Truck accidents are more complicated than car accidents. The immense force of a truck collision often results in greater property damage, more severe injuries, and a higher likelihood of death than in a standard wreck. Additionally, being involved in a truck accident often means dealing with the trucking company and their insurance company—a frustrating experience on its own. Companies will try to distance themselves from the driver, and the entire claims process often becomes a game of who’s better and quicker at passing the blame without any regard to your plight.
Minor fender-benders are rare with trucks. They might occur at low speeds in a parking lot or by a loading dock, however… Due to the size of the truck, the rules of physics usually indicate that even a low speed collision will result in significant damage or injuries. Many truck accidents result in moderate to CATASTROPHIC INJURIES OR DEATH. This means it’s almost always in your best interest to hire a truck accident law firm after a crash. You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries when a negligent driver and/or trucking company causes you harm.
Below, you will find examples of situations in which hiring a truck accident law firm is most likely your best course of action.
The Truck Driver Clearly Caused the Accident
You should never talk to the other driver, witnesses, or the police about who was at fault after an accident so you don’t say something that might devalue your claim. This is true even if you know the truck driver caused the accident. Knowing isn’t the same as proving. You need a law firm that understands how to build a strong case against the driver and/or trucking company to investigate the accident and gather evidence. Look for a firm that knows how to compile eyewitness statements, obtain medical opinions, and dig up any other relevant information to legally prove to insurance companies and courts that the truck driver was at fault.
Liability Is Unclear
After a truck accident, you might be certain the truck driver caused the accident, but unclear about the circumstances that led to the crash. A trucker who violated traffic regulations, drove while distracted or fatigued, or drove under the influence is clearly responsible for some or all of the liability in an accident. Yet truckers are not always the only party at fault. Even though a truck driver was the person driving the truck, others like the trucking company or truck or equipment manufacturer can also be liable for a truck accident. Some examples of parties who might be partially or fully liable for a truck accident include:
- Trucking companies who force their drivers to operate for more hours than legally allowed, encourage them to take loads over the maximum weight of their truck, improperly secure cargo, or don’t perform regular maintenance on trucks might be liable for a truck accident if their negligence causes damages or injuries.
- Truck manufacturers and truck part manufacturers who sell defective trucks or truck parts that lead to an accident can be liable for damages. In fact, any party involved in the chain of distribution for a truck or truck part might be liable if a defect causes an accident, including wholesalers, shippers, and retailers.
- Other drivers who drive under the influence, break traffic laws, or drive recklessly and cause a truck driver to lose control.
- Government entities such as states, cities, and villages, when a poorly maintained road leads to a truck accident. This is not very common but it can occur if, for example, traffic signals fail to work or stop signs have been removed or damaged and not replaced at busy intersections.
A competent personal injury attorney has the experience and the resources to determine liability in each particular case, and can use that information to negotiate with an insurance company or provide evidence in court.
Severe or Catastrophic Injuries
Not all injuries require hiring a lawyer. If you only suffered minor injuries you can often file and settle an insurance claim on your own. But if you have experienced pain for more than a couple of days, spent days or weeks in the hospital, or fell unconscious during the accident, or went to the hospital via an ambulance, you likely need legal representation. At the very least, you need to consult with an attorney at a truck accident law firm.
Face it. When cars and trucks get into a traffic crash, drivers and passengers in the car don’t often walk away from the accident unscathed. The cars take the brunt of the impact from the crash, and passengers often sustain multiple injuries, which are sometimes fatal, while the truck driver gets to go about life as normal. Truck accidents are some of the most dangerous crashes on the road. Some severe or fatal injuries that require legal representation include:
- Fractured or crushed limbs, which might require amputation
- Lacerations, which can leave scars
- Joint dislocations
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Back injuries, including bulged discs and fractured vertebrae
- Spinal cord injuries, which can cause temporary or permanent paralysis to some or all of the body
- Permanent vegetative state (PVS) or coma
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
If you have a moderate injury, you might wonder if you should hire a truck accident law firm. When in doubt, the answer is always “YES!” But, another way to evaluate whether you should hire an attorney is by considering the time you were forced to spend away from work. When injuries cause you to miss more than a few days of work because of hospitalization, treatment, and recovery, you likely have used or will use all of your vacation time, sick time, and personal time. Further absences mean you aren’t getting paid.
If you feel the financial burden of losing household income due to an accident, it’s highly likely your injury is severe enough to warrant hiring a lawyer. YOU DESERVE COMPENSATION FOR MISSING WORK! And insurance companies will always fight and question your recovery time, suggesting you took more time off than necessary. A skilled truck accident attorney understands severe injuries require healing and rest for full recovery or they can impact your ability to work altogether. Truck accident law firms typically have networks and “go-to” experts to evaluate your injuries, give expert opinions, and support your claim.
Symptoms of an Injury Were Delayed
It’s not uncommon for drivers and passengers in a truck accident to get thrown around and hit their heads because of the forceful impact. Even a bump on the head can be a life-threatening or life-altering injury. You MUST SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT soon after a truck accident to ensure you are okay; however, even if a doctor says you are okay, that might be because your symptoms aren’t showing yet. This is common with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), where symptoms might not show up for days or weeks after the actual impact. Moderate to severe TBIs can lead to chronic, life-long issues with emotion, cognitive function, and many other brain and body functions. Child victims of truck accidents are at extra risk if they hit their heads because the injury can interrupt, stop, or damage normal development.
Personal injury suits have statutes of limitations (time limits for filing a lawsuit) which range from two to four years depending on the state. These time limits typically start running on the date of injury, but when you don’t realize you were injured until days, weeks, or even months after an accident, insurance companies will claim the accident didn’t cause your injury. A competent truck accident law firm can help build a strong case to fight an insurance company if they claim that their policyholder is not responsible for your accident or injury.
Multiple Parties Were Involved in the Truck Accident
When a negligent truck driver and/or trucking company causes a crash, it can lead to a multi-car pile-up. This means multiple drivers and multiple insurance companies will be fighting it out. Simply the number of parties involved leads to complications, and multiple parties can muddy the waters in terms of determining liability. An experienced truck accident law firm is not intimidated by multiple parties or big legal teams and will aggressively pursue the best outcome for your case, so you get the compensation you deserve.
If the Insurance Company Has Denied Your Claim or Is Acting in Bad Faith
When you sustain injuries in a truck crash, you expect the driver, his employer. and their insurance companies to pay for your medical treatment and lost wages. Instead, once you file a claim, insurance companies will often use every trick in the book to avoid paying a claim. In some cases, they might cross ethical and legal guidelines and act in bad faith. Even insurance companies that generally act in good faith will usually push the envelope of ethical guidelines to save a buck.
- The insurance company denies your claim. Insurance companies deny claims for any and all reasons they can come up with. Sometimes it might be because they dispute their policyholder’s liability. Other times, it might be because you filled out a form wrong or didn’t file the claim at the right time. If an insurance company doesn’t provide a reason that they denied the claim, that also might be an indication of bad faith.
- The insurance company won’t take action on your claim. Insurance companies are legally required to investigate and decide on a claim in a timely manner. The exact requirements differ amongst states, but an insurance company dragging their feet beyond a reasonable period of time IS UNACCEPTABLE. Sometimes the mere mention of an attorney will magically cause insurance companies to take action.
- The insurance company makes you a low settlement offer. When insurance carriers are relatively certain their policyholder is liable for damages after a truck accident, they want to reduce the amount they have to pay out on a claim. One way they do this is by making extremely low settlement offers to accident victims. These offers are high enough to entice victims to accept them, especially if they are feeling the financial burden of medical expenses and lost wages after a truck accident. ONCE YOU ACCEPT AN OFFER, YOU CAN NO LONGER SUE FOR DAMAGES! A truck accident lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies to make sure any offer you accept is fair compensation for the losses you have incurred from your accident and injuries.
It might be difficult for you to discern when an insurance company is acting in bad faith, but you don’t need to figure that out. Look for a firm that is familiar with all the tricks up insurance companies’ sleeves, and that will fight to make sure they act in good faith. If you have experienced any of the following with an insurance carrier after a trucking accident, you need to consult a truck accident firm as soon as possible. Contact the trusted law firm of Steward J. Guss, Attorney at Law at (866) 825-2490 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to see how they can help you get the compensation you deserve.