Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
In case you’re wondering why you need a truck accident lawyer, you should know that truck accidents are very different from other traffic accidents. The size of the trucks usually results in more severe collisions and damages. Multiple parties may be held liable, and you will need a great deal of knowledge to handle your case correctly.
A lawyer identifies all potentially liable parties and coverage by insurance companies, works with other experts to build a strong case, and negotiates with multiple parties on your behalf to secure maximum compensation. Below you’ll find more information on the importance of working with a truck accident lawyer.
What Are Common Causes of Trucking Accidents?
Anytime a truck driver, trucking company, loading company, or maintenance company acts negligently, a trucking accident could occur. In 2020, there were about 415,000 crashes reported to the police that involved large trucks. There are many different causes of trucking accidents. The common causes include:
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Unbalanced or unsecured cargo
- Mechanical failure
- Inadequate maintenance
- Intoxicated driving
Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
When your accident involves a truck, things are different compared to regular automobile accidents. Consequently, several issues arise that make it necessary to work with a truck accident attorney.
Truck Accident Cases Required Specialized Knowledge
Handling truck accident cases properly requires an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations that trucking companies and drivers have to follow. Trucking companies and drivers must adhere to the rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Illinois also has trucking regulations on inspection, maintenance, drug testing, and braking requirements that correspond to the national guidelines.
Most non-commercial drivers don’t know many of these rules and regulations, which makes it extremely difficult to pursue a claim without the assistance of a lawyer. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer will be familiar with the regulations and know how to establish those that could have been violated in your case.
Level the Playing Field
Trucking companies usually have teams of powerful corporate attorneys to defend them in cases and protect them from paying out high amounts for their negligence. They also have insurance coverages worth millions. The well-funded insurers have legal teams and adjusters who often use aggressive defensive defense tactics to minimize the claims of accident victims. The adjusters are supposed to work with victims, but their loyalty remains with the insurance companies paying their salaries.
Therefore, when you file a truck accident claim, you have to go head-to-head with the adjusters or attorneys representing the companies. Having a qualified truck accident lawyer on your side gives you a fighting chance against these parties. When you hire a qualified attorney, you will have your own team of professionals to level the playing field. Attorneys work with other professionals like medical experts, investigators, and accident reconstructionists.
When corporate attorneys and insurance adjusters know they can have their way, they use legal loopholes and lowball tactics to minimize the value of your losses or deny liability. They may even try getting a statement from you and use it against you later.
An experienced attorney will be familiar with the tactics used by trucking and insurance companies and will deal with them directly on your behalf. Your attorney will manage communications with the involved parties and protect you from practices that could hurt your case.
Identifying Damages Is Usually Challenging
The size and weight of large trucks lead to major damages, some of which may not be apparent immediately after an accident. As a result, you may have substantial medical costs, missed work time, emotional difficulties, and other long-term losses. An insurance company’s settlement offer should include your past, current, and future damages.
Insurance adjusters try to give the lowest possible compensation amounts to victims. After being involved in a truck accident, you will likely focus on your recovery. An insurance company may take the opportunity to present you with a settlement offer that will look just initially but may not be fair in the long term. Without an attorney advocating for you, you have lower chances of receiving a favorable settlement.
A truck accident lawyer will help prevent you from accepting a lowball settlement. He or she will thoroughly review your case and develop the evidence needed to ensure you recover full compensation for your damages, some of which you may not recognize on your own. The lawyer will even help you recover money to cover any expected future treatments and expenses you may incur resulting from the accident.
Illinois is a comparative fault state, meaning your compensation for damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault for the accident. A lawyer will help ensure the comparative fault laws are correctly applied and protect you from being assigned a higher fault percentage than you ought to have.
What Damages Are Available in Truck Accident Cases?
The possible damages that a truck accident attorney can help you recover for your truck accident losses include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Diminished future earning capacity
- Property damage
In some cases, you may recover punitive damages. The court awards punitive damages to punish certain types of misconduct, such as willful or egregious conduct, and deter others from similar conduct. If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you could seek damages like burial and funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of potential future earnings, loss of companionship, and grief, anxiety, and other emotional losses.
Multiple Parties May Be Involved
Another reason why you need a truck accident lawyer is that, unlike other types of accidents, multiple parties may be at fault for your crash and injuries in trucking accidents. The trucking industry utilizes several companies and people to complete operations. Therefore, even when a truck is involved in a collision with just one other vehicle, multiple parties could be liable for the damages.
Depending on your accident’s circumstances, the parties that could share the blame include the truck driver, his or her employer, the leasing company, the truck owner, the truck manufacturer, a mechanic or truck maintenance company, and the cargo company. Legal responsibility in truck crashes is complicated because of the multiple individuals and entities that could share liability for your injuries.
It’s hard for victims to know all the parties liable for their injuries in truck crashes. If you overlook any party, you could lose the opportunity to seek compensation from the party once the statute of limitations expires. A truck accident attorney will help you determine all the liable individuals and organizations you should pursue compensation from and ensure you receive the compensation within the appropriate time.
How Is Liability Determined in Trucking Accident Claims?
A truck accident lawyer will know who and where to investigate to determine who is liable for your accident and injuries. He or she will scrutinize the driving, maintenance, inspection, and driver’s logs. The lawyer will look out for the violations that the trucking company may have committed that contributed to your accident.
An attorney will look for signs of a truck driver’s negligence that could have contributed to the accident. Examples of negligence include speeding; distracted driving, such as eating, adjusting the radio, and using the cell phone; poor decision-making; driver fatigue resulting from long work hours or inadequate rest breaks; and drunk or drugged driving.
When a truck driver negligently hits another vehicle, the trucking company could be held liable. The company could also be held liable for reasons like:
- Failing to comply with regulations
- Forcing or encouraging drivers to violate rules
- Hiring unqualified drivers, such as unlicensed or uninsured motorists
- Poor truck maintenance
If a manufacturing defect contributed to the crash, the truck manufacturer could be liable. The cargo company could also be responsible if the cargo was loaded unevenly, making it shift or fall off the truck. Depending on road and traffic conditions, a government road agency could be liable as well.
Your lawyer will investigate your crash to determine all the liable parties soon after your accident. That will allow you to pursue compensation within the appropriate time.
What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?
A truck accident lawyer will take several steps to help you receive maximum compensation for your truck accident injury. During the initial stages, the lawyer will examine the details of your case and gather medical records, police reports, witness statements, photos and camera footage of the accident, and any other evidence relevant to your case. He or she will assess your damages, analyze how fault is shared among different parties, contact the companies and insurance carriers involved, and submit a demand letter to initiate your claim or lawsuit.
The attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies for a settlement that covers your damages. If you don’t receive fair compensation, one of the primary reasons why you need a truck accident lawyer is that he or she will take your case to trial to protect your legal rights to fair compensation.