When a rig that may weigh up to 80,000 pounds strikes a passenger vehicle, there’s a good chance people will get hurt, and it’s usually not the trucker. In 2019, 71% of those injured in large truck accidents were passenger vehicle occupants, while only 18% were truck occupants. That same year, police reports indicated around 510,000 accidents involving large trucks, with 114,000 resulting in injuries and 4,479 leading to fatalities.
If you’ve sustained injuries in an 18-wheeler collision, you may need the assistance of an attorney with experience handling truck accident cases. With a lawyer’s help, you may have a better chance of getting the compensation that reflects the damages you incur. We can give you the support you need, whether negotiating with the insurance companies or fighting for you in court.
Getting into an accident can create a multitude of stresses, but when the accident involves a semi, it’s often more complex and stressful. You may be facing a lifetime of medical issues and trauma. While recovering from your injuries, you may lose significant time at work and face challenges returning to your job in the same capacity. Despite these difficulties, you still have to fight for compensation, which isn’t easy.
The first obstacle you face in recovering a settlement is filing a claim with the insurance company. This may seem a straightforward procedure, but it often isn’t. The insurance companies are not on your side. Their agents and claims adjusters are not looking out for your best interests. Instead, their goal is to settle the claim as quickly as possible and for as little loss to the company as possible.
If you live in an at-fault car insurance state, you file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. The trouble is that what may seem clear-cut to you often is not. Frequently, more than one party is at least partially responsible for an accident, even when it involves an 18-wheeler. Insurance companies use this fact to their advantage and attempt to minimize their client’s liability. They do what they can to place a higher percentage of blame on the victim.
They may outright deny their client holds any liability or reduce it so much that it significantly lowers how much they offer you. Unfortunately, many inadvertently make statements that harm their causes when speaking to the insurance company. A truck accident attorney knows how to protect your rights when dealing with provider representatives.
In a no-fault car insurance state, drivers file personal injury claims with their own provider, regardless of who is liable. In these states, car insurance companies must provide personal injury protection in their coverages, and drivers must carry at least the minimum PIP coverage. The general intent of the laws in no-fault states is to reduce the amount of time it takes for car accident victims to receive settlements and lower the lawsuit rates.
There are two common issues for truck accident victims in these states. The first is that 18-wheeler collisions frequently result in serious injuries with costs that exceed policy limits. The second concern is that the individual’s own insurance company fights them on what is a fair settlement.
It’s often tough to get fully compensated for your injuries without the assistance of an attorney with the right knowledge and experience. If the at-fault party’s insurance or your PIP coverage isn’t sufficient to cover current and future expenses and losses, you must seek compensation using legal avenues. Otherwise, you’re left shouldering the financial burdens.
Serious injuries also have consequences with associated costs not covered under insurance policies. If your injuries diminish your earning capacity, no insurance company will cover long-term wage deficits. Additionally, you may lose your ability to function in your daily life as you did before the accident. You may have emotional trauma or long-term physical pain and suffering. Non-economic costs such as these are also not covered by auto or truck insurance.
Another significant issue with accidents involving 18-wheelers is determining which parties are liable for the accident. While determining liability is a hurdle drivers face in almost any car crash, it can be much more complex in truck accident cases.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations for the trucking industry. These laws govern all aspects involved in maintaining road safety, including hiring drivers, driver behaviors, proper loading, truck maintenance and safety checks. If anyone along the entire industry chain fails to do their job correctly, and the failure contributes to the accident, that individual or company can be held liable for an accident.
Potentially responsible parties include:
An attorney with deep knowledge of the trucking industry and experience working with truck accident victims knows where to look for evidence of negligence at all levels of the industry. The lawyer can then help you pursue claims from each responsible party.
Whether you live in an at-fault or no-fault state, there are generally state guidelines and regulations that dictate when you can file a personal injury lawsuit and determine how much you may collect.
You may feel justified in pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, but every state has rules that determine whether you can. These laws are meant to reduce the number of frivolous claims clogging up the courts and slowing down the system.
In most cases, you must be able to establish that you have a serious injury due to the accident. Laws vary by state, but the following types of injuries are examples of ones that states consider serious:
An attorney can help determine if your injuries meet your state’s criteria. If they do, the lawyer can assist you in building a case and pursuing a legal claim.
If your injuries qualify and you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer represents you during the negotiation process. Most cases get settled before they ever enter the courtroom.
How much you receive in the settlement depends on the evidence supporting your claim and total projected economic and non-economic costs. Your state’s personal injury laws also significantly influence the outcome.
More than half the states follow modified comparative fault (or modified comparative negligence) rules. In truck accident legal proceedings, either party legal representatives or the courts determine a settlement amount that considers economic and non-economic damages.
Each party is also assigned a percentage of fault based on the evidence and the party’s representatives’ supporting arguments. If you are partially at fault, you won’t receive the entire settlement amount. In modified comparative fault states, you receive an amount equal to the settlement minus the percentage you are held liable for.
If you are 40% responsible, you receive 60% of the awarded settlement amount. However, you won’t receive anything if you are more than 50% liable.
Don’t get left shouldering the costs. Let Fielding Law’s 18-wheeler accident attorneys help you get the compensation you deserve. We have the knowledge and experience needed to fight for you. We don’t get paid unless we win your case for you. Get in touch with us today for your free consultation.