Getting in a commercial trucking accident can be devastating to those affected. Most of the time, they are catastrophic and change a person's life drastically. Commercial trucks are massive and can cause a lot of damage, including injuries, property losses, and even loss of life. And the thought of pursuing a trucking accident settlement after the fact can be intimidating, to say the least. Large trucking companies tend to have seemingly endless financial resources and tough lawyers in their pockets.
But the intimidation factor can stop there. If you have a great lawyer or law firm representing you, like those at Cooney & Conway, you don't have to be intimidated by the commercial trucking companies and their lawyers. We would never let them push you around or compensate you for less than you deserve.
To put you at ease, let's take a look at commercial trucking accidents and settlements so that you have a greater understanding of the process.
The Damage Truck Accidents Can Cause
Commercial truck accidents typically cause more damage than regular car accidents, and therefore, they result in greater settlements. Take into account the fact that commercial trucks weigh ten times that of a personal vehicle, and you're looking at a huge mess of an accident- especially if the accident happened while the truck was going fast.
When it comes to settlements, the reason behind the trucking accident plays a very important role in determining the damages that are awarded to victims. For example, if you pulled in front of a truck that had the right-of-way, and they plowed into your vehicle because they didn't have time to stop, the damages you would receive would be significantly less (or nonexistent) than if a trucker, for example, was on their phone and distracted, and plowed into your car at a stoplight. One important thing to note, as well, is that sometimes it's not the truck driver's fault. Trucking companies or truck maintenance providers can be at fault if there are issues with the truck that the driver wasn't responsible for.
Some of the most common reasons for commercial trucking accidents include:
- Impaired Driving: Fatigue, medications, and substance abuse can all cause impaired driving that can lead to an accident. If this is exacerbated by scheduling pressure from a trucking company, pushing truck drivers past their legal driving limits or sensible safety standards, then the trucking company could be held liable as well as the driver.
- Driver Error: This is perhaps one of the greatest causes of trucking accidents because it is usually the result of drivers not paying attention or not understanding the rules of the road. This reason typically leads to some of the highest settlement amounts.
- Poor Loading: Commercial trucks carry large loads that weigh a significant amount. If their load shifts while they are driving, that can cause the truck to tip, pulling the entire truck over and leading to an accident and/or a ton of cargo on the road. There are truckloads called "no touch" loads, in which the drivers aren't responsible for securing their cargo. If their "no touch" load is not secured correctly and causes damages or accidents, the loading contractor or company can be held liable for their role.
- Company Policies: A trucking company's business practices and ethics directly impact their drivers and the safety of those on the road. If they skimp on training their drivers, or cost-cut on regular vehicle maintenance, have poor policies in place, or pressure their drivers to put in more hours than they should, this could lead to tragedies and great losses.
- Manufacturer Errors: There are demanding specifications for commercial truck parts that are essential to safely transporting cargo. If they are poorly engineered or the parts fail, this can cause a trucking accident. In these cases, the manufacturers can be held liable for the part their faulty product played in the wreck.
Factors at Play in Trucking Accident Settlements
Trucking accident claims are a type of personal injury claim, so you would need a personal injury lawyer to represent you. When your lawyer files the claim, the settlement is typically then decided by a court, and they take the following into account:
- Evidence: It's important to document as much evidence as possible regarding the trucking accident. Trucking companies work hard to minimize the amounts they have to pay out in claims, and they will most definitely use your lack of evidence to dispute the claim. All photos, videos, body shop receipts, testimonies from witnesses, medical records, etc, are evidence that will be used in a court of law. These can prove the extent of the damage done to your vehicle, injuries you got as a result, and even who is at fault.
- Liability: Establishing who is at fault and to what extent is a key component of personal injury cases. The more parties and the more at fault they are can mean a larger settlement for those injured. If you are found partially responsible, that amount decreases.
- The extend of damages and their effects: Larger property damage, extensive injuries, lingering pain and suffering, or wrongful death all impact the amount awarded for damages. As long as there is thorough documentation for this and you have a great lawyer, you should receive the highest settlement amount possible for the trucking accident.
- Economic damages: There is a tangible monetary value for what you've lost as a result of the accident. This can include physical damages to your property, any lost wages, and medical and therapy bills.
- Noneconomic damages: These are damages that don't come with a set monetary value, like pain and suffering, loss of mobility, loss of life, or any expenses that are accrued when you try to return to normal life after disfigurement.
- Punitive damages: In cases of malicious or willful or extreme negligence, a claim can call for punitive damages. They are always in addition to the other damages to punish the defendant and to establish that a repeat will not be tolerated.
What to Do After a Trucking Accident
To ensure you get the compensation you deserve, we recommend:
- Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident happens
- Discuss the full value of your claim with your lawyer
- Keep track of all medical expenses, including emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgeries and procedures, medical equipment purchases, modifications made to your home to ensure mobility after an injury, and therapies.
- Don't accept the insurance company's initial settlement offer without discussing it with your lawyer
- Be patient, as these things can take time
- Follow your lawyer's advice, because it could make (or break if not followed) your case
Trucking accidents are serious, and they require legal representation that understands how to face down trucking companies and their lawyers to get you the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience handling trucking accident cases and are ready to fight for you. Start the process to file your claim by first filling out our free case evaluation, and then our team will contact you about your situation to see how we can help.