If you or someone you love was recently injured in a truck accident, an attorney may be able to help you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for the expenses you are burdened with. The process of collecting damages from the party at fault for your accident can be complicated; however, our attorneys have the experience needed to navigate these types of claims.
Typically, these claims will be filed against the trucking company that owns the vehicle, not the driver himself, and will require the assistance of an attorney who has experience handling claims against larger-scale defendants. At Morgan & Morgan, the attorneys in our offices have successfully handled personal injury claims against large trucking companies and insurance carriers, and are well-versed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that may affect your claim.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, you may have legal recourse. To learn how our truck accident attorneys may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses, please fill out our no-cost case review form today.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, there are a number of parties, including the truck company and their driver, who may be liable for your losses; however, it is not uncommon for these parties to deny fault or liability for a crash. An attorney can help establish liability for your crash, collect evidence to strengthen your claim and help ensure compensation is sought from the appropriate parties.
Following a crash, the trucking company and their insurance company will start an immediate investigation of the scene. These companies have specific and detailed procedures on handling truck accident claims designed to limit the recovery of those injured in the crash.
They may record statements from witnesses, take photos of the accident scene, and examine the vehicles to determine the extent of damage caused by the crash. State authorities may also launch their own investigation into the accident at this time, which may prove beneficial for your claim. At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys will work with specialized experts to assist in complementing the official investigation. Our attorneys can:
- Review camera footage, if available
- Interview witnesses
- Review mandatory police and accident reports
- Analyze and review medical records
- Interview medical staff
- Consult experts to reconstruct the accident scene and recreate the accident
- Help insure that important evidence is preserved by the truck company and driver
- Obtain data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM; i.e. “black box”)
There are a number of parties who could be liable for injuries sustained in a truck accident, including the following:
- Truck company
- Truck driver
- Owner of the truck
- Company leasing the truck
- Owner of the leasing company
- Owner of the trailer, if attached
- Company leasing the trailer
- Manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or components
- Shipper who wanted the load transported
- Broker who hired the trucking company to deliver the load
Our attorneys have experience handling complex truck accident cases and understand how to clarify which party may, or may not, be liable for your injuries. To help determine liability, our attorneys may investigate:
- The party which had primary control and custody of the vehicle at the time of the accident
- Driving logs and records, including weigh-ins
- The level of control the company had over its drivers
- The driving history of the vehicle and trailer
- Maintenance records
- Potential violations of federal and state laws regarding driving regulations
- Past violations of state and federal trucking laws
- Past criminal convictions
- Potential manufacturing defects
The cost of treating your injuries will likely exceed the amount your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance covers. To collect compensation for the remainder of your losses, as well as other damages, your lawyer may have to engage in insurance negotiations and potentially, file a lawsuit for additional damages. Additionally, if you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, you may have the right to a wrongful death suit. Retaining a qualified attorney can help to ensure you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Truck Accident Lawsuits
Injuries sustained in truck accidents can be severe, including head trauma, spinal cord damage, disfigurement, burns, broken bones, lacerations, paralysis, or even death. After PIP benefits have been exhausted, victims with injuries exceeding the “injury threshold” may pursue additional compensation.
Types of truck accident lawsuits include:
Negligence: Lawsuits filed to recover compensation for injuries sustained in a truck accident will often be based the truck driver’s negligence. Some common indications of negligence include:
- Lack of truck driving experience
- Overloading trucks
- Operating oversized trucks on narrow roads
- Failure to see other vehicles due to the truck’s large blind spot
- Failing to obey traffic laws
- Driving for too long without taking a break
- Failure to monitor the driving hours of the truck driver
- Not keep the tractor and/or trailer in a safe, working condition
- Hiring an unqualified or unfit truck driver
- Failure to properly supervise the truck driver
- Failure to properly train the truck driver
- Selecting an unqualified or unfit truck company
To prevail in a negligence lawsuit, the injured will have to show the truck driver had a duty of care to other vehicles on the road, the driver breached this duty through some action or failure to act, an injury was sustained, and the breach of duty caused the injury.
In some instances, the owner of the trucking company and manager, the owner of the truck, the employer of the driver, and their respective insurance companies may be liable after a crash.
Product Liability: If a defect in the truck or one of its components contributed to the accident, there may be a viable claim against the product manufacturer(s). Product liability lawsuits based on manufacturer’s negligence will require the injured party to show:
- The defective truck or a particular part was “unreasonably dangerous”
- The truck was being operated as the manufacturer intended
- The truck’s performance had not changed since its initial purchase
Product liability suits may also be sought under strict liability where proof of negligence is unnecessary; however, claimants must prove the defect originated in the manufacturing process to prevail. This will require analysis, testing, and testimony by experts.
Wrongful Death: Many times, truck accidents are so severe that the victim does not survive the crash. In some cases, the family may bring a claim on behalf of their loved one to recover compensation for their losses. Wrongful death claims require the family to prove the same facts as the deceased, had they survived and pursued a claim on their own. An attorney can help family members recover economic, non-economic, and, in certain cases, punitive damages for the loss of their loved one.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
Compensation for injuries and damages resulting from a truck accident is typically separated into two categories: economic and non-economic. Punitive damages may available, in some cases.
Economic truck accident damages attempt to compensate the injured victim and/or family for their monetary losses, including:
Current Medical Expenses: This may include fees for emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, assistive devices and appointments with approved medical professionals.
Future Medical Expenses: In many cases, the injuries sustained in truck accident are so severe that they will require extended medical attention and care.
Lost Wages: Some injuries may be so extensive that they prevent the victim from returning to work—permanently or temporarily. The law permits recovery of compensation for the wages lost between the time of injury and the conclusion of the lawsuit.
Loss of earning capacity: If the victim can demonstrate that their ability to earn a living has been negatively impacted, compensation may be available. While past wages are considered in determining the amount of this award, the awarding party will look to establish the amount victim could have earned had the car accident not occurred.
Non-economic damages compensate the victim and/or family for non-financial, intangible losses, including:
Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for the physical pain suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The nature of the injury, the extent of the pain, and the length of time the victim is expected to suffer are all included in the calculation of the award.
Mental Anguish: Victims can also be awarded for emotional pain suffered as a result of their truck accident. Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident.
Loss of Consortium: The surviving spouse may be awarded compensation for the loss of services, assistance, aid, society, and companionship of his or her loved one in the case of a wrongful death caused by a truck accident. Surviving parents may be awarded compensation for the loss of love, affection and companionship of their minor children as a result of their wrongful death. Likewise, minor children may be awarded compensation for the loss of services, assistance, aid, society and companionship of their parents as a result of their wrongful death.
Punitive damages may be applicable if the defendant’s actions causing the injury were willful, malicious, or intentional. Punitive damages serve to punish the offender and dissuade similar behavior in the future.
If you have been in a truck accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible. As with claims in other practice areas, there is a limited time you have to file an insurance claim or bring a claim against another party. To learn how our truck accident attorneys may be able to help you, please fill out our no-cost case review form today.