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Trucking Accidents: Your Top Ten Questions Answered

Trucking Accident FAQs

By Sarah Aguero  |  Associate Attorney  |  Burlington Office

Below are 10 of the most frequently asked questions regarding a collision involving a commercial truck that results in personal injury or wrongful death.

1.  What do I need to do to protect my legal rights after a semi-truck accident?

The most important thing we can stress is not to talk to the trucking company or their insurance company or to sign any papers until you have consulted with a lawyer.

In most cases, it’s the insurance company who pays any money in damages. This is why they may try to get you to sign a document before you hire a lawyer that gives you only a fraction of the money you deserve. Accordingly, it is wise to contact a lawyer as soon as practicable. Delaying this step can damage the quality of your case because evidence can be lost, damaged, or destroyed.

For example, trucking companies may destroy critical evidence after a collision if a “spoliation letter” or “preservation letter” is not promptly sent. Your lawyer should also inspect the body damage on all vehicles involved in a collision as this can be crucial in presenting a strong case.

2.  Who do I sue if I am injured?

After a collision with a commercial truck where the driver of the vehicle is at fault, you may have the right to sue several different people and companies. One reason you need a good attorney is to sort out who is legally responsible for the collision. Liable parties can include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Owner of the commercial truck
  • Owners of the tractor-trailer cab and trailer
  • Owner of the freight (corporations like Walmart, Target, FedEx, etc.)
  • Manufacturer of the cab, trailer, or any vehicle part
  • Third-party maintenance company
  • Truck driver

3.  How do you prove that the collision was the commercial driver’s fault?

To prove fault, your lawyer and their team will gather and analyze the evidence. They will interview witnesses, the commercial driver, trucking company management, and others. They will get police or state patrol records and take steps to obtain relevant corporate documents. They will inspect the scene of the crash and all vehicles involved. Most of these cases require testimony by experts, including forensic engineers and other reconstruction specialists. Your lawyer is responsible for hiring these people and working with them to build a winning case.

Even if the collision is caused only in part by the commercial driver, you have the right to sue the driver, the trucking company, and other associated parties for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages. The commercial driver may be at least partially at fault if they did any of the following things that contributed to the crash:

  • Drove too fast (including driving too fast for road conditions like rain, sleet, or snow)
  • Failed to yield the right-of-way
  • Drove aggressively
  • Failed to keep a lookout for other vehicles (this includes cars, SUVs, 18-wheelers, and bicycles)
  • Lost control of the cab, trailer, or cargo
  • Did not stop or slow down when there was a reasonable likelihood of a collision
  • Swerved into other lanes of traffic
  • Drove in excess of the hours allowed by Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations
  • Drove when too tired to have good judgment
  • Operated the unit without making sure the load was secure

4.  What should I do if I get contacted by the trucking company’s insurance company?

Inform them you have an attorney and end the call. If they approach you in person, direct them to your lawyer and say nothing more. It is important to remember to never sign anything without your attorney present. Everything you say or do, even in a seemingly friendly conversation, can be used to limit your compensation. It is your attorney’s job to speak to the insurance company on your behalf. An experienced attorney knows how to interact with insurance adjusters.

5.  What type of attorney do I need after a truck crash?

When looking for the right law firm, make sure they have the experience and the resources necessary to hire the right expert witnesses, to use the most current technology, and to put in the time to compile all the relevant information.

After you talk to an attorney ask yourself this question. “Did they listen attentively, ask respectful questions, seem trustworthy, and show genuine concern for me and my family?” If you can’t answer with a confident yes to these questions, we encourage you to look elsewhere for legal representation. Only an attorney who can do all the above will be able to provide you with the guidance and help you need after a serious collision.

6.  Do I get money for medical expenses?

Yes, medical expenses are part of damages and your lawyer will work to make sure you are compensated for your medical expenses

7.  My car was hit by a drunk truck driver, what should I do?

Commercial drivers are not allowed to drive if their blood alcohol content is 0.04% or greater. If you were injured in a crash where the driver was legally drunk, the trucker and the company that hired him or her are responsible for any physical and emotional injuries that you and your passengers have experienced. If you contact a lawyer, they will be able to help you hold the driver, their employer and, in some cases, the bar that served the driver, responsible.

8.  What if I was a passenger in the commercial truck that caused the crash?

If you were riding in the passenger seat of a commercial truck that is involved in a collision, you may have claims against several parties. These parties may be responsible for your medical bills, and any pain and suffering or other damages you might have. It is best to contact a lawyer who has experience with these kinds of crashes and who has successfully dealt with cases like yours before.

9.  Can I sue if my family member was killed by a commercial truck?

Yes, if there is evidence to support a wrongful death claim, you may have the right to sue to get answers, compensation, and justice. You will have to contact one of our lawyers about your claim and your relationship to the family member who died.

We would like to express our sympathies to you and your loved ones. We see cases like this far too often in our firm and understand how hard of a time this is for you. Our best advice for you is to hire a lawyer you can trust. You need an experienced attorney on your side.

10.  Are there special laws that apply in these cases?

Yes, the trucking industry is regulated by both federal and state governments. This is significant legally and different than a motor vehicle crash. There are special standards to which trucking companies and truckers are held accountable.

Advocacy you can trust.

If you or someone you know is injured or has died because of a trucking collision, you should immediately seek medical help and get a qualified lawyer. Trucking collision cases can be highly complex, often involving trucking insurance companies with lawyers of their own dedicated to fighting for their case. Because the rules and regulations that govern trucking differ greatly from those that govern passenger vehicles, it is important that you have the support of an experienced legal team that understands the intricacies of trucking injury matters to help you navigate your case.

The lawyers at GLP Attorneys have decades of experience resolving truck collision injury cases. Give us a call at 800.273.5005, or email our attorneys at attorneys@glpattorneys.com to schedule your free consultation with an experienced trucking injury lawyer today.

Click here to learn more about our firm’s Trucking Injury practice.

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Trucking Accidents: Your Top Ten Questions Answered

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