Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
Litigation that results from an 18-wheeler accident can be for the personal injuries sustained by the crash victim, or for the wrongful death of an individual involved in the crash. In a successful litigation, the negligence of the other party, be it the driver, the trucking company, or some entity connected to them, must be established and proved. This is why you need a skilled and experienced lawyer if you are involved in an accident with a truck.
An 18-wheel truck or any other type of large truck can weigh 80,000 pounds, or approximately twenty times the weight of the average car. Focusing on this vast differential in weight, it does not take much imagination to comprehend that serious injuries and physical damage can occur. Trucks are often driven thousands of miles per week, and as a result, need to be properly retained. But often they are not, increasing exponentially the chance that an accident might occur. For these reasons, representing victims of truck crashes requires specialized knowledge and technical skills that the average lawyer does not possess. You need an experienced attorney to guide you through a complex process where you will inevitably face a well-funded defendant who will be trying to lessen their legal exposure and potential economic losses.
You should hire a skillful truck accident attorney as quickly as possible to:
- Conduct a prompt investigation of the accident scene
- Locate all potential defendants who breached a duty of care that they owed to you which contributed to the accident and your subsequent injuries
- Negotiate on your behalf with the multiple insurance companies that may become involved
- Make sure that any potential settlement offers you receive are fair
- Retain, if needed, industry experts who will be able to establish the liability of any potential defendants
Since it is a certainty that an insurance company will hire an investigator to examine the scene of the accident, you must do the same, and you must do so promptly. Thus, the initial task of your counsel would be to, without delay, retain a knowledgeable expert to investigate the scene of the accident and to make a record of all evidence. Such an investigator would take photographs of the scene of the accident, look for evidence of skid marks, along with evidence of radiator fluid, oil or gas stains. The investigator would also see if there were any eyewitnesses to the accident and would be able to obtain for your police reports, safety logs, and important records from the trucking company. The investigator must be on the lookout for the destruction or misplacing of evidence. As vital evidence must be preserved to prove liability, time is critical. You should not delay in retaining experienced counsel.
The second task of the attorney will be to locate for you all the potential defendants who might bear liability for your injuries and losses. While the driver of the truck and the company that employs him are obvious defendants, other potential defendants are less obvious. These include, but are not limited to third- party brokers, contractors, trucking companies, vehicle manufacturers, the company that loaded the truck, governmental entities, and the various insurance companies who represent the potential defendants. The common theme uniting all these potential defendants is that they owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty of care.
Let’s examine each of these potential defendants a little more closely. First, the trucking company that employed the driver had a duty to provide proper training to their driver. Failure to provide such training would be a breach of the duty of care that they owed to you. They would also have breached their duty of care if, in violation of both federal and Georgia state law, they allowed their driver to work longer hours than permitted. Similarly, they would have breached their duty of care to you if they conducted a deficient background check on the driver, where a proper and thorough check would have revealed that the driver had a poor driving record that included multiple driving violations, or that the driver had a history of substance abuse that would impair his ability to operate a truck.
While the trucking company has an obvious duty to employ a qualified driver, they have an equally important duty of care to guarantee that their trucks are properly maintained and serviced. If they failed to properly maintain a truck that was involved in an accident, they would have breached a critical duty of care that they owed to you. A skilled attorney would fight to see that you are compensated for such a breach.
There are other potential companies or entities who will be liable to you if they breached the duty of care they owed you. A truck manufacturer would be liable if they produced a defective truck part that contributed to the accident and your injury. The company that loaded the truck would be potentially liable to you if they either overloaded the truck or knowingly balanced it in an uneven manner. A third-party trucking broker may have matched the driver with the trucking company and failed to conduct a proper background check on the driver. Finally, the city or governmental entity responsible for maintaining the safety of the road would potentially be liable if they allowed a dangerous and preventable condition to exist which subsequently contributed to the accident.
An experienced and knowledgeable truck accident attorney would be able to identify all these potential defendants. Your attorney would also make sure that any legal claims against these entities are filed in a timely manner within the two-year statute of limitations. It is no exaggeration to say that you need the assistance and expertise of knowledgeable counsel to prosecute your claims and to be compensated fairly for your injuries and losses.
Third, a skillful attorney would be able to negotiate on your behalf with defendants’ insurance companies. Following the accident, and after the completion of an investigation, one of the insurance companies might make a settlement offer. The average individual would not have the knowledge to determine if the offer was fair. An experienced attorney acting on your behalf would possess such knowledge, and would be able to determine if the settlement offer compensated you for economic damages such as payment of your current and future medical bills and your loss of income from work, as well as non-economic damages for the pain and suffering that you endured. If you negotiate by yourself, without retaining counsel, you will be at a distinct disadvantage.
Finally, if it appears unlikely that a settlement can be reached, you will have to prove your claim for compensation. An experienced truck accident attorney will also be able to devise a comprehensive legal strategy that will allow you to select the best forum for you to prosecute your claims. Not all cases involve a trial. The retention of expert witnesses to review the facts of your case is a must. Such experts include doctors, economists, engineers, and individuals who specialize in accident reconstruction. All of this preparation is necessary, as ultimately many cases are settled out of court, or are successfully adjudicated through mediation or arbitration. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise you about your strategic options, protect your rights, and assist you in receiving financial compensation for your injuries and monetary losses.
How our Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help to Determine Your Truck Accident Compensation
The sheer size disparity between cars and large trucks, including tractor trailers, makes it obvious that these types of accidents can cause severe physical injuries and great property damage. A key task of a truck accident attorney is to determine what is proper compensation for you.
Victims of truck accidents can obtain compensation for both economic and for non-economic damages. In rare cases, they can be awarded punitive damages, if the conduct of the defendants was especially egregious, malicious, or fraudulent. Unlike an award for economic and non-economic damage, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim of the accident. Rather they are awarded to punish the offender and to prevent such harmful conduct in the future.
Economic compensation can be obtained for a number of different factors. These include, but are not limited to the payment of medical costs which have accrued as a result of the accident including fees for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries that have been performed, visits to doctors, physical therapy, the use of required medical devices, and supplies. Compensation can also be obtained for extended medical supervision and future care for injuries and damages resulting from the accident.
Economic compensation can also be for lost wages resulting from an inability to work extending from the time of the accident until the conclusion of the lawsuit. If the accident victim is able to show that his or her future ability to earn a living has been damaged or diminished by the accident, he or she, may be compensated for loss of earnings capacity, measured by the amount that the accident victim could have earned, but for the accident.
Economic compensation can also be for the funeral costs resulting from the trucking accident.
A truck accident victim may also be compensated for non-economic damages. These include losses resulting from the pain and suffering caused the injuries sustained in the accident. The victim may also be compensated for the mental anguish and emotional distress caused by the truck accident, manifested by feelings of grief, worry, fright, embarrassment, inadequacy and nervousness. Compensation for the loss of consortium can be awarded to a minor child, parents or a spouse, resulting from the loss of services, companionship, assistance, as a result of the accident.
It must be emphasized that insurance rarely is able to cover for all the damages that the victim of a car/truck collision sustains. Clams for such economic and non-economic damages are often disputed by the defendants, who seek to minimize their financial losses and exposure. If this occurs, the only way for a victim to be compensated is by continuing the lawsuit.
Many truck accident survivors are under the impression that they cannot be compensated if they were partially at fault in causing the accident. Under the theory of comparative negligence, this is not true, and will not prevent you from being compensated for your injuries and monetary losses. Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. You can be compensated, even if you bear some degree of negligence.