Truck Accident Lawyer
Across the United States, businesses rely on big trucks to move a huge amount of cargo every day. About 71 percent of the nation’s cargo travels by big truck each year. Other trucks haul items that simply will not fit on or in a standard vehicle: construction equipment, sheds, and concrete, for example.
While those big trucks provide vital services to many American businesses, they also pose a substantial danger to others who share the road with them. Because of their larger mass—up to 80,000 pounds per truck—when big trucks cause serious accidents, they typically cause substantial injuries along with them.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP: Your Truck Accident Lawyers
When you suffer injuries in a truck accident, you may need an attorney to help you seek compensation. Having the right attorney makes all the difference in many truck accident claims. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have substantial experience dealing with a wide range of truck accident claims, including many successful results for past clients:
- $5 million in a multi-vehicle collision including big trucks
- $2.5 million after an accident involving a passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailer
- $2.4 million in a wrongful death settlement involving a church van and a tractor-trailer
We cannot guarantee the results of your personal injury claim based on our past successes. However, when we work on your personal injury claim, the same experienced attorneys who have achieved these results for other clients like you will work to ensure the best possible outcome for you, given the circumstances of your accident and the insurance company that covers the responsible driver.
Semi-Truck Accidents: Common Injuries
After an accident with a big truck, you may have a range of injuries. Common injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries. Complete spinal cord injuries can leave the victim completely paralyzed below the site of the injury. Even incomplete spinal cord injuries can leave the victim with mobility challenges, poor bowel and bladder control, or loss of sexual function.
- Traumatic brain injury. Often, a traumatic brain injury leaves the victim with lifelong complications. While some victims with minor traumatic brain injuries fully recover within a few weeks or months, others will have symptoms that linger for years. In the case of severe traumatic brain injury, the victim may experience complications for a lifetime, including difficulty with emotional regulation, headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbances, and memory and cognitive challenges.
- Burns. If a fire occurs during a truck accident or the truck carries corrosive chemicals, the victim can end up with serious burns. Not only do burns cause substantial pain at the time of the injury, but scarring may also cause both permanent changes in physical appearance and a loss of mobility around joints.
- Amputations. Even if victims do not suffer the full amputation of a limb at the scene, crushing damage can restrict blood flow. Lack of blood flow often causes the tissue in the limb to die, ultimately leading to the need for amputation. Amputation victims may need substantial physical and occupational therapy to restore independence after the accident.
- Chest contusions. Chest contusions often appear minor at the time of the accident. As swelling worsens, however, it can cause trauma to the heart and lungs, including difficulty breathing.
- Road rash. Road rash occurs when the accident drags the victim across the pavement, causing abrasions across the top layer of skin, sometimes all the way into the bone. Road rash requires professional medical care since dirt and debris from the road can grind into the wound and leave survivors subject to infections. Road rash often causes severe scarring and a long recovery.
- Broken bones. Many victims of broken bones have limited mobility throughout recovery. Even long after the accident, victims may suffer pain around the area of the break or struggle with decreased mobility. Broken bones can also prevent the victim from returning to work until he or she heals since they can prevent the victim from taking care of normal activities.
- Soft tissue damage. While broken bones appear more severe, sprains and strains can actually cause more trauma to the victim than a bone that breaks outright. Soft tissue damage can cause permanent loss of mobility or ongoing pain for the victim.
- Severe lacerations. Flying glass and sharp shards of metal can cause serious cuts and lacerations, which may cause severe blood loss. Serious lacerations often leave scars behind them, permanently altering the appearance of the wounded individual.
Filing Your Truck Accident Claim
After suffering injuries in a truck accident, you may need the funds offered in a personal injury claim to help you move forward with your life, including paying for the medical care you need and paying your bills during your recovery and time off work. Having an attorney on your side can help answer many of your questions and move the process forward more smoothly.
Truck Accidents and Liability
Following a truck accident, you will need to determine who bears liability for the accident before filing a claim. Most obviously, the truck driver who caused the accident typically bears liability for injuries sustained in the accident. However, other parties may bear some responsibility for your injuries, as well. Some of these common scenarios could influence liability in your truck accident claim.
The truck driver drove under the influence of alcohol after drinking at a bar or restaurant. 9.4 percent of truck drivers in a national study consumed alcohol on a daily basis. While alcohol consumption does not necessarily indicate a truck driver’s likelihood of drinking and driving, the more often a truck driver drinks, the greater the likelihood that he or she will, at some point, haul a load while under the influence. If he or she caused an accident while under the influence, and if a bar or restaurant over-served the driver, contributing to that drunkenness, the bar or restaurant may share liability for the accident.
A mechanical failure on the truck caused the accident. Big trucks typically receive more frequent maintenance than smaller passenger vehicles. Many fleets require a mechanic and the driver to inspect their trucks after every run, quickly identifying any potential problems and ensuring that the vehicle remains safe. In the event of mechanical failure, several entities may share responsibility for the accident.
- The manufacturer, when recently-replaced parts fail or parts fail in a way that causes an accident in spite of regular maintenance and replacement.
- The mechanic responsible for inspecting and repairing the truck, if he completes a repair improperly or sends a truck out with known issues.
- The company that owns the truck, when the company asks the maintenance professionals to skimp on or ignore needed repairs.
A shifting load causes a jackknife accident, truck rollover, or lost load accident. Most truck drivers do not load their trucks themselves. Sometimes, they rely on the company moving the cargo to take care of loading for them. In other cases, they may hire a specific company to take care of loading. If someone else loaded the truck improperly and shifting or falling cargo leads to an accident, that entity may bear responsibility for any injuries caused by the accident.
The trucking company has unrealistic or illegal expectations of its drivers. Legally, each truck driver can put in only 11 hours of drive time out of a 14-hour shift each day. Some companies, however, will ask truckers to falsify their logbooks to mask the hours they have spent on the road. Too many hours on the road can cause truck drivers to suffer from inattention, distraction, or drowsiness, all of which can substantially increase the risk of accidents.
Truckers also need the ability to call in if they feel unable to drive due to illness, inebriation—including the use of over the counter medications to treat cold or flu symptoms—or weather conditions in which they feel unsafe driving. When the company requires the truck driver to drive in spite of conditions he feels unsafe, the company may share liability for the accident.
Determining Compensation in a Truck Accident Claim
Truck drivers usually carry substantial insurance policies on their vehicles. Because big trucks carry a much higher risk of serious injuries in an accident, they must carry higher coverage than many drivers choose to place on passenger vehicles. Some trucking companies also choose to carry fleet insurance on all their vehicles, which typically provides a high level of coverage.
However, several factors will affect the compensation you receive after a truck accident.
- Did your accident occur in a no-fault state? In a no-fault state, drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance in addition to their liability coverage. Personal injury protection insurance covers the first portion of a victim’s medical expenses and lost wages after an accident. The minimum coverage offered by your personal injury protection insurance will vary by state and by company. Your personal injury claim will cover only expenses that exceed the amount of your personal injury protection insurance.
- How severe are your injuries? The severity of your injuries will have a big impact on the compensation you receive. Victims with relatively minor injuries, and therefore relatively low medical bills, may receive less compensation than victims with severe, life-altering injuries and high medical bills.
- What coverage does the driver’s insurance policy offer?The responsible driver’s insurance policy often places substantial limitations on the compensation you can receive for your injuries. If the driver does not carry adequate coverage, you may not receive full compensation for your medical expenses.
When filling out your personal injury claim, work with your attorney to put together your claims package. The package should include:
- All of your medical expenses, including therapy, durable medical equipment, and modifications to your home that you must make after your truck accident injuries
- Your lost wages
- Compensation for lost earning potential, if your injuries prevent a return to your former profession
- Compensation for pain and suffering after the accident
Working with an attorney will help you better determine what compensation to seek for your injuries.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Immediately after your truck accident, you may receive a notification from the insurance company that covers the truck driver who caused your accident. The insurance company may appear welcoming and ready to work with you. Frequently, the insurance company will also provide a settlement offer in those early days immediately after your accident.
This settlement offer, unfortunately, may not reflect the full compensation you deserve.
Often, insurance companies will rely on the fact that you do not know how the claims process works or what compensation you deserve for your injuries. They may attempt to contact you early after the accident, when you have serious medical bills adding up fast and no idea what your future recovery will look like. If you sign this initial offer, you may prevent yourself from acquiring future compensation from the insurance company.
Instead, contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Do not accept an offer from the insurance company before speaking with an attorney. Many attorneys will offer a free consultation to help you get a better idea of the compensation you deserve and what the claims process will look like. Once you have a better idea of what you deserve for your injuries, you can choose how to move forward.
In many cases, simply letting the insurance company know you have an attorney on your side will increase the compensation the company offers. In others, you may need to go through several rounds of negotiation and even mediation before reaching an agreement that reflects the full extent of your injuries and the damages you deserve.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Truck Accident?
If you need an attorney after a truck accident, Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help. Contact the firm today by email or at (877) 505-2368 for a free case evaluation with an experienced member of our legal team.