Commercial trucks are massive vehicles that can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. When a tractor-trailer or semi-truck collides with a car, the people involved may be left with serious injuries requiring costly medical treatment.
Victims of large truck collisions might seek compensation through a personal injury claim for their crash-related damages. However, the at-fault party and their insurance company can make truck accident settlements difficult. A truck accident lawsuit might be necessary to get the financial resources you deserve.
Truck accident lawsuits, however, quickly grow complicated. They consist of various documents and deadlines and a keen understanding of the legal process. A truck accident attorney can offer the assistance you need.
Who Can You Name in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Truck accidents can be complex and oftentimes more than one party may be held liable in a truck accident claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can investigate your accident to determine all possible liable parties. In some cases, you may be eligible to seek compensation from more than one source. Here are some parties that may be held liable in a truck accident case:
THE TRUCK DRIVER
If settlement negotiations fail, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf against the truck driver for negligence. Many causes of truck accidents have to do with driver errors. Some common causes of truck driver error include:
- driver fatigue
- distracted driving
- following too closely behind other vehicles
- driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- improper lane changes
- aggressive driving or road rage
THE TRUCKING COMPANY
A commercial trucking company may be held liable for an accident its driver causes if the company engaged in negligent behavior that contributed to the accident. Some examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Negligent hiring
- Failing to properly train drivers
- Encouraging or pressuring drivers to violate safety regulations, such as exceeding their hours of service
- Violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations
A CARGO LOADER
Trucking companies rely on cargo loaders to safely and responsibly load cargo onto their trucks. A cargo loading company may be held liable for a trucking accident if they were negligent in their loading duties. Some examples include:
- Improper weight distribution of cargo within the trailer can make the truck unstable and difficult to control
- Failing to adequately secure cargo can cause cargo to shift during transit, which can cause the trucker to lose control of his vehicle
- Overloading cargo so that it exceeds federal or state weight limits can affect the driver's handling and braking
- Failing to keep up-to-date records on cargo, including weight and distribution, can make it difficult for the loading company to prove the cargo was loaded correctly
Manufacturers must ensure each truck component they produce meets safety standards. Defective vehicle parts cause 5 percent of fatal truck collisions. A common cause is an issue with at least one of the tires. Brake failures and malfunctions in electrical systems also may occur.
Your lawyer may discover the issue stems from a design flaw or irregular production. The manufacturing company becomes liable as a result. Liability in cases involving defective products is based on product liability laws.
How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Truck accident cases can be complicated. If you wish to pursue compensation through a truck accident lawsuit, consider these important steps:
HIRE A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
The first step is to find a truck accident lawyer near you. These attorneys understand truck accident law and how these lawsuits work. They can guide you through the claims process and handle the legal work so you can focus on your recovery. Most truck accident lawyers offer a consultation to discuss your case and determine if you have a valid claim.
You'll want to bring as much paperwork as you can for the initial consultation, including documents regarding injuries, medical treatment, lost earnings, and property damage.
ISSUE THE DEMAND LETTER
Your attorney may send a demand letter to the truck driver or trucking company and their insurance companies. The letter notifies the other party of your intent to take legal action. The paper also outlines your evidence and the amount of money you seek.
Both sides may try to negotiate a fair settlement. However, if the other party refuses to make you a fair offer, your lawyer may advise you to file a truck accident lawsuit in civil court.
SERVE THE COMPLAINT
The next step to filing a truck accident lawsuit is to submit the complaint. A complaint officially begins the legal process and describes the allegations against the truck driver or carrier. The documents list what the other party did and how they harmed you.
Your lawyer then serves the complaint letter to the negligent parties. The other side usually hires an attorney and submits an answer. The answer may explain how the negligent party accepts or denies the victim's allegations. The lawsuit may proceed to the discovery phase
How Long Does a Truck Accident Lawsuit Take?
The duration of a truck accident lawsuit varies from case to case. A set timeframe may not apply since many factors determine how quickly or slowly a lawsuit progresses. The discovery, for example, can be the longest stage of the process.
Your attorney may send questions or requests for documents to the opposing side. The truck driver's lawyer may take time to respond. The other side can get an extension for when they have to reply. Depositions also take place during the discovery phase. A deposition could last longer than either lawyer expected.
Another factor is if a trial occurs. Trials delay the outcome, but only as much as 5 percent of lawsuits reach the courtroom. Most cases are settled by the time they reach the mediation stage.
A truck accident lawsuit can take up to six months or more to resolve. Some people have to wait many years to reach a settlement.
What Compensation is Available in Trucking Accidents?
In a truck accident case, compensation is determined by the damages the accident victim, and in some cases, their family suffered. Some common damages a truck accident victim may claim include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income, if you were unable to work during your recovery
- Future loss of earnings, if you are unable to return to work in the same capacity as before the accident
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
Get Started on a Lawsuit Right Away
Nevada, like many other states, has a statute of limitations that sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit in a truck accident case. In Nevada, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those stemming from truck accidents, is typically two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you're involved in a truck accident in Nevada, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties.
However, there are some exceptions that can shorten or even extend this timeframe, so it is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you wish to pursue a trucking accident lawsuit.
Be aware that time is critical in preserving evidence related to the accident to support your case. Evidence such as accident reports, witness statements, physical evidence from the scene, and electronic data from the truck's black box (if available) can be crucial in establishing liability. If you wait too long, this evidence may be lost, destroyed, or become less reliable.
Do Not Speak to Insurance Company Representatives
A representative from the truck driver's or the trucking company's insurer may contact you. The adjuster may ask questions under the guise of wanting to know what happened. The person on the phone may want to help, but they still have the insurer's interests in mind.
Some insurance companies want to minimize how much they need to pay victims. Adjusters may ask for a recorded statement. They review what people say to find hints of vague or apologetic statements. A representative may use your words to downplay your injuries.
Talk to a truck accident lawyer instead of someone from the insurance company. An attorney has your interests at heart and can shield you from an insurer that acts in bad faith, and ensure you get the truck accident settlement you deserve.
What Does A Truck Accident Attorney Do?
Truck accident attorneys have a lot of responsibilities when they take on cases. They can investigate truck accidents to learn about the details. The cause of a collision may not be evident at first. You can expect your lawyer to review the facts to ensure your case has a valid and compelling argument.
The investigation may show the attorney if one or more liable parties exist. Your lawyer can determine if the truck driver, carrier, manufacturer, or another entity is responsible.
Another task of a law firm is to collect proof. The other side may fight to pay less or avoid paying you money. Evidence can show the judge how the truck driver behaved and the extent to which the action harmed you.
Evidence usually includes pictures of the accident scene. You or someone else might have taken photos of the crash site. Your lawyer might use images of your injuries as well. Witness statements are essential when attorneys build strong cases.
Witnesses may provide an unbiased account of what took place. Your lawyer can work to get hold of any who were there and record their statements. Other common pieces of evidence are camera footage and medical records.
A truck accident lawyer can work diligently to establish liability. The court must see how the truck driver behaved carelessly before awarding compensation. Negligence has four requirements a valid case must meet. The first is a duty of care. Truckers generally meet the requirement since traffic laws obligate them to keep other people's safety in mind.
The next element is to show how the at-fault party ignored the duty of care. Your lawyer can use some evidence to prove the driver suffered from fatigue or became distracted. The person's actions then led to the accident. The crash also had a direct link to the damages.
Medical records and bills can show the causation. Truck accident lawyers can begin negotiations once they establish negligence.
Are Consultations Free?
A consultation is the initial meeting between a lawyer and a potential client. Both discuss the case and decide if they want to work together. A consultation is a necessary first step and should not cost you anything.
You can talk about your situation without worrying about risks. Call a personal injury attorney to seek financial reimbursement for your injuries.