Truck Accident Attorney
Some may be surprised to learn car accidents involving commercial vehicles and large trucks are handled very differently than other motor vehicle accidents. For instance, truck accident cases involve large corporations, teams of insurance providers, and oftentimes, multiple defendants.
As a result, the legal actions taken will be dire in order to recover maximum damages, enforcing the need for an experienced truck accident attorney. For those who may be unfamiliar, here is the role of an attorney in a truck accident case.
Truck Accident Attorneys Specialize in Tort Law
This branch of law deals with “torts,” also referred to as civil wrongs, not to be mistaken for criminal wrongs. It involves a person or entity that inflicts harm or injury onto another party. When this happens, the wronged party can file a claim against the defendant for compensation.
A truck accident claim falls under this umbrella of tort law. Therefore, truck accident victims can file personal injury claims against all responsible parties. This may include the trucking company, their truck drivers, the company that loaded the cargo, or another third party. Common types of losses in truck accidents include:
- Property damage
- Current medical bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
While injured truck accident victims are entitled to a fair settlement to cover these losses, that does not mean the truck company or insurance companies will actually pay what is owed. This is where legal representation is most beneficial.
As legal experts in the field, truck accident attorneys can evaluate a truck accident, determine the case’s value, and aggressively negotiate with trucking companies to recover maximum damages.
What Is an Attorney’s Role in Truck Accident Cases?
The ultimate goal is to obtain a fair and full settlement for clients. Knowledgeable truck accident lawyers will accomplish this in the following ways.
Investigate the Truck Accidents
The investigation is pivotal to a case’s success. In fact, a truck accident law firm may only take on a case after a personal investigation has been conducted.
Because some attorneys work on contingency, they will only get paid if the case is won. Therefore, it would not be advantageous for either party to file a claim that has a low likelihood of success.
During the investigation, the legal team will look for evidence, indicating that someone from the trucking company was negligent. The more evidence that is obtained during the investigation, the stronger the truck accident case will be.
The investigation will also consist of working with expert witnesses who can research and confirm the accuracy of the findings.
This can include an accident reconstruction expert who will analyze the accident site to determine the factors that may have contributed to the truck crash. A medical specialist may also contribute to the investigation by detailing the extent of injuries and explaining how life-changing such injuries can be.
Collect Evidence of Truck Accidents
A contributing factor that will make the investigation effective is the collection of evidence. Based on attorneys’ knowledge and history they will know the types of evidence that is most valuable in proving the trucking company is at fault for the accident. This may include:
- The truck’s black box, or event data recorder (EDR), which logs the vehicle’s movements will indicate speeding and when the last rest period was taken
- Witness testimonies from those who observed the collision
- Driving record and history of the truck driver
- Vehicle evaluation to examine the condition of the vehicles and where impact was made
- Street surveillance cameras with footage of the collision
- Maintenance log of the truck to determine how up-to-date vehicle servicing was
- Medical records of victims for diagnoses and cost of medical treatment
- Pictures of the accident scene to document road conditions, faulty road signage, or defective traffic lights
- Police report which summarizes the event and all parties involved
Evidence with an Expiration Date
There is a legal process to obtain this type of information, so it’s important to proceed delicately. It is also best to act quickly, as the truck companies are not legally responsible for retaining records beyond a certain period of time.
For instance, black box data is mandated by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to be retained for only six months. So, if the six-month timeframe expires, the trucking companies would be allowed to dispose of seemingly valuable evidence.
Draft and Submit a Demand Letter to the Trucking Companies
Once the investigation has been completed and evidence collected, a truck accident lawyer will calculate damages to determine the legal basis for the claim being filed. Then, a demand letter is drafted, outlining the client’s total losses, based specifically on the facts of the case.
Then, the truck accident lawyer will send the letter to the appropriate party (this could be the truck drivers and/or their employers) on behalf of the injured client. It’s necessary to have an attorney handle this step, as it will ensure that the letter is legally sound and completed correctly.
The truck accident law firm can handle the next steps, should the other party’s insurance reject the claim or insist on moving forward with negotiations.
The Statute of Limitations in California
Additionally, an attorney will make sure the legal processes are made within the statute of limitations. In California, victims of truck accidents or other personal injury accidents have two years to seek damages from the accused at-fault party.
However, sometimes truck accidents involve government vehicles, like garbage trucks or US postal service delivery trucks, and not commercial vehicles. Whenever the city or government agency is involved in a personal injury accident, the statute of limitations is reduced to six months.
Immediately consulting with a truck accident lawyer following an accident will prevent a victim from missing the window of time to file a claim.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
An insurance adjuster from the truck company will contact a victim to gather a verbal account of what happened. Their intent is to either get the victim into accepting a low, unfair offer or admit fault in the truck accident.
Trucking companies and their legal team are skilled in getting victims of truck accidents to respond to misleading questions.
For instance, they may ask how recovery has been going since the truck accident. Responding “fine” or “well” could be interpreted as not sustaining a serious truck accident injury or not experiencing pain and suffering.
When communications are handled between a truck accident lawyer and the insurance, the case is protected from the other party’s team trying to reduce the settlement amount.
Additionally, the truck accident law firm will calculate damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress, vying for the best possible settlement.
Prepare a Complaint and Initiate Discovery
If the insurance company is not being fair during negotiations, a truck accident lawyer can submit a complaint to the other party indicating that the next course of action will be to file a personal injury lawsuit. The other party has 30 days to file a response with the court.
This could be an “answer,” acknowledging the lawsuit, a “general denial” rejecting what the plaintiff is stating is true, or filing a motion informing the court that there are mistakes in the lawsuit.
Depending on how the other party responds, the discovery phase may begin. This is the period after truck accident lawsuits have been filed and the truck accident lawyer will begin prepping the case for trial.
During this stage, the truck accident lawyer will compile evidence, research similar cases, and form legal theories that pertain to how the accident was caused.
Take the Case to Trial
The majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court–even after discovery. However, when an insurance company is not being fair, the case can go to trial, where a jury and judge will decide the outcome.
While some case aspects may have the potential to be managed without legal representation, the trial stage is where the risks of not working with an attorney can be very detrimental. The court system is complex and will entail various court proceedings.
Those who worked with an attorney during trial, not only received compensation, but the percentage was much higher than those who did not have legal representation.
This can be financially devastating because if the lawsuit is not a success, the claimant will be left paying for out-of-pocket expenses for court fees, medical bills, and other damages suffered from the accident.
Contact a Huntington Beach Truck Accident Lawyer
Being in such close proximity to the 405 Freeway, the city of Huntington experiences many commercial trucks, semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and other large trucks passing through, especially on busy streets like Beach Blvd. and Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
If you were involved in a trucking accident, know that even if the truck driver was completely at fault, the truck company will not always compensate victims fairly.
At Coast Car Accident Lawyers, our truck accident lawyers are skilled in getting our clients the maximum compensation they deserve. To learn how our truck accident law firm can assist you with your case, contact us today. We offer a free consultation to get started.