Truck accidents can result in a confusing mess of legal and medical problems that anybody without a fair amount of experience of these cases might have difficulty understanding. Shamis & Gentile, a law firm based in Miami, Florida, provides the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about truck accidents and their consequences and implications.
What should I do following a truck accident?
As with any other accident, the first thing to do after a truck accident is to get off the road to a safe place as soon as possible if you can and contact the police and medical emergency services immediately. If you are able to, get the contact details and insurance information of everyone else involved. You should also try and get the contact details of any eyewitnesses. Police should also carry out these tasks as they fill out their reports, but if you have not been incapacitated because of the accident, you should try and gather as much information as you can. Take photographs of the scene as well. Then, as soon as you can after the accident, contact a truck accident lawyer to assess the details of your case.
What are the leading causes of truck accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has conducted a study on the causes of truck accidents and they list the following – from most to least common – as the matters most often reported as primary factors in truck accidents:
- Brake failure
- Traffic problems (congestion, previous accident)
- Prescription drug use
- Drivers being unfamiliar with the roadways
- Roadway problem
- Failure to stop in time at crosswalks or traffic control devices, etc.
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
How are truck accidents different from car accidents?
At face value, it might appear that all road accidents are very similar, and that the only difference between a car crash and a truck collision is the size and shape of the vehicles involved. This idea could not be further from the truth. Truck accidents differ from car accidents in a number of critical ways.
- Truck accidents tend to be much more severe: The size of a truck and the much greater force that results when it collides with another vehicle or stationary object at high speed, means that the damage, and the risk of severe injuries or death, are all much greater than they would be for a simple car accident.
- When a lawsuit results, a plaintiff is going up against a trucking company, rather than another individual motorist: When an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident, the company that owns that truck is drawn into the matter and any resulting lawsuits, together with their insurance company and legal representatives. This means that the lawsuit will be much more complex.
- The causes are usually very different and more difficult to discern: Car accidents are most often caused by human error, whereas truck accidents often occur because of the sheer size of the vehicles. Whereas a motorist may fail to brake in time, a truck driver may argue that he or she did brake promptly but that it took longer to stop because of the size of the vehicle, for example.
- Truck accident lawsuits are more complex: As a result of all of the above factors, as well as others, truck accident cases are generally more complex than car accident lawsuits. Truck accidents involve more severe damages, and there are usually many more parties involved (drivers, truck owners, insurance companies, lawyers, etc.)
Who is responsible for my truck accident?
Due to the complexity of truck accidents, which we have mentioned above, it can be quite a challenge to determine who is at fault. It could be that only the driver is at fault, or the trucking company that owns the vehicle is liable. Sometimes, it could be the company that loaded the truck who is responsible. The exact cause of the accident needs to be established first, after which the fault can be laid at the correct person or entity’s feet. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to do this.
What will my truck accident lawyers do to help me?
A truck accident lawyer will be able to examine your case, gather all the evidence and pick through the complexities in order to build a case so that you can take legal action against the driver, trucking company or insurance company that is liable for the damages you deserve. They will also represent you in negotiations and litigation. In all honesty, you would struggle to do this on your own. You don’t have the time or resources to do so, nor the necessary experience in truck accident cases. A truck accident lawyer is your only way to bring your truck accident case to a satisfactory conclusion.
How is negligence established following a truck accident?
In order to establish negligence in any accident, the plaintiff’s legal representation needs to establish four things:
- Duty of care: the defendant must be shown to have had a duty of care, as either the driver of a truck, or as the owner-operator of a trucking fleet, to exercise caution and consideration to other road users.
- Breach of duty: It must be shown that the defendant breached this duty of care.
- Causation: Furthermore, there must be proof that the breach of duty was the cause of the resulting accident.
- Damages: Finally, it must be demonstrated beyond any doubt that the accident, which the defendant caused, led to the damages and injuries for which the plaintiff is claiming.
It is not always easy to establish any of these four things and thus to place the blame where it belongs. The difficulty is a result of the inherent complexity of truck accidents. The only way to do so is with the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer.
How is compensation determined following a truck accident?
After a truck accident, you can claim the following types of compensation:
- Medical costs – the total of all medical expenses resulting from the accident.
- Lost income – the loss of earnings resulting from injuries caused during the accident
- Pain and suffering – the less tangible results of the accident: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, mental anguish, etc.
- Disfigurement – any permanent physical effects resulting from the accident which affect the quality of life and employability.
- Loss of consortium – The spouse of a truck accident victim can claim for a loss of financial support as a result of their spouse’s inability to earn due to their injuries.
The value of these damages can be determined by considering a range of factors, making the case even more complex. These factors include:
- The severity, duration and nature of your injuries
- Liability of all involved parties
- Age of the injured party
- Occupation of the injured party
- Pre-existing medical conditions or injuries
- The total of medical bills
- Quality of the evidence that your lawyers collect in support of your case
What are the tools needed for a successful truck accident case?
As the previous points should have made clear, pursuing a truck accident case can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. The only way to be successful in this endeavor is to have a truck accident lawyer conduct a thorough investigation. The first step is to examine the trucks involved in their post-accident condition. The lawyers must have access to the truck’s black box and the wealth of information it contains. It is imperative that the lawyers are able to gather all the evidence they need and the necessary time and resources to follow the trail of evidence towards the proof of negligence and liability.
Shamis & Gentile is a Miami-based law firm that handles all varieties of personal injury cases, including truck accident cases. If you have been involved in a truck accident in the recent past, and you would like to pursue the compensation to which you are entitled, contact us and book a free consultation. One of our truck accident attorneys will assess your case and help you decide on the best course of action.