Just as trucking accidents can result in more severe damage than regular car accidents, so can the liability be more difficult to parse out. This is due mainly to the fact that there are so many players to consider in a trucking accident; the story does not end with the truck driver’s actions. There are several parties to consider:
o The driver
o The trucking company that owns the truck
o The manufacturer of the truck and its parts
o The company that has leased the truck
o The loading company
Each company will have its own attorneys and attorneys from their individual insurance companies as well. This is why it is of the utmost importance that you hire an attorney of your own, so that your interests are represented as vigorously as the interests of the companies involved.
The trucking company or the company that leased the truck will always try to characterize the driver as an independent contractor, thereby trying to distance itself from liability. With strict federal regulations, this isn’t a successful ploy. The companies can be held liable for inadequate driver training, negligent hiring, inadequate truck maintenance, improper loading of the truck, and negligent supervision. However, proving liability against all the specific parties that are involved is no easy feat. There is a vast amount of evidence that needs to be gathered, and investigations that need to be done. In order to hold each involved party responsible and to recover the maximum amount for your injuries, you need an attorney that is willing to commit the time and resources necessary to explore the actions of each party involved.
Here are some of the critical steps that must be accomplished:
- Truck Inspection: We will hire experts to inspect the truck for any equipment that may have malfunctioned or been improperly maintained.
- Inspection of the Accident Scene: It is critical that we be able to inspect the accident scene as close to the event as possible. The condition of the roads, street signs, and witness statements are all very important to the investigation.
- Employee Records: Time logs kept by companies will reveal whether the company was enforcing hours of service regulations, or whether it was pushing its employees to make deliveries even if they would be in violation. These logs are not kept indefinitely, so it is of vital importance that they be requested in a timely manner. In addition, employer actions in monitoring its employees’ health certificates and alcohol and drug screenings can reveal employer negligence as well.
Because of the high-level of turnaround in the trucking industry, it is also important that a particular driver’s entire driving history be considered, no matter what state he might have driven in. We will also make a thorough investigation of a driver’s health history and consult any medical practitioners that granted a driver a clean medical certificate.
- Electronic Records: We now have many methods to cross-check driver activities, including GPS data and electronic on-board recorders. Some trucks have black boxes that record data; these are invaluable to understanding the factors that may have contributed to an accident.
- Interviews and Depositions: There are innumerable parties that will need to be interviewed and might need to be deposed. From the driver to witnesses to police officers, this enables us to create a whole and accurate picture of what happened.
- Police and Government Records: The government conducts its own investigations of trucks and the police will have their own reports of an accident. In order to develop the strongest possible case, we will gather reports from every agency.
Our Attorneys Can Provide the Help that You Need.
After an accident with an 18-wheeler, their insurance company may contact you directly to give you a settlement offer in hopes of avoiding a truck accident lawsuit. Most likely when dealing with an injury or the loss of a loved one, victims are vulnerable and may accept the offer without contacting an attorney.
Insurance companies employee full-time attorneys to determine a settlement sum that they would like for you to find satisfactory. However, victims in trucking accidents are usually not aware that if a truck driver was found negligent or careless, the insurance claim should be for significantly more in damages than the settlement that was offered. Your compensation should include consideration for economic damages such as lost wages, vehicle damage and medical bills. Victims should also receive non-economic damages for accident costs that you cannot put a price on such as pain and suffering, loss of a loved one and disfigurement. Finally, courts have awarded injured parties punitive damages for cases where egregious negligence was found.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler, don’t accept a settlement that reimburses a fraction of the economic and non-economic damages that you are entitled to from the insurance company. Once you accept a settlement, claimants typically agree to sign a contract that releases the company and its insured from any responsibility. Instead, contact Kirkendall Dwyer LLP to ensure your interests are protected and maximize your compensated damages.
From the first phone call, our attorneys will show you the individual attention that your case needs and deserves. As you can see, trucking accidents are multi-faceted. Our dedicated team will investigate every possible avenue of recovery to make sure that your compensation is complete. Your trucking accident has left you with enough to worry about. Let our team handle your case. The sooner you contact a trucking accident lawyer at Kirkendall Dwyer, the better able we will be to help you.