How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You?

Truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries or death because of their size and weight. A semi-tractor without a trailer weighs 25,000 to 35,000 pounds, depending on the truck.

A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. And, if the truck is carrying an oversized load, it could weigh over 100,000 pounds.

When something that big crashes into a 4,000-pound passenger car, it crushes it like you would crush a paper cup. Whether you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a truck accident, a truck accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Schedule A Free Consultation

Ways a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You?Some people try to settle truck accident claims on their own, thinking they will recover more money by not paying an attorney. This is usually not the case because insurance companies use several tricks to justify denying a claim or convincing a victim to accept a pittance.

Instead of leaving money on the table, you’ll usually recover more when you allow a truck accident lawyer to represent you. A truck accident lawyer can help you in many ways, including but not limited to the following:

Free Case Evaluations and Working on a Contingency Basis

After an accident, you are worried about recovering and paying bills—you shouldn’t worry about affording a lawyer to help recover the compensation you deserve. A truck accident lawyer gives free no-obligation case evaluations and typically works on a contingency basis. This payment arrangement means you don’t pay for their legal services unless they win your case and recover compensation.

Truck Accident Laws

Truckers not only have to abide by regular driving laws that everyone has to follow, but they also have federal laws they must abide by. A truck accident lawyer who knows these laws can better represent your interests.

For example, if a truck driver crashed because he was tired, a truck accident lawyer would know to look into the driver’s hours-of-service records and medical records to determine whether the driver was negligent by violating a federal law or regulation regarding truck driving.

Truck drivers must pass a medical and cannot drive for more than a certain number of hours without taking a break or sleeping. They must also abide by many other federal rules and regulations while delivering their loads on time. Because truck drivers could lose jobs by delivering shipments late, they are sometimes tempted to break the rules and regulations and end up causing accidents.

Access to Expert Witnesses and Investigators

Truck accident lawyers have access to investigators and expert witnesses that can help shore up your case. When you first retain a truck accident lawyer, the firm can investigate the accident scene, which is why it’s best to retain a lawyer as soon after the accident as possible—before evidence “disappears.”

Evidence can disappear because:

  • Weather degrades evidence left at the scene.
  • Traffic degrades evidence left at the scene.
  • People fix their yards if the accident spills onto their property.
  • The at-fault driver fixes their truck once the police release it. This is not the purposeful destruction of evidence. Most people believe that once the police release the vehicle, they have gathered all the required evidence and can repair their vehicle.
  • Drivers purposely destroy evidence.

If evidence does disappear or becomes unhelpful in proving how the accident occurred, your attorney can engage an expert accident reconstructionist to support your claim.

Truck accident attorneys also use medical professionals to review your medical records, create a report, or testify that accident injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities.

While your doctor could testify to this, defense attorneys can easily punch holes in the doctor’s testimony. Furthermore, defense attorneys can accuse the doctor of siding with you.

An expert witness serves as a neutral third party. Because the doctors did not treat you and have no allegiance to you, it is more difficult for the defendant to undermine the expert’s credibility.

Negotiations and Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Thus, they don’t like paying out claims and look for any reason to deny or reduce your claim. That is the last thing you need to deal with when you are trying to recover or dealing with losing a loved one.

Insurers will likely contact you after an accident to discuss the incident in detail. If you have an attorney, you should refer the insurer to them and decline to discuss the accident. If you must contact an insurer yourself to report the accident, only give your name, contact information, date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.

Some of the tricks insurance companies use to undermine your claim include:

  • Twisting what you tell them to place some or all of the blame for the accident on you instead of the at-fault driver.
  • Offering you an amount that won’t cover medical expenses and telling you that is the most they can pay. They usually do this right after you file a claim, hoping you will think, “Oh, this is easy,” and take the money and run.
  • Putting off responding to you. The hope is that you will let them slide until the time to file (statute of limitations) has expired.
  • Ignoring you, hoping you will not follow through with your claim.
  • Giving you excuse after excuse as to why they can’t respond to your offer or make a counteroffer.

These are just some of the tricks insurance companies use. When you have a truck accident lawyer, insurance companies know they can’t get away with their tactics, so they rarely try or give up more quickly. They also know that because you have an attorney, you are more likely to drop settlement negotiations and file a lawsuit if they don’t offer a fair and reasonable settlement.

For this reason, negotiations are often stressful—and that is not what you need when trying to recover. A truck accident attorney will discuss your case and injuries and negotiate on your behalf while you focus on healing.

Working With Doctors

Sometimes, truck accident attorneys can help you with your medical care. They often have connections to doctors they can refer to when you need a specialist to handle certain accident injuries. A truck accident attorney can also write a letter explaining that you are in the middle of settlement negotiations or a trial and request the doctor to wait to collect on unpaid medical bills until the conclusion of your case.

Often, doctors who work with personal injury attorneys can offer flexibility to patients if they are in the middle of settling your case or are going to litigation.

Gathering Evidence

Gathering evidence is the biggest part of preparing for negotiations or trials. The initial investigation into the case provides most of the necessary evidence.

However, truck accident attorneys have a lot of work to do during the initial investigation, including:

  • Locating and deposing witnesses.
  • Obtaining medical records on a continuing basis.
  • Obtaining evidence from the truck driver and trucking company, such as the trucker’s logs.
  • Obtaining evidence from others involved in the accident, if applicable.
  • Sending out discovery requests, including interrogatories, requests for admissions, and notices of production.

Determining Who the Defendants Are

One of the most important parts of investigating a commercial truck accident is learning who the defendants are. The truck driver is sometimes not the only one at fault for a truck accident.

Others who might share responsibility for your injuries and other losses include:

  • The trucking company.
  • A truck owner if other than the driver (lessor/lessee).
  • Third-party inspectors and dispatchers.
  • Third-party truck mechanics and technicians.
  • Truck and trailer manufacturers.
  • Parts and tire manufacturers.
  • Department of Transportation for road maintenance.
  • Municipalities responsible for road maintenance.

In some cases, another passenger vehicle driver might be at fault for causing the accident. If the passenger vehicle cut the truck off or ran into the truck, causing them to take evasive action or pushing the truck into you, the passenger vehicle driver could be held responsible for your injuries and other losses.

Prep for Trial

When your truck accident lawyer prepares for settlement negotiations, they collect most of the information required to prepare for trial as well. This saves immense time, as opposed to you trying and failing to negotiate a settlement yourself and then retaining a lawyer to litigate the matter after the fact.

Truck Accident Injuries

Even if your truck accident injuries seem less than catastrophic, you should retain an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, injuries take days or even weeks to manifest. Psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety could take months to manifest.

Truck accident injuries can include:

  • Bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds
  • Strains and sprains
  • Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries
  • Simple and compound fractures
  • Crushed bones and crush injuries
  • Punctured lungs from broken ribs
  • Internal injuries
  • Chemical and thermal burns
  • Ear injuries, including deafness, such as when the accident causes an explosion
  • Face and eye injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
  • Amputation of a digit or limb
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Psychological injuries

You could also sustain secondary injuries, such as infections. Any open wound, whether sustained in the accident or caused by surgery for an accident injury, could become infected. The defendant is responsible for medical expenses and other damages for infections and other secondary injuries.

Additionally, if your accident injuries exacerbate existing illnesses or injuries, the at-fault driver and other defendants are responsible for the extra medical expenses and pain and suffering caused by the accident.

Recovering Damages After a Truck Accident

A truck accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve—and that is often more than medical expenses. Furthermore, the attorney ensures you recover enough compensation to cover future medical expenses, especially if you have catastrophic injuries. Most people injured in a truck accident recover economic damages, and some recover non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value.

Most people injured in truck accidents recover economic damages, including:

  • Medical expenses including doctors’ appointments, prescriptions, surgeries, follow-up appointments, over-the-counter medications and medical equipment, and ambulatory aids.
  • Home health care, nursing home care, and rehabilitative home care.
  • Accessibility aids for your vehicle, including wheelchair ramps and lifts, and hand controls.
  • Accessibility aids for your home, including wheelchair ramps, grab bars, handrails, and widened doorways.
  • Replacement or repair of personal property, including your vehicle and anything of value that was destroyed or damaged in the accident.
  • Lost income.
  • Loss of future earning capacity.
  • Death-related expenses, including funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, certain probate court costs, and probate attorney’s fees and costs.

Non-economic Damages

Not everyone can recover non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as general damages. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

Non-economic damages do not have a set monetary value. In most cases, those who lost a loved one or those whose injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities recover general damages.

While each insurance company may have its definition of long-term or permanent disabilities, the Social Security Administration defines them as resulting in your death or lasting longer than 12 months.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
  • Loss of quality of life if you have to make life-long changes, such as using ambulatory aids or taking prescriptions.
  • Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or attend family activities and events.
  • Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
  • Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your hearing, eyesight, or bladder.
  • Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger or a leg.
  • Amputation of a digit or limb, whether in the accident or in surgery after the accident.
  • Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
  • Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including but not limited to grocery shopping, house cleaning, home repair and maintenance, and lawn maintenance.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.