Are trucking accidents common? What about in Texas?
Yes, there are over 500,000 trucking accidents each year. This amounts to at least 100,000 deaths and/or injuries related to trucking accidents every year. In Texas trucking accidents are fatal about 40% more often than the national average.
Is a truck accident more likely to cause serious injury than one with just passenger cars?
Yes. Trucks are much bigger and heavier than cars and SUVs. Passenger vehicles have safety standards that are meant to protect someone from a crash with other vehicles of generally the same weight and size. A commercial tractor-trailer can weigh over 80,000 pounds, while an average passenger car weighs around 3,000 pounds. Thus, tractor trailer accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries for the occupants of the car.
What is my truck accident case worth?
There are two main factors that determine the value of a case when another party is judged to be partially or fully at fault. The first is replacement for direct expenses, such as medical expenses and loss of income. The second, and often the higher figure, is for pain and suffering. When there is a fatality, the second will revolve around loss of companionship and other factors resulting from the death. Cases vary enough that an estimate should be made by an accident attorney familiar with the facts.
Can anyone sue after a trucking accident?
Anyone who has been injured or had property damaged as the result of the accident is entitled to make a claim. When there is a death, the estate of the deceased can sue as well as anyone directly affected by the death. This also includes children whose guardians can sue on their behalf, and even other truck drivers if someone else was at fault.
Who should I sue in my trucking accident case?
Whoever is at fault for causing the trucking accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver, the trucking company they work for, the trailer owner, the shipper, a parts manufacturer or any other entity who contributed to your accident. Because the causes of accidents vary, more than one party might be the subject of a lawsuit.
What can I do to protect my rights?
The most important thing is to not sign any legal documents without talking to an attorney who handles semi-truck accident cases. You should also avoid making statements to either the trucking company or an insurance investigator. You attorney can advise you on how to respond to any letters or offers you receive.
I am not sure how I want to proceed, is there something I should do in the meantime?
Yes. Document as much as possible. This includes information you gather at the scene or shortly after the accident (photographs are excellent!) as well as maintaining a journal of any and all medical treatment you receive. You should also keep all receipts, pay stubs and anything else associated with the case. These documents will be critical if you end up pursuing a case.
Does the government regulate trucking companies?
Yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate them in order to make the interstate highways safer. For instance, one regulation is that there is a limit on the amount of hours a trucker can drive in one day. Another is that any commercial vehicle is required to carry insurance for bodily injury and property damage.
Do I need an attorney early in the process?
The earlier an attorney is consulted, the more likely they will be able to prevent mistakes. They will also seek to capture key documents that Federal law requires from trucking companies before they are destroyed. Although the records must be kept, trucking and insurance companies know they do not have to preserve them past the federally mandated time limit.
Your attorney will also act as a buffer between you and the insurance company. They will recommend actions you should take to strengthen your claim as well. All in all, delaying a consultation works against you.