.

The drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident may also sue for the injuries they sustain, or the families of the other victims may pursue respective wrongful death claims if their loved ones were killed.

Although your injuries or the loss of your relative stems from the same accident, the actions of the other victims have no bearing on your case. You will need to pursue your own claim to be fairly compensated, which means you will have to hire your own truck accident lawyer.

9. The Location of the Accident

Complex liability in your truck accident claim may also be affected by where the accident takes place. Some situations in which location may be a factor include:

  • The accident occurs in a construction zone: Construction companies are responsible for modifying the intersections and sections of road where work is being done to accommodate traffic safely. The construction company may be partly liable in your claim if negligence in the setup of the work zone was a factor in the truck accident.
  • The accident occurs in a school zone: School districts implement reduced speed limits and warning signals to slow down traffic and keep students safe. Whether you were in a vehicle collision or your child was injured by a semi truck while crossing the street, you may be able to sue the school district.

As with other aspects of complex liability in truck accident claims, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options. Claims against certain parties, such as school districts and other government entities, are subject to special rules and very narrow windows to file a claim.

10. Details of the Accident Report

The police will generally respond to the scene of a truck accident. From this response, a police officer will create a report outlining the facts of the accident and, in some cases, preliminary conclusions on who may be at fault.

The police report can be crucial for building your truck accident claim. However, if the report is incomplete or you dispute the facts, it is important to speak to an attorney about what this means for your case.

In the course of investigating the truck accident, your lawyer may find evidence that contradicts the official report or fills in important gaps. Your attorney can contact the police officer with this information and work to correct the report.

All of the parties in a truck accident claim may reference the police report in building their case. Therefore, it is important to request a copy of the accident report as soon as possible, review it for inaccurate or missing information, and resolve these issues to have a document that reflects the truth of the accident. Doing so can make a big difference in your ability to recover fair compensation.

Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers

As you can see, truck accident litigation is complicated by a host of different factors. When you have suffered serious injuries or you are dealing with the disability or loss of a loved one, you are not in a good position to try to handle such a legal matter by yourself.

Patrick Daniel Law has extensive experience pursuing compensation for those whose lives have been turned upside down by truck accidents. We develop a legal strategy unique to the facts of your case, meticulously gather evidence, and mercilessly pursue the compensation you deserve from all of the at-fault parties.

For a free case review, please call (713) 999-6666 today. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients throughout the Houston area, all of Texas, and nationwide.

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