According to World Health Organization (WHO), every year more than 1.25 million people lose their lives as a result of deadly road traffic crashes. Another 20-50% more people suffer either fatal or non-fatal injuries, while others end up having a disability. The organization further states that road traffic crashes end up costing most countries approximately 3% of the gross domestic product. If no sustained action is undertaken, road crashes are foreseen to be the seventh largest cause of death by 2030!
Now, if we break it further you will notice that a huge percentage of these fatal crashes involve trucks and trailers. So what factors contribute to these unfortunate incidents? There are several including;
- Overloaded or imbalanced trucks
- Overworked or tired truck drivers
- Undertrained or untrained drivers (on road ethics, highway codes, among other things)
- Dysfunctional braking system or irregular servicing of the vehicle
When it comes to cases involving trucks or trailers, it is very different from regular car accidents because in this case you need evidence to a great extent to prove your case. This is even before you file a suit and this process can be very tedious and dragging. This is the chief reason why you will need a very competent truck accident lawyer to assist you get justice. If you or your family member is involved in a truck accident it is important you get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Getting an experienced attorney who is conversant with these issues will save you both time and effort. In many instances, as a victim of a truck accident you are at a disadvantage in terms of having limited financial resources and understanding of the legal system. By having a good lawyer by your side you can skip this hurdle and they can negotiate for you a fair compensation.
Why should you get an experienced truck accident attorney?
- An expert truck accident lawyer will assist you get immediate access to medical support
For starters, by going for a qualified trucking or semi-truck accident lawyer provides you with a level of guarantee that you will win your case and get fair compensation. Following an accident occurrence, the one thing on your mind is the comfort and welfare of your family member or friend affected. If they are fatally injured and forced to be hospitalized because a truck or trailer forced their car off the highway, the one thing you require at that time is to secure the best medical care available.
- Proper representation and investigation
Besides getting you medical support and attention, a veteran truck accident attorney will prioritize the need and process of investigation and representation in order to build an airtight case by examining the following:
- Interrogating witnesses to the accident
- Thoroughly examine and review the police report
- Take ample photographs of the scene of accident
- Examine in detail the facts and circumstances preceding the accident or event
- Investigate the truck driver’s driving record information – this will give insight on whether there were any vehicle malfunctions that would have contributed to the occurrence of the accident
- Consult widely especially expert opinions on issues such as truck maintenance or negligence which could have contributed to the accident
- Consulting the medical team, especially the doctors on the extent of damage that may require specialized treatment, therapy or possibility of disability
- Putting in place measures, should there be need to go for trial and obtaining the maximum compensation possible
- A truck accident lawyer champion for your best interests
An expert truck accident attorney will work hard to ensure you are appropriately compensated by the insurance company, provided with appropriate health care and your interests are protected. Basically, if you invest in a competent lawyer who understands financial and legal issues associated with truck accidents, then you will have a lot less headache following up on these matters.
- Commitment and expertise
A good truck accident lawyer worth their salt will follow through a particular case to the very end, with their client’s best interests at heart. Sometimes as a layman in such a situation, you have no idea where to start or who to talk to. This is because in most cases there are usually complicated communication channels and other factors in truck accident situations. This is where a truck accident attorney comes in, to ease the process.
What should you consider when getting a truck accident lawyer?
It is best advised you seek legal assistance from a law firm that is reputed to handle truck accident cases successfully. This is because such a law firm will have the experience and resources to meticulously handle a proper investigation and adequately prepare a strong case for seeking compensation. On the other hand, in case the party responsible for the truck accident is uncooperative then the expert attorney will have enough material to push for a fair trial.
If there is one factor that is erroneously overlooked when it comes to truck accidents, it is the issue of overloaded trucks. This is normally overlooked because it is assumed that the weight of the truck or trailer is quite insignificant in causing accidents.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, if a trailer carrying heavy cargo is driven at a high speed, the truck driver is likely to lose control of the truck increasing chances of a likelihood of an accident occurring. This is the main reason why a well-trained driver is best suited to operate such a vehicle.
If your loved one is involved in such a truck accident involving an overloaded truck, it is important for you to know your rights and your compensation requirements to assist in your loved one’s recovery process. This is why you should go to a competent truck accident lawyer or law firm which may have dealt with such cases before successfully.
In past incidences, it was recorded that overloaded trucks were as a result of;
- Unsecured and exceptionally large equipment which would be hanging out dangerously. This is especially notorious with construction vehicles.
- Faulty or sub-standard tie downs
- Improperly secured loads
- Inadequate load checks at proper intervals as required by the transport legislation requirements
In contrast to normal collisions involving small cars, accident involving trucks or trailers lead to serious fatalities. Studies show that in 7 out of 10 accidents involving trailers lead to serious injuries and death. This is mainly attributed to the power and size of trucks.
Why is this so common? Most instances the driver is exhausted, not paying attention to the road or is simply not experienced enough to be handling a truck. In such instances, you have a strong case to pursue in a court of law should the party involved be not willing to compensate out of court.
What you should look for when hiring a truck accident lawyer
It is of utmost critical importance to have a lawyer who regularly seeks to enhance his/her education or training on truck accident matters. This is because these matters keep changing and so a good attorney stays abreast with emerging trends on litigation issues surrounding truck accidents.
Seek to find out if your lawyer has attended any recent trainings, seminars or workshops relating to truck accidents, at least in the last two years. Why? Because if they have not, this is not a lawyer you should consider hiring.
As a truck accident lawyer what factors should you consider when following up a truck accident claim?
To win a truck accident claim is not easy task even for the most experienced attorney. In legal situations, the amount of admissible evidence is all that matters to win a case. So the attorney has the burden of proof to prove your case.
This means that as a truck accident lawyer you must be very conversant with the legislation governing truck accidents and you must have sufficient evidence to support your case. There are 5 key things you should look into as you progress with your claim;
- The parties liable in the truck accident claim
Aside from the driver, who else is liable for the accident occurrence? Sometimes there are external factors beyond the driver that could lead to a truck accident.
For instance, the driver’s employer who may have overworked the driver, the maintenance company which overlooked or did a substandard job in the vehicle’s maintenance or even the vehicle manufacturer who could have put a faulty part such as the breaks in the vehicle. As a lawyer you should examine all possible angles to the cause of the accident.
- Evidence and witness accounts from the scene of the accident
In most cases, the truck accident lawyer is normally hired after an accident scene has been cleared. However, if a comprehensive police report was done then there must have been evidence and witness interviews collected at the scene of the crash. You should critically examine all information provided, bearing in mind that the trucking company has hired their own lawyers too conducting the same due diligence.
- Bear in mind that trucking companies also hire their own defense lawyers
The biggest advantage trucking companies have is time. How come? In the event of an accident, the first priority is to take the victims to hospital for medical attention. This means that it can take a while before the victim hires a truck accident lawyer to seek for compensation.
Within this period, the trucking company has already hired a defense lawyer who has had more time in preparing for the case. If they have better resources at their disposal, they will definitely go for the best or most experienced lawyer around.
As a truck accident lawyer, you should have enough resources to conduct a thorough investigation, without charging the accident victim. You should seek to win your case so that you can recover your cost from the compensation paid to the victim.
- Cases of the truck driver fabricating their driver records
You should carefully examine the truck driver records and not only take them at face value. There are regulations which stipulate the number of hours a driver should be on the road on any given day. Some dishonest truck drivers alter their records in order to be on the road for a longer period so that they are paid overtime.
As an expert truck accident lawyer you should be able to identify any inconsistencies in the records and documentation. The good thing is that nowadays there are technological tools such as GPS and trackers which record vehicle data. This will assist you as you collect your evidence.
- Internal company driver policies for the trucking company
As a truck accident attorney you should seek to identify if there are any driver policies in the trucking company and whether the said policies were complied with. Most companies have policies which address issues such as driving hours, medical conditions, substance abuse while in duty, vehicle inspections, among others.
Which parties are usually liable in a truck or semi-truck accident claim?
Aside from the truck driver who is responsible for the occurrence of the almost 80% of the time, other parties may contribute to the negligence. These include;
- The owner or operator of the truck/semi-truck or trailer company
- The repair and maintenance company that is responsible for the truck/vehicle maintenance
- The party responsible for loading the truck and inspecting who may have overloaded the vehicle causing the accident
As a victim of a truck accident, it is your responsibility to seek for legal representation for compensation purposes. There are many factors you should consider, but all this will be catered for if you hire a competent and experienced lawyer. It is best if you go to a law firm that exclusively handles cases in personal injury, accident or death claims because this is where their strength lies and you have a high chance of winning the case. Though we agree that accidents do happen and are sometimes unavoidable, when it is someone’s avoidable mistake then they should be held accountable.