Have you been Hurt By A Truck? At Colombo Law, the focus of our practice is to represent people in Columbus and throughout Ohio who have suffered injuries in crashes with commercial trucks.
Truck accidents turn people’s lives upside down. Victims in passenger vehicles often sustain serious injuries that lead to immense physical, emotional, and financial hardship. Tragically, it is not uncommon for one or more people to lose their lives when an 18-wheeler collides with their vehicle.
At Colombo Law, we recognize the unique challenges involved in trucking accident claims. Our truck accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate the crash, consult with top experts, and work with you closely to understand all of the ways the crash has impacted your life.
We prepare every case as though it will go to trial. Trucking companies and their insurers often dispute liability for truck accidents, and you can count on us to be ready to exercise all legal options to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
If you have been hurt by a truck, call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Our Columbus truck accident lawyers serve clients throughout Ohio.
How Dino Colombo Handles Truck Accident Cases
What Damages Can Be Recovered After a Trucking Accident?
Truck accident claims frequently involve higher damages than other kinds of vehicle accident cases in Ohio. Victims of semi-truck crashes may be entitled to two principal forms of compensation: (a) economic damages and (b) non-economic damages.
Economic Damages in a Truck Accident
Economic damages are the monetary losses you incur as a result of the truck crash. Both current and future economic damages are compensable in a truck accident claim.
Our truck accident attorneys will account for all of your losses and pursue fair compensation for the following:
- Medical bills, including the cost of emergency medical transport, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation, etc.
- Lost wages if your truck accident injuries prevent you from working
- Loss of earning capacity; if the truck crash leaves you permanently unable to work, you may be entitled to compensation for the income you would have earned
- Property damage, including the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle as well as any other personal property damaged or destroyed in the truck accident
- Prescription medication and medical supply costs
- The cost of hiring professional help to aid with household tasks, childcare, etc.
- Assistive devices such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, etc.
- Modifications to your home and vehicle to accommodate your injuries
- Expenses for medical-related travel
Colombo Law will review your medical bills, receipts, pay stubs and other documents to determine the full value of the economic damages in your truck accident claim. We will also consult medical, economic, and vocational experts to determine how your injuries affect your ability to earn a living and perform daily tasks.
Non-Economic Damages in a Truck Accident
Non-economic damages is the legal term for the adverse physical, mental, and emotional effects you experience as a result of a personal injury. Although not economic in nature, you can and should be awarded monetary compensation for non-economic damages if your injuries were caused by the negligence of another.
The truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law will fight for the compensation you deserve for non-economic damages such as:
- Pain and suffering (compensation for physical and psychological pain, distress, etc.)
- Disability (specifically the inconvenience, humiliation, etc. related to a disabling injury)
- Scarring and disfigurement (shame, embarrassment, etc. related to the change in your appearance)
- Loss of enjoyment of life (compensation for the favorite activities and hobbies you can no longer enjoy as a result of your truck accident injuries)
- Loss of consortium (compensation for the loss of support, companionship, and affection of a spouse)
Non-economic damages are difficult to calculate, and they are often overlooked by victims themselves. It is imperative to work with a knowledgeable trucking accident lawyer who can assess the evidence and hire the right experts to build a strong claim on your behalf.
Punitive Damages in a Truck Accident
A third category of compensation known as punitive damages may be recoverable in limited circumstances. Punitive damages may be awarded by the court if it is found that the “actions or omissions of [the] defendant demonstrate malice or aggravated or egregious fraud” (Ohio Revised Code § 2315.21).
Punitive damages are only awarded if a case goes to trial and the trier of fact (i.e., a judge or jury) finds that the defendant’s conduct constitutes “malice or aggravated or egregious fraud.” This threshold is more difficult to meet than the standard proof of negligence required to recover economic and non-economic damages. As such, punitive damages awards are fairly uncommon.
Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of all potential compensation for a truck accident. Our truck crash lawyers will investigate thoroughly to determine if you have a case for punitive damages and fight for a favorable award in court if necessary.
What If My Loved One Was Killed in a Commercial Trucking Accident?
If a member of your family dies as a result of injuries sustained in a truck accident, you should contact Colombo Law as soon as possible. Our lawyers can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family.
The sudden death of a loved one is a tragedy. If the negligence of a commercial truck driver (among other parties) led to the loss of a relative, you and your family may be entitled to wrongful death damages such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income and other economic support
- Loss of household support and services
- Loss of society, companionship, and consortium (if the decedent is survived by a spouse)
- Loss of parental guidance (if the decedent is survived by a child or children)
- Emotional anguish
Ohio Revised Code § 2305.21 states that claims for personal injury survive decedents who die as a result of injuries sustained due to negligence. Through a survival action, the decedent’s estate can recover compensation for medical care provided prior to the date of death, the decedent’s conscious pain and suffering before death, and more.
How Colombo Law Can Help You After a Truck Accident
Even if you were completely faultless in the accident, the deck might seem stacked against you. Primarily, this is due to the aggressiveness and experience of insurance companies. Insurers will do whatever they can to pay you as little as possible, and they’re very good at it.
The good news: hiring a truck accident lawyer evens the playing field. It gives you the advantage of having your own aggressive, experienced attorney who will do everything he or she can to ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve following an 18-wheeler crash.
When you hire Colombo Law, you can count on us to handle your case with the utmost skill, dedication, and commitment. Our experienced truck accident attorneys take on the challenges so you don’t have to, including:
1. Gathering Evidence
Every claim of liability and every dollar in compensation must be supported by the evidence. Unfortunately, it is often unrealistic for truck accident victims who have been seriously injured to gather evidence at the scene.
Our trucking accident lawyers get started on your case immediately to preserve and collect as much evidence as possible. Steps we take on your behalf after a semi-truck crash include:
- Photographing the scene of the accident
- Tracking down and interviewing eyewitnesses
- Obtaining any available video footage of the collision
- Reviewing the police report and any other investigative reports of the truck accident
- Ensuring that your medical records properly document your injuries
The evidence in a truck accident claim is often much more complicated than what it takes to win other types of motor vehicle accident cases. Much of the necessary evidence is held by the trucking company and other adverse parties.
At Colombo Law, we take action promptly to ensure that any and all evidence in your claim is preserved and turned over to us. This includes:
- The truck cab and the trailer involved in the wreck
- Logbooks kept by the truck driver
- The driving record for the commercial operator
- Employment records concerning the truck driver’s hiring, performance, medical fitness, etc.
- Maintenance records for the truck and the trailer
- Paperwork showing the freight the rig was carrying at the time of the crash
- “Black box” data from the truck (i.e., digital information from the truck’s event data recorder)
- The driver’s cell phone records and other electronic data
Comprehensive review of this evidence often reveals wrongdoing on the part of the trucking company, third-party mechanics, manufacturers, and others. Our truck accident lawyers will carefully investigate every aspect of your case to identify all of the at-fault parties.
2. Preparing Your Truck Accident Case
Before filing a truck accident claim, you need to have a good understanding of how much compensation you may be entitled to, how much you are likely to recover, and who is responsible for payment. Questions of fault and damages are complicated, and it is in your best interest to hire a truck accident attorney who can answer them for you.
In addition to gathering all available evidence, truck crash lawyers at Colombo Law will also get the expert testimony needed to prove both fault and the extent of your damages. Expert witnesses who may be involved in preparing your truck accident claim could include:
- Medical experts: Doctors, surgeons, specialists, and physical therapists are just a few of the healthcare providers who may be involved in your care after a truck accident. Our lawyers will consult with all practitioners and enlist outside experts to assess your injuries and testify as to how they affect your life.
- Trucking industry experts: Commercial trucking is governed by complex federal regulations. An expert in trucking industry operations and applicable laws can testify as to how the truck driver, trucking company, and other parties broke the rules.
- Mechanics: Experts in 18-wheelers can help us inspect the truck and trailer for signs of poor maintenance, defects, and more. Their testimony can help establish liability for the crash.
- Economic experts: Professional economists, financial planners, and other experts can help us calculate the overall value of your damages. Experts in your chosen career can testify as to how your injuries from a truck accident will impact your ability to work.
- Accident reconstructionists: Accident reconstruction is a specialized forensic field that involves combining various forms of evidence (photographs, damage to the vehicles, road markings, etc.) to create sophisticated models of how a crash occurred. These models can be extremely effective for convincing juries who is at fault for a trucking accident.
Truck drivers and their employers often try to shift blame and avoid responsibility. “The brakes went out.” “The other car came out of nowhere.” Using a combination of physical, documentary, and electronic evidence and witness testimony, our Columbus truck accident lawyers can build a case that challenges these arguments effectively.
3. Negotiating a Truck Accident Settlement
You may be under the impression that the only way to recover compensation after a truck accident is to file a lawsuit. This is not necessarily the case. Colombo Law resolves many clients’ claims through out-of-court settlement.
Before entering into settlement negotiations with the defendant(s) and/or the insurance company, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable truck accident attorney on your side. In fact, your lawyer should handle all communications with the opposing side.
Insurance companies are extremely good at getting people to accept less money than they deserve. They might say their first offer is their best offer, making you feel as if you have no options. They may deny that the truck driver was at fault and make a lowball offer because “it’s better than nothing”.
But, if the defendants and insurance companies know that you’re working with an aggressive attorney who is willing to take them to court, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching a fair settlement.
4. Taking Your Truck Accident Case to Court
While it is often ideal to settle out of court, you must be willing to go to trial if the trucking company, insurance carrier, and others are unwilling to sufficiently compensate you. For most people, the prospect of going to court is overwhelming. However, an experienced trucking attorney will know the proper time to file a lawsuit, prepare your case for trial, and represent you in court.
At Colombo Law, we are trial lawyers and the insurance companies know it. If you are not offered a fair truck accident settlement, they know that we will not hesitate to take them to court to get you the justice you deserve.
Who Is Responsible for My Truck Accident?
Most semi-truck accidents occur due to a combination of factors. It is essential for your truck accident lawyer to investigate as soon as possible to identify (a) all of the issues that led to the crash and (b) who is responsible.
Do not assume that the cause of the truck accident is clear-cut. It takes time to figure out who, exactly, is responsible and what the cause of the wreck was. Working with an attorney who knows how to investigate truck accidents can help you narrow down the liable parties while gathering the evidence needed to support your claim.
The Truck Driver
After a trucking accident, it is generally assumed that the one at fault is the truck driver. Indeed, this is often the case, and it can usually be attributed to negligence such as:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Reckless driving, including speeding
- Unsafe turns and lane changes
- Driving while distracted, including texting, eating, etc.
- Failure to leave sufficient distance between other vehicles
- Improper driving leading to overly aggressive braking and brake failure
- Unsafe driving at night and in inclement conditions
- Failure to inspect the rig and the cargo
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Essentially, if the cause of the 18-wheeler accident was the truck driver’s negligence, the commercial operator is liable for damages. That said, trucking accidents are not always solely the fault of the truck driver.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies are often liable for big rig crashes as well. Liability may arise because employers are legally responsible for the wrongful actions of their employees (a legal principle known as vicarious liability) or because the negligence of the trucking company contributed to the crash.
Prompt investigation is crucial for uncovering negligence on the part of the trucking company, including:
- Hiring unqualified or dangerous commercial drivers
- Failure to train drivers and retrain them as needed
- Negligent supervision of truck drivers
- Forcing drivers to work past the federally mandated hours of service
- Negligent maintenance of trucks
Victims of truck accidents often overlook the role of the motor carrier in causing crashes with big rigs. An experienced trucking crash lawyer will know what evidence to gather to prove that the trucking company was negligent (in addition to other liable parties).
Multiple companies are typically involved in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of tractor-trailers and their components. Serious accidents can occur if one or more parts of the truck fail during operation.
- Tire blowouts
- Failure of the bolts, bearings, and other parts of the wheel assembly
- Brake failure
- Transmission defects and failures
- Failure of the fifth-wheel coupling (the hitch that joins the trailer to the truck)
If a part on the truck was defective and the manufacturer knew about it but didn’t recall the part or inform customers, the manufacturer and other parties involved in the creation and sale of the truck and its components could be held responsible in the event of an accident.
Shipping companies are responsible for loading and unloading cargo carried by commercial trucks. Procedures must be followed for evenly distributing weight and securely tying down cargo.
Crashes can occur if the shipping company is negligent in these duties. Investigation of the truck and the trailer can determine if the freight exceeded federal weight limits or if the semi became unstable due to a failure to secure the cargo.
Third-Party Mechanics and Maintenance Companies
The owner of an 18-wheeler is responsible for ensuring that the rig is in safe operating condition. Often, different parties own the truck and the trailer, in which case maintenance and repair duties are split.
Regardless, if maintenance of the tractor-trailer is entrusted to a third party (such as a mechanic or service company), the third party or parties are required to exercise reasonable care in servicing the vehicle and making necessary repairs. If the truck or trailer fails due to improper maintenance, both the owner and the third party responsible for maintenance could be liable for the accident.
How Negligence Is Established Following a Truck Accident
Regardless of who is ultimately held responsible for the accident, you will need to prove that the negligence of one or more parties led to the truck crash to recover compensation. Clearly, this can be a complicated process that requires compiling a lot of evidence.
Beyond the evidence gathering and research that needs to be done, you might also need to find experts who can provide testimony to support your claims. For example, if a manufacturer didn’t properly deal with a defective part, having a mechanical expert who can explain the defect will be very beneficial to your case.
You might also be able to leverage the testimony of witnesses who saw the accident take place, or those who have experience working with the driver’s employer. If, for example, the driver claims they were overworked, having other drivers from the company back up this claim would be useful for proving negligence on the part of the employer.
Ultimately, so much depends on the specifics of your case. Every trucking accident is different, and each requires a flexible approach based on a thorough understanding of truck accident claims.
If you’ve read this far, you have probably realized that a truck accident is very different from a car accident – and much more complicated. This is why people who have been involved in truck accidents need a truck accident lawyer.
Common Injuries from Truck Accidents
For obvious reasons, truck accidents tend to be more serious than car accidents. After all, a fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. This is more than ten times the weight of a regular passenger vehicle.
As a result, the injuries in truck accident claims tend to be serious. Some of the most common truck accident injuries our lawyers see include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Ligament and disc injuries
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Partial/complete paralysis
- Spinal cord injury
- Organ damage
- Severe bruising
These injuries are painful, difficult to recover from, and can lead to permanent disability. They are also very expensive to treat.
Ultimately, this means the stakes for truck accident cases are often very high. It is of the utmost importance to work with a knowledgeable trucking accident lawyer who can assess the severity of your injuries and pursue fair compensation for your losses.
Truck Accident Statistics
Columbus is located at the intersection of two important and heavily traveled interstate highways – I-70 and I-71. As a result, there are a lot of commercial trucks moving in and out of Columbus on a daily basis. These trucks are coming from all across the United States, from California to Florida and Maine.
While trucking is great for the economy, it does, unfortunately, also mean that we see a lot of truck accidents.
- 16 fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles
- 423 commercial vehicle crashes involving some level of injury
- 902 commercial vehicle crashes resulting in property damage
The five most common locations for semi-truck crashes in 2021 were all located in and around the Columbus metropolitan area:
- Interstate 270/Jack Nicklaus Freeway: 185 commercial vehicle accidents
- Interstate 71: 139 commercial vehicle accidents
- Interstate 70: 133 commercial vehicle accidents
- U.S. Route 23: 52 commercial vehicle accidents
- U.S. 40: 40 commercial vehicle accidents
Predictably, Monday through Friday saw the highest concentration of collisions involving commercial vehicles (1,190 crashes compared to 151 on weekends). The most common times for truck accidents in the Columbus area also roughly corresponded to rush hour, with approximately 15% of commercial trucking accidents occurring between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and nearly 30% between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
All in all, Columbus and other areas of Franklin County saw a total of 1,341 crashes involving commercial vehicles in 2021. This constitutes more than 8% of the total commercial vehicle accidents in Ohio for the year.
What to Look for When Choosing a Truck Accident Lawyer
Trucking companies and their insurers are well-prepared when accidents occur. Insurance carriers have teams of lawyers and claims adjusters who are highly skilled at paying out as little as possible. Likewise, larger trucking companies have lawyers and investigators across the country who are designated “24 Hour Response Teams.” Their job is to report to the scene of the accident at once, collect and take possession of any evidence, and begin building a defense for their employer – even if the truck crash happens in the middle of the night.
You need a truck accident lawyer who is fully prepared to take on these challenges and represent you effectively. Some of the most important things to look for when choosing an attorney for your trucking accident claim include:
Experience Above All
It cannot be overstated how complex truck accident cases are compared to other types of accident claims. They require a great deal of skill to properly manage and achieve favorable results for clients.
This is why a proven history of successfully winning truck accident cases is so important. Successful truck crash lawyers will be able to share the types of results they have achieved and advise you what your case might be worth.
A Good Reputation
Check out the reviews and testimonials for the truck accident attorneys you consider to make sure their clients speak highly of them. If you see a lot of negative reviews (or little to no reviews), it’s not a good sign.
You should also read reviews carefully to try to determine what types of cases the attorney or firm typically handles. If there are a lot of positive reviews related to crashes involving trucks, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs, tractor-trailers, etc., this signals a solid reputation for handling commercial vehicle accident claims.
Focus on Truck Accident Litigation
Many law firms advertise that they handle truck accident cases. Some may even claim that they “specialize” in these types of claims. In reality, however, a number of attorneys want truck accident cases so they refer them to larger firms and pocket the fee.
A Willingness to Go to Court
It is imperative that you and your attorney are willing to go to court if the insurance company is unwilling to sufficiently compensate you. If an attorney only talks about settling out of court, they probably aren’t going to do whatever they can to get the compensation you deserve.
While finding an attorney with the right credentials and approach is necessary, we also think it’s important that you get along well with your legal team. There needs to be trust and understanding between you and your attorney, so make sure you meet with the attorneys and staff and feel comfortable before deciding to work with them.
If you have been Hurt By A Truck, it is important to seek qualified legal guidance as soon as possible. We are truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law, and we can fight for the maximum compensation you deserve after a collision with an 18-wheeler.
We Have a 99% Success Rate
Colombo Law has achieved millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of truck accident victims and their families. We understand how insurance companies operate after a commercial trucking accident, and our attorneys will strive to negotiate a fair settlement and even take your case to trial if it means obtaining a favorable result.
We make all of our clients a No Fee Promise. You pay nothing upfront, and you only pay fees if we win for you.
For a FREE case review, please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today. Our truck accident lawyers provide aggressive, experienced representation to clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
It’s a great question, and the answer is that it depends on your final compensation amount. Your attorney fees will be a percentage of this amount, which is known as a contingency fee arrangement. With this model, your attorney doesn’t get paid unless and until they win your case. That way, you don’t have to worry about additional bills while attempting to resolve your case. This is how almost all accident attorneys work, including the attorneys here at Colombo Law. In fact, if an accident attorney asks for upfront or ongoing payment as they’re working on your case, it could be a bad sign.
How long does it take to resolve a truck accident case?
Ultimately, how long it takes depends largely on how complicated your case is. If it was relatively minor, the issue might be resolved in a matter of weeks. On the other hand, if it was a complicated, expensive accident and the insurance company digs its heels in, it could take months or even years to complete. When talking to an attorney you’re considering hiring, ask him or her for an estimate based on the details of your case. The attorney will probably be able to give you an approximate time frame, along with recommendations for how to manage your situation in the meantime.
What can I be compensated for after a truck accident?
Beyond the expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident – including medical treatment, lost wages from time away from work, and future loss of earning potential – the law states that you should be compensated for your pain and suffering and mental anguish or emotional distress. The term “pain and suffering” refers to the physical difficulties you have experienced – and might continue to experience – as a result of an accident. Sometimes, people in serious accidents experience detrimental mental health effects, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and much more. These effects can lead to a decreased enjoyment in life, and Ohio courts support the idea that the at-fault party should compensate the accident victim for this. How to calculate this pain and suffering – to put a dollar amount on it – can be tricky, but there are a number of accepted methods that we have at our disposal.
How much time do I have to file a claim after a truck accident?
In Ohio, the time limit – known as the statute of limitations – for auto accidents is two years. Nevertheless, it’s important not to wait. While your injuries might not seem too serious and you may be tempted to take whatever the insurance company offers you just to get it over with, you could be doing yourself a serious disservice.
Further Reading: How Soon Do You Need to File an Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
What should I do after being injured in a truck accident?
If you’ve been injured, the first thing you should do is make sure that emergency medical help is on the way. If the accident is bad enough, other witnesses will almost always call the police and they will respond and create a Traffic Crash Report. In a perfect world, immediately after an accident, you would want to make sure you get all of the other driver’s information, take photos of the scene, and talk to any witnesses who saw the accident take place. Unfortunately, due to the injuries that are usually caused when an 80,000 pound truck crashes into a 2,000 pound car, it is not always possible to do what you would in a normal car accident; that is why it’s recommended you contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Who is responsible for a truck accident?
It depends completely on your situation. Oftentimes it’s the driver, but it could also be their employer or even the truck’s manufacturer. After an accident, it’s important to use your memory, the evidence, and the testimony of other witnesses to construct a provable narrative about what happened and who was at fault.
Further Reading: Many Truck Accidents Are Caused by Mechanical Failure
Why are truck accident claims so complex?
The simple answer is because there’s a lot of money involved, along with a lot of trauma. People are unlikely to admit fault quickly for such a serious accident, and insurance companies will do what they can to minimize the severity of the accident to lower the amount of compensation they have to payout; including hiring nationwide teams of lawyers as 24 hour response teams.
The insurance companies’ work in minimizing your case and putting up hurdles to justice starts almost immediately. Also, there is a complicated framework of rules that apply to truck companies and their drivers. Any lawyer handling a trucking case must be familiar with these rules and understand them just as much, if not more, than the trucking companies and their insurer.
Is it worth it to hire a truck accident lawyer?
Unless your accident was very minor with zero injuries, it’s almost always worth it to hire an attorney. Polls have shown that twice as many people who hire an attorney receive a payout than those who do not. In addition, those who do manage to receive compensation without an attorney see nearly 4.5 times less compensation than those who win with a lawyer.