Motorists involved in traffic accidents with commercial vehicles often suffer serious injuries and can live in near constant pain. Focusing on getting well and returning to work can take all of your family’s time and energy. What happens if you didn’t cause the accident? Fortunately, Texas law allows victims to sue trucking companies for their injuries, but it takes time and money to fully investigate a claim.
Suing for Negligence Requires Evidence
Negligence is the legal term for carelessness, and you can sue a truck driver or a trucking company for negligence depending on the circumstances. For example, you might bring a negligence lawsuit because:
- The truck driver became distracted when using a hand-held cell phone while driving
- A truck driver failed to look when pulling into another lane, striking you
- A trucker improperly secured cargo, which caused a car accident
- The trucker operated without enough sleep
- A trucking company didn’t properly perform background checks on a driver before hiring
- A trucking company continued to employ a driver with a poor safety record
- A trucking company required its employees to break some rule, such as driving without sufficient rest
With respect to background checks, federal law requires that trucking companies confirm that a driver has the necessary license, has passed a physical exam, and has passed drug and alcohol screening. A trucking company also needs to look at the driver’s record and employment history to search for driving citations or other red flags. If a trucking company doesn’t perform these steps, then you might sue them for negligent hiring.
Collecting Evidence Usually Requires Legal Training
To win a lawsuit, you need to convince a judge or jury that a negligent defendant caused your injuries. This is easier said than done. To win, you’ll need high-quality evidence that the driver became distracted or the trucking company was negligent in hiring. Unfortunately, trucking companies and their drivers aren’t in the habit of admitting when they have done something wrong. For this reason, you’ll need to know how to pry out the necessary information.
For example, if you think a trucker was talking on the phone when an accident took place, you’ll need to subpoena the phone records from the cell phone company. A subpoena is a legal request to turn over documents—filling one out and serving it on the proper person requires following a complicated process.
You can also ask trucking company executives and their drivers questions under oath in depositions, which is a lot like questioning witnesses at trial. Executives will surely hire a team of lawyers to defend them at the deposition, objecting to every question that you ask. Complex rules cover what questions you can ask, and the defense attorneys will use them against you. You’ll find yourself at a definite disadvantage if you don’t hire legal counsel to conduct the deposition on your behalf.
Obtaining Evidence Takes a Lot of Time
To build a solid legal case, you might need to track down and interview witnesses and return to the scene of the accident to take video or photographs. You’ll need to pull together medical records so that they are easy to understand, and possibly create exhibits. It can take hundreds of hours to track down all of the evidence that you need and organize it in a way that a jury understands.
Rather than spend countless hours on these tasks, trucking accident victims should instead spend their time focusing on recovery. You should follow your doctor’s orders for bed rest and rehabilitation, and you should not aggravate any injuries. Give yourself peace of mind by hiring an experienced traffic accident attorney whose team can put in the necessary hours to track down every last piece of helpful evidence.
Building a Legal Case Often Requires Expert Witnesses
Judges and jurors probably have no first-hand experience of how to handle a big truck. They also won’t know anything about how to load a truck properly or about the voluminous federal regulations that tell trucking companies what they can and can’t do. For these reasons, you’ll probably need an expert witness to describe the evidence to juries in a way that lay people can understand. As a result, you’ll probably need to hire one or more expert witnesses, such as:
- An accident reconstructionist, who can piece together the evidence and create a 3-D model of what caused the accident
- Medical experts who can testify as to the severity of your injuries
- Engineers who can testify about any defects in the truck that might have caused the crash
- Trucking industry experts who know the rules that govern the trucking industry and can testify about whether the defendant broke any of them
Expert witnesses must qualify as an expert with the judge, so selecting an expert with the right education and experience is vital. Furthermore, expert witnesses typically charge fees upfront before they review any evidence. Many accident victims might not have this money, so working with an attorney who advances you these costs at the start of the case can make the difference between winning or losing your lawsuit. The attorneys at Stewart J. Guss have worked with many different expert witnesses and know how to find the perfect expert witness to bring your case to life for the jury.
Contact a Houston Trucking Accident Lawyer Today
Jury trials make for dramatic moments on television, but traffic accident cases are won or lost in the investigation stage. At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, we pride ourselves on locating the right evidence to help you win your case. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 800-898-4877 or fill out an online contact form. Remember—you won’t pay anything upfront if we accept your case, and we never get paid until you get paid.