In the United States, the trucking industry is worth more than $200 billion. Given the money at stake, trucking companies will go to great lengths to protect the bottom line.
An investigator for the trucking company may be at the scene of a truck accident within hours. Unfortunately, victims do not have someone to look out for their interests in the immediate aftermath of a crash.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident with a commercial truck, you need an experienced attorney on your side. The Columbus truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law can assist you with all aspects of your case and pursue the full compensation you and your family deserve.
1. Collect All Relevant Evidence
Truck accident claims typically involve severe injuries that can leave victims permanently disabled. You and your family need to focus on healing and coping with the life-changing trauma, not worrying about the evidence you need to make a claim.
A truck accident lawyer can collect all of the necessary evidence on your behalf, including photos of the scene, investigative reports by the police and other agencies, video footage, and more. Your attorney will also take steps to safeguard evidence held by the trucking company, such as the driver’s logs, inspection reports, data from the truck’s black box, etc.
Quick action is critical for the success of your truck accident claim. An experienced truck accident lawyer knows the tactics used by insurance adjusters and trucking companies to avoid liability and will protect your rights.
2. Consult Expert Witnesses
Ultimately, the goal of expert testimony is to prove the following:
- Causation of the truck accident
- The fault of the defendant(s)
- The seriousness of your injuries
- The damages you are due
Multiple experts may need to be consulted to prove these elements of your truck accident claim. Expert witnesses your attorney may hire include highway safety experts, accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, economists, engineering experts, and mental health experts.
3. Determine Who Is Liable for the Truck Accident
Every motor vehicle accident hinges on the question of fault. In trucking accident claims, the issue of fault is particularly complicated.
Multiple parties are often responsible for these crashes. Your lawyer will start by investigating the following parties to build your truck accident claim:
- Truck Driver: In many cases, the person driving the commercial truck is at fault due to traffic violations such as speeding, reckless driving, tailgating, distracted driving, driving on drugs or alcohol, and improper lane changes (to name a few).
- Trucking Company: A host of issues can leave the trucking company open to liability in the event of an accident. This includes pushing drivers to exceed the lawful hours of service, engaging in improper hiring, failing to supervise employees, poor truck maintenance, and more.
- Truck Manufacturer: The company that manufactured the truck can be responsible for the crash if it was caused by a defective part or product on the rig. While the trucking company may take possession of the tractor-trailer after the collision, your attorney can demand that the truck be preserved for independent inspection to identify defects in the design and/or manufacturing.
Mechanics, service centers, and shipping and loading companies may also be held liable in some truck accident claims. A truck accident lawyer with experience in these cases can pinpoint the appropriate party or parties and pursue the compensation you deserve.
In addition to identifying all of the parties at fault (i.e., the parties whose negligence led to the accident), your truck accident lawyer can determine who is liable for the trucking accident based on the collected evidence and testimony from experts and eyewitnesses. Generally it is the defendants’ insurer(s) who pay up in the event of an accident. As such, it is important to identify all of the available insurance coverage.
4. Assess the Damages in Your Truck Accident Claim
Damages in truck accident cases generally include economic and non-economic losses. Sometimes the court will award punitive damages if it is shown that the conduct of the defendant(s) is particularly egregious.
However, in most cases recoverable compensation in a truck accident is limited to the following:
Economic damages are calculated based on your past and ongoing medical care, as well as medical expenses you are likely to face in the future. This includes surgeries, rehabilitation, medications, and more.
In addition, truck accident victims often suffer injuries that have a significant impact on their ability to earn a living. You may miss several days, weeks, or months of work following the crash. In extreme cases, you might never be able to work again. A truck accident lawyer will calculate your lost wages to date and the income you will lose in the future.
You may also be entitled to compensation for any expenses you have paid out of pocket, such as modifications to your home and vehicle, travel to and from medical appointments, etc. Your truck accident lawyer will account for these losses as well in calculating your economic damages.
Pain and suffering is the pillar of non-economic damages, and it is challenging to quantify. A truck accident lawyer can consult with experts to determine the monetary value you are owed for issues such as physical pain, mental and emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
5. Negotiate with the Insurance Companies on Your Behalf
Insurance adjusters can be relentless and push trucking accident victims to settle early for an amount that does not cover their total expenses and damages. You need to complete medical treatment and have a clear picture of how the accident will impact the rest of your life before signing a settlement offer. Do not give a statement or agree to a settlement without consulting a truck accident lawyer.
If you accept a settlement without consulting an attorney, you may have to pay some of your medical expenses, property damage, and other costs out of pocket. A truck accident lawyer will calculate the full value of your claim and fight to maximize compensation.
6. File a Truck Accident Lawsuit and Take Your Case to Trial
If the defendants and their insurers will not agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf. This represents the beginning of legal proceedings that could result in your case being heard in court.
Most accident claims do not go to trial. However, it may be necessary to take this step if your injuries are serious, if you have extensive damages, and/or if fault and liability are disputed.
Compensation awarded at trial can be much greater than what your truck accident lawyer can achieve in a settlement. However, thorough preparation is essential. You need to work with a trial attorney who has experience going to court and winning.
7. Provide Qualified Legal Guidance at Every Stage of Your Truck Accident Case
The victims of truck accidents face challenges every step of the way. Trucking companies and other defendants will engage in a host of tactics to pay as little as possible and even avoid responsibility for your injuries and damages.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will know how to combat these strategies. Throughout the course of your case, your attorney will protect your rights and advance your interests, providing you with support and knowledgeable assistance in this difficult time.
At Colombo Law, we focus our practice on serving those who have been injured or lost loved ones in trucking accidents. Have You Been Hurt by a Truck? Our attorneys can help
Please call (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Our Columbus truck accident lawyers serve clients throughout Ohio.