Every year on American roadways, millions of collisions occur that result in fatalities and severe injuries. In 2016, more than 37,461 people did not make it home to their loved ones. For the families who experience a tragic event like the loss of life or limb, the unforeseen consequences are life-altering.
Sadly, many accidents are preventable, and the sentiment is even more so for a truck accident attorney. These attorneys specialize in getting you the most money when it comes to dealing with a truck accident.
Context – The Shocking Numbers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,079 large truck and bus crashes resulted in the loss of 4,564 lives. Sadly, most of these lives were preventable had the drivers not been negligent.
Annual data collected by the FMCSA shows that the commercial truck industry is problematic.
- 61% of accidents took place on rural roadways
- 27% occurred in work zones
- 17% of the drivers were speeding when a fatality occurred
- 6% were distracted drivers in which 16% were using a cell phone
A truck accident attorney becomes a crucial element for families who find themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with crafty insurance companies and their top-notch attorneys.
When people are dealing with the health of an injured person, the last thing they focus on is mounting bills or loss of income which is what insurance adjusters depend on to get you to settle.
Many families find themselves overwhelmed by years of recovery and out-of-pocket expenses because the companies who were liable refused to pay families for their losses fairly. For that reason, it is crucial to understand how to get the most compensation from a trucking accident.
Factors that Affect Compensation Amounts
- Type of injuries sustained
- Treatment received
- Future medical requirements
- Economic consequences of trucking accident like loss of work or out-of-pocket expenses and medical bills
- Physical and mental suffering
Liability is complicated when an accident involves a commercial vehicle because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires companies to obtain and maintain high-risk insurance policies. Commercial policies differ from regular vehicle coverage because occupants can sue the transportation company, the broker, the driver, and the shipper who initiated services.
Compensation for injuries sustained in a trucking accident can be higher depending on who has the most significant responsibility for the semi-truck and the cargo.
In addition to financial responsibility, there are also regulations that drivers must follow that can add to corporate negligence. Companies can be liable if they allow drivers to operate trucks while fatigued, fail to do maintenance checks, or permit operation of unsafe vehicles. Once legal negligence establishes, truck accident attorneys then look for additional evidence to build a case for higher claims.
The FMCSA requires both the driver and the company to follow strict guidelines when operating a semi-truck and trailer.
- Must maintain a daily log that adheres to Hours of Service operations.
- Required to have on hand the last seven days of driving records at all time.
- Must legally perform a daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) at the end of the workday.
- Must maintain a record of driver and training credentials.
- Has only 24-hours to submit roadside inspections to their carriers.
Commercial Carrier Responsibilities:
- Must enforce a 60/70 driving rule and prove that the driver has a minimum of ten hours off before starting any new hauling trip.
- Must retain long-haul records for six months and short-haul for seven days.
- Maintain maintenance records up to 12 months that identifies the vehicle, inspections, and any repair records.
- Required to retain inspection reports for 14 months. A copy must be in the truck while in operation.
- Required to submit evidence of repairs to the state and keep a copy for 12 months.
Top Reasons for Driver Liability
- Erratic driving patterns
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle.
- Lack of visibility of pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists makes this group of roadway users susceptible to higher death rates.
Why You Need to Hire an Truck Accident Attorney Quickly
Time is critical when suing for financial recovery after an injury because of the regulations for filing a claim for compensation. Moreover, accident investigators can better establish fault soon after a traffic collision occurs. There are also strict rules for record-keeping.
Truck accident attorneys know what needs to be done to gain information from the semi’s computer system that documents speed and driving conditions. Many of the trucks also have video surveillance which attorneys can request as evidence. If a person does not know what to do, the chances are that you will lose valuable information as the time passes.
As the driver of the truck already has legal representation, you need to equally be prepared to protect yourself from legal maneuvering that is meant to protect their interests instead of yours.
Benefits of Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney Include:
- The ability to recruit accident reconstruction professionals to prove negligence occurred.
- Has the financial capabilities to hire medical experts to establish liability.
- Knowledge of how to document accident through images, video, or witness accounts
- Understands how to examine records to find mistakes or omissions.
- Utilizes time to interview police officers, first responders, and medical staff to gauge negligence and extent of injuries.
- Understands the legal requirements to represent a client in court proceedings.
Regardless of whether the driver is distracted, impaired, or careless, an experienced truck accident attorney uses the gathered datasets to form a legal strategy to force companies to accept legal responsibility. With the discovery of negligence, semi-truck operators will also be forced to adhere to safety regulations which reduce the risk to other drivers.
At the end of the day what it boils down to is that you will be facing a corporate army. You will need someone just as skilled as their attorneys on your team to make sure you are not browbeat into a bad settlement. Hiring a truck accident attorney is the best decision you can make to protect yourself.