7 Things You Need to Know If You Have Been in a Truck Accident
There is a study confirming that trucks are a significant cause of severe accidents. In the United States, trucks are responsible for 4,500 deaths per year.
Anyone who has been involved in a truck accident knows that it can cause huge losses in productivity, property and personal injury.
So what does this mean for you?
If you have been recently involved in a truck accident, there are things you should know to claim compensation for your injuries. You should also consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer who can review the details of your accident and help you determine if you have cause to file a claim.
7 Things to Know If You Have Been in a Truck Accident
1. Who is liable?
It’s obviously the negligent truck driver, right?
But a key doctrine in the law of agency known as ‘respondeat superior,’ which is Latin for “let the master answer,” provides that a principal or employer is responsible for the actions of his/her agent or employee in the “course of employment.”
Now this means that aside from the truck driver, you can also list the trucking company as a defendant in your truck accident lawsuit. The only exception to this rule is if the truck driver is an independent contractor.
In this case, a personal injury lawyer can help you decide if you should sue the driver or his or her insurer.
2. How much can you claim for damages?
There is no magic number but it will depend on several factors including but not limited to:
- The extent of the injuries you have sustained as a result of the truck accident (e.g. Are there life-changing and permanent injuries? Was your neck, spine, and even brain injured?)
- Lost wages and time off from work
- Medical bills
- Damages to your vehicle
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- …And even death
A lawyer can help you arrive at a figure that takes into consideration both economic and non-economic damages inflicted upon you.
3. How will your case proceed?
There will be a preliminary investigation where an official compiles a report on the accident, followed by the actual filing of the lawsuit.
This is the stage where your attorney will ask the one who’s liable (either the truck driver or the trucking company) to hand over evidence, as well as get supporting information from government agencies to help your case.
Sometimes, the injured party prefers to settle the case outside of court. In which case an unbiased third party will mediate. If both sides cannot come to an agreement, a trial date will be set.
Here, the injured party will have to prove the negligence of the defendant. If there is enough evidence, he or she will win the case and be awarded compensatory damages.
4. Do truck accident cases take long to resolve?
Not all truck accidents are the same. It depends on the particulars of the accident.
Usually, mediation (out of court settlements) are faster to wrap up.
If you do decide to go to court, your case could take a few months to settle. It could even last for more than a year. This is not unusual considering the extent some trucking companies go to to avoid compensating their victims.
Should you find yourself in a situation where a trucking company is giving you the runaround, you should consider getting a personal lawyer injury on your side. Not only can he or she help reduce the amount of time your case takes to resolve, he or she can also ensure that you get fairly compensated for the damages you have suffered.
5. How do you prove truck driver/trucking company negligence?
There are usual causes for truck drivers to be distracted or irresponsible while driving.
Perhaps, he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs (either prescription or non-prescription). Maybe, the driver is speeding or has switched lanes without checking blind spots.
If it can be proven that the driver is guilty of the above-mentioned forms of negligence, then he or she can be held liable for injuries and damages.
Additionally, if a trucking company has allowed a truck with faulty parts to operate or hired drivers with little to no experience, it can be held liable for negligence as well.
6. What if you’re partially at fault?
If you were partially responsible for the truck accident, you can still claim compensation for your injuries.
Florida follows a pure comparative negligence standard which means if you are, for example, 20% negligent, then you will only be entitled to an award of 80% of your total monetary recovery.
The comparative negligence standard recognizes that sometimes a truck accident isn’t the result of one negligent party. If multiple parties are at fault then it is only right that all of them take responsibility for their portion of the blame.
7. Should you get a personal injury lawyer?
Handling your own personal injury claim means you don’t have to pay any legal fees.
But, you should understand that going against a trucking company or an insurance giant can be a long, tiring process. Just because you filed a claim doesn’t mean it wouldn’t go unchallenged and that you’ll receive a large settlement.
If you decide to represent yourself, you have to have witnesses ready and enough evidence to prove that the other driver caused the accident. It’s also possible that if you have suffered significant damages, the insurance company may not offer compensation that is fair enough to resolve your case.
You should also be prepared to carve out lots of time for your case. Aside from calculating the costs of damages, you have to secure copies of all your medical bills, write a demand letter, and negotiate with an insurance adjuster.
Time is not on your side. If you delay filing, the statute of limitations could expire and you won’t get any compensation for your injuries.
Before you pursue a claim on your own, really sit down and weigh the pros and cons as opposed to hiring a personal injury lawyer. Remember trucking companies have all the advantages going for them. Yours is probably not the first case they have encountered and there’s a good chance it won’t be the last.
Talk to us. The initial consultation is free and we would like you to explore all your legal options.
Call us at 1-888-920-HURT or 305-949-2526 for more information.