Being involved in any motor vehicle accident can be traumatic, but when it involves a tractor-trailer or another large commercial truck, the consequences can be life-altering. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a crash involving an 18-wheeler, an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand how your personal injury or wrongful death claim may differ from those that only involve passenger vehicles.
Truck Accidents Often Cause More Serious Damage and Injury
Because of their large size and weight, tractor-trailers often cause accidents that result in significant property damage, catastrophic injury and death. In cases where multiple vehicles are involved, the human cost of a crash may be even higher. Victims of truck accidents may suffer injuries such as:
- Head, neck and back injuries
- Spinal injuries that result in paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken or crushed bones
- Organ damage
These types of injuries often require lifelong medical care and can significantly diminish your quality of life. Although no amount of money can change what happened, a good injury lawyer can put an accurate value on your claim and help to ensure you recover the maximum compensation you need and deserve to protect your health and financial future.
Truck Accidents Claims are Complex
Tractor-trailer accident claims are multifaceted. It is critical to collect and preserve valuable evidence as soon as possible. A trucking company may send investigators and insurance company representatives to the scene right away. Do not give a statement or sign anything from an insurance adjuster without talking to a car accident attorney first. Their priority is always the bottom line—even your own insurance company may not be looking out for your best interests.
Although it may be tempting to accept the first settlement offer, you may be unaware of the extent of your injuries and the long-term impact they may have on your life. Trucking companies and other businesses often have liability insurance policies that reach into the multi-millions. In addition, multiple parties may be liable for damages in a truck accident claim, including the trucking company, truck driver, maintenance company, truck manufacturer, or parts manufacturer.
An experienced attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash and help you pursue all possible avenues of compensation. It is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and regulations put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), which oversees standards and rules for owners and drivers of commercial vehicles.
Collection of Evidence May Be More Extensive
Truck accident cases require the collection and review of additional evidence that is not typically necessary in car accident claims. In addition to photographs, witness statements, and police reports, the best accident lawyers gather evidence such as:
- The truck driver’s training and driving record
- Truck maintenance records
- The truck driver’s medical records
- Results of any drug and alcohol testing
- The vehicle operator’s log, which contains valuable information like the number of hours driven, breaks and stops
- The “black box recorder” from the truck, which documents GPS, engine and other travel data
- Cell phone records
Legal teams also work with accident reconstructionists and other professionals who can provide vital expert witness testimony to back up your claim.