Because of their size and weight, accidents involving commercial tractor trailers are more likely to cause serious or fatal injuries than typical automobile accidents. Likewise, trucking companies and their drivers carry a higher standard of conduct and compliance. In trucking accident cases, more time and expertise on the part of your lawyer is required to represent your claim in a thorough, effective manner. Contact our offices if you have been involved in a trucking-related accident.
Important: Do not provide any statements or sign any documents, such as releases for medical records or employment records, before you have consulted a qualified attorney.
Although most trucking companies are reputable, the industry is under enormous competitive and economic pressures. Complying with the law and obeying safe procedures consumes time and money. This pressure can lead some operators to cut corners, sometimes putting others at serious risk. In some instances, a defective part contributed to the accident and the manufacturer must be held accountable.
Trucking accidents are more complex than typical automobile accidents. There are special licensing and training requirements for truck drivers, as well as numerous laws and regulations, both state and federal, which must be followed in order to lawfully operate these commercial vehicles. The conduct and safety record of the driver must be carefully scrutinized.
Laws also vary from state to state. The trucking company, its driver, the trailer, plus the scene of the accident may have origins in a number of different states. These situations are not uncommon and we can help determine the state in which to pursue your claim.
Factors for determining the proper value of your claim are often common to many other types of personal injury claims. These include the length and type of medical treatment required, your loss of current and future income, the length of time you continue to experience pain and suffering from an accident and other factors. Of course, the actual circumstances surrounding the accident and degree of negligence of others weigh heavily in evaluating the strength and ultimate value of any personal injury claim.
The good news is that most trucks carry significant insurance. Commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce are required to carry a minimum $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage resulting from trucking accidents. For trucks not covered under federal law, most states have minimum insurance requirements for trucks.
PARTIES WE MAY PURSUE ON YOUR BEHALF
Any person or entity that has contributed to the cause of an accident can be sued. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Owner of the trailer
- The shipper
- Any other driver or person involved who was at fault
- Any manufacturer whose product contributed to the accident
- The owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident
IMPORTANT FACTORS WE INVESTIGATE IN TRUCKING ACCIDENT CASES
Many accidents are caused by a combination of factors. Some causes of trucking accidents that we will investigate on your behalf include:
- Inadequate truck driver training
- Oversized or overloaded trucks
- Poorly maintained brakes on trucks
- Driving in unsafe conditions, or at unsafe speeds in snow, ice, rain or fog
- Driving an excessive number of hours without rest
- Speeding or otherwise aggressive driving behavior
- Running off the road or crossing the center line
- Failure to yield the right of way
- A truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A truck driver with a history or reckless behavior
- Inoperable safety systems such as reflectors, lights and other warning devices
- The truck does not have underride protection
- Failure to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations regarding truck inspection
- Improper or inadequate truck maintenance
- Improper placarding and markings
- Non-compliance with hazardous materials transportation and safety regulations
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS CAN PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE
If the truck involved was commercially owned, in most instances the larger trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately following the accident. They have considerable resources and are experts in accident scene investigations and defending claims. Their primary goal is to pursue information and evidence that will assist them in defending their case, not yours. This puts individual victims at a natural disadvantage. Therefore, it is critical that you retain an experienced truck accident lawyer who will immediately begin to investigate the case, interview witnesses, obtain evidence and establish the liability of any potential at-fault defendants.
Timeliness is important. For example, although driver logs must be kept for six months, items like scale tickets, inspection records, and other documents might require a lawyer’s immediate intervention to preserve. Additionally, how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and other codes relating to the safe operation of these commercial vehicles are thoroughly analyzed for violations is equally critical, since violations frequently factor into truck accidents.
INJURIES OCCURRING OUTSIDE OF KENTUCKY
If you were injured in an accident outside the state of Kentucky, we can still help. First, we will determine the state in which to pursue your claim, up to and including the filing of a lawsuit. Next, we carefully screen local counsel for the necessary qualifications and experience in these types of cases. Then, we typically join forces with a local attorney in that state at no additional cost to the client. In these instances, the usual fees involved are simply divided between the firms. Every state has different requirements governing how attorneys work together, and we make certain we are in compliance with each state’s ethical requirements.