Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you were in an accident with an 18-wheeler, a tractor-trailer, or any other commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you may have suffered injuries.
It’s not uncommon. In a recent year, CMV accidents caused 503 deaths, 1,367 serious injuries, and 4,880 non-incapacitating injuries in Texas alone. In our hometown of San Antonio, 13 fatal truck accidents, 27 truck accidents that caused serious injuries, and 263 crashes that caused non-incapacitating injuries took place in just one year.
One of the best steps that you can take after a truck accident is to call a San Antonio truck accident lawyer. Below we discuss some of the reasons why.
Explain Your Rights
Texas is a fault state for car accidents. Under the fault system, individuals injured in accidents, including truck accidents, can pursue damage compensation from at-fault parties, either by filing claims with insurance companies or bringing personal injury lawsuits. Drivers, for instance, must prove that they can pay for any accidents that they cause. This varies significantly from the process in no-fault states, where injured individuals first seek damage compensation for their injuries from their own insurance companies.
What does it mean to say that someone or some entity, such as a company, is at fault for an accident? It means that the at-fault party caused the accident, either directly or indirectly. If another party caused an accident that caused you to suffer injuries, then the at-fault party is liable for your injuries, meaning financially responsible for compensating you for the full cost of your injuries.
Hire a truck accident lawyer to approach the at-fault party following an accident.
Under Texas law, victims of vehicle accidents caused by another party may seek damages for the following:
- Medical expenses, both incurred and likely in the future. These include doctor’s bills, hospitalizations, emergency care, prescription medication, and long-term physical therapy and care.
- Wages lost from work, both already lost and likely in the future, due to your accident and recuperation.
- Lost earning potential, if your injuries are so severe that you cannot return to your former occupation, advance in your job, or work at all in the future.
- Property damage for your vehicle or any other property damaged in the accident.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress caused by the accident and injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life, if you can no longer participate in activities you once enjoyed.
Help Investigate the Causes of the Accident
CMV accidents are somewhat unique in that determining their causes almost always requires an investigation. Until the investigation is complete, you may not know the appropriate party or parties to file your claim against.
It may seem as if the cause of your truck accident is clear—a truck speeding in the snow, for example. Indeed, speeding is a common cause of all vehicle accidents, including truck accidents. However, speeding may stem from many different factors: a driver’s poor judgment or unfamiliarity with a truck’s air brakes, improperly maintained or repaired brakes, or defective brakes. Each of these factors implies a different responsible party: the driver, the driver’s training, the trucking company, the subcontractor responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the brakes, or the brake manufacturer.
In all truck accidents, the following parties may share responsibility:
- Truck drivers
- Trucking companies, for not inspecting, maintaining, or repairing their fleets, not hiring trained drivers, not periodically testing their drivers for illegal substances, or not following Federal mandates in scheduling
- Subcontractors, for not providing services properly, including but not limited to inspection, maintenance, and repair, loading and securing cargo, and testing drivers
- Truck and truck component manufacturers, for producing defective or faulty equipment
Investigators may need to request a company’s records, access a truck’s GPS, or utilize forensic analysis that analyzes skid marks, evidence of vehicle trajectory, and more, before the causes of the accident, and thus the responsible parties, are fully known.
Negotiate With Insurance Companies
Truck accident victims may seek damage compensation by bringing a third-party claim against the at-fault party or parties, once known. However, all of the potentially responsible entities are likely to have separate insurance policies and separate provisions, which can make negotiating for a just insurance settlement difficult.
That’s only one factor among several that makes negotiating with insurance companies for a just settlement complicated and challenging. Insurance companies, unfortunately, are not in the business of sympathizing with victims. Rather, they are in the business of making a profit. To that end, they often look to minimize or deny claims, with a sophisticated arsenal of tactics and resources. Fortunately, experienced truck accident attorneys are familiar with these tactics and know-how to negotiate with insurance companies to obtain favorable settlements.
For example, lawyers have access to accident investigation records. If an insurance company tries to state that an accident happened differently than the investigation indicates—a common tactic, designed to reduce the company’s liability for the accident—the attorney can counter it.
An experienced attorney can calculate the value of your claim based on the level of damage that you’ve suffered as a result of the accident. Monetary damages are calculated by adding together current medical bills and wages lost from work and seeking expert testimony on the likelihood of future medical bills and future likely losses from work. Claimants also often seek damages related to pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Insurance companies frequently try to minimize claims by implying that a victim’s injuries are not as severe as the victim claims, or that different (less costly) medical care is adequate. Your attorney can counter all of these attempts with evidence of your monetary damages and with expert testimony.
Often, an insurance company will try to minimize a settlement by settling relatively quickly, but for a lower amount than is reasonable. An attorney can evaluate all offers and recommend whether to take them or to continue negotiating.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Truck accident victims are also entitled to bring claims against at-fault parties to get a just settlement. Insurance companies may feel more apt to settle once they face a court date. Personal injury lawsuits are heard in civil court, where the court decides on the verdict and the amount of any damages, rather than the insurance companies.
If you need further advice and assistance, contact us today.