Why You Need To Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Hiring a truck accident lawyer can be essential to getting the compensation you are owed. There are a few circumstances when it is not—for example, if you didn’t sustain severe injuries or property damage. However, most collisions will leave substantial damage and severe or even fatal injuries when it comes to commercial truck accidents.
With large medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, having an experienced truck accident lawyer can provide many benefits for your claim, like higher compensation. Here’s an overview of truck accident claims and how a good attorney should help you.
How Truck Accidents are Different Than Other Crash Claims
While you might think that any personal injury lawyer could handle your claim, accidents involving a commercial vehicle driver differ from other crash claims. It is important to have a lawyer who is experienced in handling truck accident claims, specifically, and they will be your best bet in forming a strong case to protect your rights.
While passenger vehicle accidents only involve the other driver and their insurance, truck accidents can involve several liable parties—often ones that are large corporations, including:
- The employer of the truck driver
- The trucking company
- Those involved in the maintenance of the truck
- The manufacturer, if the claim involves defective parts
- The municipality responsible for maintaining the road where the accident occurred
Vicarious Liability and Your Truck Accident Claim
A legal doctrine called respondent superior or vicarious liability can sometimes come into play in these cases. Through South Carolina case law, the driver’s employer is vicariously liable for their employee’s actions, as established by many state Supreme Court decisions, including Sams v. Arthur (1926). If this is a factor in your claim, then your attorney should build a strong case against the company and be prepared to go against corporate attorneys and insurers.
What a Lawyer Will Do for Your Claim
Evidence is essential for your claim, but there are a few factors that make proving liability in a truck accident case more complicated, including:
- Most of the evidence is possessed by the trucking company
- You have to know industry regulations before seeking out evidence
To preserve the evidence that the trucking company has, a lawyer must act quickly after being hired to issue a spoliation letter, granting them access to their information and evidence, such as:
- The data from the truck’s computer
- The rest log
- The results from the truck driver’s drug and alcohol test
- Dashcam footage
- A truck driver’s records, including previous incidents and medical records
An attorney will do a thorough investigation to gather all evidence needed, including examining trucking industry regulations and the role they played in the crash. The regulations are made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which establishes hours of service regulations that drivers must adhere to. It is common for drivers to ignore these rules, and in fact, many employers encourage them to do so.
One of the most important ways to ensure you are compensated fairly is by uncovering, documenting, and calculating the costs and damages you incurred. You must do this to prove the value of your settlement for your case. Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer means you don’t have to worry about handling this process and can rely on their expertise.
You might find it straightforward to calculate your economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damages, but your noneconomic damages are much more difficult to determine. These losses can account for future medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Your lawyer will establish the proof necessary to show these losses occurred and accurately value them—ensuring the insurer or liable parties pay the full amount owed to you.
Navigate the Claims Process
In order to recover financial compensation, you must prove: (1) what happened, (2) who is responsible, and (3) how much the claim is worth. A good attorney will see that all these steps are taken care of for your claim.
Here are some examples of what truck accident lawyers can use as evidence to prove liability:
- Loading errors
- Mechanical failure
- Blindspot accidents
- Underride accidents
- Jackknife incidents
- Driving while drowsy
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Driver error
Through a thorough investigation of your collision, your attorney will establish evidence to support the claim allowing them to demand a settlement covering all your damages. This process includes preparing the necessary paperwork, communicating with the insurer, and negotiating the settlement. If negotiations don’t lead to a settlement, you want to ensure the attorney you hired is confident in filing a lawsuit and going to court on your behalf.
Manage the Timeline
In many cases, a claim will be settled out of court, meaning you don’t have to go through a trial. However, if a lawsuit becomes necessary, there is limited time allowed to file against a trucking company and any other liable parties involved. According to S.C. Ann. § 15-3-530 of South Carolina law, this time limit is three years. Some exceptions exist, and your attorney will determine the deadlines in your case and ensure you meet them when possible.
Because of the complexities of truck accident claims, you want to ensure your attorney is sufficiently experienced in winning trucking accident personal injury cases so you have the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve. Don’t bare the burden of recovering from your injuries and trying to handle your claim. Let a personal injury attorney do the hard work on your behalf!