Being in a truck accident is a difficult experience for anyone.
Semi-trucks are massive vehicles with a significant amount of weight behind them, meaning the damage – and injuries – caused by their impact is often catastrophic.
But for victims of truck accidents, there is hope. After all, if the accident wasn’t your fault, you should get help paying for the medical treatment and the other expenses caused by the accident. You should also receive money for the cost of missing work, and you should be able to pursue compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve had to endure.
This is great news. All of these things should happen.
The problem, however, is that the process of receiving the compensation you need and deserve is not simple. It’s rarely easy, especially with so much money on the line. After all, accidents can cause hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars in damages. Insurance companies aren’t quick to pay that much money, and they will work hard to complicate and defeat your claim.
On your own, it can be completely overwhelming to negotiate with insurance companies, to prove a case of negligence with strong evidence, or even to know the appropriate amount of money to demand.
The good news is that Colombo Law is here for you. We are experienced truck accident attorneys with a long track record of winning cases. We win 99% of our cases while pursuing maximum compensation for our clients, and we do it all on a contingency fee basis – meaning clients don’t have to pay us a cent unless and until we win their cases.
Below, we want to take a closer look at the complexities of truck accident cases and how we can help you navigate through them. While it doesn’t substitute for a conversation with an experienced truck accident attorney, we hope it gives you a better understanding of your situation and what you’re up against.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, talking to a lawyer can solve much of the uncertainty and frustration you’re currently facing. Get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation with Colombo Law today, and we’ll be happy to help.
Proving Negligence in the Truck Accident
“Negligence” is the legal term used to establish responsibility for an accident.
Basically, it’s a fancy way of saying “fault.”
But the definition is important because it makes the issue of how to win a case more clear:
Negligence: A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same [or similar] circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct).
Let’s look at the first part, a failure to behave with the same level of care as someone else if they were in your situation.
Let’s say the truck driver made a mistake, such as falling asleep at the wheel. It’s obviously an expectation of their profession that they do not make these mistakes, and the proven failure to do so establishes negligence.
What if it wasn’t the truck driver who was responsible? What if it was someone at the trucking company? Or even a parts manufacturer? The same principle applies: you will have to prove that they acted in a way that others in their situation generally would not have.
Sometimes, this requires expert witnesses who can testify to the fact that the responsible party acted in a way that others in the same spot would not have. This is particularly useful when going to court where a jury will be influenced by experts who support your side of the story. Of course, it’s also important to have plenty of evidence to back up your claim, as well.
The second part of the definition is also interesting because it defines negligence not just as doing something wrong, but also not doing something right. In other words, the negligence might not just be because a truck company overworked an employee, for example; it could also be because they didn’t perform a thorough background check that would have shown the driver’s history of drug and alcohol abuse.
In other words, establishing and proving negligence can be a difficult task. All the while, the insurance company and at-fault party (or parties) will refuse to admit anything and instead force you to prove your claims of negligence.
Nevertheless, someone is responsible for almost all truck accidents. You just have to figure out who that is, which is why having an experienced truck accident attorney is so valuable.
Your attorney’s job will be to perform a thorough investigation of the accident – which can include everything from analyzing the crash site and inspecting the truck and vehicles to interviewing witnesses – to determine the responsible party or parties, and then to begin building a case of negligence against them.
It can be a lot of work, but it’s a necessary part of receiving what you deserve in compensation. The liable party isn’t likely to raise their hand, but evidence and expert insight are generally able to establish near-certainty around who is responsible.
Extent of Damages After a Truck Accident
One of the areas that accident victims tend to underestimate is the difficulty of figuring out how much they should demand in compensation. Many make the mistake of simply adding up medical bills and damaged property expenses and asking for that amount.
But what about future medical bills that you might face? What about the pay you lost from missing time away from work? What if the accident has made it more difficult to make more money in the future?
All of these things should be considered when calculating your total reimbursement of what has been taken from you due to the actions of a negligent trucking company or driver. It’s common for accident victims to not properly calculate the cost of their damages, which leads to them accepting lowball settlement offers from insurance companies. The insurance companies will be quick to contact you, and they will be very nice and friendly – but they are not your friends. At the same time, they will have a team of experts and lawyers at the crash site the same day or night of the crash working to gather evidence to defeat your claim.
This is why you need your own team of experienced trucking attorneys and experts fighting for you – this is what the Colombo Law team does every day.
Also, what about the pain and suffering you’ve had to bear because of the accident? Truck accidents are serious and can cause severe mental, psychological, and emotional effects that aren’t to be taken lightly.
Pain and suffering are not only real and serious, but the law also allows you to pursue compensation for these damages. If you aren’t considering the mental and emotional ramifications of the accident, you could be doing yourself a disservice.
Ultimately, there’s a lot to think about and consider when figuring out your compensation demand. You’ll also have to prove your right to and need for every cent you’re demanding. If you simply guess at a compensation amount but can’t explain why, exactly, you reached that amount, it might be perceived that you’re just trying to get more money than you deserve.
On the other hand, if you work with an attorney who can present thorough reasoning and evidence behind your compensation amount, you’ll be in a much better position to receive the right amount – the amount you need and deserve to recover from the accident.
Dealing with Multiple Insurance Companies After a Truck Accident
Insurance companies – with their teams of lawyers and claims adjusters – can be a serious obstacle for anyone trying to receive compensation after an accident.
But it gets worse.
You might, in fact, need to deal with more than one insurance company.
In some cases the truck driver – or their company – won’t have enough coverage to pay for your total compensation. If that happens, then you will probably need to pursue a separate claim against your own insurance company if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
As with the truck driver’s insurance company, they won’t be quick to accept your claim. There will be a full investigation, and they will also be looking to pay you as little as possible.
In addition, if there were multiple parties at fault for the accident, they will each have their own policies and insurance companies that you will have to negotiate with. These negotiations are absolutely vital for the success of a case and are not to be taken lightly. You need to understand how to present your case in a way that makes it harder for the insurance companies to fight your claim.
For example, while it’s good to be tough with insurance companies and to remain confident, it’s also important to be reasonable and to back up your claims with facts.
A lawyer can navigate these negotiations for you, which is a tremendous stress relief for most truck accident victims who already have enough to worry about.
Navigating Federal and State Regulations
The trucking industry is governed by an extensive network of federal regulations and state laws. In the event of a collision, regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and statutes specific to the state of Ohio may apply to the circumstances of your case.
Knowing the law is job #1 for any attorney. If you are injured in a crash involving a semi-truck, you need a lawyer who has the knowledge and skill to advocate for you across all applicable state and federal regulations.
Experience Matters in a Truck Accident Claim
If you’ve been in a truck accident and are reading this post, you might be wondering why you should trust us. Ultimately, while you should rely on your own impression of a law firm by meeting with them to discuss your case, another thing that we hang our hat on is our experience.
With over 40 years of legal experience, we’ve seen and handled nearly every type of situation that can arise during a truck accident case. It’s extremely important for us to be able to make quick, confident decisions that keep our clients’ best interests in mind, and that’s something that nothing but experience can give you.
Give us a call at (614) 362-7000 to discuss your truck accident claim. We’re happy to offer free consultations where we can discuss your case and next steps.