Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers: Everything You Need to Know About

Accidents involving large commercial trucks like semis, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers can be absolutely devastating. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles means collisions often result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities for the occupants of smaller passenger cars.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, you may be facing life-altering injuries, tremendous medical bills, lost income from missed work, property damage costs, and ongoing pain and suffering. The physical, emotional, and financial toll can be overwhelming.

That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer on your side. These legal professionals specialize in representing victims who have been injured or families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

There are many potential causes of commercial truck crashes, but most stem from some form of negligence or wrongdoing. Common examples include:

  • Truck driver fatigue from working excessive hours
  • Distracted driving like texting behind the wheel
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding to meet tight delivery schedules
  • Failure to properly maintain and inspect the truck
  • Improper hiring, training, or supervision of drivers
  • Loading cargo improperly or overloading the trailer
  • Reckless or aggressive driving behavior

Trucking companies are required to follow strict federal regulations around things like hours of service, vehicle maintenance, cargo loading procedures, and more. When these rules are violated, it can have deadly consequences.

Commercial Truck
Commercial Truck

Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer The injuries sustained in a tractor-trailer crash are often catastrophic – traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, crushed or amputated limbs, severe burns, paralysis, and more. Victims frequently require extensive hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, home care assistance, accessibility modifications, and may be left with permanent disabilities.

At the same time, most trucking companies are owned by large corporations with teams of lawyers and insurers whose goal is to minimize any payouts. On your own against these massive companies, you’ll likely end up being taken advantage of.

A skilled truck accident attorney will level the playing field and fight aggressively to get you full compensation for your current and future medical needs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. With their expertise in these complex cases, they know exactly how to investigate, build a strong claim, deal with the insurers, and take it to court if needed.

What to Look For in a Truck Accident Firm Not all personal injury lawyers have specific experience with complex commercial vehicle cases. When selecting an attorney to represent you after a semi-truck collision, look for a firm that has:

  • A dedicated truck accident division with lawyers focused specifically on this practice area
  • Success obtaining multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in prior truck crash cases
  • Resources to thoroughly investigate by hiring accident reconstruction experts
  • No fees unless they win your case
  • A reputation for taking tough cases to trial instead of pushing quick settlements

Many qualified truck accident injury firms operate on a national scale and have offices across multiple states. This allows them to provide experienced local representation wherever the accident occurred.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

Commercial Truck k
Commercial Truck

There is no set dollar value for truck accident injury cases, as each one is unique. The potential compensation amount depends on factors like:

  • The severity of injuries and anticipated future medical needs
  • Whether the injuries resulted in permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Income and projected future lost earnings capacity
  • The degree of negligence involved (which may lead to punitive damages)
  • Applicable insurance policy limits

An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer will be able to evaluate these factors and advocate for the maximum compensation you deserve based on their expertise.

The Process of Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit Most trucking companies have enormous legal resources dedicated to minimizing payouts on injury claims. For this reason, having proper legal representation is absolutely critical. Here’s a general overview of how a truck accident case may proceed:

  1. You hire a qualified truck accident law firm to represent you.
  2. They investigate to gather all evidence – interviewing witnesses, obtaining police reports, reviewing driver logs/hours of service records, truck maintenance history, on-board data recordings, and more.
  3. They have an accident reconstruction expert analyze all evidence to determine fault.
  4. A demand is made to the trucking company’s insurer for a settlement amount deserved based on damages.
  5. If the insurer refuses to pay a fair settlement amount, a lawsuit is filed.
  6. Both sides engage in discovery to build their case by obtaining witness testimony, expert analysis, etc.
  7. If no reasonable settlement can be reached, the case proceeds to trial where a jury will decide on damages to award.
  8. Even after a verdict, there may be a lengthy appeal process if the trucking company refuses to pay.

As you can see, these cases are extremely complicated which is why it’s so important to have expert truck accident lawyers handling your claim.

Commercial Truck Accident FAQ

What types of compensation can I get for a truck accident?

In a commercial truck accident case, potential compensation includes:

– Medical expenses (current and future)
– Loss of income/future earning capacity
– Pain and suffering
– Permanent disability or disfigurement
– Property damage
– Punitive damages if the negligence was egregious

How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit?

There is a statute of limitations that dictates how long you have to properly file a claim or lawsuit, which varies from state to state (commonly between 1-3 years). An experienced lawyer will know the deadline and ensure you don’t miss it.

Who can be held liable in a commercial truck accident case?

Potentially liable parties may include:

– The truck driver
– The trucking/transportation company
– The company that owned the truck trailer
– The cargo company or shipper that loaded the truck
– A third-party truck maintenance company
– Truck part manufacturers (if a defective part caused the crash)
– And more, depending on the details of the accident

What if I was partially at-fault for the truck accident?

You may still be able to recover damages. Most states follow a “comparative negligence” model where damages are reduced by the percentage you were at fault. An attorney can advise if you have a valid claim.

How much does a truck accident lawyer cost?

Reputable truck accident injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if they secure compensation for you, taking a percentage of the settlement or award at the end.

What damages are available if a truck accident results in death?

Certain family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal trucking crash. Potential damages include:

– Funeral/burial costs
– Loss of the deceased’s expected earnings
– Loss of any prospective inheritance
– Loss of care, companionship, guidance
– Pain and suffering of both deceased and family members

An experienced attorney can determine if you qualify and guide you through this process.

How can I choose the best truck accident law firm?

Look for a firm that focuses exclusively on truck accident/commercial vehicle litigation, has obtained multi-million dollar results in prior cases, and has the resources to take your fight all the way to trial against major trucking companies and insurers. Relevant industry recognition and client testimonials are also a plus.

By working with dedicated experts in truck accident law at a reputable firm, you greatly increase your chances of recovering maximum compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. While nothing can undo the trauma of a serious trucking collision, obtaining fair financial recovery is critical for victims to rebuild their lives.

What To Do After a Truck Accident In the immediate aftermath of a serious truck accident, there are some important steps you should take to protect your rights and strengthen your case:

  1. Seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t feel injured. Some injuries from the immense forces involved in a truck crash may not be immediately apparent. Having your condition professionally evaluated creates a record tying your injuries to the accident.
  2. Contact the police to ensure an official report is filed. Getting law enforcement on the scene is crucial for documenting evidence.
  3. If possible, get the truck driver’s name, employer’s information, and insurance details. Also try to identify any witnesses.
  4. Take photos/video of the accident scene, vehicle damage, road conditions, and your injuries. This visual evidence can disappear quickly.
  5. Avoid discussing any specifics of the accident, especially with insurance companies. Anything you say could potentially be used to diminish your case later.
  6. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Most offer free initial consultations and can immediately work to preserve and gather perishable evidence.

Preserving Evidence in Truck Accident Cases One major advantage of hiring a qualified lawyer is their ability to act quickly and decisively to preserve critical evidence that could make or break your case, including:

  • Truck cab “black box” data that records events leading up to the crash
  • Driver qualification files showing their training, driving history, etc.
  • Hours of service/logbook records that could indicate fatigued driving
  • Truck maintenance/inspection reports looking for potential defects
  • Downloading video from trucking company’s onboard camera system
  • Weighing the truck to check if it was overloaded
  • Examining cargo loading procedures to evaluate for improper practices
  • Drug/alcohol testing of the truck driver if signs of impairment
  • Reviewing cell phone records for distracted driving

An experienced truck accident law firm will have resources like accident reconstruction experts and investigators ready to quickly evaluate and document the scene.

Why Commercial Truck Cases are Complex Given the catastrophic nature of injuries, immense damage, and high stakes involved, commercial truck accident cases are highly complex from a legal standpoint. Some key factors that make them complicated:

Multiple Parties – There are often several potentially liable parties beyond just the truck driver, including trucking companies, cargo companies, manufacturers, maintenance contractors, etc. Cases involve intricate issues around employment law, respondeat superior issues, leasing agreements and more.

Spoliation of Evidence – Evidence from the accident can quickly disappear without aggressive action to preserve it. Trucking companies may even intentionally destroy hours logs, maintenance data, etc. that could hurt their case.

Comparative Fault – Determining percentages of fault between multiple parties is incredibly complex. Trucking companies will go to great lengths to argue that other parties or even the victim themselves were predominantly liable.

Federal Regulations – The trucking industry is governed by a lengthy set of federal safety regulations around driver certification, truck maintenance, cargo rules, hours of service, drug testing, etc. Proving any of these were violated can take extensive investigation.

Complex Damages – With medical costs frequently running into the millions and issues like permanent disability/disfigurement, lost future earnings must be calculated by vocational and economic experts. Truck companies vigorously attack these numbers.

Highly Skilled Defense – When faced with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, trucking companies hire teams of sophisticated defense lawyers and experts to aggressively fight the case every step of the way.

These are just a few of the myriad reasons why it’s absolutely critical to have a highly qualified and experienced truck accident lawyer handling your case. Their skills in this niche practice area directly impact their ability to overcome the obstacles and maximize your financial recovery.

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