In 2019, 4,119 people died in large truck crashes. 67% of those that died were from cars, not the actual trucks.
So, what makes a truck accident so much more dangerous than say an auto accident?
Semi-trucks can weigh as much as 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars. They can also take 20% to 40% longer to come to a stop than a car.
These stats don’t bode well for the impact they can have in a truck accident.
If you’ve been in a semi-truck accident, you know how scary and dangerous it can be. You might also be wondering if you need a good Houston semi-truck accident lawyer.
The short answer is yes, you do need a truck accident lawyer if you’ve been in an accident with a semi-truck. Read on to learn about how a semi-truck accident lawyer can help your case.
What Can Truck Lawyers Do?
If you’re wondering do I need a lawyer, you probably don’t fully understand the impact the best truck accident lawyer can have on your case.
Truck accidents are highly complicated for a number of reasons. (More on this later). You need to understand that if you try to navigate your case without the help of an experienced attorney, there’s a good chance you won’t get a thing.
There will be many parties involved in a potential case and all will be represented by legal counsel. If you try to handle the case yourself, they will not take you seriously. In fact, it’s likely they’ll take advantage of you.
You not only need someone who understands the law, but also will work on your behalf to protect your interests.
Remember Who You’re Up Against
If you’ve been in an injury-related semi-truck accident, it’s important you realize who you’ll be up against in potential litigation.
It isn’t just you against the other driver. Often truckers work for a company. So, you have the driver, plus the company they represent. If other vehicles were involved, they would be a part of the litigation too.
Then you add in the different insurance companies representing each party. It can get complicated very quickly, especially if there are questions about fault from the accident.
Then add in the complications and cost of injuries and damages. You need an experienced attorney who knows how to manage all involved.
One of the complexities of a semi-truck accident relates to liability. The truck and truck driver may have caused the accident, yet it’s highly likely the accident claims will involve getting compensation from more than one party.
Your attorney will know who to get involved in the case when considering liability.
One obvious party for liability is the truck driver. The driver may have caused the accident because of:
- Distracted driving
- Impairment with drugs and alcohol
- Excess speed
- Not following other driving laws
Any number of these would constitute negligence from the truck driver making them liable.
The truck company also could be liable. They are responsible for the actions of the people they employ. Their negligence may come from inadequate pre-employment screening, violations of state and federal trucking rules, and insufficient training.
Other parties that might be held liable include the truck manufacturer or truck parts maker, shipping company, and truck maintenance company.
Multiple Insurance Companies Involved
As liability is considered in your case, each of the parties already mentioned will be represented by their own insurance company, which will surely have their own attorney.
Most people understand they have insurance so they will pay claims if needed. The reality is that most insurance companies make it pretty difficult before they will pay a claim.
This will be especially true if there are many parties involved and they can attempt to pass the responsibility on to someone else.
You need an attorney who is experienced in managing all the involved parties of the case.
Potential for Serious Injury
The sheer difference in size between a semi-truck and a car should make clear how serious the injuries could be from a semi-truck.
The average semi, not overloaded, weighs around 80,000 pounds. In contrast, the average car weighs around 5000 pounds.
Add the size differential to the difference in the time it takes to come to a stop, you can quickly see how serious injuries could become.
Sadly, the injuries are much more likely to be serious too, compared to an accident with two cars.
Potential for Fatalities
While injuries are one consideration, if there was a fatality involved in the accident, the damages are much more significant.
The loss of a surviving family member is huge and challenging to calculate. But if you’ve lost a family member in a truck accident, you want an attorney who will get you the largest claim possible to compensate for your loss.
Potential for Serious Damages
Damages paid in a truck accident can be significant. They should represent a fair amount of compensation for the losses that occurred because of the accident.
Most people don’t realize all that can be included when considering damages for a big case like this. You want an attorney who knows all the places to consider for damages and how to calculate them.
Damages might come from:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of the ability to earn money
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
Some of the damages are relatively straightforward. It’s a matter of adding them up. While others are more complex depending on the accident severity and consequences.
Need Somone Who Knows Trucking Laws
In the US, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating trucks and other commercial vehicles.
Trucks and their drivers must abide by a series of complex laws and rules related to driving a truck. Laws for truckers include areas like:
- How long drivers can be “in-service” before they must get off the road to rest
- Driver qualifications
- Inspection, repair, and maintenance
- Required parts and accessories
- Insurance requirements
- Preservation of records
- Transporting hazardous materials
Any number of trucking laws are bound to get considered as your claim is argued. You need a lawyer who is well-versed in these laws and can examine if the driver was abiding by them.
Need a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer Who Knows Fault Laws
One important factor in truck accidents, especially in Texas relates to fault laws. There’s something in the law called comparative fault.
Most states require that the law reduce the proportion of damages according to the amount of responsibility the injured party has for the accident.
In Texas, for example, there’s something called the law on proportionate responsibility which basically says the amount of claim you can receive is proportional based on your own fault for causing the accident.
It also says that you can’t recover damages if you’re found more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Be assured that the other lawyers involved in this case, especially those of the truck and its driver, will attempt to use this law and place some blame on you.
Your experienced attorney will know how to fight this and stand up for your rights.
Involvement of Other Vehicle
This type of case is already complicated by so many factors. It gets even more complex if multiple vehicles beyond you and the truck are involved in the case.
It makes it even more necessary to be represented by legal counsel. With so many parties involved, you want your attorney negotiating on your behalf.
Develop a Legal Strategy
It should be clear now that a semi-truck accident case can be complex with many parties involved. You want an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney who understands the process.
They will need to do a fair share of investigating and negotiating as your case progresses. You want an attorney who will develop a solid legal strategy to handle your case and will communicate the plan comfortably with you.
Guide to the Legal Process
Because this kind of case can take a while to sort out and may involve actually going to trial, it’s important that you’re comfortable with your attorney.
They should work to guide you through what to expect as your case progresses. They should also act as an advisor as you make hard decisions related to your case.
Hiring a Houston Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in an injury accident with a truck, it should be obvious that you need a truck accident attorney in Houston to help manage your case. These cases are often complex and involve many parties.